Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Marijuana as a commercial crop?

I don't think so. We don't want the youth of Fiji stoned and aimless with drug-taking. There is a difference though if the speaker in Parliament is talking about medical uses for marijuana but he didn't say that. It can be used for serious pain such as cancer but the farming of medical marijuana would have to be well organised.
From Fiji Times:

Mixed views over pot bid

Aqela Susu
Thursday, April 27, 2017
The Minister for Defence and National Security, Ratu Inoke Kubuabola, told Parliament yesterday he would not recommend to Government the legalisation of marijuana in Fiji.
He made this comment in response to a supplementary question by Social Democratic Liberal Party (SODELPA) Member of Parliament Niko Nawaikula who asked the minister if he would at any time recommend to Government the commercial planting of marijuana in Fiji.
Mr Nawaikula said this was because people were planting marijuana as a source of income.
"I don't think I'd like to recommend to Government the legalisation of marijuana in Fiji," Ratu Inoke said.
Mr Nawaikula's comment, however, drew mixed reactions.
Last night Opposition Leader Ro Teimumu Kepa differed from Mr Nawaikula's call, saying it was his "own opinion".
"I haven't heard him mention anything like that before. I think he took everyone by surprise and to me, it is his own personal opinion which he is entitled to," Ro Teimumu said.
She also clarified that Mr Nawaikula's call was not part of SODELPA's policy.
Former SODELPA youth leader Pita Waqavonovono spoke out strongly about what Mr Nawaikula said, saying there were other agricultural products that could be cultivated and marketed.
"Marijuana is actually a dying market and an unpopular one also," Mr Waqavonovono said.
"We are trying to build a society that is not dependent on hard drugs, making it legal is a cop-out. And young people want Parliament to come up with more substantive measures to employment creation, and legalising marijuana won't help."
Two frequent letter writers to The Fiji Times Letters to the Editor column agreed with Mr Nawaikula's call for the legalisation of marijuana for commercial purposes.
Simon Hazelman of Savusavu said as with alcohol and tobacco, marijuana needed to be legalised for control and taxes.
"Ratu Inoke Kubuabola's reply simply confirms the ruling party's tunnel vision regarding the issue. The least Government can do for now is to initiate an investigation of the benefits of commercial marijuana farming," Mr Hazelman said. "The simple fact that the variety used to produce products is of no use to stoners is enough for Government to remove the blinkers and seriously look into the matter."
Nadi lawyer Dorsami Naidu said Government should look at it as a crop that could earn this country a lot of foreign exchange.
Meanwhile, attempts to get comments from Agriculture Minister Inia Seruiratu and Trade Minister Faiyaz Koya remained unsuccessful when this edition went to press last night.

Plan for a hostel for Labasa

This sounds like an excellent idea.  Is St Mary's Hostel still going?  For many, many years the Anglican Church in Labasa had a hostel for girls in Labasa.  No, it was closed two years ago.

Group to build hostel

Luke Rawalai
Thursday, April 27, 2017
THE women's wing of the Macuata Methodist Church circuit plans to construct a girl's hostel that will house female students schooling in Labasa Town soon.
Women's wing president Kelera Tuiwanikai said the hostel would host students within the circuit from Cikobia Island extending to Dreketi in Vanua Levu.
Ms Tuiwainikai said most times, female students from these interior areas had to live with their relatives.
"The women's wing has already managed to collect $24,000 from our soli and we are to decide on other issues regarding the plan," she said.
"In line with Government's focus of developing the North, we found it ideal to construct a hostel for our female students in the circuit.
"We understand that the Fiji National University and other tertiary institutions, including colleges will be brought to Labasa soon and the hostel will complement such developments, providing students with a place to stay in."
Ms Tuiwainikai said they were yet to identify a suitable piece of land for the planned home.
"We had earlier selected one but it was under an agricultural lease so we are looking around again," she said.
"The project is for a worthy cause and the fact that we would be opening doorways for children within the circuit in future is something that we are proud of.
"There are 19 circuits within the Macuata circuit and each circuit raises $200 annually for the cause and the general administration of the women's wing."
--------------------
St Mary's Hostel in Labasa was closed two years ago.

Church closes hostel

Serafina Silaitoga
Monday, December 14, 2015
THE Anglican church has closed its St Mary's hostel in Labasa as deteriorating condition poses risks to the safety of boarders.
The closure means that girls from rural areas who depend on the hostel for accommodation will have to look elsewhere come the new school term.
Church parish priest Father Gerald Billings said they made the toughest decision but was best for all.
"With pressing realities and demands that have now emerged, the Anglican Church of the Diocese of Polynesia had to make an urgent and hard pressing decision on the future of St Mary's hostel," he said.
"The church cannot guarantee the safety of all those under our care and thus the sensible need to take precautionary approach.
"This is a big factor in the closure of the hostel and another reality is the escalating cost of running St Mary's hostel which is now beyond our means."
Mr Billings said the Diocese through special funds had helped keep the hostel afloat.
"However, after two years, the sheer amount needed has brought realisation that the church cannot afford to sustain it any longer," he said.
"There is also a clear decline in the number of girls coming forward to the hostel."
Over the past years, the Ministry of Labour had also issued OHS notices to the hostel board even notices of closure. Mr Billings said the board met last month and decided to close the hostel.
"The first reality is the difficulty in ensuring a safe place to take care of young women. There are possible fire hazards within an aged building and we cannot risk fire from faulty electrical wiring or any other means," he said.
"We used to have 100 boarders and the number dropped to around 30.
"Parents in rural areas have also been buying affordable houses in the outskirts of Labasa and their children have also moved there instead."

Friday, April 21, 2017

The American iguana pest

We don't want this American iguana pest in Vanua Levu!  But apparently one (or more) have swum over to Vanua Levu. Some silly tourist brought some American iguana to Qamea Island and now they have spread to parts of Taveuni and even swum to Koro Island!  Not happy at all!

American iguana culled

Luke Rawalai
Saturday, April 22, 2017
AN American Iguana commonly known as the Giant Invasive Iguana (GII) discovered in Savusavu has been culled and returned to Qamea by the Biosecurity Authority of Fiji (BAF).
The authority confirmed this after the iguana was first sighted in Qamea in 2000 and the neighbouring Laucala, Matagi and Taveuni islands by 2009.
A statement from the authority yesterday said this was the first time GII had been found anywhere on Vanua Levu.
"It is unclear at this stage how the GII made its way to Natewa Bay, Savusavu," the statement said.
"There is a possibility that GIIs were involuntarily assisted across the sea during tropical cyclone Winston.
"Although GII is an arboreal lizard, it has the ability to dive into the sea to escape predators and swim long distances."
The authority said it was alerted of the new GII sighting by local fishermen at a beach situated at the base of Natewa Bay approximately 20 kilometres from Savusavu Town.
"BAF responded swiftly and deployed its GII surveillance and awareness team for identification of the iguana and confirmed it as GII," the statement said
"The team then conducted a thorough survey of the area and visited local villages to conduct awareness. No further GIIs have been sighted in the area or areas nearby."
In 2011, the then permanent secretary for the agriculture minister, Colonel Mason Smith said there were possibilities of the reptile swimming to Buca Bay following a sighting in Koro Island.
Col Smith said then that if it could get to Koro, it could certainly get across to Buca Bay adding they were closely monitoring the situation.
However, the latest statement from the authority requested members of the public not to be alarmed, adding that the GII was primarily a herbivore.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Cane harvesters for Labasa

Something different from the cane gangs who cut cane in Fiji and are paid a pittance.  Will this be the way to go in the future - to use mechanical harvesters though I don't think they'd be very safe on the hills.
Fiji Times story:

New harvesters to benefit farmers

Luke Rawalai
Thursday, April 20, 2017
AN estimated 20,000 tonnes of sugar cane is expected to be harvested from the two new harvesters recently purchased by the Labasa Cane Producers Association.
The association's president Mohammed Rafiq said the two mechanical harvesters were purchased from India at a cost of $720,000.
Mr Rafiq said the two harvesters were estimated to generate an income of $330,000 for the association.
"This year the board and management proceeded towards buying the harvester and decided to buy Shaktiman brand from Gujrat, India," he said.
"The harvesters are in Labasa, assembled and ready to harvest cane in Waiqele and the Seaqaqa area.
"Last year the association's general assembly approved the purchase of the two mechanical harvesters." Mr Rafiq said proceedings from the harvesters' operations would benefit all sugarcane growers in the Labasa mill area.
"During the 2017 annual general meeting the gang representatives of LCPA had approved the following benefits to farmers — pre-harvest assistance with the provision of knives and files, weedicide subsidy, death benefit of $500 per farmer," he said.
However, during the association's annual general meeting last month farmers raised their concerns on whether farmers in hilly areas where harvesters could not harvest cane farms would be assisted in any way.
Responding to these concerns, Mr Rafiq said they could not find a harvester that could work on farms in hilly areas.
He said with the two harvesters now harvesting cane in the flat areas, labourers would now be spread out to the hilly areas.

Korowiri school

A school in Labasa will have a teacher's quarters built and one of the purposes is for the teacher to guard the school out of hours!
Go to http://fijisun.com.fj/2017/04/19/northern-primary-school-to-finally-get-teachers-quarters-after-42-years/
The photo is of children from the Korowiri/Tovata school when they received schoolbags.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Thanks Akuila

A letter to the Editor of the Fiji Times:
Honestly speaking I believe honestly speaking Pio Tikoduadua hit the nail on the head (The Sunday Times 16.04.17) that Fiji's biggest problem at the moment is that nobody's opinion matters, except those of the Prime Minister and the Attorney-General. It's a matter of deep and worrying concern. There seems to be a dearth of such display of costly courage in Fijian society at the moment. This does present a challenge though to leaders and especially politicians, civil servants and civil society organisations. All should take up responsibilities to uphold freedom in relation to restrictions, especially imposed by decrees on the part of state power.

 Rev. Akuila Yabaki Suva

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Don't forgot your home language

Embracing Fiji-Hindi

Shayal Devi 
Monday, April 17, 2017 (from Fiji Times)
MORE needs to be done to maintain and embrace Fiji Hindi as a part of the hybrid identity of Fijians of Indian descent.
This is according to Auckland, New Zealand, resident Quishile Charan.
The University of Auckland student, who has links to Fiji, was one of the participants during an academic conference in Saweni last month, which focused on the abolishment of the indentured system 100 years ago.
"For me, as a person who lost their mother tongue because of the move to a Western country and the resulting racism incurred, relearning Fijian Hindi as a young adult has been vital to my cultural heritage," she said.
"There is a notion of Fijian Hindi being a lesser or broken language and as a community, we need to embrace and maintain the unique language as it is a gift from our ancestors and pivotal to our hybrid identity."
According to Ms Charan, younger Fijians of Indian descent needed to understand how the language was brought about in order to appreciate it fully.
"One of the ways we can grow the passion for our language in the younger generations would be to help the next generation understand how our language was made, that it was formed in times of survival and played a key role in the formation of our current community.
"Fijian Hindi is not dormant in the past, it plays a key role to our cultural identity in contemporary times and it is specific to us as a people.
"To hegemonise a unique language to a dominant one would only harm us and our continual growth as Fijians of Indian descent.
"Fijian Hindi is a reflection of us, of our history, of our relationship to Viti and our ancestral roots in India. Erasing that is erasing parts of ourselves."
Similar sentiments were echoed by University of the South Pacific academic Professor Vijay Naidu, who said the descendants of indentured labourers who arrived in Fiji more than 100 years ago had undergone many changes.
He said the most significant changes occurred in the areas of culture, language and social class.
"The indentured system basically demolished the caste system," Prof Naidu said.
"In Fiji, from the 1920s right through to the 1940s, there were talks of an Indian Government because there was a diverse group of people from India who had their own language and even culture and the obvious caste systems.
"But over time, the Fiji-Indian identity in particular became more significant."
Identity wise, Prof Naidu said the Indo-Fijian identity became more prominent during the post-indenture period.
"What developed was a more distinct Fiji-Indian or Indo-Fijian identity. The origin of the word Indo-Fijian was born in the 1950s.
"Being an Indian in Fiji separated you from the rest and the sense of being an Indian in Fiji became stronger when people moved overseas.
"A group of Indo-Fijians attended a university in India and they were called Fijians. That was a national-based identity.
"There was a loss of language especially to the more distinct ones like Tamil and Gujarati, south or north India but with a loss in language there is also a gain in language and we have now Fiji-Hindi."
He also added today's Fijians of Indian descent were more likely to be fluent in an iTaukei language or dialect depending on where they lived.
"Especially in areas like Vanua Levu. You have Indo-Fijians who go as far as speaking the dialect," Prof Naidu said.
"Likewise for the iTaukei. In the Ba Province and in Nadroga there are those who are very fluent in the Fiji-Hindi language."

Thursday, April 06, 2017

Honey in Mali Island

A small story in the Fiji Times is about the honey boxes and this seems to be an excellent innovation for a small cottage industry. Three of the villages are on Mali Island and one is out of Labasa near the snake stone temple.  Matailabasa belongs to the vanua of Mali.

Vesi find more jobs from bees

LUISA QIOLEVU
Thursday, April 06, 2017
Update: 5:32PM VILLAGERS of Vesi on Mali Island found more job opportunities through their beekeeping projects since they first began on 2015.
The four villagers  Matailabasa, Vesi, Nakawaga and Ligaulevu each received 20 honey boxes and they managed to earn around $8000 after their first harvest on 2016.
District representative Seru Moce said the honey production has proven to be a profitable business for the four villages.
"This project has inspired women to be productive, to utilise the resources available to earn income for their families and women groups from each villages even produces handicraft to earn money. 
We have realised that we need to work together to uplift the lives of our families. The men also help  harvesting  the honey and the profit is shared equally among the villagers,� he said.


Wednesday, April 05, 2017

Farewell Rinieta

Isa, our lovely niece, Rinieta,  passed away this week in Suva, and her funeral will be tomorrow at Vatuadova village near Labasa.  She has been a great worker for women in Fiji and a much loved member of our familiy mataqali.


Two photos taken about 1972 when Rinieta lived with us at Nukutatava Beach. In the family picture she is the girl in the middle of the photo.


Fijians in Perth Australia

from the Fiji Times Thursday:

Crossways for Fijians

James Bhagwan
Wednesday, April 05, 2017
The Crossways community in Perth became the latest Cross-Cultural Church of the Uniting Church in Australia last month, as more than 30 members of the Methodist Church in Fiji were formally welcomed in a service of belonging, presided by Western Australia Moderator, Reverend Steve Francis.
The service, held eight months after a monthly Fijian worship was started at Crossways under the pastoral care of Rev William Lucas, a former divisional superintendent of the Indian Division in Fiji, who is one of the ministers serving at Crossways.
"I believe that today is a milestone for the Methodist family from Fiji," said Jioji Soqoiwasa who has been in Perth since 1996.
"We were looking and looking for a place of worship that we could call home." Mr Soqoiwasa, who became a lay preacher at a very young age while still in Fiji, shared a story with the congregation on how when he was only 19 years old he was appointed to go and serve on Vatoa Island as a lay pastor.
However because of his age, his father did not agree in the meeting and had the appointment revoked.
This caused a change in direction and vocation in Mr Soqoiwasa's life path but it did not weaken his spirituality.
The secondary schoolteacher learned to play rugby while teaching in Sigatoka and eventually moved to Perth to play rugby.
"Vinaka vakalevu to our Crossways family for allowing us to be a family, and letting us into your family."
This is not the first time that there has been a regular Fijian community worship gathering.
"When I came over in 1996, Rev Inoke Nabulivou, a former Methodist Church in Fiji president, was a Uniting Church minister in Perth and always held a Fijian service. I was blessed to work under him."
Although those gatherings were ad hoc and eventually became inconsistent, a seed had been planted for this community of faith.
"Sometimes we are hot, sometimes we are cold. But I am grateful for those who have helped us undertake a new exodus, just as our home church in Fiji is on their new exodus, and revive the community worship and strengthen our faith family as we join with Crossways."
Eventually the community held their first Fijian worship service at Crossways, and as I was passing through on mission work, I was honoured to preach the first sermon to the fledgling congregation, presenting them with a few Fijian-language Methodist hymn books.
When Methodist Church in Fiji deputy general secretary, Rev Ili Vunisuwai visited Perth in July last year, the community was strengthened and encourage to move further along in their journey.
While some members of the Fijian community, belong to other churches, the community worship allows the opportunity for gathering in the Fijian way — through worship and fellowship.
"My wife and I are elders in a Pentecostal Church," said Mr Soqoiwasa.
"But my heart was always burning for our Fijian community to worship together, the way our fathers and mothers worshipped."
Members of the Fijian community shared their testimonies of their years of searching for many of the Fijian community in Perth for a faith community which would not only welcome them but also allow space for worship in their own language.
One of the new members received during the service was former government minister and politician Ted Young, who had spent time also working in the Uniting Church's Frontier Services.
Frontier Services is a national charity working on behalf of people living in remote areas, which covers 85 per cent of Australia. Frontier Services supports the Uniting Church in Australia, through its network of Patrol Ministers, in their pastoral work with indigenous communities, isolated properties, mining sites and other remotely located communities.
In his testimony during the service, Mr Young shared about the opportunity to serve in these remote "outback" areas with Frontier Services, based in South Hedland, serving the whole Pilbara region in Western Australia, which has some of the world's most ancient natural landscapes, dating back two billion years and stretching more than 400,000 square kilometres.
"This was one of most remote areas in Australia, and I worked with predominantly Aboriginal (First People) communities.
"I must thank God for giving me that opportunity and utilising me to share my experiences to help my now fellow Australians living in very harsh conditions in the 'outback'."
On relocating to Perth to be closer with his son and grandchildren, Mr Young asked some fellow diasporic Fijians in Perth whether there was a Fijian language service anywhere.
He found out that unfortunately, after a number of attempts, the community had ceased gathering for worship in the vernacular.
"They told me that there was no service and I felt in me that we must try and gather our Fijian-speaking congregation because it was important that we worship together, particularly for our children and grandchildren growing up in Australia, so that they can experience how we worship back at home so that when they go to Fiji and attend worship they won't be lost."
The search for a church hall to worship in began, as did the search for a minister.
"They told me that Rev William Lucas from Fiji is here and I said I must find him and seek his help. So on my next R&R from the mines where I now work, when I came down to Perth, I was invited to drink kava.
"I went to my friend's house but while everyone was gathered, there was no kava. I asked my friends 'where is the kava?' and they told me we were going to Rev Lucas' home."
Mr Young could not hold back his desire and asked Rev Lucas straightaway for his help in starting the Fijian-language service.
"I thank the Lord and Rev Lucas for immediately saying yes and offering Crossways as a place that we could gather. I am very grateful to the Crossways community for their welcoming and acceptance of our community to be one of them."
As members of Crossways, they will attend the weekly English service and also hold fortnightly Fijian language services.
During the service the Fijian-speaking choir sang an anthem conducted by young Jeremy Vuniwaqa.
In his testimony during the service, Mr Vuniwaqa, who came to Australia from Fiji as a young boy, said he had found Crossways as a place to continue the family legacy of sacred music, as the new conductor of the Fijian choir.
"My father wanted his talent in music to be used as a service to God when we came to Australia.
"We spent five years in Melbourne, where my father was the choir master with the Fijian congregation there, and then we moved to Western Australia four years ago.
"It is a precious gift from God. And that is why my family and I will not stop using this gift and preaching the Word of God, by teaching His people the correct way to sing."
The Crossways community has welcomed their Fijian sisters and brothers with open arms, as was evident in the fellowship that followed after the service, which included a traditional Fijian ceremony in which the new members presented a tabua (whale's tooth) to Rev Frances.
The tabua, the most prized possession for Fijians, was a symbolic offering of themselves as members of the UCA and WA Synod.
The fellowship lunch shared by all was a time of making new relationships.
The reception of Fijian members in the Uniting Church was the first since the signing of a partnership agreement between the Uniting Church in Australia and the Methodist Church in Fiji.
Uniting Church president Stuart McMillan signed the partnership agreement at the Methodist Church in Fiji annual conference last August.
The agreement commits the two churches to work together in sharing their life and mission, affirming the shared Methodist heritage and history.
"Through this partnership agreement, we call on all our sisters and brothers, who have settled in Australia and who are members of the Methodist Church in Fiji to transfer their membership to the Uniting Church in Australia, which is our sister church, and with whom we have had a very long relationship.
"You will no longer sing the Lord's song in a strange land. You have found a home," said Methodist Church in Fiji president Rev Dr Tevita Banivanua in a congratulatory video message to the congregation at Crossways.
In his sermon, Rev Frances urged the new cross-cultural church to be devoted to each other and practice the unconditional love that binds all believers.
"Simplicity, serenity, spontaneity."
* Reverend James Bhagwan is an ordained Methodist minister and a citizen journalist. The opinions expressed in this column do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Methodist Church in Fiji or this newspaper.