Wednesday, September 27, 2006
Fiji Day and some thoughts about land
Fiji Day comes every year and is in two weeks time. I want to make this as a special time to me and my people back at home and to make a commitment to Fiji the place of our birth, especially the Labasa or babasiga area. I am thinking about land in Fiji.
To our own people and net work I am trying to look at the freehold lands in Fiji because I have reading about the offer for sale of freehold land, especially small, beautiful in Lau and Vanua Levu. I am not happy at all about this because an island could be owned by only one person for their selfish pleasure.
Freehold land is best if it is used appropriately for a larger number of people For example, the Vunivacea and Nukutatava freehold land next to our mataqali land is used for the benefit of the people of Fiji. This freehold land has been used by a hundred or more cane farmers and a Christian youth training centre. This is sharing.
My mataqali owns about 2000 acres of talasiga land (grassland) and it is all leased for 30 years to our Indian friends except 200 or more to our mataqali members in five lots. We have six cane contracts and have been doing this for since the 1970s. We think this is appropriate for the time being. Undoubtedly I can say thank goodness for the Native Land Trust Board that has protected most of our land in Fiji and kept the documentation.
We know what happened in the past about land in Fiji. My brother’s name is Dakai which means ‘gun’. He is named after a great-uncle Dakai because in the earlier days, when a foreigner wanted land he gave a musket or two and was given the use of a large tract of land. The expectation was to use the land for a time being, not for ever. Then we all know what happened then. The Fijians could not access their land again.
This is how islands like Mago in Lau changed hands – at one time someone gave a thousand coconuts, but there’s also a story about the murder of the indigenous people and their bones are in a cave. And in Rabi Island, the real Rabi descendents live in Taveuni. Adi Da and his followers on an island, Kanacea, and the real owners are in Qamea. The stories go on and on.
So when I see on the internet, islands for sale for millions of dollars, I remember those stories told to us. I hope that some of the buyers know these stories and will think further than just having a paradise hideaway for themselves.