Thursday, December 18, 2014

Waiting in Advent

from w
I wrote this as a response to events this week in Sydney, though we are far away, living in Geelong. The last verse refers to a very large conical Christmas tree on the waterfront of Geelong.


Truer than a Midsomer jigsaw

to guess and surmise motives,

the radio or television drama is the ‘now’,

one character seriously flawed,

others like us, ordinary, shielding friends.

There’s anticipation in the darkness

of a tragic outcome and it does come

as a climax of light flashes and gunshots

with blood in the coffee shop.

Shadows run,  men suited for battle

rescue men and women hostages

who could have been my friend, my family.



An ocean of flowers, still wrapped in paper,

foil, cellophane, and letters in a child’s writing,

tributes for strangers, sharing grief,

in a communal swell of pain

as part of our human response

during Advent, waiting.



Concerned by a backlash

Of separating ‘them’ from ‘us’

Someone was inspired to write

‘I’ll ride with you’

I’ll sit beside you on a train, protect you, 

stop the potential of insults

because your dress-code

marks you as strange, an enemy.

A church notice juggles the letters

to form a new message:

The Kingdom of God is like

‘I’ll ride with you.’


5. The story is retold, cyclic,

 in carol singing, without snow.

It’s midsummer for us yet we sing

‘In the bleak mid-winter’

and the perfect song ‘Silent Night’.

Though the trauma of a girl giving birth

is  hardly quiet at all.



A dark sky with a contour of stars,

a backdrop for the tall luminous tree,

blue and green glass-like

reflects on rippling water.

Conjured by a clown

now admired as a symbol of hope.

We are waiting, despite major disquiet.


Friday, December 12, 2014

Fijian choir in Canberra's Parliament House

An odd look at a Fijian choir singing at Canberra's Parliament House.
Gang-gang: Fijian choir cleanses Parly House
Date December 8, 2014     Ian Warden     Columnist for The Canberra Times
Heavenly voices: Fiji's Kadavu Choir perform at The Great Hall, Parliament House. Photo: Jay Cronan
How clever of Parliament House's administrators, how appropriate of them, to bring in a powerful, cleansing Christian choir to sing there, the minute the parliamentary year is over.
On Monday the 40-strong Fijian choir was strikingly clad in costumes of aquamarine (perhaps suggesting the pellucid South Pacific that laps Fiji's shores). In the cavernous but acoustically well-blessed Great Hall the Kadavu Choir performed its Christmas carols and other festive and soothing Christian songs. The sinful parliamentary year is only just over and one could almost feel the choir's Christian singings going out from the Great Hall and coursing through the premises like a legion of acoustic exorcists, driving out the year's demons, cleaning away the drifts of a year's lies and skulduggeries. Surely that was why Parliament House's administrators had invited the choir of Methodists, and at this time, the very first weekday after parliament's rising.
We were too shy to put that perhaps controversial analysis to the choir's chairman Mr Ratuvuki. Instead we asked him to tell us all about his choir.
He explains that the Suva-based choir was formed in 1979 and has been in continuous existence ever since, with, of course, ever replenishing recruits of new choristers. They are all Methodists and on the third Sunday of every month they take part in a church service somewhere in the province. This church service is a tradition now, begun in the 1970s and after punishing cyclones that killed people and ravaged homes. The services were instituted to, in his words, "achieve security [against cyclones] from the Father in Heaven".
Yes, and it is hard to imagine God, famously appreciative of fine music, being able to ignore a church service involving the Kadavu Choir. On Monday their singing was very, very beautiful, sometimes passionate and exuberant (oodles of happy hallelujahs) but always at the same time polished and disciplined.
Their complex version of Jingle Bells (a little eccentric for a choir of folk who cannot possibly know, in Fiji, what fun it is to ride in a one-horse open sleigh) was enormous fun. Their Go, tell it on the mountain, Lord was rapturous and had the atheists among us envying the happy choristers the boon of the faith brought to them so long ago by Methodist missionaries.
Then the male choristers, left alone in the great space beneath and in front of Arthur Boyd's terrific Great Hall tapestry, sang movingly about their brother Joseph's plight as he walked towards Bethlehem.
All of this Christian loveliness seemed to us to put the cleaners through hitherto politics-begrimed Parliament House.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Not malua malua in this Parliament - five minutes to debate a dozen decree amendments

from w
This is amazing and I can see why Tupou was concerned.  Just passing these amendments in a hurry shows no respect for the debating process of a democratic Parliament.

We’re just rubber stamps: Draunidalo December 11, 2014 06:06:56 

 Fiji's Member of the Opposition Tupou Draunidalo says the Fijian Government is treating them like rubber stamps, a faction not to be heard - only to make up the other side of the house. She was reacting to a decision made in the house that debates on 12 consequential bills to the 2015 Budget be limited to five minutes. 

Draunidalo said to commit only five minutes to each side to debate on all bills, bills that impact the country and Fijians, was not enough. “Well five minutes for all the bills is not very clear, I’m sure the understanding was that it was five minutes for each bill,” Draunidalo said. “If that’s how this government wishes to treat the opposition that we’re here for nothing, I don’t know why you complained when we walked out because really, that’s how they want to treat us as a rubber stamp for us not to be heard, just sit here and make up this side of the house,” Draunidalo said. She said if they had known that they were only given five minutes for all the bills to be debated, they would have mounted arguments against the idea. 

Opposition whip Ratu Isoa Tikoca said that there was a need to deliberate the bills in details. “You reckon that 15 bills to be discussed in five minutes, what a joke!” However, concerns made by the Opposition was stayed before the house and the bills were later passed. 

Bills passed before the house today: - A Bill for an Act to amend the Income Tax Act (Cap.201). (2/2014)
 - A Bill for an Act to amend the Fringe Benefit Tax Decree 2012. (3/2014)
 - A Bill for an Act to amend the Service Turnover Tax Decree 2012 (4/2014) 
- A Bill for an Act to amend the Stamp Duties Act (Cap.205). (5/2014) 
- A Bill for an Act to amend the Tax Administration Decree 2009. (6/2014)
 - A Bill for an Act to amend the Excise Act 1986 (7/2014) 
- A Bill for an Act to amend the Customs Act 1986 (8/2014) 
- A Bill for an Act to amend the Customs Tarrif Act 1986 (9.2014)
- A Bill for an Act to amend the Value Added Tax Decree 1991 . (10/2014)
 - A Bill for an Act to amend the Capital Gains Tax Decree 2011. (11/2014)
- A Bill for an Act to amend the Tertiary Scholarship and Loans Decree 2014 (12/2014) 
- A Bill for an Act to amend the Land Sales Act (Cap. 137). (13/2014) 

By Vuniwaqa Bola-Bari

Read more at:
Copyright 2014 ©

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Seasonal workers to NZ limited

from w
They've made it rather difficult for Fiji people who live in towns to be part of the Seasonal Workers Scheme in New Zealand.
From Fiji Village:
Only selected people eligible to be employed under NZ’s RSE
Wednesday, 10/12/2014

People aged 18 to 45 years living in rural and peri-urban settlements are the only ones eligible to be employed under New Zealand’s recognized seasonal employer scheme.
This has been confirmed by the Permanent Secretary for Employment, Productivity and Industrial Relations, Taito Waqa at the opening of the recognized seasonal employer process workshop today.
Waqa said this is a targeted scheme only for people living in the rural and peri-urban settlements as the 2008 poverty report shows that the poverty rate in the urban areas has decreased while the poverty rate in the rural areas are still increasing.
The scheme will be signed between the two countries tomorrow.

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Christmas letter 2014

Greetings to you from Peceli, Wendy, George, Bale, Epa, Jordan, Andrew, Big Andrew, and household.  
We are reminded of Christ’s birth with the carols, messages, decorations and the huge conical tree in Geelong that lights up the sky in the night. Let us honour and pray for one another, for miracles in our world  today and may this message of good will give peace to you.  Our compound,  now called Vatuadova Kisi  often has a dozen or more people living here with visitors, the extended family, and friends of our teenagers and even  the touch rugby gang rock up.  There’s kava flowing several nights a week.  Relatives from Sydney have been staying in Andrew’s bungalow and Andrew’s new house went up early in the year. Next year Linlay will start school at Form 2 at Geelong High School. Jordan finished Year 12 and Andrew Year 10. Jordan recently had  surgery  to take out the plate and rod in his leg, and he is recovering well. Earlier in the year Peceli and the  two Andrews went to Fiji for the funeral of Peceli’s brother Dakai. Health continues to be an issue for us oldies with pills and checkups. The young ones in the family play tennis summer and winter for East Geelong Uniting – the club that lost their clubroom and courts with the Uniting Church kerfuffle, but have relocated to Breakwater.  Peceli and I often go for drives and simple picnics to enjoy the beauty of the Bellarine Peninsular.
Church news – Peceli continues his relationship with Altona Meadows/Laverton and I still play music at East Geelong and talk too much at council meetings. The members of South Geelong who lost their church  have joined out church at East which is doing well with community service – donating a vehicle to the Women’s Crisis Centre in Tonga and  setting up the teaching of stringed instruments at a local school.  We will have a second minister coming early next year which is a bonus. Rev Ikani continues to be an inspirational leader of our faith community.
Community news – Geelong has problems re unemployment with places like Alcoa, Ford and others sending staff off or even closing down.  Despite the enthusiasm of our new Mayor for tinsel and glitter, there’s a lot of pain out there.  However there is  much volunteer activity going on such as free meals at Christ Church, and care by Diversitat and others for the refugees coming into our community who are not allowed to work. We continue to help at Donation  in Kind  though  interest in Rotary is waning. Geelong continues however to be a place that we love to reside in.
Loloma and  best wishes for the Christmas and New Year season.

Wendy and  Peceli Ratawa.          December 10 2015

Saturday, December 06, 2014

gift to Tonga from Geelong

from w
Our East Geelong Uniting church in Australia congregation were happy to donate this vehicle to the women and children Crisis Centre in Nukualofa. Our minister Rev Ikani Vaitohi, Moana and children, John Birrell and Annette Colgrave went over to Tonga for handing over. We are delighted to have a relationship with you all in Nukualofa. I was in Tonga last year and loved the place and people. My daughter-in-law is a doctor there.

Friday, December 05, 2014

A song about a bush boy from babasiga

from w
A song in Hindi about a Labasa boy and a Suva city girl.