Saturday, September 29, 2007

A good article re conservation and custom

from w
In today's Fiji Times there's an interesting feature article by Alisi Daurewa which continues the discussion on capturing turtles (or not) and other issues about culture and conservation issues.

Fiji rugby - wow!

Fiji beats Wales. Amazing! The story is as follows:

Fiji restore rugby's wow factor
Fiji versus Wales was one of the greatest games in rugby history - and it ended with the ideal result.
Andy BullSeptember 29, 2007 6:18 PM

Can I just say wow? Over and over and over again. Surely this was the best World Cup game since the France v New Zealand semi-final of 1999, certainly it was the best match of this tournament so far, and without doubt it was the best game of rugby I've ever seen in the flesh.

Apparently there were 37,080 in the Stade de la Beaujoire to see it. Really? It felt more like 370,800. In the future, when you add up the numbers of people who claim to have been there to see it, you'll probably get a number 10 times larger than that again - it was one of those games.

I'm typing this a minute after the whistle. How long we had to wait to hear that whistle. Three minutes of injury time that felt like an age. The Welsh are in a huddle, struggling to comprehend what has just happened to them. The Fijians are in a huddle too, leaping, screaming and shouting. Around them the crowd are on their feet, roaring their approval, and even the many thousands of shocked Welshmen are applauding.

This was a game that rugby romantics dream about, free flowing and utterly absorbing, settled in the final minute of normal time by a nearly imperceptible try that had to be played and replayed on the big screen before it was given. A quick look down at my pad shows that my notes at that moment read: 'Try! Try! Try! Try!'

So the Welsh are going home. They are standing in silence 30 yards in front of me while the Fijians complete a lap of honour. They are about to be presented with medals to recognise their participation in the World Cup. Thanks, well done, you can go home now.

It's too cruel for them, and it will almost certainly cost Gareth Jenkins his job. Three times Stephen Jones watched his kicks at goal bounce back off the post and into play: the margins can't get any narrower than that, and while they will never use poor luck as an excuse, they could be forgiven for wondering what else they could have done.

But this just had to be. The Cup has been a triumph for the smaller teams throughout, but all those close results, those heroic performances, were about to come to nought. We were expecting a selection of familiar nations, including Argentina, to make up the final eight. The IRB - lead by the RFU, remember - are giving serious thought to cutting the Cup back to 16 teams in 2011. I thought it was a good idea until I came out here and saw the thing unfold over the last month.

Fiji had been saving this performance up all tournament. They were spectacular.

There is something about spontaneous rugby, when it goes right, that makes it one of the most breathtaking sights in sport. The rapidity of thought, action, and decision-making are just marvellous. The ball moves so fast that your eyes can barely keep track, and every foot-shuffle, drop of the shoulder and deceptive swing of the hips catches you and everyone else by surprise.

It's like the sensation you get when you're running too fast down a rocky hill, your feet are moving too quickly beneath you and you can't quite fathom how your brain and body are stopping you from tumbling head over tail. They just do. You have just enough control, and at the same time you're oh-so-close to falling.

That was how Fiji played today. For 20 minutes they took Wales out of the game. The faces of the Welsh journalists around me were ashen, pallid. The fans were struck into silence and the players, where were the players? There only seemed to be holes and gaps where red jerseys were supposed to be.

And then, with Fiji a man down, Wales played some brilliant stuff of their own. Three tries came in 12 second-half minutes, every one a gem. Shane Williams' 60-yard break vied with Vilimoni Delasau's chip and chase for the single best piece of individual play I've seen on a pitch through the pool stages.

Suddenly it was a one-point game with 30 minutes to play. Crucially, in Nicky Little the Fijians have a superb goalkicker. His two penalties kept them in the match. Martyn Williams's interception was surely enough to win the game... Fiji had just been denied a score of their own. But no, not today. Fiji were too inspired and too determined.

This was their first ever win over Wales, and they've a history that stretches all the way back to that famous 28-22 defeat in Cardiff in 1964. Ever since these two sides have played some of the most exciting rugby in the game, and today they contested one of the most memorable matches in the Cup's history. That will be small consolation for Wales, where the recriminations will go on and on, but, sorry for them as I am, I'm still smiling. For me this was the best possible result in the best possible game.

Friday, September 28, 2007

A common roll - from an interim government?

from w
In today's Fiji Times - part of that speech at the United Nations comes the surprise announcment of a common roll it seems. Has an interim government the right to make drastic changes such as this? Who wrote this speech then?

Surprise poll announcement
1601 FJT
Saturday, September 29, 2007

Update: 4.01pm FIJI will soon do away with communal voting and all races and citizens will vote for one candidate, interim Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama told the United Nations in New York yesterday.

In his first address in the highest international forum of nations Mr Bainimarama said every person will be given the right to vote for only one candidate, irrespective of race or religion.

''This will send a message out to our people that Fiji's leadership no longer tolerates racial divisions and race-based politics,'' he said.

Mr Bainimarama said although democracy in the form of electing a government was introduced in Fiji at the time of Independence, researchers and analysts have suggested that ''Fijians live in a democracy with a mentality that belongs to the chiefly system.''

''In essence this means that at election time, Fijians living in village and rural areas are culturally influenced to vote for the candidate selected for them by their chiefs, their provincial councils and their church ministers.

''This leads me to ask the question whether or not the countries which are demanding Fiji to immediately return to democracy really understand how distorted and unfair our system is both legally and culturally.''

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Tribewanted website

from w
I noticed that the tribewanted website has a different look - it's one year on - includes some good reading of their recent developments. - such as -
Island Development: The story so far (Edit)
In the first few months on Vorovoro the people of Mali, the team and the tribe members have built:

Three compost toilets complete with coconut swinging doors
A kitchen complete with stone oven and recycling units
The ‘Great Bure’ (big Fijian style house) and a mini bure
Two sky-view bucket showers in the woods
A 3 water-tank, guttering, and hand-pump rainwater catchment system
A bunk house
An outdoor dining area
A wood store
A floating pontoon and jetty on the south side of the island
A farm where fruit, vegetables and chickens are thriving
Renovated one of the family houses and added recycling unit to the village
Cleaned-up the main beach and village.

(Later: On Friday tribewanted posted the sad news of the death of Pita, one of our relatives. Pita is a lovely man who spent part of his teenage years at Vatuadova and then he became a carpenter. He did a lot of the work in developing Vorovoro Island tribewanted site. Our relatives are going to Mali Island tomorrow for some of the ceremonies associated with the funeral.

Counting the people in Fiji

from w
In Fiji they are counting the people and the census which is supposed to be accurate will surely be only approximate. In Australia it's done for who is where one night only - of course those who sleep under bridges might miss out. In Fiji houses are often full of extra relatives. In Fiji the census has been taken over several days so what about statistics of people who go visiting relatives, fly off overseas, or go fishing. (I'd like to see a cartoon of two bulky security men with the interim PM, his secretary off-sider in Business Class, and then in Economy - a feisty activist girl intent upon her trip to New York). Anyway back to the subject. People-counting is a good idea to get a picture of a people, but I do not know the questions they are asking in each household. Here in Australia there were several questions, even about religion. An explanation of the Fiji Times cartoon - grog means kava, and kanikani is a dry skin condition from too much kava.
(later: I found a few answers to my queries from a Fiji Times interview and here is some of that interview. This Bainimarama is not the IPM. And I think it is mainly about electoral boundaries and internal migration within Fiji. And I think he's reading from a govt. handout.)

Times: How many enumerators, supervisors and support staff will you need for the census period, what are their qualifications and how much will this exercise cost?

Bainimarama: The data collection phase involves significant manpower mobilisation and coordination given that it is conducted simultaneously over the country. Data collection will involve the deployment of 40 superintendents, 90 area coordinators, 1920 enumerators, 475 supervisors and 200 GPS waypoint collection staff, as well as 20 support staff to gather information from households in their assigned areas over a two-week period. The cost of wages and allowances of the area coordinators, enumerators, supervisors and GPS operators alone is around $1.7m.

Times: How will abuse be minimised during this exercise?

Bainimarama: Our planning and budgeting goes down to the enumeration area level and costs are based on the experiences of our field staff. This is to ensure firm control of the allocated funds. We have control measures in place to guard against slipshod work.

Times: What kind of questions should people expect from enumerators?

Bainimarama: Important information gathered from a census includes the following:
Number of people, where they live and population trends;
Population characteristics, such as age, sex, educational attainment and ethnicity;
Economic activities people are engaged in, opportunities available and the informal sector; Labour supply and demand with employment and unemployment details;
Status of children, youth and the elderly; Health indicators such as infant mortality rate and average life expectancy at birth; Details of housing, household amenities, belongings and living conditions; and Internal migration.

Times: How will you verify that the information given by people is the truth?

Bainimarama: Census results are important as a planning tool for making informed policy decisions and that is why we encourage people to be honest and transparent when answering the questionnaire. People need to know that it is important to be honest because the data will be used for: Formulation of policies impacting children, youths and the elderly; Formulation of development plans for villages, settlements and other localities; assessment of living standards today and identifying future needs such as safe water supply, hygienic toilet facilities, sanitary waste disposal, proper housing, electricity, secure land tenure and telecommunication; Labour supply and demand information to put in place training programs and plans to meet the country's needs; Formulation of policies and programs to develop the informal sector, alternative livelihood, and income generating opportunities, which are an effective means of reducing poverty; Revision of the Election Constituency Boundaries, and Information on internal migration to guide the formulation of development strategies in meeting the changing regional needs.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Just about turtled out!

from w
As someone wrote on 'Your Say' in the Fiji Times, we are just about turtled out - after all the discussion about the turtles in Fiji. Anyway here's a small picture I made of a turtle swimming for dear life to a deserted island to escape people. It's part of a set of drawings to go with a story I posted on Geelong Visual Diary.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Indigenous rights and human rights

from w
The recent declaration is not binding but it's a worthy reminder to respect and uphold the diversity of culture that enriches our world. So often indigenous peoples are pushed aside, treated badly until they almost disappear.For Fiji to be able to maintain so much land for the indigenous Fijians is amazing really when compared with other countries. Some cultures even lose their languages.

I noticed that John Howard is adamant that indigenous rights are subservient to human rights. Okay, he is cautious, but there's a better way of saying it. He's not much of a 21st century thinker. The Fiji Post editorial is full of nice mother statements and jargon but the point is well made to always consider the rights of indigenous peoples, and of course it is relevant to Pacific Islanders.

From Fiji Post
A milestone for indigenous rights

The 61st United Nations General Assembly on September 13, Thursday last week finally, after 23 long hard years of debate, campaigns and protest, adopted the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People.

Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, chair of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues had reportedly said the declaration would pave the “building of partnerships between states and the indigenous peoples for a more just and sustainable world.”

Indigenous leaders, representatives and rights campaigners around the world have applauded the milestone achievement of something that had been brewing for more than two decades.

The declaration sets out the individual and collective rights of indigenous peoples, including their rights to culture, identity, language, employment, health, education and other issues.

It also declares the rights of indigenous peoples to maintain and strengthen their own institutions, cultures and traditions and to pursue their development in keeping with their own needs and aspirations, also referred to as the right to self-determination.

The declaration prohibits discrimination against indigenous peoples and promotes their full and effective participation in all matters that concern them, and their right to remain distinct and pursue their own visions of economic and social development.

It must be noted that the declaration is non-binding on UN member states, however its adopted by the overwhelming majority of 144 members of the world body in itself provides a strong impetus for implementation at the national policy level. The declaration does have clout in terms of strongly stating a recognition and respect for the rights of the world’s indigenous peoples.

Interestingly four of the world’s most development countries with significant indigenous populations were the only ones that voted against the declaration.

The United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand have tarnished histories of exploitative treatment against indigenous peoples.

NZ Prime Minister Helen Clark had defended her country’s ‘no’ vote by saying that her country’s laws already address indigenous rights, a contention that Maori leaders have expressed outrage against.

Australia has consistently maintained that it cannot allow indigenous customary law to be given precedence over national law.

The UN declaration is not an imposition on national law because of its non-binding status.

The reactions of these two countries reflect a much deeper loathing of the concept of ‘indigenous rights’. They ignore the fact that their indigenous peoples continue to occupy the fringes of their national societies and occupy a dubious position in health, crime, economic and other social statistics.

The declaration will undoubtedly give greater weight to calls by our indigenous peoples in Fiji for a fairer share of national development.

It gives precedence to human rights as an important factor in development as it applies to indigenous peoples.

We hope that our government, policymakers, and the private sector will be guided by the principles of the declaration when they cross paths with the indigenous community in their approach to national economic development.
To listen to a discussion on this topic go to Asia Pacific.

Our tauvu fishermen from Batiki

from w
I was reading the numerous 'Your Say' from the Fiji Times, about the turtle-catch in Macuata but the writers got onto all sorts of topics. One was of interest. Fishermen from Batiki were taking their catch to the market - to buy goods for their wives and children and were stopped, their boat confiscated, their catch taken from them. Seems a bit like spite or over-jealousness on the part of the fisheries dept guys. Why don't they chase those hugely rich Chinese fishermen who probably pay bribes to suck the sea dry of sea creatures in the vicinity of Fiji!

From Fiji Times Your Say – about tauvu fishermen from Batiki

TK of Raiwai of Fiji (11 hours and 3 minutes ago)

Last Friday early morning the fisheries officers and the navy in two boats stopped six boys from Batiki in the village of Manuku on their way back to Suva. They confiscated everything that includes the one week old boat and the engine, 96 bundles of fish and all their diving gears and leave them with nothing. They dive from their own qoliqoli and brought it to Suva to sell so they can buy their family groceries to take back to the village and their payment of their license. Of all the six only one was charged for ILLEGAL FISHING and will be appearing in court very soon but the point here is; What is illegal here when they fish from their own qoliqoli? They have the approved letter signed by two chiefs who are the heads of the qoliqoli to fish from there. This is the only source of livelihood from that island which is very very poor compared to Macuata where land resource is very limited to family consumption only.They confiscated all things and sold these fishes right in front of our very own eyes and gave us nothing, it is like living in Somalia or Africa in what is happening. The sweat of a whole sleepless night for our wives and children has been robbed by people who are hiding behind the law and say that they are the law.Can you allow these boys to go and rob for their living? Who will take care of these families now when all has been hold up in the police and navy? These are uneployed boys who comes from very poor background that are struggling to make ends meet in their everyday living only to be stopped by some stupid people who does not know or experience a life living in poverty or to struggle. The funny thing is they have sold the fish and what will be tendered as evidence in the court of law? What is illegal fishing anyway and why charge only one when six boys did the diving? Is the law being implemented correctly here or is it on a bias course? How do they prove that this boys fish illegally? They have provided evidence that they fish from their own qoliqoli which rightly belongs to them but without even a warning they did what they did and is causing a very big problem to some families and children who do not deserve to be treated this way!This is ungodly and it is a devilish work of inexperienced people working in the wrong place. How can people who do not have qoliqoli knows how people from outer islands feel in struggling everyday to survive in the village? And some outer islands are very very poor in land that they totally rely on the sea as their main source of income to send children to school and go through life everyday. Not all the islands are the same! Three of this boys are stuck here in Suva and the wives and children at the village waiting for their dad to come back with some groceries only to be told of what happens! What is happening to our Fiji? Is this illegal fishing? Very soon you will pull a bunch of cassava from your own backyard only to be told it is illegal. What a funny law.


The Fiji Times picked up this story and here is a photo they used of Batiki fishermen, Tevita Tavodi, left, Meli Tavodi and Usaia Tanuku with the letter of consent from the Tui Manuku.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Tips for public speakers

from w
Some people are terrified of public speaking and are so shy and unsure of themselves when given the task of addressing a group of people. I was talking with Peceli and Junior about this and they said it takes practice, then Junior said that you have to be passionate about what you are talking about. One time he had to talk with a group of secondary students - at Ratu Sukuna Secondary School - and because he was talking about athletics, it was no big deal. I feel nervous sometimes when ready to give a talk with adults, though for many years it was no sweat to talk with children and teenagers.

I found these tips and they are good for speakers at places such as the United Nations because a Fijian gentleman has been invited there next week and has to prepare an excellent speech! I've edited the points a bit to shorten.

Don’t abuse your visuals - Usually your visuals are posters, charts, or even a PowerPoint presentation. Whatever your visuals may be, keep them simple and don’t put too many words on them. The audience isn’t there to read your slides, they are there to listen to you present.

Look at the audience - Don’t just single out one person, but instead try to make eye contact with numerous people throughout the room. If you don’t do this then you aren’t engaging the audience, you are just talking to yourself. This can result in an utter lack of attention from your audience.

Show your personality - It doesn’t matter if you are presenting to a corporate crowd or to senior citizens, you need to show some character when presenting. If you don’t do this you’ll probably sound like Agent Smith from the Matrix. Nobody wants to hear him present. (

Make them laugh - Although you want to educate your audience, you need to make them laugh as well.

Talk to your audience, not at them - People hate it when they get talked at, so don’t do it. You need to interact with your audience and create a conversation. An easy way to do this is to ask them questions as well as letting them ask you questions.

Be honest - A lot of people present to the audience what they want to hear, instead of what they need to hear. Make sure you tell the truth even if they don’t want to hear it because they will respect you for that and it will make you more human.
Don’t over prepare - If you rehearse your presentation too much it will sound like it (in a bad way).

Show some movement - You probably know that you need to show some movement when speaking, but naturally you may forget to do so. Make sure you show some gestures or pace around a bit (not too much) on the stage when speaking. Remember, no one likes watching a stiff. People are more engaged with an animated speaker.

Watch what you say - You usually don’t notice when you say “uhm”, “ah”, or any other useless word frequently, but the audience does. It gets quite irritating; so much that some members of the audience will probably count how many times you say these useless words.

Differentiate yourself - If you don’t do something unique compared to all the other presenters the audience has heard, they won’t remember you. You are branding yourself when you speak, so make sure you do something unique and memorable.

This entry was written by Neil Patel and posted on September 1, 2007

Monday, September 17, 2007

Going softly softly with turtles

from w
There is still talk in the Fiji papers about the turtle-catching in Macuata and even 'Have your say' resulted in a hundred or more responses - many silly.

I saw this photo with an article in the Fiji Times which revealed the Fisheries Department as going just too softly softly. The photo of baby turtles is from Treasure Island and I just wonder how successful this project is in getting the baby turtles safely on their way to adulthood.

One writer in 'Have your say' said he was making T-shirts with SAVE THE TURTLE on them and also EAT A METHODIST! It's a printer from Savusavu and he's making 50 t-shirts for starters! Fiji Times today wrote about it. The pic below is not the Savusavu design.

Three websites worth visiting are I.
Article about turtles in the Pacific and 2. from wildlife activists
and 3. a good website and a story about education about turtles in rural schools
Kia Island is of course a small island west of Vorovoro and Mali Islands and many of the people there are traditional fishermen and women.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Crossing cultures in Fiji

from w
There's a connection between Hindi bhajans and a Fijian family. Mereia, Marika and five year old Matelita.

Mereia's father, Ari Siri, came from Lobau village in Namosi, but we first met up with the family in Rakiraki when Peceli was a minister in the Indian Division of the Methodist Church there. One day he met Ari, covered in oil, after working as a labourer at the sugar mill and they spoke together in Hindi until they realised they were both Fijians! The Siri family were living in an Indian village called Gallau so we established a little Sunday school in their home. Mereia lived in Rakiraki until she was 18 and used to accompany her father in pastoral visits amongst the Indian people throughout the district. We also loved living in Ra and had a beautiful life there for three years with the sugar-cane farmers.

We didn't meet Mereia for many years after that until we found that Mereia was an ordained minister (and that's something for a woman in a rather patriarchal society like Fiji) living in Labasa. She was so hospitable, humble, compassionate. I remember eating with her a lunch of dhal bhat (lentils and rice) and coconut cakes. We shared stories together of the pain of coups and the time all hell broke loose even in the 'Friendly North' in 2000. Her Hindi was excellent and she later edited a song book with the words in Fijian, English and Hindi. One of my favourite Hindi bhajans is printed here - as set out in her book. (Jesus the Lord said I am the Bread.)

Mereia married Marika, a Labasa farmer from Korowiri, who also could speak Hindi and he actually plays the dholak, tabla and harmonium as well. Later on Mereia went back to study - at the Pacific Theological College to do her Master's Degree (why call it master hey!) and now is a lecturer at Davuilevu.

So when I saw her photograph and story in Marama magazine, I was delighted because the life journey of many of Fiji's women is inspirational. Way to go, Mereia!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Tradition versus conservation

from w
I guess there is a difference between the thinking of the over 40s and the under 40s regarding the turtle. I hope children are learning these days the value of conservation.
The Tui Macuata did have a dilemma because he was honoured recently for his views on conservation and the tabu on the Great Sea Reef, but the tabu was lifted for one week, and the repercussions, at least in the Fiji newspapers, has been rather agitated.

From Fijilive
Tradition before conservation: Macuata
Thursday September 13, 2007
The Macuata Province on Vanua Levu, Fiji's second largest island could withdraw from its marine conservation projects if the issue of the 84 endangered turtles killed in the province becomes "personalised", says Assistant Roko Tui Macuata, Mosese Nakoroi.

And he said that traditional values are more important than current conservation programmes adding that it was the "traditional right" for Methodist church members in Macuata to use as many turtles they please for traditional feasting. "It is our traditional right to serve turtles for feasting during traditional gatherings and it is only the vanua who can change this," Nakoroi said.

This statement comes despite the Macuata Province being commended internationally for its conservation work after Macuata high chief, Tui Macuata Ratu Aisea Katonivere, was honoured in New York in June 2006 for the province's efforts in protecting its marine areas. However, Nakoroi who is also the Macuata Provincial Council's Qoliqoli Committee advisor said the province was willing to forgo its conservation efforts for the right of "the vanua" (province and its people) to traditionally hunt the protected turtles, some which are in the critically endangered list.

He also acknowledged that it was "illegal" to catch the turtles without a permit "from the Government's point of view as it is contrary to the moratorium", but "the vanua went ahead and caught them anyway because it is their traditional right to do so".

Members of the Methodist Church from the northern provinces of Macuata, Bua and Cakaudrove had asked permission to catch 20 turtles for "traditional" use with the Macuata Provincial Office seeking a "blanket approval", to feast on turtles during the 3-day long conference.

The Director of Fisheries Sanaila Naqali said a permit was given for the capture of only five turtles due to the critical endangered nature of the turtles. He also said that he fears that more than 84 turtles were slaughtered during the conference.

However, Nakoroi claims the Provincial Office had received no official notification from the Fisheries Department to date on the permit so the villages went ahead and began capturing the turtles.

Fisheries officers and representatives of the global conservation group, World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Pacific, who were present for the conference, reported that the permit was grossly violated with around 82 critically endangered Green and Hawksbill turtles killed for feasting by church members.

Nakoroi even makes an allegation that Fisheries officers present misinformed the province by stating that an approval was given for each church in Macuata to fish one turtle each.

"These two officers stayed at my house for a night and they told me that every church in Macuata can catch one turtle each," he alleged.

"There are more than a 100 churches in Macuata and we can say that we did what we knew was right."

Nakoroi said the province did not see any wrongdoing "from the eyes of the vanua" in slaughtering the extra 79 turtles for which there was no permit given.

Naqali has promised that his department will come hard on the offenders who have violated the moratorium in place, which prohibits the fishing of the endangered turtles without a licence.

To this Nakoroi has warned that the province will consider withdrawing from all of its conservation programmes if "there are any legal matters brought on this matter".

He said the rights of the traditional peoples of Macuata are paramount and they are entitled fulfil their traditional duties.

Letter to the editor, Fiji Times
Who is to blame

THERE has been a lot of comment on who is to blame for the over-catch of turtles at Macuata for the Methodist Church conference. I believe that if the departments of Fisheries and Energy, WWF and other organisations that look after endangered creatures had been doing the right thing, this would not be an issue. They should understand that turtles are an important magiti in any traditional event and any catch determines the prowess of the fisherman. If these organisations want the fishermen to change their way of thinking, then they need to do more than just speak through the media. Sending the culprits to jail will not safeguard the lives of turtles.
Ravulolo Tagivetaua

Turtles ours, say conference hosts
Thursday, September 13, 2007

THE people of Macuata have custodian rights to catch turtles from their qoliqoli and should not be questioned about it, says the Assistant Roko Tui Macuata, Mosese Nakoroi. It is understood that 82 turtles were killed and eaten at the Methodist Church meeting with 36 supplied from Udu Point. However, Mr Nakoroi said the turtles were used as traditional food or magiti for the vanua of Caumatalevu and it was the purpose of killing the turtles for a highly respected church meeting."The vanua is disappointed with media highlights from certain organisations that people of Macuata killed an unnecessary amount of turtles for the Methodist church conference last week.

"The resources, which in this case are the turtles, belong to the people of Macuata as they live and had been protected in their qoliqoli boundaries so why should they be in trouble for using food from their own resources?" Mr Nakoroi questioned.
"We followed the proper procedure by writing a letter to the Fisheries Department asking them to allow the people of Macuata to fish for turtles in their marine protected areas.

"We also told them that turtles would also be caught from non-protected areas but they did not respond and the vanua had to go ahead with the preparation for the meeting."

He said the Fisheries Department failed to inform the council the details of the permit that contained the amount of respective marine animals that could be caught for the meeting since the mandatory on protected areas was still valid.

"That we don't know about but we do know that we followed the proper channel and asked and informed the Fisheries department about the catching of turtles a month before the conference started."

Fisheries Divisional officer northern Apisai Sesewa could not be reached for a comment but he had said that a team had come from Suva to monitor the catch by the people.

World Wide Fund for Nature officer Kesaia Tabunakawai said they needed to get clarification from the Fisheries department regarding the permit before making a comment.
from w
I've posted a turtle story on our other blog - it's a story for our grandchildren about how the turtle got her shell.

A turtle story from Kadavu

from w
I've been reading many Fiji news stories about the dilemma between tradition and conservation regarding the Macuata turtle-catching for the recent Methodist Conference, and here is a story from a village in Kadavu where the women chant to call turtles. I have a tape recording of the chant from the time I was researching Fijian music. The people of Koro and Mali Islands also have turtle calling chants.

adapted by Amy Friedman and illustrated by Jillian Gilliland
THE TURTLES OF NAMUANA (a legend of Fiji)
Long ago, in the lovely village of Namuana on an island of Fiji, there lived the beautiful Princess Tinaicoboga. She was the wife of the chief and was as kind as she was beautiful. The people of the village loved and admired their princess and their chief. All was peaceful and prosperous in the land, and the people thanked their gods for the sea surrounding them and for the plentiful fish that fed them.

The chief and his wife had one daughter, Raudalice, who often joined her mother in the water. Sometimes they would wade out to the coral reefs, and there, giggling like children, they would capture fish that swam among the reefs of their island, known as Kadavu. Some days they climbed the cliffs beyond their village. There they could see the waters surrounding their land, and they could watch the village warriors paddling their canoes out to sea.

The two women usually stayed close to shore, but one day they waded farther than usual. The day was beautiful, and the fish were thick and fast in the reefs. The mother and daughter hardly noticed how far they had gone when the wind to the east of the rocky shore began to pick up. The sound of the wind muffled the sound of the men in the distance, so the women never noticed them at all.

There was a large canoe filled with fishermen from the village of Nabukelevu on the far side of the island. The men had spied the women from afar, and when they spotted them, they began to paddle fast toward them. They took care not to splash their paddles, so the women never heard a sound.

When the fishermen were close, they leaped out of their canoes, and without warning, they seized the princess and her daughter. They quickly bound their hands and feet with vines from the sea and tossed them into the bottom of their canoe. Then they began paddling as fast as they could toward their own village.

"Please, let us go," Tinaicoboga begged, while her daughter wept. "My father will be heartbroken," cried Raudalice. "Free us at once."

The warriors laughed at the women's tears and pleas. They were thinking only of their own strength and power and of the ransom they would ask of the chief of Namuana. "He will want his wife and daughter back," they said to each other, "and just think of the great treasure he will pay for them."

And so they paddled on, faster and faster.

But the gods were not pleased with the fishermen's greed and cruelty. Suddenly the sky turned black, the wind began to howl, and the once-calm sea began to churn. The fishermen fought with all their strength to keep their canoe from turning over. The waves poured over the bow and the wind tossed the canoe this way and that. As the raging current dragged the paddles from the men's aching hands, they cursed the gods.

They were so busy fighting to save their own lives and their canoe that they never noticed what was happening to the two women trapped at their feet. When they did at last look down, they saw that the bodies that had once been women had turned into two giant sea turtles.

"The gods are punishing us," the men called. "Throw the turtles overboard." Fearing the fury of the gods, the men lifted up the turtles and tossed them into the heaving waves.

The turtles slipped easily and comfortably into the water. The moment they were safely beneath the surface, the sea grew calm, the wind grew still, and the clouds scuttled away, leaving a bright blue sky above.

Drenched and exhausted, the fishermen of Nabukelevu paddled home and never spoke of their disaster at sea or of their crime.

Forever afterward, Tinaicoboga and Raudalice lived in the waters of that bay. Always they remained turtles, rescued and blessed by the gods, and guarded the village of Namuana, as did their descendants.

Even today in Namuana, the women of the village, dressed in mourning clothes and carrying sacred clubs, walk to the shore. There they stand and chant to their beloved turtles.

"Rise to the surface so we may see you, Raudalice," they chant. "Rise to enjoy the sun and our prayers, Tinaicoboga. Let us praise you."

As the women chant, the giant turtles rise to the surface of the bright blue waters of this beautiful bay beneath the cliffs of Kadavu.

But sometimes they do not rise, and the people say that whenever someone from Nabukelevu is present, the turtles stay beneath the water, for they recognize their enemies, and sea turtles never forget those who have done them wrong.

Flying Fijians barely flew

from w
Peceli and Junior watched the Fiji v Japan rugby on TV in the middle of the night, and though Fiji did win, it was rather poor play. Come on, show the world what Fijians can do!
from Fiji Village today:
Flying Fijians escape with close win
The FMF Flying Fijians 15's rugby team escaped with a close 35-31 win against Japan in their opening pool game in the Rugby World Cup this morning. Fiji scored a bonus point win with four tries, two of them going to Akapusi Qera and one each to vice Captain Kele Leawere and Seru Rabeni. Fiji opened their scoring with a penalty to Nicky Little in the 2nd minute of play to also give him his 600 points in the international Test match level.

At half-time Fiji had a slim lead of 10 points to 9 with a penalty to Little and a run away try from open-side Akapusi Qera from inside Fiji's own 22 meter line.The side was also reduced to 14 men after wing, Filimoni Delasau was sent off because of a high tackle. Fiji scored 3 more tries in the second half but was pressured all the way by the Japanese to the 80th minute of play. Luckily for Fiji the Japanese could not score a try with 3 more minutes of play added to the game. Fiji's second pool game is on Monday morning against Canada at 12am.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Fijian woman making mats

from w
Peceli brought back two fine mats for me, one made from voivoi, the other from kuta. Mats are often exchanged as gifts in formal ceremonies such as at funerals and conferences. I have about twenty mats now so we share them with relatives and friends.

There's always some one in the village cutting voivoi (pandanus) or kuta (reeds) and going through the tedious process of trimming, boiling, rolling, and eventually weaving the plant material into fine mats. Auntie Luisa at Vatuadova is busy with this kind of craftwork. And it's so in many villages. I've found some photos from Gau, from Yasawa and from Macuata of women making mats.

One expert is a woman from Cikobia Island, off shore from the northeast corner of Vanua Levu.
She is Penina Namata and she has been employed as a development officer with women in Macuata such as Navakasobu and Korovuli where the women use kuta for softer, yellowish mats.

Websites with some explanation about mat making are from fiji arts council and fijituwawa.

Marama and Turaga magazines - August

from w
The gossy, colourful magazines from Suva, Marama and Turaga, are both well worth reading. I have the August editions and there are lots of stories about personalities, mainly upbeat, and some articles skirt around politics as well.
I was happy to see a story about my friend Rev Mereia, a woman who lectures these days at Davuilevu and has worked for many years in the Indian Division of the Methodist Church in Fiji. Other stories vary from bios of current leaders to stories of shoe-shine boys.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Waiting at Melbourne airport

from w
The Air Pacific plane was running four hours late! Apparently a pilot got sick and his replacement had to sleep for eight hours or so before the plane could leave Nadi! Sobosobo! Fortunately I got an email from Suva to check on flight arrival times. So at 1.20 a.m. the plane landed at Tullamarine airport ten minutes after a huge Emirates plane brought hundreds of people from Dubai, Greece, Singapore, etc. So there were hundreds of Muslim people waiting though I didn't draw the ladies in their lovely veils and costumes. I drew some guys holding out names, etc. The hostesses from the Emirates plane came out but no staff from the Air Pacific plane. Someone told me that they are banned from entering Australia and have to just stay inside the terminal. What! Well, if that is Downer's revenge, it is not quite fair.

Peceli came out over an hour later with his case, small bag and clutching two sasa brooms - a gift for me from the Naduri Conference. One perhaps to clean, one perhaps to fly off on! Anyway he's back safe and sound and we got home to Geelong before 4 a.m.! And today there are lots of stories - many unsuitable for blogging. I asked him what he did at Nadi airport to while away the hours after the Sunbeam bus trip across the island. 'Oh, I drank kava with the Customs fellows.' Well, that figures.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Tadra (dream) kahani (story)

from w
While middle-aged wolves huff and puff and try to blow the house down, teachers and children are gearing up for the Tadra Kahani. This year’s festival has been launched and the main events will be on next week in Suva. Primary, Secondary, Tertiary students will entertain on Wednesday, 12 September, and Thursday, 13 September 2007 at the Vodafone Arena, Laucala Bay, Suva.

Tadra – is Fijian for dreaming, and Kahani is Hindi for story. Way to go.

Greenpeace have posted some fabulous photographs of the dancing at the youth festival last year.

The poster making competition for Tadra Kahani is a creative way to get the children thinking of the theme ‘Positive Lifestyles’ and Fiji Village posted many great pictures of the children at work on their art.I have reposted some of them here:

One of the winners this year was the Montfort Boys. Congratulations.

Jone Delai still running at aged forty!

from w
The South Pacific Games are going well in Apia. Well, that's the best Fiji news for the day. Hmmmm.

Delai and Bulikiobo deliver Fiji sprint double

Fiji's Jone Delai and Makelesi Bulikiobo returned to the South Pacific Games track to claim their sprint crowns. For Bulikiobo it was a much anticipated return to the games, after she was injured at the Suva Games in 2003. In Apia, on day two of track and field, she won a much anticipated showdown with Papua New Guinea's Mae Koime, who's ruled in her absence.Bulikiobo won in a game records time of 11.55 seconds, ahead of Koime's 11.57 seconds and Toea Wisil of PNG, who finished in 12 seconds.

The men's 100m was won by Fiji's Jone Delai on his 40th birthday. He ran home in 10.66 seconds, defeating team mate Iowane Dovumatua in 10.71secs and third placed Wally Karika of PNG, in 10.74secs.

The 800 meters was a great race, offering a clean sweep to PNG, with Solome Dell 2:12.98, Cecilia Kumalalamene 2:16.35v secs and Ann Mooney 2:16.62secs. Local hero Aunese Curreen won the men's 800 meters in a tightly fought race with Isiraeli Naikelekelevesi of Fiji, the standing records holder from the past three games, in second, ahead of the up and coming Arnold Sorina of Vanuatu. Curreen's time 1:41.82 seconds.

In field events, New Caledonia's Elise Takosi winning the hammer in 47.41 metres from the French Territory's javelin star, Bina Ramesh in 45.50, and Cook Islands Siniva Marsters was third in 42.96.

The men's10,000 metres race, won for a record fourth time in a row by Georges Richmond of Tahiti, in a time 33.29.41seconds, defeating PNG's Sapolai Yao, 34.6.22 seconds and Sam Levi from Vanuatu, who was third in 35.5.44 seconds.

The men's 400 metres heats have set up a another big day of rivalry for Fiji and PNG set to clash again on the track.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Beche de mer - dri - sea slugs

from w
So the sea-slugs Tui Macuata referred to as like caterpillars - because of the way they move over the sea floor - are the common Fiji dri. Or beche de mer when they are dried out.
Near Wailevu village I have seen them drying in the sun on tables. I have only tasted them a couple of times - cooked in coconut cream - and really don't fancy them at all. They are still picked up in Fiji and sold to China but not in huge quantities as in the early 19th century when the whole of the Macuata coastline was alive with traders who built smoke-houses in places like Tavea Island. Here is a drawing/engraving of Macuata in 1840.
Wilkes exploration ships came along Macuata about that time and an artist drew one of the smoke-houses and an engraver copied it to make a very fine picture.

The name of the sea-slug is holothurian or sea cucumber and is an echinoderm having a flexible sausage-shaped body, tentacles surrounding the mouth and tube feet.

notes from sn SPC website:
Bêche-de-mer is a French word derived from the Portuguese "Bicho-do-mar" or, in Malay, "trepang". Bêche-de-mer in dried form are used as food by Chinese-speaking peoples. When rehydrated and cooked, the bêche-de-mer is said to impart a delicate flavour to soups. It is sought after for its restorative and aphrodisiac properties, and not as a major item of diet.

In Fiji, only a few varieties of bêche-de-mer are used (mainly dairo and vula), and these are traditionally eaten fresh. By far the largest proportion of Fiji's bêche-de-mer catch is exported in dried form to Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan where it can be retailed at up to US$30 per kilogramme.

Although the bêche-de-mer trade was quite large in the early part of last century, never more than 100 tonnes of dried product per year was exported from Fiji. From 1932 onwards virtually nothing was exported, following the Sino-Japanese war, and trade only started to pick up in the late 1970s.

During the early 1980s the main export market was Hong Kong and only high-quality, high-value species such as sucuwalu (white teat fish) and loaloa (black teat fish) were accepted. Following renewed trade links with the Peoples Republic of China, on the mainland, an enormous new market has opened up. Many other Pacific countries are reporting a great increase in exports of bêche-de-mer, particularly of the lower-value species such as dri (blackfish).

Very little is known about the biology and ecology of tropical holothurians. A certain amount of work has been done in Japan on spawning the temperate sea-cucumbers, but this is not applicable to Fiji conditions. From work done in New Caledonia by ORSTOM, we do know that blackfish have a winter breeding season and that they grow to around three inches in length during the first six months, reaching full size in two years.

Other species have different characteristics of course. For example loaloa (black teatfish) has a summer spawning season, and driloli (lollyfish) may reach full size in just over a year.

Different varieties have different commercial values. In general, the thicker-bodied species are more valuable. They are slower growing, less prone to shrinkage on drying, and less prone to spoilage. Soft bodied lollyfish are of little use to anyone, but the red juice that they exude when rubbed between the hands has been used traditionally for. stunning fish.

Optimistic spins on Vanua Levu stories - of course!

from w
Two stories from the Fiji papers are of interest to babasiga watchers. One - Tui Macuata's gratitude for a sudden burst of sea-slugs - to make money before the conference. (I think the Great Sea Reef was rested for a while so.... and I won't say what I think about turtles. Shhhh.) And the second story: now that Survivor has been shown in Australia and the winner known to us, it's nice to know the guy wants a holiday house for his Mum on the Coral Coast - hey, why not take her all the way to Vunivutu in Macuata?

Sea slug a God send, Tui Macuata says1853 FJT
Wednesday, September 05, 2007
Update: 5.10pm
The paramount chief of Macuata has described as a God send the appearance of a mystery sea slug hree weeks before the annual Methodist church conference. Ratu Aisea Katonivere said the sea slug appeared in the marine protected area of the Macuata coast was a mircale as it brought in much needed cash for the hosts of the meeting.

He said a Chinese man appeared and 'bought it from us as it happened to be a Chinese delicacy' so it filled in their coffers as they waited for Government funds to help them prepare for the meeting. "Our church members and villagers have been saying the slug was a God send," he said. "And with the Men of God about to come to our shores with the appearance of the slug which we called the caterpillar, this is more than a coincidence.

"I can say that it was a miracle as a Chinese man came along at the same time and started paying $6000 a day for harvesting of this slug which helped our people a lot.
"With that money we could buy curtains, improve homes which were to be used for accommodation and buy things four our preparations. This happened 3-4 weeks before the conference happened," he said. Ratu Aisea had ordered they stop harvesting a week before the conference so that they could concentrate on their preparations.

The province had suffered heavy losses to plantations and their economy early this year with widespread flooding, raising doubts over their capability to host the conference. Ratu Aisea said they had applied for funds with Government but the processing of these funds was not fast enough for its desired purpose. He said in that light the slugs were considered a God send.

And as mysteriously as they appeared, they disappeared from the area they were harvested from - as soon as the church conference ended two weeks ago.
From yesterday’s fiji times
Survivor winner promises to promote Fiji
Tuesday, September 04, 2007
Vasemaca Driso, left, and Rusila Halofaki with Earl Cole at Fiji Visitors Bureau office in Nadi yesterday
SURVIVOR Fiji winner Earl Cole promises to promote Fiji overseas, saying it is a very pure place given that it's a Christian country. Mr Cole who came back to Fiji, this time as a millionaire after being named the winner of the CBS series Survivor Fiji said he would buy a house on the Coral Coast and get his mother to live there."We are Christians and I really like her to come and stay here," he said. "This is God's country and it is a great place," Mr Cole said. "There's going to be a way I can help Fiji. There's a lot to do for this country." Mr Cole of Santa Monica, California said the world needed to know more about Fiji and he was willing to promote it everywhere he went.

Mr Cole who flew out of the country last night after holidaying here for a few days said this was a beautiful place with a unique culture and very friendly people.
He said though he was in the country in December, he did not feel the effects of the military takeover, as the filming was done in Vunivutu, Vanua Levu but he did not get to experience the life which the rest of the country had to offer.

"So I took this opportunity to come back and go to some parts that I have not been to.I didn't get to know about Fiji, until I came here and was learning more about it during my stay."

With the money he won from Survivor, Mr Cole is launching his own multi-media company, A-Frame productions that will produce music, television series, documentaries and films. He was the first African Americxan to win the series and won by unanimous vote-the first time in 14 seasons.

Fiji Visitors Bureau chief executive Patrick Wong said Mr Cole agreeing to be Fiji's ambassador would increase publicity given that the Survivor series was viewed by 21 million people around the world.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Another visit to Vorovoro

from w.
Peceli is still in Labasa and visited Vorovoro again and sent these photos this morning. He intends to go to Suva, before the Air Pacific flight home to Geelong at the weekend.

Lucky we don't live in Sydney as this week it's gone crazy with lock-downs and high walls and fences to keep the American President safe. Protesters are gearing up for action it seems. Significant world leaders should have their meetings on a quiet little atoll in the middle of the Pacific to stop all of this excessive security. Send 'em to Nukulau eh?

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Miss Friendly North

from w
two news items from the Fiji Times
Nizbat wins crown for her grandfather
Monday, September 03, 2007

From left Miss Friendly North Nizbat Ali, first runner up Makarita Luveicei, second runner up Roselyn Kumar.

MISS Friendly North 2007, Nizbat Ali dedicated her win to her grandfather as his Father's Day gift. Crowned as the northern queen on Saturday night, the second year student nurse of Sangam Nursing School in Labasa said her win was the best gift she could give her grandfather. The 20-year-old was sponsored by the Labasa Cancer Society.

She said she was confident of winning. "My family had confidence in me and always told me that I could do it so I kept that in mind throughout the festival week," Ms Ali said. She urged youths of the northern division to always believe in themselves and think positive. "That's important and I want to remind youths that believing in themselves makes a big difference in life," she said. "The other contestants also helped in a big way with words of encouragement and support we shared with each other during the week," said Ms Ali, who won herself an Air Pacific sponsored return trip to Sydney, Australia, with $500 pocket money from the festival committee.
Miss Labasa Chamber of Commerce, Roselyn Kumar received two crowns when she grabbed the Miss Charity and second runner up titles. Ms Kumar raised $11,010 and will travel to Auckland with $500 pocket money.

The two women will fly to Nadi from Labasa with sponsors Pacific Sun.
For her second runner up prize, she will spend two nights accommodation at Hotel Takia in Labasa. First runner up, Miss Naodamu Community, Makarita Luveicei will spend two nights accommodation at the Garden Island Resort in Taveuni and travel by Consort Shipping.

The festival raised $47,700 and committee assistant secretary Roshan Lal said the week-long festival was a successful one despite the economic situation.

Huge crowd turn up to see north queens
Sunday, September 02, 2007

A HUGE crowd gathered to witness the float procession of seven contestants in the Vodafone Festival of the Friendly North yesterday. It was one of the highlights of the final day. The contestants, Miss Naodamu Community, Makarita Luveicei, Miss Fiji Sugar Corporation Rusila Melokibau, Miss Labasa Chamber of Commerce Roselyn Kumar, Miss Northern Health Services Kriti Prasad, Miss Labasa Town Council Aonira Taboia, Miss Cancer Society Nizbat Ali and Miss Fiji Teachers Union Ema Togamalo were confident in their floats.

The crowd braved the hot sun and walked through the town to Subrail Park cheering and clapping for their queens. Eroni Sauqaqa, 52, who travelled from Nabouwalu in Bua to watch the float procession labelled the event as an admirable one because it brought together people from all walks of life. "I come almost every year and this event is a good example of building bridges among the different races in helping unite the communities. "It brings people together and everyone enjoys together irrespective of race, colour or religion and we should introduce more of such events," Mr Sauqaqa said. Children cheered and called out to the contestants who gracefully waved and smiled at the crowd. Five-year-old Salote Senibulu of Vunivau, outside Labasa Town, only nodded her head when asked if she enjoyed the float procession.

Rajesh Kumar, 12, of Batinikama outside Labasa, said that it was his first day at the festival and the first few hours were exciting. "I stayed home throughout the week to do my studies and this is my first day at the festival and I am enjoying it already. The festival is fun and I met a lot of friends and relatives so it's fun to be part of the festival," Mr Kumar said.

Queen's committee chairman Doreen Robinson said the contestants put up a lot of work in the week to face a huge crowd, an experience that made them nervous in the first few nights. "The support from families was good and saw the girls through the week of the festival," Mrs Robinson said.

The festival ended last night with the crowning.
I remember that in earlier years there was an Adi Babasiga Festival and Militoni from the NLTB asked Peceli and I to help a bit with one festival. The winner was Vilisi, a teenage girl. She was too young to travel to Australia by herself so I had to make a trip with her and I took our two little boys. (This was before Junior's birth at Labasa hospital). Vilisi had a lovely holiday but was awed by the tall buildings in Sydney, much happier with my family in a small country town.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Mali children in Labasa parade

from w
Doing their bit in putting 'green' into the Friendly North Festival, the children of Mali District School and their tribewanted friends join in the parade. Pictures are from tribewanted website.

Happy Father's Day

and a happy Grandfathers' Day as well. Mr Qarase is back in Suva after an exile of nine months in Lau. (The lovely photo was 'borrowed' from today's Fiji Times.)