Friday, September 16, 2016

Kava drinking in Fiji

from the Fiji Times:

Kava demand worry

Matilda Simmons
Saturday, September 17, 2016
RELIGIOUS leaders have expressed concern over the demand for kava by Fijians in the country.
A report carried out by this newspaper on Thursday stated that Fijians spent an estimated $750,000 a day on kava or 11 tonnes according to market price.
Leaders say the figures are disturbing and highlights the extent of consumption among the Fijian communities.
"We wonder if people have the right priorities in their spending," said Father Kevin Barr, from the People's Community Network.
Virend Lal, the national secretary of the Shree Sanatan Dharm Pratinidhi Sabha said while he was shocked at the figures, he said they've noted a high consumption among its members.
He said during a 13-day mourning ritual often practised by their community, families would spend $2000 to $3000 on kava to entertain guests.
"While we don't say kava is bad, we're asking our members to drink within their limits," he said.
The Methodist Church in Fiji secretary for communication Reverend James Bhagwan said overindulgence in things such as kava could be categorised as substance abuse.
The Fiji Muslim League President, Hafiz Khan described the consumption rate as "hugely excessive" and expressed his doubts on the figure, however, he said any kava consumption in any event was a "wastage of money," and this has seen a lot of social issues among Fijians.

Wednesday, September 07, 2016

Phoebe Mills

Many students in the Fiji Methodist schools will remember Miss Phoebe Mills their teacher such as at Ballantine and Dudley. I knew her in Dudley and we ate together at the teachers' cottage.  She died this week aged 102 in Queensland, Australia but there will be a Memorial Service at Butt Street in Suva.

Monday, September 05, 2016

Phones not books in the future?

Amazing! Now the Big Bosso wants to stop buying textbooks for the schools in Fiji but give all the children smart phones! Not every hill and valley in Fiji has access to these devices, and certainly not all material is allowed to be downloaded.
In the Fiji media today:
Smart Phones To Replace Textbooks: Reddy
September 05
Students will no longer carry their textbooks to school as Government plans to supply smart phones to all students in the near future.
The development was revealed by Minister for Education Mahendra Reddy. He was addressing more than 500 students and members of the public during the launching of the National Library Week in Labasa on Saturday,
Mr Reddy said this was in their attempt to blend learning into what has been termed as the advanced technological era which the global community is encountering.
“At some point in time we want every child in the country to have a smart phone, so that we put a lot of applications which you log onto and download all materials that you want to have access to including all your textbooks,” Mr Reddy said.
“We want you to access your textbook through the learning gadget in your hand, so you do not have to take your bagful of textbooks every day.”
Mr Reddy said it was important to be on par with the rest of the world.
“I have in my little gadget, BCC and CNN. Every two to three hours, I open it and read what is happening around the world,” he said.
“I like to keep myself abreast with the world, and it is amazing to see how we can update ourselves with Fiji, the region and world through a little application.
“The Ministry of Education in this accord understands that empowering education in all sectors of the community will lead to a peaceful, prosperous and vibrant united Fiji.”
Edited by Rusiate Mataika
For a discussion on this topic go to  and also a story from the Fiji Times.  They jump here, they jump there, do they know what they are doing?:

Tablets for students

Litia Cava
Wednesday, September 07, 2016
PLAGUED with challenges of printing textbooks last year, the Ministry of Education has an alternative for Year 12 and 13 students from next year — tablets.
Education Minister Dr Mahendra Reddy said his ministry would introduce the use of tablets to replace the "big textbooks" students carried to school.
This new education tool is apparently part of the ministry's digital literacy program, which would allow students access to news around the world and educational materials on the internet, Dr Reddy added.
The ministry will load all learning materials in the tablets and the total project cost would be about $250,000.
He said while the tablets would give students access to the internet, certain websites that would have negative impacts would be blocked off.
Dr Reddy said the ministry was still in talks with information technology (IT) experts on how to block websites that would have a negative impact on the children.
He said they were also in talks with IT experts to ensure that the blocked websites were not in any way unlocked.
"We cannot ignore the various developments in the IT sector otherwise we will become irrelevant and we do not want our children to be irrelevant and therefore, we will look at how we can develop from the IT," Dr Reddy said.
He said the ministry was also looking at ways of providing data for the tablets, however, once implemented, parents would also be able to top-up the data on their children's tablets.
Dr Reddy said the accessibility and use of the tablet should not be a problem as about 90 per cent had access to electricity.
He said students who were out of network coverage areas would not have problems as their devices would be preinstalled and programmed with textbooks, exam papers and solutions.
But Dr Reddy said students would have to replace the tablets if they were damaged.
National Federation Party leader Professor Biman Prasad said after the one laptop per child policy to the one learning device per child, the ministry now wanted to introduce tablets.
"A few days ago, the minister announced that school texts will now be available on mobile technology in the near future, replacing textbooks.
"And the minister chose the launch of National Library Week to make this announcement.
"This means that the minister doesn't believe in books and libraries."
Opposition spokesman for education, Mikaele Leawere, aired serious concern over the announcement as well.
He said the Government should focus on reconstructing cyclone-affected schools instead of introducing tablets.
-------------------And a letter to the Editor of the Fiji Times:


Finau Naigulevu Turaga, Nadi Airport | Wednesday, September 14, 2016
Irrespective of where we are, I believe some poor decisions seem to override some leaders most of the time.
With electronic tablets for our students, what about maintenance, safe keeping, security and cost?
Was a survey conducted to gauge its longevity and practicality? The authority's selective actions show lack of sincerity to solve issues.
When rolling out ideas, could the authority ensure that all schools in Fiji have this, whether it be milk, Weet-Bix, or tablets. Also what about schools without basic needs, ie, blackboards, roofs, water tanks, toilets and proper classrooms? Do they get electronic tablets too?
from the Fiji Times letters:


Ian Mcleod, Nadi | Saturday, September 17, 2016
In a report in The Fiji Times on September 4, the Education Minister Dr Reddy is reported as saying that children in Fiji should read a lot of books and make use of libraries to improve their literacy rate.
Very commendable! However, a very short time later a plan is put forward to provide Year 12 and 13 with tablets, I believe which is about the surest way to destroy literacy every way one likes to think. I believe the average teenager has enough trouble using a pen as it stands now.
Within a week we see a gentleman on television making the statement that tablets were the only way forward and that books and libraries are a thing of the past (his words). Everything we know about our past has come from great libraries.
During this interview it was apparent that this person was being extremely evasive when asked on proposed costs of the devises and problems, batteries, re-charging, loss or damage. Who will be responsible? Further he stated that the expected life of the item could be four years or less. So this whole exercise would have to be re-financed all over again in that time.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Rev Manasa Lasaro passes away

Ex-church leader dies

Losalini Bolatagici
Wednesday, August 31, 2016  from Fiji Times.

Rev Manasa Lasaro has died in Suva.
His death was announced by church president Reverend Tevita Banivanua yesterday.
Mr Lasaro, who was from Tavea, Lekutu in Bua, died at the Colonial War Memorial Hospital on Monday night.
A former student of Ratu Kadavulevu School in Tailevu, Mr Lasaro served as church president from 1993-1995 and later served in various church departments before his retirement in 2012.
"With his background in sociology and passion for social work and community development, Rev Lasaro's wider ministry can be described as grassroots-based.
"Aside from his national leadership roles, he was involved in the establishment of many social empowerment initiatives, including the early squatter relocation programs in Suva, which resulted in many people being resettled at Narere, Howell Rd and Jittu Estate. Communities, before this, were transferred to the State," Mr Banivanua said.
He said during his time as a lecturer at the Pacific Theological College, Mr Lasaro taught three ministers who would go on to lead the Methodist Church in Fiji.
They included himself, Reverend Ame Tugaue, and the late Reverend Dr Tuikilakila Waqairatu.
Mr Banivanua said Mr Lasaro's legacy continued today with his son, who served in the Saukasa Circuit of the Bau Division.
In 1987, Mr Lasaro led a movement within the church that led to the ousting of then Methodist Church president Reverend Josateki Koroi.
After more than 20 years, a reconciliation ceremony was held in 2013 as the church mapped a new way forward.
Mr Lasaro was survived by his wife, Nanise, three children and grandchildren.
Here is an excellent eulogy about Rev Manasa.
Reverend Manasa Lasaro: A True Servant Leader

A tribute by Reverend Iliesa Naivalu, 
Secretary for Christian Citizenship and Social Services Department, 
Methodist Church in Fiji.

Profile for the late Reverend Manasa Lasaro that has been printed and aired worldwide and the eulogies at the funeral service, may not in any way express the whole facts about a man who tried to stay true to the call of his Master all throughout his ministerial life. Neither any effort from any of us can fully cover the broad spectrum of a man as significant as Reverend Manasa.

For more than 40 years he had committed himself to that call in serving tirelessly for the flocks in local churches and circuits, lecturing in theological training colleges and held leadership roles for the Methodist Church and a government institution.

He was one of the youngest General Secretary and President of the Methodist Church at the age of 46 and 49 respectively.

For those who did not know him, especially certain media outlets and lately the bloggers often referred to him as firebrand, radical, revolutionary, nationalist or even racist. They usually view him from a negative angle with the very limited perspective they had about the man.

But for the thousands who knew and lived closed to him over the years, he was an epitome of a true servant leader (Philippians 2: 5-11), who served tirelessly for the good of all people. His focus was always on the salvation of the souls and that church members live a Christ centered life both in words and deeds. Much of his time was spent in caring for the downtrodden, the under privileged and the outcasts.

His views and actions depicts a life that was well grounded on a daily encounter with the Lord Jesus through his daily reading and studying the Bible accompanied by earnest prayers. His many sermons were always based on the Cross and the cost of carrying that Cross.

Being trained in the United Kingdom with a Master’s Degree in Sociology, he upheld the social stand both of Jesus Christ and John Wesley, which became the mark of his ministerial vocation over the years.

Since the early eighties he worked closely with the Government departments and NGO’s in setting up youth and women’s income generating schemes. He initiated community cooperation on crime prevention among youths which resulted with the lowest crime rate in Nawanawa and Nasinu areas in as many years.

In his six years as General Secretary and President of the Methodist Church, never did he move to the church leader’s residences at Pender Street but opted to live among the people at his own residence in Nawanawa Road, Nasinu.

It is indeed amazing to find a community such as Nawanawa that has been molded by both the vision and work of a single man who had a great influence on the members when they were teenagers in the eighties; when they became parents in the nineties and as of now become grandparents.

Their children and grandchildren have followed their footsteps. Through his regular training and constant supervision of pastoral works for local pastors, church members have been well grounded in the Word of God, taught in the discipline of the church and live out their faith through witnessing while families live a simple life of love and care and become better citizens attaining good education and better employment.

At times, he was found to be at loggerheads with leaders of previous governments. As a church leader he would not accept certain government policies lying down but would counter them with the stand of the Scriptures and the Church. So it was a clash of beliefs and perspectives. State policies are created by men who exixt by the whims of the voters while Christian Ethics is based on the Community of Faith’s belief in a triune God and base their stand on the unchangeable Word of God, the Bible.

He was not against any particular government leader. Beginning from Ratu Mara’s government right to the current government, Rev. Manasa was the prophetic voice of the Methodist Church along with his counterparts from other Mainstream and Evangelical/Pentecostal churches.

He worked closely with Father Kevin Barr because they had the same interests and concerns on the ills of society and fought for social justice. Governments come and governments go, such noble people fight on without bulging an inch from what they accept as God’s foundation for the people’s wellbeing and dignity.

On several occasions he was seen standing with squatters under the rain when heavy machinery moved in to evacuate the settlers. He negotiated with landowners for squatter resettlement in Namadai, Howell Road and Jittu Estate (now known as Lagilagi Housing).

He was a man of great courage. He feared no one but only God. True to his Wesleyan heritage, he usually backed his arguments on the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the tradition of the Christian Church and his compassion for fellow human beings.

When questioned in 1989 on what action would he take if the army use their weapons on him, he replied that he was not afraid of guns because some of his relatives died in both World Wars and many Christians have shed their blood on what they believed.

Three times he was thrown to Police and prison cells and once in an army barrack. In 2009, he was asked by presenter Campbell Cooney, from an overseas media whether he will bow down and change his stand after he was being detained in the Army Barrack and the Police Cell, Rev Manasa replied, “We stand by those very high principles, those moral, spiritual and ethical principles that we stood by.”

The late president Rev. Tuikilakila Waqairatu was very restless on his first night in a Military cell in 2009. He couldn’t sleep and after midnight he looked around the room with much anxiety and self-pity for being in such a situation.

Then he looked down at the two other roommates who happened to be sleeping peacefully on the bare floor. They were former presidents, Rev. Tomasi Kanailagi and Rev. Manasa Lasaro who were in their early seventies and late sixties respectively. It was a night of reckoning and encouragement for the young president. But as for Rev. Lasaro, that was quite normal.

Rev. Lasaro was a man of humor who would change a tense situation to a much lighter one. During his detention at Vaturekuka Correctional Block in Labasa in 1989, the Methodist Divisional Superintendent, Macuata, Rev. Jovilisi Duvuloco was the only person allowed by the Police to visit Rev. Manasa Lasaro.

The security was tight as Rev. Jovilisi was being escorted by both the Police and the Correctional Officers. The Commanding Officer Northern at the time sat at the head of the table, while the two men of the robe occupied each side of the table. Discussions were tense because hundreds of ministers, local pastors and also Rev. Manasa Lasaro’s relatives from both Bua and Macuata had already converged in Labasa at the time.

Rev. Duvuloco was trying to get a message from Rev. Manasa to be conveyed to those outside and those at Church headquarters in Suva but realised it was difficult because of the presence of the Prison Commanding Officer Northern in the room.

To the other two men’s surprises, Rev Manasa abruptly ended the discussion and requested the CO Northern to offer a prayer. Rev. Jovilisi wondered as why a spiritual task as important as a prayer was given to the Commanding Officer Prison and not to him. As chief shepherd in the North at the time, Rev. Jovilisi believed it was only appropriate that he should pray for Rev Manasa in that dire situation.

While the CO was sweating trying to offer a sound prayer in the hearing of the two high ranking church ministers, he wasn’t aware that Rev. Manasa had secretly passed a piece of paper under the table to Rev. Jovilisi. The piece of paper contained his instructions to the hundreds of people who had waited patiently around Labasa and the thousands who were waiting in Suva.

Until today, after the passing of both ministers, I wonder whether the CO Northern at the time ever knew of leaked information that had been transmitted through the gates of his prison on that day. Even to the more than 20 police officers who guarded the vicinity knew nothing about it. In such situations, Rev Manasa’s short stint with the Fiji Police Force became handy.

He once was invited to be a guest for a Methodist Church function in the interior of Cakaudrove. Church members in that area were waiting to accord him a traditional ceremony of welcome. They were not awqare that Rev. Manasa had stopped at a Catholic village where he had linkages and invited some elders to get into the front and passenger seats of his twin cab. He moved to the back with other elders as they travelled up to their destination.

On their arrival, the Methodist members moved closer towards the vehicle to perform the ceremony of welcome. They were taken aback and felt embarrassed when they could not see the chief guest, the two front seats were fully occupied by Catholics who had coloured shirts instead of ministerial or church attire.

The event turned into an exchange of vulgar languages as the two villages were ‘tauvus,’ all to the laughter of their chief guest who was lying flat with the others at the back of the vehicle. The hosts then turned their anger to Rev. Manasa as why he brought the Catholics who would only spoil their function. The meeting began two hours behind schedule as the two parties revel on their traditional connections especially when Rev. Manasa was related to both sides. Well that was typical of Talatala Manasa.

To the thousands of church members at Nawanawa Church, Nasinu Circuit and the whole Davuilevu Division, Rev. Manasa was seen as a father, a local pastor, a church elder, a leader of the people and a statesman. But all in all, he was a friend to all ages as he was well acquainted with almost all members of the more than ten churches in the Division.

I attended the annual general meeting of the Davuilevu Division last May as a representative of the Church’s head office and I was struck by the respect members of the Division accorded him and his beloved wife Nanise.

In his 20 years in the Church office, he was liked by all staff as he had personal attachment to them all. He was a man with a great heart who was fond of giving and not receiving, and even giving beyond his means.

Rev. Manasa had a wide linkage in the Vanuas of Bua, Macuata and Cakaudrove. He knew almost all his kinship and for everyone from the three Provinces I met in the office was related to Rev. Manasa one way or another.

He was a visionary and a leader. He was the backbone in the construction of one of the biggest churches in Fiji, the Ratu Kadavulevu School Chapel in Tailevu and the first ever Methodist disable-friendly church, the Nawanawa Methodist Church in Nasinu which also houses a library and a multipurpose hall.

In the past 30years, he was always busy reading and writing both during his working days and after he retired; Library staff at Pacific Theological College would give witness to this and those who visited his home at any time of the day during his retirement would always find him in his library.

He strongly supported ministerial development through higher education. But he also warned ministers to be mindful of the Divine Call to be true servants of God in serving the spiritual needs of the church members. Giving illustration to big empty churches in the western world where they have ministers with masters and doctoral degrees, he would challenge the Methodist ministers in Fiji as what is the purpose of having higher and colourful academic attires when they are not able to fill the empty pews in their local churches.

Something about Rev. Manasa was that he never stood up to defend himself. He would just voice his belief or to defend the stand of the Church in any issue and that’s about it. Damaging words hurled upon him from the media and those who opposed him, even from some of his own ministerial peers sadly fell on deaf ears.

Rev. Manasa had a very big heart, too big to be resentful of anyone who may have hurt him. He loved all people both young and old. He silently accepted all that happened to him when he was thrown to police and prison cells or at the army barracks because he knew that was part of his call into the Ministry of God. Vengeance is God’s not his.

He found the world to be too small and one’s lifetime to be too short to harbour hatred for fellow human. Towards his departure he was at peace with himself and all those around him knowing that he had done his part in life.

For I am already being poured out like a drinking offering, and the time for my departure is near. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord the righteous Judge will award to me on that day – and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing (2 Timothy 4:6-8).

To Radini Talatala Nani the children and grandchildren, we give praise to God for such a jolly good man, a loving father and grandfather and a gift to our nation. Thank you all for your courage and humility all over the years. May our ever gracious Lord give you peace and blessings as we celebrate the passing of such a faithful man of God.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Fiji Vou Dance group winners

VOU Wins Prestigious UK Award

VOU Wins Prestigious UK Award
VOU performing ‘Are We Stronger than Winston’.
August 28
VOU was announced the 2016 winner of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Sustainable Practice Award for their production ‘Are We Stronger Than Winston?’ at the Awards ceremony on Friday night in Edinburgh in Scotland.
“These awards are a hugely important part of the Festival and aim to reward shows which take responsibility for their environmental, economic, and social impacts and think big about how the arts can help to grow a sustainable world,” a press release from Vou said.
Sachiko Soro, VOU director, said: “There are over 3000 shows at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, so to be shortlisted and then to win this Award is a huge honour for VOU and for Fiji. We believed it was important to tell the world about the devastating impacts of climate change on Fiji but also demonstrate the resilience of Fijians.”
Are We Stronger Than Winston?” was the first Fijian production at the Festival and was choreographed by up and coming VOU choreographer Navi Fong who used the medium of dance to describe the impacts of Cyclone Winston on Fiji.
VOU convinced the judges “…with their direct approach to the theme of sustainability in its form of human adaptation to a changing environment, as well as their excellent and moving performance”.
VOU recently returned from a hugely successful two-month tour of Europe, starting with the iconic Glastonbury Festival in the UK. VOU then performed in Slovenia, Latvia, Lithuania, France and nine nights at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, where they received four-star reviews and the show was sold out. The tour finished with a show in London for the Fiji High Commission and Tourism Fiji.
The audiences at the shows in Europe were intrigued and fascinated by the music and dance from Fiji and wanted to learn more about Fijian arts and culture and the story and thinking behind the dance.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Sevens welcomed to Labasa

from Fiji Village
Thousands welcome Fiji 7s Olympians in the North
By Feroz Mohammed
Friday 26/08/2016

Crowd marches with the 7s team to Subrail park for the Gold medal celebrations.
Thousands have welcomed the victorious Fiji 7s team at Subrail Park for the Special Fiji 7s team Gold medal celebration in the Northern division.
Northerners lined the streets of Labasa town and cheered for the Fiji 7s team as they made their way to Subrail Park.
Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama told the people of the north that the gold medal win in Rio is a milestone achievement in the development of our nation.
Bainimarama says it is a great day to also celebrate the achievement of the players who have links to Vanua Levu.
The Prime Minister says he was determined to also hold celebrations in the Northern division.

Team Manager Ropate Kauvesi and Leone Nakarawa have also been given their $30,000 cheque by the government.
Fiji 7s captain Osea Kolinisau apologised on behalf of the players who could not be part of the celebration.
He says some players are finalising their contracts while others will be returning to their clubs this weekend.
Kolinisau says he was happy when he was informed that there was also going to be a Special Fiji 7s Gold medal win celebration in the Northern division.
He was happy about traveling to the north because of his maternal links to Macuata.

Kolinisau’s mother is from the village of Nakalou in Dreketi, Macuata.
He thanked those who traveled great distances to celebrate the gold medal win in the North.
You can check out photos of the celebration on our facebook page, fijivillage.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Uniting Church Australia and Fiji Methodist Church

2016 Bose ko Viti - Representative Session Day 2: Signing of Partnership Agreement between Methodist Church in Fiji and Uniting Church in Australia.  It was good to see the Moderator of the Uniting  Church in Australia at the Fiji Methodist Church Conference in Suva this month.  I wonder what the memorandum of a Partnership Agreement means.  Would they treat a Fiji minister doing supply in Australia as equal to an Australian minister or classify him or her as 'Minister from another Denomination' and be placed in a different category regarding superannumation, etc.