Thursday, September 03, 2015

walking on eggshells regarding Western Papua

from w
It's interesting that a man from Western Papua has turned up in Suva for a meeting, though he's not invited. It's a touchy subject for Fiji - how to be friends with Indonesia, and how to be supportive of a Melanesian brother.  For now, the man was not allowed into the forum. The story was in the Fiji Times.

Freedom fighter shown the way out

Siteri Sauvakacolo And Solomone Rabulu
Friday, September 04, 2015

WEST Papua will apply to be a member of the Pacific Islands Development Forum, even though freedom fighter Octovanius Mote was denied entry into the PIDF meeting currently being held at the Grand Pacific Hotel in Suva.
Mr Mote, the General-Secretary for the United Liberation Movement for West Papua, was part of the Solomon Islands delegation.
Prior to the opening of the summit, he was told that he would not be part of the meeting and to leave the Grand Pacific Hotel premises.
PIDF interim secretary-general Amena Yauvoli said he was not aware of a West Papua delegation and he would also not comment on political matters.
"I am free in this Melanesian land, I am home, I don't care if I am not part of the meeting," Mr Mote said.
"Everybody is behind us in the West Papua fight and no nation can stop us and even though I might not be inside the meeting. It doesn't matter to me, it's too late, our solidarity groups are there."
Mr Mote said he was told he was not in the right place at the right time when he was disallowed from being part of the summit.
Mr Mote said opportunities such as the PIDF gave him the confidence to lobby leaders and gather more countries to rally behind their fight for freedom.
"We will apply to be a member of the PIDF next year, we also ask the leaders to form a fact finding mission and conduct human rights assessment in West Papua and we also ask leaders to call on the UN Secretary-General to call on a special envoy to conduct human rights assessment.
"The West Papua issue is not a local issue anymore, it is a Melanesian issue, it is a South Pacific Forum issue so I have to convey my gratitude to all my solidarity groups because we all work together. As I said, West Papua issue is a human right issue and it's an issue of all human beings who have a heart."

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

The final four designs for a NZ flag

from w

The final design will be chosen from these four - all looking good to me.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Kuta in Macuata

from w
It is disappointing that kuta is becoming rare in Fiji because kuta makes beautiful fine mats such as from Macuata in the ponds near Navakasobu outside Labasa.  Kuta reeds are finer than pandanus. Article from the Fiji Times and photos from the internet.

'Diminishing reeds'
Luke Rawalai
Tuesday, September 01, 2015
RESEARCH by WWF South Pacific indicates that kuta ponds in Macuata are diminishing because of agriculture and development of infrastructure which have affected these wetlands. Eleocharis dulcis or the freshwater reed known as kuta grows well in wetlands and is used to make kuta mats native to the women of Macuata. NatureFiji-MareqetiViti director Nunia Thomas said important sources for the kuta such as the Laulevu pond in Navakasobu outside Labasa Town had been taken over by waterlilies.
Ms Thomas said by the 1980s most of the ponds hardly had kuta reeds in them. "NFMV is now doing a project through its Permanent Forests Estate projects to try and revive these reeds which is a traditional identity for the clans of Nalutu and Buca in Korovuli, Seaqaqa," she said. "We are looking back to the past and identifying with women how we can maintain the ponds and revive the reed. We are also looking at past experiences to move the women and their kuta ponds forward and preserve their traditional identity."
Ms Thomas said through traditional practices they identified that the harvesting of the reed needed to be done in order to assist the plant in its regrowth. "It is issues like these that we are learning from women who have been using the reed for a long time to make the kuta mats," she said. "We are also carrying out works with the people of Culanuku in Serua trying to establish a sustainable management plan for their sago palms which arendemic to Fiji. "The leaves of the sago or soga as it is locally known are used to thatch bure and it normally takes 20 to 25 years to grow these palms."

Ms Thomas urged hotel owners who are users of the thatch that they needed to purchase the thatch from sustainable harvesters such as those in Culanuku to ensure the future of the plant species.

Remember your own dialect

from w
I read in today's Fiji Times that in Fiji some of the dialects are now forgotten.  That's a pity as it's lovely to hear the distinctive differences in the Fiji dialects. Of course the Labasa dialect is unique with its deletion of 'k' and 't' most of the time as well as extra words not used elsewhere.  And 'our' family language is still used in Labasa, Mali, Wailevu and nearby.  Bula sia!

Extinct dialects

Sikeli Qounadovu
Tuesday, September 01, 2015
NINETEEN out of about 300 iTaukei dialects are now extinct or probably extinct.
And according to linguist Dr Paul Geraghty, there are many reasons for this. However, the number is likely to increase if nothing is done about it.
"There are many reasons for them becoming extinct. Colonisation, westernisation or more importantly because the people do not value their own dialects," Mr Geraghty said
Referencing a 2003 paper, The Language Situation in Fiji by Francis Mangubhai of the University of Southern Queensland and Francis Mugler of the University of the South Pacific, a further 17 are losing their distinctiveness, in addition to four more losing their phonological distinctiveness. Mr Geraghty added these areas do not speak their true dialects because a lot of words had been borrowed from other places.
"A lot of these dialects have been borrowed from standard Fijian (iTaukei), when there are really words from their dialect that can be used."
He said in order to avoid the extinction of one's dialect one must first learn to respect one's communalect while showing the same courtesy for standard iTaukei.
"Whatever knowledge we have the parents and the old please do share with your family. Do not be embarrassed to speak your own dialect, because the more you are embarrassed to converse in your communalect, the more likely it is to become extinct."
Dr Geraghty confirms that at the University of South Pacific he emphasises to his students to converse and write in their own dialects and value them highly.
Meanwhile the iTaukei Affairs Ministry is worried, Fiji may lose one of their most prized identity and that is its language. And to avoid this from ever happening, the iTaukei Affairs is working around the clock to ensure that this does not ever occur.
In an interview with the Fiji Times Permanent Secretary for iTaukei Affairs Mr Savenacala Kaunisela said this is evident as the standard of the quality of iTaukei language is no longer, as compared to the past.
"Some of us cannot speak our language, others there is a mixture of iTaukei and English. There can come a time that we may lose our language."
Mr Kaunisela said they are engaging the iTaukei Trust Fund to see to the protection of the iTaukei identity.
"We have published books, the book comes with pictures which the young can read and understand, and because one thing we have seen is everything is in English so why not have something in plain and simple itaukei language which the young can also understand."
He said as part of Government's initiative they are visiting villages and educating them the importance of preserving and protecting their identity as well as teaching their younger generation the importance of knowing and understanding their identity - language, customs and traditions.
Compulsory studying of the iTaukei language in the education system is another government initiative to protect its unique identity.
However, according to one of the lecturers in the Fijian language at the University of the South Pacific - Mr Sekove Degei while the dialect can be lost, it is impossible to lose Standard Fijian is impossible.
"I do not agree as a sizeable population of iTaukei are in the urban areas, while the rest are in the villagers and it's those in the villages who still speak their language."
"Put it simple, if a child is grounded in his customs and traditions from home he will never forget them no matter where he goes."

Sunday, August 30, 2015

How many languages do you know

from w,
and I wonder how many languages are there in Fiji, and how many can you identify in this picture?

Saturday, August 29, 2015

A Fijian visits Tonga

from w
I like the story of a visit to Tonga as we had a visit there a couple of years ago and also compared it with Fiji.  I like this bit:
On one of these rides back to our hotel room, we were talking about the similarities in the Pacific islands when we came up with names.
Makereta and I were talking about how Lauans (Where I have maternal links to) name their children with names that had meanings literally.
Our facilitator from SPREP Nanette Woonton, who came from the Cook Islands, told us of how someone from the Cooks was named "MyMamaandPapamademebehindtheEmpirecinema" (My Mama and Papa made me behind the Empire cinema and Samoan Iutita Loau remembered a friend whom they only refer to as Wales had his first name as WalesversusWesternSamoa which also included the name of the venue and the score including the year the game was held. It was in fact Samoa's first game against Wales.
Here is the full story from today's Fiji Times.

A Tongan experience

Vuniwaqa Bola-Bari 
Sunday, August 30, 2015
VISITING the Friendly Isles and the only island kingdom in the Pacific is something I never expected and did not know what to expect from it either.
From childhood memory, I only learnt about it through social studies but it was a place where I also have links, because my maternal great grandmother hails from Kolonga in Tonga and was born in Fiji when their dad, Viliame Fonolahi, a reverend than, came to Mualevu in Vanuabalavu to serve an appointment from the Methodist Church.
However, my grandmother, mother nor I had been to Tonga until I went in July.
It was to be my first time to the island kingdom, thanks to the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Program (SPREP).
Six of us caught our flight from Nadi International Airport, just a week after the King's coronation. When we arrived, the festive mood was still in the air.
Coconut trees swayed gently outside the perimeter of the Fuamotu International Airport but comparing it to Nadi International Airport would be farfetched.
Love for the king
I've only heard of how much they respect and love those in the royal family but I never realised how much it was until setting foot on the Island.
From the airport right to the hotel where we were accommodated, humongous banners carrying the picture of King Tupou IV and his wife Queen Nanasipau'u Tukuaho hung from buildings greatly displaying the royals. Small triangular flags decorated the roadside, lamp posts were draped with gatu or Tongan tapa.
Huge replica crowns were seated on top of arched-type billboards across the roads with messages congratulating the king on his coronation.
Mind you, these were still there, a week after the coronation when we arrived and even when we left, they left the decorations beautifying their Island.
Although the coronation was only held at Nuku'alofa, other districts on Tongatapu and I was told that even other smaller islands, did their own decorations marking the coronation of their king.
They even had alcohol bottled in a special bottle especially for the coronation of King Tupou IV.
Island life
We stayed at the Little Italy Hotel for the first week located at the Kolomatua District on Nuku'alofa before we moved to the Scenic Hotel on the second week.
Unlike Fiji where time in Suva seems to be at a faster pace, the island kingdom still has that island taste — laid-back way of life, where everything and anything would walk about freely, including pigs crossing the main roads without a care.
Their graveyards were probably two times bigger than the normal ones we have back home, tiled, and fenced, with big decorations.
We would later pass comments that if that was at home, the decoration would be missing after a few days.
I was told by some locals that during special days like Easter, Christmas or even when it's the birthday of their late relatives, the whole family would be at the grave of their late family member feasting.
SPREP workshop and
Pacific Meteorology Council
I arrived on Tuesday, July 14 with veteran journalist Samisoni Pareti who was one of the workshop facilitators, and three other Wantok colleagues; Heather Maraki from Vanuatu, Gregory Moses from PNG and Francis Talasasa from the Solomon Islands.
Our Samoan friends had arrived earlier in the day as they came in via Auckland.
Our first three days had us tied up to a workshop on climate change where we had speakers from Tonga's Meteorology Department and officers from SPREP which deals with Climate Change around the region.
In the second week, it was when we had to cover the PMC and the ministerial meeting on the last day.
We were all geared up for it but our hosts at the Scenic weren't very friendly, but we had no choice because it was the only available one as the other hotels on Nuku'alofa were booked out with Tongans from overseas who were there for their family reunions and other functions.
Every day after the program, we had to travel about 20 minutes (as if I was driving) back to our hotel, it was quite a long drive back but being with a group of Pacific journalists, the drive seemed short as we always shared jokes along the way.
On one of these rides back to our hotel room, we were talking about the similarities in the Pacific islands when we came up with names.
Makereta and I were talking about how Lauans (Where I have maternal links to) name their children with names that had meanings literally.
Our facilitator from SPREP Nanette Woonton, who came from the Cook Islands, told us of how someone from the Cooks was named "MyMamaandPapamademebehindtheEmpirecinema" (My Mama and Papa made me behind the Empire cinema and Samoan Iutita Loau remembered a friend whom they only refer to as Wales had his first name as WalesversusWesternSamoa which also included the name of the venue and the score including the year the game was held. It was in fact Samoa's first game against Wales.
After the first day, we were all hosted by the Tongan Government to Oholei Beach Resort.
We were hosted in a cave made up beautifully in a very artistic way and is owned by the Kami family.
This beach resort had a plethora of cuisine made the Tongan way with the plates made from banana stems.
From seafood cooked in coconut milk, sweet potatoes, yams and cassava cooked in coconut milk and pork cooked over an open fire, the Tongans love their food just like their Pacific Island neighbours.
These were food served to us at the resort and with a live band singing Pacific hits, it couldn't have been better.
From that night until we left we felt it was the best we could have seen of Tonga.
It was also on this trip to Oholei that we were told that one of the band members is the son of Famous Fijian musician, Sakiusa Bulicokocoko.
He had a mellifluous voice, singing his dad's hits, and when I realised who he was, I wasn't surprised, he is from Tailevu brought up by his Tongan mother in Tonga- he is known as Christopher Luka.
Last night
We were also hosted to another beach resort on the west side of the island on the last night to farewell all the participants at the PMC.
It was at Vakaloa where everyone was hosted to different Tongan traditional dances from the tau'aluga to the lakalaka.
This was also where we dined with the Tongan Crown Prince Ulukalala.
On Tongatapu, from the Fuamotu Airport to Nuku'alofa and to other villages in Tonga, there was no segregation in their housing. They all lived together, unlike Fiji, where we have places like Namadi Heights, Beyview Heights, Domain in Suva and Delailabasa in Labasa, Sandalwood at Waiyavi in Lautoka that have mansion-type houses, in Tonga there was no segregation.
You could see a home made out of corrugated iron right next to a double-story house which looked like that of homes overseas.
Fijian community
Tonga has a sizeable Fijian community. They are involved in different things; some of them are engaged in running a business, others are in other fields of endeavour. And when talking about Fijians in Tonga, you have to mention Lomaiviti.
It is like a village also on Tongatapu made up of Fijians who were originally from Lomaiviti and were given that piece of land where they are settled by the late Queen Salote.
I met former Fijian veteran journalist Iliesa Tora and his family in Tonga. They took me for a quick tour around the small island, visiting some of Tonga's great sites.
From Lomaiviti, where his uncles live to Houna — the village of the current Queen Nanasipau'u and its blowholes to Niutoua where they have the Stone Hedge and to the beach where Captain James Cook first landed on Tonga.
Cook's time in Tonga is commemorated by a plaque at the site of his landing at Tongatapu in 1777, where it is said that he rested under a great banyan tree before journeying to the capital, Mu'a, to see the king.
The plaque reads: "Here stood formerly the great banyan 'Malumalu 'o Fulilangi' or Captain Cook's tree under the branches of which the celebrated navigator came ashore on his way to visit Pau, the Tu'i Tonga (sacred king of Tonga) on the occasion of the 'Inasi (presentation of the first fruits) in the year 1777."
I was also later shown the villa of the late King GeorgeTupou V which I am told now is home to one of Fiji's sons — Ratu Tevita Uluilakeba, who is better known as Roko Ului. He was in the military and fled to Tonga just as he was charged with mutiny and accused of attempting to overthrow Bainimarama's government.
With his family's connection in Tonga, Roko Ului is well respected there among the Fijians as he is among the Tongans.
I was also told later of how some Fijians were faced with problems of returning home after their employers confiscated their passports and told them to leave.
After we left on Saturday, one Fijian girl, left the week after for Fiji with some help from the Fijian community and Tora who assisted in trying to get her home.
In some ways, Tonga has become like the US for Fijians, not in the sense of development but in the sense of keeping Fijians there, some overstaying but that government not wanting to deport them unless they got involved in criminal activity.
If there's one thing I learnt during my short stay in Tonga, it was how they value the family, how Tongans overseas would still send something back to their relatives back on the island, be it nuclear or extended family, the help was always there.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Can you live on $5000F a year?

from w
In Fiji Methodist ministers pay is $5000Fijian per year and those on probabion $4500F.  I wonder if they can live on this. Okay, they probably have a food garden and do receive gifts at times.  Do those who work in towns such as Lautoka and Suva get a bonus for not having a plantation?   I think this is not enough to raise a family on. The story is in the Fiji Times.  By comparision, in Australia a Uniting Church minister's salary is perhaps $60,000 ($54,000 plus superannuation contribution by the church).  When Peceli was a minister in the mountains of Naikoro his salary was 11 pounds a month, but sometimes the people didn't even have that to pay him, so perhaps times are better now!

Nawadra raises concern on pay of church ministers
By Watisoni Butabua
Tuesday 25/08/2015

The Methodist Church President Reverend Dr. Tevita Nawadra.
The Methodist Church President Reverend Dr. Tevita Nawadra has raised concerns about the basic pay of the church ministers per year.
Speaking during the opening of the Annual Conference at the Centenary Church, Nawadra says this is not easy because it involves money.
He says currently the ordained ministers basic salary is $5,000 while those who are on probation are paid $4,500.
He says the ordained deaconesses are paid $4,500 per annum while those who are on probation receive $4,000 per year.
Nawadra says he has heard stories of church ministers seeking financial assistance for their children’s tertiary level education.
He says the basic salary for the church ministers will be reviewed.
The Church President adds that the church ministers are paid from the circuits they serve.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

women in the Fiji Methodist Church

from w

Methodist Conference in Fiji starts today at Centenary Church. Where are the women? Surely not all are in the kitchen!!!!!