Thursday, November 26, 2015

Two different land leases

from w
It's rather important for the Fijian landowners to really know the difference between the Land Bank and the TLTB (formerly called NLTB Native Land Trust Board) and which one is the safest option to secure long-term ownership and control over the use of their own land.  Signing away land for 99 year leases also needs to be thought out very carefully - that's three generations where the landowner can't touch their own land. A meeting held in Labasa tired to tease out the information for the landowners who rightfully so are concerned about the Land Bank.

Confusion over roles

Serafina Silaitoga
Friday, November 27, 2015
CONFUSION of roles and differences between the Land Bank Unit and the iTaukei Land Trust Board (TLTB) is rife among landowners and in iTaukei communities.
This issue was discussed at great length at the Ministry of iTaukei Affairs workshop for provincial council heads held in Labasa yesterday.
The different provincial council heads shared how the landowners have raised concerns in not fully understanding the roles of the Land Bank.
Some provincial council heads told the meeting that landowners in their various provinces failed to understand the difference between the Land Bank and the TLTB.
Roko Tui Ra Mosese Rakoroi told the meeting that landowners should decide which land institutions to sign up with.
He said landowners should be assisted firstly, with increased awareness of the roles of the two land institutions.
Mr Rakoroi also said landowners had become more confused with the different messages made known to them through various social sites or from friends.
Roko Tui Bua Rupeni Kunaturaga said the officers of Land Bank Unit should be invited to villages to educate landowners about their roles.
He said with the bauxite mining in Bua, landowners had been informed of the details of leasing with the Land Bank Unit.
A blogger argues that landowners should not use the Land Bank as it does not give them control.

Native Lands Trust Act versus Land Use Decree

The Native Land Trust Act was created by Ratu Sir Lala Sukuna to assist Fijian landowners to lease their land. His aim was to ensure that landowners benefited from leasing and retained land for their future needs. The NLTB was to have the professional expertise in accounting, surveying, valuation and land management to ensure that landowners were not cheated.
The NLTA said clearly: “all such land shall be administered by the Board for the benefit of the Fijian owners.” There is no qualification to this. Landowners interests are all that matter under the NLTA.
In Bainimarama’s Land Use Decree the PM has to consider the landowners interests AND the economy. If the PM thinks it would be better for the economy to offer land at low rent to a Chinese company who want to build a factory to process cassava, he can do it. The landowners cannot stop him and they cannot go to a court and ask the court to over-rule the lease on the grounds that it’s against their interests.
It goes without saying that chiefs have been cut right out of the process by Bainimarama and ASK. Five landowners have to be appointed as Trustees for landowning group. They are elected by 60% of the landowners but the PM can refuse any elected landowner he doesn’t like (say because he’s a Methodist or a member of the FLP or SODELPA). If at any time the PM doesn’t like one of the trustees, he can also remove him.
None of the key rules governing rent paid, terms of leases, are in the Decree. They are hidden in Regulations which means the Minister can change them without approval by Parliament. Land has been taken out of the hands of the Parliament and courts and handed straight to Bainimarama.
At the moment Bainimarama is letting landowners choose between his Land Bank and the TLTB, but he doesn’t have to do this and once elected he will no longer let landowners have this choice. The Land Use Decree gives him unlimited power.
The Native Lands Trust Act, which was created by Ratu Sir Lala Sukuna, was one of the main targets of Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum in the mission of cultural genocide he mapped out in 2002 in Hong Kong. By delivering personal power into the office of PM he was able to persuade Bainimarama to support his war on Fijian cultural institutions.
The Land Use Decree creates a dangerous concentration of power, regardless of who the PM is. Its aim is to rob iTaukei of any say over their land and make everyone who wants land dependent on the whims of an all powerful PM. That’s bad for everyone.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

PM in Brussels

from w
Where in Europe is the last place you would like to be this week?  Well, I reckon Brussels, yet Fiji's PM is there for a meeting/conference. Of course the city is in lockdown so how do delegates get to their meeting? In the photo Bainimarama is shaking hands with Mr Mimica. Now the cartoonists could have fun with that name.
PM speaks on high alert situation in Brussels
By Vijay Narayan
Tuesday 24/11/2015

Prime Minister, Voreqe Bainimarama in Brussels.
Prime Minister, Voreqe Bainimarama arrived in Brussels over the weekend in the middle of the Belgian capital being put on high alert.
Speaking from Brussels as he gets ready for ACP/EU talks, Bainimarama said the whole place is closed down including the metro.
Bainimarama told Fijivillage last night that they were advised by the police to fly in by air on Saturday when they travelled from London but the High Commission had already booked them on the Eurostar fast train that took two and a half hours from London to Brussels.
Bainimarama says they have been advised to stay indoors.

He says it is a pity because his visit to the gravesite of Lekima Mua, son of Ratu Sakiusa Vakalolo of Somosomo, Taveuni who was killed during World War 1 had to be cancelled yesterday including a visit to Flanders Field Museum.

Ferry sinks near Suva

from w
Isn't that the one we used to go on to Savusavu from Suva?  A passenger ferry then, now a cargo boat?  The Suilven sank in Suva Harbour a day or two ago.
The sinking of the MV Suilven is expected to cost Pacific Fishing Company (PAFCO) more than $5 million.
Fijivillage has received information that the Suilven was transporting more than $5 million worth of tuna loins, canned tuna, fish oil and other products.
The canned tuna was for the local market while the tuna loins were prepared for exports.
The PAFCO board met in Suva earlier today.

MV Suilven sinks

Vuniwaqa Bola-Bari
Wednesday, November 25, 2015
Maritime Safety Authority of Fiji's (MSAF) oil spill equipment is on standby at the Government Shipping Services (GSS) ready for deployment after the MV Suilven, owned by Venu Shipping, sunk in the Suva Harbour yesterday afternoon.
This ship went down with 25 twenty feet reefer containers with a few trucks.
Infrastructure and Transport Ministry permanent secretary Francis Kean confirmed that MSAF had also liaised with oil companies for their oil spill equipment to be on standby for deployment should the need arise.
Mariners have been advised to proceed with caution when navigating within the vicinity of the entrance to Suva Harbour and to be on the lookout for any floating containers.
In a notice sent from Mr Kean, he stated the RORO (roll-on, roll-off) ship sunk at the entrance of Suva Harbour at the co-ordinates of 18 degrees 08.433'S and 178 degrees 23.69'E.
Mr Kean confirmed that at the time of the accident, the ship was carrying 30 crew members and four passengers who were truck drivers.
"Initial reports from the owners, Venu Shipping, indicated that the container cargo lashing failure contributed to the listing of this RORO ship. All crew and passengers were safely evacuated on board the Tug Tanunda," Mr Kean said.
Mr Kean confirmed that the Tug Tanunda, under the charter Fiji Ports Corporation Ltd (FPCL), was first to respond to the scene with their pilot boat Murimai.
He said Kiro was also deployed to render assistance after they were informed of the incident.
Fiji Navy Commander John Fox said they co-ordinated with FPCL and had given them the operation to take charge of.
The only woman crew Fuga Luse, who was a cook with the ship, said they could not divulge what was wrong with the ship but they were thankful to be alive.
"The only thing that I have saved is my mobile phone so I could call home and the clothes I'm wearing," Ms Luse said.
Another crew member claimed there were about five engineering students on the ship with others studying at the Maritime School of the Fiji National University, and they were told not to divulge any information about the accident before they were evacuated off the ship.
Venu Shipping's boss Bob Naidu confirmed that the ship did not carry passengers and was only a cargo ship but he would not comment any further as the case was being investigated by the Maritime Safety Authority of Fiji.
Mr Kean said, FPCL would continue to monitor the sunken ship overnight and an emergency operation centre had been activated at the Fiji Navy to support the efforts of FPCL that played the lead role.
GSS's Rogovoka is also on standby to assist in the removal of any floating cargo from the sunken ship. The ship is understood to have been built around the early 1970s and has been around for about 40 years.

Sunday, November 01, 2015

An Aussie volunteer in Fiji

from w
I read this today in the Fiji Times and it's rather typical I guess.  Aussies out for adventure, go to Fiji, love the experience and of course find a Fijian partner.  It's common these days but when I was young there weren't so many cross-cultural marriages - I'm thinking of the 60s.

It's soul food

Dorine Narayan
Monday, November 02, 2015

Michelle Talemaitoga in Nayavu, Wainibuka, Tailevu. Picture: SUPPLIED
Helping yourself is food for your stomach, helping others is food for your soul. This mind-set brought Michelle Unwin to Fiji — a country she eventually fell in love with.
Michelle came to Fiji a year ago under the Australian Volunteers for International Development Program, working as a communications and public relations mentor for Habitat for Humanity Fiji. Doing volunteer work challenges Michelle to go the extra mile.
"I did a volunteer assignment in Indonesia in 2013 and really loved the challenges that came with living in a different culture. After returning to Australian public service working life, I couldn't settle and was longing to experience the same thing so I applied for a couple of assignments — one in Laos and one in Fiji. The application process for both were running parallel but Fiji made the first offer and I was already packing my suitcase," she said.
She has a versatile personality and enjoys learning new skills and the experience that comes with it. "My attempts at learning the Fijian language mean this will be a hard-won skill," says Michelle.
The Australian-born and bred lady has always been involved in volunteer work in some form or another whether it has been editing website content for a Nepalese trekking social enterprise or being team manager of a children's soccer team.
Being in Fiji, she says, has been a great experience.
"It's like a family, comfortable and relaxed. Everyone was welcoming when I arrived and I'm sad it has come to an end. I know I'll be welcomed back whenever I visit and I'll probably run into them on the street," said Michelle.
One of her most touching experiences was visiting a water project in Cavucavu, a settlement in Ra.
"I went first for a training session and we stayed overnight. I returned at the end of the project for the handover. The turaga ni koro (village headman) cried because they had spent 51 years carting water from shallow wells up and down hills to their homes. At the end of the project, they had water at the front door. The grandma we stayed with insists on kissing me on the lips each time we meet. That is special," she said.
And her nightmare memory here is what she describes as "Fiji tried to kill me".
"During the year I got sick, so sick I was hospitalised while they tried to work out what was wrong with me. I couldn't walk and was out of action for about six weeks. For days I was drugged to the eyeballs until they found an abscess very deep, close to the bone in my thigh — some big long medical name that might as well be a Fijian word because I have trouble pronouncing it."
Being a volunteer in a different country and culture takes resilience and patience, says Michelle.
"You have to take your time to observe the culture. That is the challenging part initially. It is all too easy to measure up everything by where you come from. Sometimes things just don't make sense. It doesn't work that way where you come from and it may seem ridiculous. But if you are patient and observe you will understand why things are the way they are."
Volunteering, for Michelle, is also about what you can leave behind.
"It's about building the capacity of those you work with, about making a difference even if it is a small one. It is the act of kindness that creates its value. Using your skills to teach and mentor with an aim to improve their knowledge and understanding of the area of expertise or skills you bring. It doesn't matter if it is frying sausages at a fundraiser or taking out a grandma's garbage. Every kind act makes a difference. I read a quote by Lailah Gifty Akita who said, 'The more you give of yourself, the more you find yourself.' I identify with her words," she said.
2015 has been a year of unexpected happenings for Michelle. She now plans to stay and work in Fiji.
"This year has been full of the unexpected and part of that package is a brand new husband, a locally-grown Fijian one. So the time feels right to put down some roots and Fiji provides the fertile soil for that," said Mrs Talemaitoga.
She treasures having some quiet time the most as this allows her to reflect and write and think.

Her advice for youths is to volunteer as early as possible in life. "You create great relationships along the way and you do good deeds. It's a win-win," says Michelle.

Monday, October 26, 2015

But where is the port?

from w
The village of Nakalou is in the vicinity of Dreketi and is there a port there for sending the bauxite away? And  - how clean is my valley - after the come in and wreck the land?

Landowners look at joint venture

Luke Rawalai
Tuesday, October 27, 2015
LANDOWNING units in Nakalou Village in Macuata will soon agree on a joint venture with an Asian company for the extraction of bauxite from their land.
Speaking to landowning units during a recent trip to the North, assistant Minister for Lands and chairman of the Standing Committee for Mineral Resources Joeli Cawaki told villagers that after they submitted their consent, they would meet the company to decide on the venture.
Mr Cawaki told villagers that Government would step in and assist landowning units implement conditions of the venture.
He also urged landowners to take ownership of the development of their land and its resources.
Despite the richness in the natural resources they own, Mr Cawaki said iTaukei people continued to live in poverty.
According to Mr Cawaki, iTaukei people continued to be blinded and influenced by the effects of colonialism.
Referring to the joint venture, Mr Cawaki said Nakalou would be the first place in the country whereby landowning units would directly be involved with investors.
Mr Cawaki said iTaukei people continued to give their resources to investors who made millions while the landowners only lived on the meagre unimproved capital value of leases they received on a monthly basis.
He said landowners were always missing during discussions regarding developments on their land.
He urged landowners in Nakalou to be vigilant and step forward for the development of their people.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Labasa Rotary Club

Fiji Sun don't like people to copy and paste but here's the link - about the Labasa Rotary Club.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Weaving kuta

from w
It's interesting that a man from Macuata has joined the women's craft of weaving kuta. Congratulations to Mataiasi Qaronu from Nurua village in Macuata.  Also go to an article in the Fiji Sun about this man.

Exception to the rule

Vuniwaqa Bola-Bari
Friday, October 16, 2015
THE National Women's Expo 2015 was meant for women participants only when it opened on Wednesday.
But Mataiasi Qaroru is the lone exception to this rule, all thanks to his talent which has gained him a spot in this year's event.
Originally from Niurua Village in Macuata, Mr Qaroru, who is known to weave the finest kuta (eleocharis dulcis), is today passing this knowledge to women from his province.
Mr Qaroru, 48, said his weaving was now a source of livelihood for him and his wife and allowed them to expand their micro enterprise to pig farming.
"Today, we also have a small canteen in the village, so my skills have today become a breadwinner to my family," Mr Qaroru said.
Harvesting kuta from the lakes where it grows is a tough task; it takes him about three hours to walk to the lake and back with his load. Work involved in getting a fine kuta product is not easy either.
Explaining the process, Mr Qaroru said after harvesting the kuta reeds, they were tied in bundles and carried vertically.
"Kuta grows in lakes but after harvesting we cannot allow water to touch it again. If we carry them horizontally, they would break thus the need to carry them vertically."
Four days and four nights the kuta would be wrapped so not to allow any breeze to touch them and after this they would be left to dry in the sun to give the reeds their golden brown colour before the fine ones were separated from the wide ones.
"But kuta is not harvested all year round, we only do it in April and that would be after we take some to the chief in the village as it's customary to give the chief the first harvest."
Mr Qaroru not only weaves mats from kuta, he also creates wedding gowns, wall hangings and cushion ring holders for weddings. And he is grateful for this traditional knowledge.
"I was brought up by my father's sister as she had no children and she was the one who taught me all this. I was only in Form Four at Nabala Junior Secondary when I learnt how to make kuta mats but my mum has always told me that it was a chiefly thing to do in her village of Korovuli, Sasa in Macuata."
Mr Qaroru said this knowledge had taken him places over the years. He is one of the 43 participants at the women's expo to receive a Fijian crafted licence.

Cane crushing to end soon

from w
It's a pity that some farmers cannot harvest their cane because the mill is closing too soon. Surely they are entitled to have their cane cut and sent to the mill after a year's work.

Extension to crushing sought

Serafina Silaitoga
Wednesday, October 21, 2015
THE crushing season in Labasa ends this Saturday following the announcement yesterday by the Sugar Industry Tribunal.
"We have announced a date for this Saturday and we have done our part," Tribunal Commissioner Timothy Brown said.
"If there is a need to extend the season then it is between the FSC and the Sugar Cane Grower's Council.
"We won't be part of that discussion because we have played our part in announcing a date."
Questions sent to FSC executive chairman Abdul Khan remained unanswered. Efforts made to contact him via phone calls also proved futile.
Council chief executive officer Sundresh Chetty said they had asked FSC for an extension.
"We are already in discussion with the ministry asking them for an extension to the season in Labasa. We have received calls from farmers in the North asking that the season be extended so they can harvest their crops," he said.
"That is why we are travelling to Labasa tomorrow (today) to see how much crops are left and meet with the mill management to discuss the possibility of an extension to the season."
Mr Chetty said consideration should be given to the farmers because they had invested a lot in their farms.
"After our meeting, we can decide whether an extension will be given for the season," he said.
The Labasa mill has so far crushed 551,000 tonnes of cane and produced 66,500 tonnes of sugar.

The latest -  they have extended the crushing season  - by three days!

Friday, October 09, 2015

Konrote suggested for President of Fiji

from the Fiji Times:
PM nominates Konrote for President

Friday, October 09, 2015
Update: 6:08PM PRIME Minister Voreqe Bainimarama has nominated the Minister for Employment, Productivity and Industrial Relations, Jioji Konrote for the position of President.
Mr Bainimarama said in a statement that he would nominate Mr Konrote's name officially to the Speaker of Parliament as provided for under sections 83 and 84 of the Fijian Constitution before the sitting of Parliament on Monday.
He said Mr Konrote was one of Fiji's most outstanding and decorated military officers, and he has been awarded with numerous awards and decorations during his illustrious career.
Bio of George Konrote from wikipedia:  Major General Jioji Konousi Konrote, OF, MC, better known as George Konrote, is a retired Major-General of the Republic of Fiji Military Forces and a former diplomat. He is currently Minister for Employment Opportunities, Productivity and Industrial Relations in the Fijian Cabinet.

Early life and military career[edit]

Konrote is a native of the island of Rotuma. His days as a pupil at Natabua High School in Lautoka, Fiji, are described in the prize-winning book on Fiji Kava in the Blood by Peter Thomson.
A career soldier, Major General Konrote enlisted into the RFMF in 1966 and trained with New Zealand and Australian defence forces, studying at institutions such as the Australian College of Defence and Strategic Studies and the Australian Defence Force Academy in CanberraAustralia, (where he became a fellow in 1996), and the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University in 2000.
Rising through the ranks of the Fiji Military, he commanded battalions of Fijian soldiers in their peacekeeping efforts in Lebanon during the Fiji's UNIFIL campaign, and was subsequently appointed Deputy Force Commander of the UNIFIL operation, and finally the United Nations Assistant Secretary-General and Force Commander in Lebanon. In recognition of his contributions in these fields, Major General Konrote was awarded with the UNIFIL Peace Medal (1978), the Military Cross (UK, 1982), the Order of Merit (Italy, 1997), the Order of the Cedar (Lebanon, 1999) and was made an Officer of the Order of Fiji (Military Division) in 1997.

Diplomatic and political career

From 2001 to 2006, Konrote served as Fiji's High Commissioner to Australia.[1] After his appointment, equivalent to that of an ambassador, expired at the end of March 2006, and he was elected to represent the RotumanCommunal Constituency at the 2006 election,[2] and was subsequently appointed as Minister of State for Immigration and Ex-Servicemen in the Cabinet of Laisenia Qarase. His role in this portfolio abruptly ended when the government was deposed in a military coup led by Commodore Frank Bainimarama on 5 December 2006.
Despite serving in the Qarase government, Konrote became a candidate for Bainimarama's party, FijiFirst, in the 2014 election,[3] winning 1,585 votes.[4] He was subsequently appointed Minister for Employment Opportunities, Productivity and Industrial Relations.Jump up