Sunday, November 04, 2007

No building taller than a coconut tree

from w
My romantic ideal for buildings in a South Pacific island is to go by the old saying 'build no higher than a coconut tree' but that is considered to be very old-fashioned these days. I say we are not rabbits to live in tunnels and we are not birds to live in the sky. Well, two letter writers to the Fiji Times during the past week are similarly romantics when they wrote these words - and they raise some other important points about 'over-development', pricing of land, gated communities, exploitation and a divided society.

Monstrous sights

ARTICLE 12 of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples gives us the right to practice and revitalise our cultural traditions.However, preservation of our culture and preservation of our environment does not appear to be on the agenda when planning permission is given for housing and other developments, especially in rural areas.

One only has to visit Denarau Island (with any luck you will never have to) to see how easily one is transported from Fiji to suburban Sydney or Auckland in the sun.
The place is full of walled and gated developments where houses are so close together that you could cook on your neighbour's BBQ without leaving your yard. For sure these are BBQ folk as no one who ate lovo would want to live in such a place!

More worrying is the new developments along the Coral Coast, where land is being sold freehold and surrounded by mile long walls to prevent local people accessing the properties and the beach. What are these walls for, one asks? Of course, they re-inforce the stereotype that local people are dangerous thieves and the residents want to confine contact to organised village visits. They certainly do not want to reciprocate and see black people walking on their land or beach. This reflects a non-acceptance of the freedom to roam which is inherent in Fijian culture and criminalises those who wish to retain their traditional access to the beach and their qoliqoli.

Why have we let this happen? As well as the gated development, we find a newer phenomenon of the tower block. You only have to go along Delainavesi Road to see the two monstrosities that have appeared across the river in Wailoku. They are a blot on the landscape of the beautiful Tamavua Valley, one of the loveliest valleys in the Suva area.

Many of you may not have seen the so-called "Dream View" development along the coast near Rakiraki. Well they must have been the result of a pretty bad dream to think of such a monstrous sight on that beautiful and remote coastline.

Why are we letting this happen? Come on Fiji, let us put aside our differences, whether we are for or against the Charter, for or against the interim Government. Let us find a way to block such monstrous developments and build in sympathy with our culture and environment before our beautiful islands become just another Waikiki or LA.
Dr Fereti Seru Dewa

Say no to developers
I AGREE with Dr Fereti Dewa's letter (FT 3/11) on developments. And what Dr Dewa has seen is not isolated only to Denarau, Delainavesi Rd, Tamavua Valley or Rakiraki, but to other areas in Fiji as well. I speak of copra plantation land being bought by speculators and subdivided after 12 years to make millions for their buyers because they are freehold land and are targeted and sought out by speculators.

The buyers have no wish to farm or grow copra for a living but to sell subdivisions for a greater profit. And they do not care of the job opportunities these copra plantation can provide for locals who have no other means of making an income but work from these plantations. Let's hang on to our land before it leaves our inheritance forever.

And as Dr Dewa said, before our beautiful islands become just another Waikiki or LA. Sad to say that the reality of the situation is already upon us and we are just seeing the tip of the iceberg now. Be proud of your islands and learn to make a stand and say no to these developers now.
George W. Driver

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