Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Good on you, All Saints

from w
One of the best schools in Labasa is All Saints Secondary College, a high school started by the Anglican church. They have a good program in checking the environmental damage to the Qawa River and now they have another project.

from Fiji Times today:
Saints on litter marchTHERESA RALOGAIVAU
Thursday, July 31, 2008

OVERWHELMED by litter problems a secondary school in the Northern Division made sweeping changes and employed' environmental monitors who have made inroads in solving litter issues. The 12 environmental monitors at All Saints Secondary School have succeeded thus far in keeping the school litter free.

School principal Kaliote Mackenzie said at one stage plastics and other forms of paper rubbish littered the vast school compound, an unpleasant sight to see. "We told the students again and again to use rubbish bins but that did not make any difference. It seemed all good advice fell on deaf ears. We decided it was time to be a bit tougher," Mrs Mckenzie said. "After the environmental monitors were appointed, we have observed major changes. The students are just careful about dropping any rubbish."

When the second school term began 12 students from forms 3 up to form 7 level were appointed and were invested with the authority to charge' those students caught littering within the school compound. Yellow scarves tied around the monitor's shirt collars distinguished them from the rest of the student population. Student monitors were also an initiative of the Live and Learn program which the school is a part of and coordinator Amit Maharaj said a student caught littering was fined $1.

"So the monitors, with their yellow scarves are a walking warning to other students that they could get into trouble if they littered. Students rethink their desire to litter when they see the monitors around," Mr Maharaj said. "The monitors move around during the recess and lunch hour break with their note books in which they write the names of the students who litter. These students must pay their fines. But their surveillance is not limited to the school compounds. They also monitor littering in classrooms," he added.

Another school teacher Mr Ram Lingam said in the beginning, monitors would be often challenged. "Students would refuse to pay their fines or even dare the monitors by dropping rubbish in front of them. Sometimes they'd even be verbally abusive to the monitors but over time this has changed along with their attitudes about keeping the environment clean," Mr Lingam said. "Now there is hardly any reminder during school assemblies about keeping the environment clean. Students know that littering is wrong and in the process have been subtly educated or instilled with good attitudes towards their environment."

As an incentive to motivate students to keep their environment clean, the cleanest classroom would be awarded a prize. Penalties collected is directed towards funding another school environment project which is monitoring pollution levels at the Qawa River on the banks of which the school is located.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Installation of king of Tonga in 2008

the pictures are of Tui Soso from Lakeba walking with the King of Tonga and gifts of food for the occasion.
from w. This is the important Pacific tradition of an installation of a king or high chief. Perhaps all the other ceremonies this week in Tonga are of lesser importance, the crowns, the robes, the gilt chair and so on.
Traditional coronation for new king From correspondents in Nuku'Alofa, Tonga
July 30, 2008 01:13pm
Article from: Agence France-Presse

TONGA'S king was officially anointed in a traditional ceremony today in which his subjects presented dozens of pigs and hundreds of baskets of food in tribute.

King Siaosi Tupou V sat alone on a raised platform in Nuku'Alofa as more than 200 of Tonga's nobles and chiefs surrounded him in a circle, dressed in white with woven ta'ovala mats around their waists.

They took part in a kava-drinking ceremony, with the king offered the first bowl of the mildly narcotic drink, made from the pounded roots of a plant, to recognise that he was first among Tongans.

The 60-year-old king, whose name is George Tupou V in English, will also be crowned head of the tiny South Pacific nation in a Western-style coronation on Friday.

But for Tongans, today's ceremony was "the true coronation", said the Master of the Royal Household, the Honourable Tu'ivauavou.

One of the king's talking chiefs, who speaks on his behalf agreed, saying the ceremony installed the king as the 23rd holder of a dynasty founded in the 17th century before European contact.

"This is our traditional ceremony for the coronation, the western coronation is much more recent," Ma'u Kakala said.

"I'm so proud to have taken part in it. Everyone here in this field took part to celebrate our own culture."

The king walked to the grassy meeting place next to the newly renovated royal palace on Nuku'alofa's waterfront, led by a spear-wielding chief whose job was to drive away evil spirits in the ceremonial area.

Strict protocol means no Tongan can walk in front of the king or touch his food, so a ceremonial presentation to Siaosi Tupou was accepted on his behalf by a friend in traditional dress.

Up to 75 pigs, dozens of kava plants and hundreds of baskets of cooked food presented to the king were to be later distributed to Tongans.

The king, a controversial figure in the island country due to his widespread business interests, is better known outside Tonga for his taste for elaborate uniforms and for being driven around the capital in a London cab.

Shortly after he took power in September 2006, riots sparked by a political reform rally left eight people dead and large swathes of the centre of Nuku'alofa were looted and burned.

The coronation was due to be held last year but was postponed as the poor country of 115,000 recovered from the riots.

Siaosi Tupou, who assumed the monarchy after his father Taufa'ahau Tupou IV died two years ago, made his strongest statement yet this week that he plans to hand over some power to his people.

The last three pictures were from Matangi Tonga.
One story about Archbishop Bryce: we were staying at an Anglican flat in Auckland one time courtesy of a Fijian friend and the phone rang: Is Archbishop Bryce there? A Tongan woman's voice. I said, No, but you can talk with Pope Peceli if you like! Then I realized it wasn't the time to joke at all, but well, that's life and we sometimes say the wrong thing. Apparently Bryce had been there the week before!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Remembering Tonga in 67

from w
I found some old photos of the last coronation in Tonga on a website from the Sirius boat. One is of the off-loading of a gift from Fiji for the coronation. A car? Wonder what gift they will give this week. I believe that the Interim P.M. is going to the coronation. Will he share dinner with the lady from New Zealand? Perhaps share a leg of pork over dinner conversation.... There will surely be pork for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Between a rock and a hard place

from w
Between a rock and a hard place

Sometimes this is where we find ourselves - a choice toa go in either direction wll have problems, or we are overwhelmed by a situation, by illness, by changes in society, by political events, by an inability to see or focus on a hopeful future. We feel we cannot make a decision without consequences that affect other people.

This morning at the Geelong Interfaith Women's Group I was fortunate to meet with a most gracious woman, Leonie Rastas, a nurse, whose focus these days is on the spiritual aspect of healing people in pain, grief, or overwhelming difficulties. She is part of Pastoral Health Services in Geelong, a Christian Health Promotion charity facilitating Health and Wellbeing in Mind, Body and Spirit. The Pastoral Nursing project was developed by Referend Granger Westburg,a Lutheran Pastor in the USA in 1980.

I had never heard of this before but this service is available in Geelong and involves prayer, consultation, referrals, massage, sung prayers with actions. Leonie told stories - with permission of the people involved - about a woman in absolute fear of the dentist, a grieving young couple, a gentleman with a stroke, and other stories. Also Leonie was part of the recent Youth Day in Sydney and with the 300,000 others changed Sin City for a few days! The kind of work of Leonie does is not mainstream but involves discomfort, tears, foolishness even. She gave us a prayer to read:

May God bless you with DISCOMFORT
At easy answers, half-truths, and superficial relationships
So that you may live deep within your heart.
May God bless you with ANGER
At injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people
So that you may work for justice, freedom and peace.
May God bless you with TEARS
To shed for those who suffer from pain, rejection, starvation and war
So that you may reach out your hand to comfort them
And to turn their pain into JOY
And may God bless you with enough FOOLISHNESS
To believe that you can make a difference in this world
So that you can DO what others claim cannot be done.

This idea of being between rock and a hard place made me think of our friend Lorini Tevi in Fiji who had to make a difficult choice - the Methodist Church gave her three months to think about it - to be part of the process of the Interim Government's method of 'moving forward' or to stay with the Methodist Church Standing Committee with a unified voice against the Interim Government. Lorini felt that God was calling her in a certain direction which was unpopular with the leaders of the church she loves and grew up with. I think we have to respect the dissident voices that make us feel uncomfortable so our prayers are with Lorini in these awkward times in Fiji.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Natadola Golf Course

from Peceli
In my recent visit to Sanasana I stood up on top of the hill and looked towards the sea and also looked down towards the area under development. I can picture that it is going to be the most beautiful golf club and hotel in Fiji. The beach is rated seventh in the best beaches in the world. It's a great pity that there has been so much trouble in the development and abotu Vijay Singh's name on the golf course.

(taken from a Fiji newspaper)
Resort halts Vijay Singh adverts

The Natadola Bay Resort Limited has ceased all advertising that included international golfer Vijay Singh or his designs. Chairman Felix Anthony said NBRL had withdrawn all advertising which included Mr Singh's image or name and designs.
High Court judge Jiten Singh last week ruled that NBRL could no longer use the name of the international golfer in any promotional work for the Natadola Bay resort project.

He also ruled that NBRL, a subsidiary company of the Fiji National Provident Fund, stop using drawings and specifications under a design agreement with International Management Design Incorporated and International Management Golf Services Incorporated.

IMDI is a company that specialises in the design of golf courses.
It had entered into a design agreement on August 20, 2004 with Natadola Land Holdings Limited for the Natadola project.
IMG had entered into a golf course management agreement with NHL on November 29,200.

IMG is the manager of Fiji's international star golfer Vijay Singh.
However the Natadola Marine Resort website still carried images of Vijay Singh and public relations material from 2002 to January last year.
Mr Singh cancelled his design contract for the championship golf course on April 17, last year

Hanahana Nadroga

from Peceli
Hamahana in Nadroga is Sanasana in the Bauan language and in my recent trip to Fiji I spent some time with these people, in their homes, in their church and community. Here are some of the photos I took there.

The Natadola development project is on their land and I was taken bo boat along the sea to view the development and also spoke to people at the site the day before officials from the Interim Government visited the place. The hiccups regardingthe golf course which Vijay Singh withdraw his name is a shame. It is a beautiful site and can be an excellent venture for the locals and for tourists.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Perky and pretty women in Vanua Levu

from w
The ABC radio gave us some good publicity for the Uplift Fiji project of Rotary International Donation in Kind. I was talking with a friend Joy Baxter - from Geelong - yesterday, who recently was in Dreketi, Vanua Levu, and she gave out over a thousand beautiful bras to women and teenage girls, even sports bras which will be great for the netball players. Way to go! 'Only in my dreams,' said one older lady when she saw the pretty garment. I won't ask Joy for photos of two grandmas in their finery because their granddaughters who might be on-line might not think that dignified!

Here's a transcript from the ABC radio program. And check out the Uplift Fiji website. A couple of pics here about other women who are involved in the uplift Fiji project - Liz Baker, and also Heather.

Not everything in the transcript if absolutely correct though. Fijian women do not buy most of their clothes from op shops. They mostly make them using their small sewing machines, mostly brightly coloured dresses or white for church.

Bra charity giving Fiji women a lift
PM - Thursday, 24 July , 2008 18:46:00
Reporter: Nance Haxton

MARK COLVIN: A bright idea for a charity project has become bigger than anyone imagined, by putting old bras to good use.

Rotary International's Uplift Fiji program has collected more than 12,000 second-hand bras in the last three months from South Australia. They're all going to women in Fiji. Low paid Indigenous women there couldn't afford bras and that was causing some of them causing health problems as well. Nance Haxton reports from the collection depot in Adelaide.

ANNOUNCER: There are a number of sizes. The things that they're most after are nursing bras, then we've got sports bras and the very large size bras.

NANCE HAXTON: It's not often you see a mountain of bras by a suburban roadside, but here in a church hall in Glenelg on Adelaide's seaside, it's all available hands on deck to get more than 12,000 bras in boxes ready to ship to Fiji.

Maxine Jones is the project's coordinator.

MAXINE JONES: This is a way of giving women dignity and some self-respect by helping them. And also too it's an issue of health. Basically they have an infection called intertrigo which is a rash or often abscesses will form between the breast and the chest wall. So effectively this is a way of lifting the breast, increasing air circulation and hopefully reducing the incidents of that.

FEMALE VOLUNTEER: I've never had so many bras of size and shapes (laughs).

NANCE HAXTON: Indigenous Fijian women get most of their clothing from second-hand Australian clothes shops. But bras are rare in these shops because most Australian women don't tend to put them in charity bins.

Maxine Jones says Uplift Fiji overcomes that problem, and for a very practical purpose.

(To Maxine Jones) So it's not just us western women imposing on them that they should be wearing a bra?

MAXINE JONES: No absolutely not. In fact that's one of the things that's quite amazing about this project, it actually allows women to have a lot more freedom and the ability to work; a lot of these women have quite hard lives, they often have to do farm work, so the reality is it allows them, and also too a lot of them work in resorts, where they're working with western people, so it allows them to have much more freedom.

NANCE HAXTON: Any size bra is suitable, although the more generous the better to reflect the Fijian build.

FEMALE VOLUNTEER: Maxine and I had one pair, they were so large that we had our photo taken. I had my head in one cup and she had the other.

NANCE HAXTON: Graham Tidswell, a retiree who worked in hospitals in Fiji in the 1950s, is one of 15 full-time volunteers working on today's collection.

GRAHAM TIDSWELL: This project is going to help because the cost of a bra for the local village lady, is very expensive. I think it's about $1.50 an hour they earn, I may be wrong on that, but you can imagine paying $30 or $40 for a bra.

So this project is going to help.

NANCE HAXTON: The Uplift project has been so successful that its been extended to Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu and Tonga, with more than 40,000 bras shipped from throughout Australia to these nations so far this year.

MALE VOLUNTEER: I didn't realise there was so many bras around (laughs).

NANCE HAXTON: Maxine Jones says the beauty of second-hand bras is that they don't attract import duty, and so are easy to ship to women overseas in need.

She's overseen the South Australian collection for the past three months, and says she's relieved the time has come to ship them on.

MAXINE JONES: Yes, there's a lot of relief. I think my husband is the one that will be relieved that the house is now empty and the garage will be empty hopefully shortly and also my neighbour will be very grateful because her garage will also be empty.

NANCE HAXTON: So you've had two houses taken over by bras?

MAXINE JONES: Effectively yes.

Women have really embraced it and I think they've embraced it because any woman would understand what life would be like if they didn't have a bra. And effectively, as soon as a woman gets connected with that, it's like oh my god! What would life be like if I didn't have a bra?

So women have been going through their bra and undies draws with gusto and clearing a lot of stuff out and also we've had not just individuals but a lot of organisations taking it on. A lot of charities have donated stock that have been unable to be sold but the reality is the need is so strong in all developing countries that we could keep going and just going and going and going.

MARK COLVIN: Uplift Fiji coordinator Maxine Jones ending Nance Haxton's report.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Is tribewanted still going strong?

from w
Our niece's daughter is getting married in a couple of week's time on Mali Island so our relatives are very busy in preparation. Maybe some of the Vorovoro eco-tourists will be there at the celebration as the location for the wedding is quite close to them. I was wondering how they were going these days on Vorovoro Island so I clicked on the tribewanted website, and yes, they are going okay. Their appointed chief writes in the blog as follows:

Chief's Update 24.7.08
Community → Mariah Boyle's blog

By Maya, California, USA Posted 1 day ago

Bula sia tribe! So much has happened in the last week! Last Wednesday we celebrated Dan’s (August chief) birthday (organized by Jo, vinaka)with a scavenger hunt, piñata, and murder mystery evening. We all were given parts in a murder mystery and dressed for the parts and started in character over dinner, and after dinner we moved into the great bure where someone was murdered and lots of sleuthing followed. The game was a highlight of the week and something that is still on the island for future tribe members!

Thursday was also a historic night – we held our first ever Vorovoro trial. The accused, Ben (tribe member), Jim (island gapper), and Sosi (Team Fiji), were accused of two incidents of Frog Bombing (placing frogs in beds of tribe members before they went to sleep) that occurred on Tuesday. I was the judge for the trial, we appointed a jury, and Crimestopper escorted the accused. The evening was full of laughter as we heard testimony from the victims, gathered evidence from the audience, and determined that all three were guilty. Tevita and I conferred and decided that the punishment needed to be decided by the big man himself, Tui Mali. On Friday in Liga Levu we asked Tui Mali to decide a punishment for those accused, and he asked the three to come to his house and dig holes for large poles that will hold up his power line, which has recently fallen down. As a show of moral support the tribe will accompany Jim, Sosi, and Paul (nominated to do the work of Ben who left Vorovoro on Monday) and encourage them while sitting in the shade nearby. Look for a blog detailing the entire night to be posted soon by the tribe members!

Friday we were invited to Liga Levu for lunch as we purchased reeds from them, and the money the received was used to buy two new weed cutters for their village. They cooked a feast for us and we meke’d for them to say thank you! The ladies of the village also meke’d for us. The school was released early that day from testing as well so all the kids joined us as well! When we left the village gave us come voli voli trees which is used to weave the mats in the bure, and now we can start making our own mats. The day in Liga Levu was an absolute highlight for the tribe, and another example of how this project is bringing the communities closer together, and providing the villages with revenue.

On Saturday we held the island forum (see forum summary of discussion) and enjoyed the sun. Sunday was another nice day of sunbathing and great meals cooked by talented tribe members!

Monday we had yet another birthday, Jo turned 23! Dan organized an evening of kids games: we all made sock puppets, did face painting, had a piñata, played the chocolate game and jelly bean in flour game, and musical flip flops. It was a great night!

On Tuesday work on the Team Fiji bure roof continued as well as construction on the family bure (more windows and a wooden floor). In the morning we also started snorkeling and mapping the bay, an ongoing projects for the next two weeks. It was a great sevusevu day with Tui Mali in great form, everyone joking around, and a good vibe happening on the grog mat.

On Wednesday we learned the fan meke from Va, started to prepare the leaves for more mats, finished the roof of the Team Fiji bure, and kept working on the Family Bure floor.

The spirit on the island is very high right now and a lot of projects are wrapping up! I can’t believe I’m already at the end of my month as chief, and everyday I learn something new and have more fantastic memories. A big vinaka vakalevu to all those who have participated in this month – either on the island or online.

Moce Mada,

Macuata and qoliqoli

from w
In a Fiji paper today there's a discussion on qoliqoli in Macuata and the value of protected areas. (No mention of the aberration one time in munching on turtles. Anyway...)

Bigger fishes provide proof of tabu benefits
Saturday, July 26, 2008

Fisheries officer Sunia Waqainabete at a qoliqoli community meeting in Labasa

BOUNTIFUL fish stocks of sizes unseen in many years has invigorated the desire of fishing ground owners in the districts of Mali, Sasa, Dreketi and Macuata to conserve their environment.

Catches of bigger fish, an increase in the number of fish species that were becoming hard to find, healthy marine delicacies and fishing closer to shore are some of the benefits villagers along the Macuata coastline have been experiencing from the declaration of nine marine protected areas in 2004.

At a meeting two months ago at Naduri Village, the fishing ground owners recommended 12 more marine specific areas and two forest areas to be declared protected.
"These fishing ground owners are witnessing the benefits of conserving the environment so there is an added zest in their attitudes," Sanivalati Navuku, of the World Wide Fund for Nature said.

Mr Navuku was coordinating a public meeting that included hotel owners, forestry and fisheries officials and members of the public seeking feedback on the intention of the owners of fishing grounds in Mali, Sasa, Dreketi and Macuata to declare 12 more marine protected or tabu areas.

"This is an open community meeting, one of the meetings that is part of the process of reconfiguring the network of Macuata protected areas," Mr Navuku said. "This is a meeting that has been advised by the project partners and the qoliqoli committee to give an opportunity to the public and the government agencies in representatives from the different agencies to come and sit in and listen to the development of the project in Macuata and give their recommendations or their feedback to this process," he added.

Feedback forms are making their rounds in villages along the Macuata coastline.
"WWF will compile all the feedback and present it to the qoliqoli committee, which will make a decision on the 12 new areas that have been recommended to become protected.

"They will decide whether to lift the tabu on protected areas," he added.
Mr Navuku said the concept of marine protected areas had raised the level of awareness among villagers on the need to protect the environment. "As they take part in MPAs they become more knowledgeable about the importance of conserving the environment for future generations and it benefits them already," he said.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Genie in a bottle

from w
Thursday morning - some interesting news from the Fiji radio, but who are they talking about? Not the genie in the Fiji water bottle debacle?

Military Council to meet with Government
Thursday, July 24, 2008

Taken from / By: FBCL
The military council is expected to discuss the future of a senior government minister’s tenure with the interim government today.

The council is expected to sit in the next hour.

It’s understood the council has made recommendations on the minister.

More details as they come to hand.

Fiji Broadcasting Corporatio

(later in the day; seems like it was only a puff of air or a tricky illusion. No story it seems.)

Bhindi and Potato Curry

from w
Peceli came back from Footscray market this afternoon with a bundle of bhindi (okra) which I haven't cooked in years but I have always liked other people's cooking of bhindi. So I made a quick curry with bhindi and potato. Other recipes suggest adding tomato, or capsicums, and another recipe even adds yoghurt but I find that would be a bit sloppy and I like bhindi curry fairly crisp. Anyway this is more or less what I used.
It's best eaten with roti of course and it's good as a parcel to take for lunch.


Handful of okra, I large potato, sliced thinly
2 medium onions sliced
2 green chilies, chopped
1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
1/3 teaspoon cumin powder
2/3 teaspoon garam masala
2 tablespoons lemon juice
3 bunch of coriander leaves
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
Salt to taste

1 Trim the ends of okra
2 Cut remaining Okra into pieces.
3 Heat the oil in pan in medium heat.
4 Lower the heat and add onions, green chilies, spices and salt. Increase heat to medium. Stir-fry until onions are light golden brown.
5 Add potato and carefully cook to avoid burning. Add okra and stir-fry for around 15 minutes in a medium heat.
6 Sprinkle coriander leaves as decoration and serve hot with rice or roti.
Peceli has been making vakalolo lately so I'll try and get his recipe and post some time. It turned out very well, the second attempt! Instead of using 'real' cassava he used packets of frozen crushed cassava from the Chinese shop in Moorabool Street, Geelong.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Babies switched at birth at Labasa hospital

from w
I intended to repost some of this article in this blog but didn't get around to it. It's a strange story that has important repercussions about attitudes to race in Fiji. A friend Kalusi emailed the story to us today, and also I found it in Mailife on-line. Then I realized the magazine Mailife was one of the magazines Peceli brought back from Fiji for me and I found it on top of the piano!

In a twist of fate, the Indian baby (Filimone) was given to Catholic Fijian parents Tevita and Sofia Maleti while the Fijian baby (Asif) was given to the Muslim couple Farida and Azim Khan.

by Solomoni Biumaiono
Photography: Savenaca Viriviri

Now 14 years old, Flimone Sulivaliva is a slim and shy rural village boy. When we first saw him, he was on the front porch of their home in Matalolo Village, in the interior of Vanua Levu, joking and playing with his younger brother Emori and their grandfather. Just minutes earlier, after a 40 minute ride from the main road, we had met Filimone’s father Tevita near the village and asked if we could speak to him about his son. The Fijian father and his Indian-looking son had just returned from a two week camp at their farm up in the hills above their village, which is closer to Labasa but sits within the province of Cakaudrove.

Two days later we sailed across from Vanua Levu to Taveuni and visited 14 year old Sheik Asif Khan at his home in Qarawalu, a farming settlement to the south of the island. There a Fijian-looking heavily built Muslim boy with a solid presence stood on the porch and watched us coming in. As we tried to break the language barrier to convince his mother Farida Bi to an interview, Asif put on a pair of boxing gloves and started pounding on a punching bag hanging on their front porch.
They may live worlds apart, but under the façade of social, cultural and religious indoctrinations, their genetic make-up does not lie.

Asif is Fijian and Filimone is Indian.

Asif and Filimone were mistakenly exchanged at birth at Labasa Hospital on the 1st of August, 1994. They were born three hours apart. The Indian baby, now Filimone, had a normal delivery, while the Fijian baby, now Asif, was delivered through a caesarean procedure.

In a twist of fate, the Indian baby (Filimone) was given to Catholic Fijian parents Tevita and Sofia Maleti while the Fijian baby (Asif) was given to the Muslim couple Farida and Azim Khan.

“I saw the forceps mark on the baby’s head (meaning he had been delivered normally),” says Fijian mother Sofia. “But I was too weak from the caesarean operation to inquire.”

Filimone became Tevita and Sofia’s eldest child in a family of three boys while Asif was Azim and Farida’s third child out of a family of four boys.

What was supposed to be a celebration of life for both families, has however through the years, become one that has been marked with confusion, complications and anguish.
Throughout their young lives, Filimone and Asif, alongside their mothers Sofia and Farida have been discriminated against and are constantly reminded, in a country plagued by racial tension, of the strange image they make as mother and child with vastly different ethnic features.

Asif dropped out of his predominantly Indo-Fijian school because of the discrimination he says he received for looking Fijian. Filimone suffers similar treatment from his school mates even though he still remains in school. Filimone is in class 8 but Asif stopped going to school three years ago, while still in class four.
Sitting in their wooden home in Matalolo village, a village with piped water but no electricity, Filimone was uncomfortable and emotional as his mother Sofia related their story to us. He sat cross-legged on the mat in traditional Fijian manner, head bowed. Mai Life carefully asked him how he was considered by his peers, and Filimone took a while to muster an answer, bowing his head closer to the mat.
He replied in fluent Fijian.

“Era dau rulaki yau ena yaca na ‘kai Idia’ ena levu na gauna ia au dau saga meu kakua ni kauwaitaka (They always tease me by calling me an ‘Indian’ but I try not to let their teasing affect me),” Filimone says.

“Au sega ni dau taleitaka na nodra dau kacivi au na yaca oqo (I don’t like it when they call me an Indian).”

While Sofia disapproves of the teasing, she believes most of Filimone’s schoolmates are just behaving their age, as even his younger brothers do the same when they argue with him.

“Kila o ira na gone era na gone tiko ga (Kids will always be kids),” she says.
She is more worried about what the future will hold for her son, and is concerned about what fellow villagers might do since Filimone stands to inherit the head of his mataqali title.

“Au sa dau tukuna tiko ga vua me vuli. Me vuli sara vakaukauwa me rawata vakavinaka na nona bula. Au kila tu e lomaqu ena sega ni ganiti koya na bula ena koro,” (I have advised him to work hard in school, get a good education so that he can support himself and have a good life, because I don’t think he will do well living as a villager),” mother, Sofia says.

“O tamana e ulumatua mai na nodratou matavuvale. Ni oti ga qo, o tamana ena rawa ni soli vua na na itutu ni liuliu ni nodratou mataqali. O Vilimone tale ga e neirau ulumatua. Eda sega ni kila tu na yalodra na lewe ni koro. Au sa leqataka tiko gona ke keirau sa na yali, ena tiko o ira era na sega ni vinakati koya baleta ni kai Idia. Eda sega ni kila tu na yalodra na tamata (His father is the eldest in his family. It looks like that he is next in line to become the head of their landowning unit. Filimone too is our eldest son but we don’t know how the rest of the villagers will think about this. I am worried that in the future when we have both passed away, some of them will not want him because he is Indian. We don’t know what people really think about him),” she says.

According to Sofia, Vilimone cannot be included in the ‘Vola Ni Kawa Bula’ (the official Fijian register of native landowners) because he is really Indian even though he has been accepted as their firstborn. However Mai Life is aware of instances where supposedly non-Fijians have been written into the Vola ni Kawa Bula at the advice and direction of the clan or tribe.
hings are a little different but the challenges are the same for Asif. His parents had to abandon their plans for him as he was steadfast in his decision not to go back to school because of the supposed discrimination he suffered at the hands of his teachers.
He attended South Taveuni Primary School from class 1 in 2000 but dropped out three years ago as, according to his mother, he was constantly tormented by his classmates and teachers.
The first incident was when a lady teacher singled him out in front of the class and berated him for not following what she had asked the students to do.

“She tell to him ‘Tum kai Viti bot karab’ (You Fijian, very bad),” Farida says in her broken English.

“Students tease him. All children saying like that to him.”
“After second day I brought him home.

Farida lodged a complaint with the relevant authorities and convinced Asif to go back to school.

“I give him all the things. After one week he go back to school,” she says.
But Farida explains that the teacher then approached Asif and chided him for telling his mother about the incident.

“He said mummy I don’t want to go back to school. I force him to go to school, I want him to get job,” she says.

The next incident was when he was in class 4 and involved a male teacher.
“In first term test, he only sat one paper after that he ran away from school. Came here crying saying ‘mummy master ame maris, master ame maris’ (master hit me),” Farida says.

At 3pm on the same day, Farida went to the road to wait for and confront the teacher as he had to drive past their home to get to his house.

“Next day I go to school and same time went to police station and get medical report.”

“Three, four months later I go to Naqara to ask but policeman tell me don’t know,” she says.

A policeman who was familiar with the case Umesh Shankaran died just last year.

Ram Sidal is the head-teacher of South Taveuni Primary and he confirmed that he has received complaints from Farida, and also been the subject of a complaint.
He said two other teachers were also named in the complaints and subjected to an investigation carried out by the Ministry of Education in 2004 and 2005.

Mr Sidal denied that there was any truth to Farida’s allegations. He alleged that Farida uses the incident to try to get money from the teachers, but could not provide any proof to back his claim.

Ever since that incident three years ago, Asif has been content with staying at home honing his boxing skills and learning to live off the land as a farmer. The family live in a tin house.

For Farida, Asif’s troubling experiences at school is just another chapter in the journey of tribulations she has endured ever since she brought him home from the hospital.

Farida has suffered like her son, ridiculed often by her community and accused of conceiving Asif through an extra marital affair.

“Muslim people tell him (her husband) to give this boy back to family and bring his own son back. Every time you know, Indian people say bad things to me and my son,” she says.

The Khan family was living in Tidritidri, Seaqaqa where they were farming a piece of land when Farida had Asif.

Farida and Azim started to argue a lot when they saw that Asif was different from their other two sons.

“Three months my husband fight with me. Me fight back because I had enough,” Farida says.

She says she was denied food for one whole week and forced to sleep in their fertilizer shed with Asif as her husband started accusing her of having an affair with a Fijian man.

Incidentally the man she was accused of having an affair with is directly related to Filimone’s father, Tevita.

Her husband threatened to divorce her because of Asif and she even suffered physical violence with a scar to prove that, but whenever the Police came she remained faithful to her husband and never laid any charges.

During this trying time, Farida was again pregnant with her youngest child Sheik Samir Khan.

According to Sofia, it was in late 1995, almost 18 months after the birth, when a family member told her of an Indian couple living in Seaqaqa who had a baby that looked Fijian.

“Na kena moniti tarava au sa gole sara ga meu laki raici rau mada na veitinani kai Idia qo. Na gauna oya keitou se tiko kina mai Koronivuli. Na noqu gole yani, keirau sota sara ga kei Farida, ni duri tu e tautuba. Na gauna ga keirau veiraici kina, keirau sa dui raica sara tu ga na matadrau na dui luvei keirau vei keirau (The following Monday I went down to Seaqaqa to see the Indian lady and her son. At that time we were living at Koronivuli village. I saw Farida holding the baby outside as I approached their house. The moment our eyes met, we saw our sons’ eyes in each other’s faces),” Sofia says.

It was a moment of redemption and deep emotion for both mothers.

The two shared their stories and established between themselves that their sons were exchanged at birth.

Filimone’s father Tevita says that many had suggested that the two families exchange again but Farida and Sofia themselves find it hard to part with their sons as they had weaned them and had grown attached to them. Vilimone and Asif are also not keen to leave the family they grew up in and the only home they have ever known.

“They say this is not your son but he was small baby when I bring him from hospital. This my son,” Farida says.

In a quirk of religious and cultural doctrines, Azim’s family also could not take Filimone back because he had eaten meat that contradicted their Muslim faith.

But both families are seeking closure from their traumatic experience and for the past few years have often visited each other.

Filimone and his family spent last Christmas holidaying at Qarawalu in Taveuni with Asif’s family.

Sofia says Asif had once agreed to come over to stay with them in one of their efforts and attempts to re-exchange, but in the last minute decided against it.
Tevita hopes that through such visits, the boys will grow to understand what had taken place and decide on their own what is best for them, as past efforts by the parents had proved futile.

Sofia admitted that she never liked talking about the incident at all, but with the passage of time she has come to accept what took place.

For Farida though, the thing that hurts the most was what she had to go through with her husband and members of her own community, as well as what has happened to her son in school.

The heavily built Asif likes boxing, while Filimone likes to play left link for his school’s soccer team. Filimone told Mai Life he is also considering a life as a Catholic priest.

Much has been said about the differences between Fiji’s two major ethnic groups, but the story of Filimone and Asif shows that a mother’s love is blind, and love conquers all.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Music in the Fiji schools

from w
I was happy to read this article from the Fiji Times about music education in Fiji. Excellent work Igelese Ete.

All for the love of music
Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Local singers are fast making an impact in today's modern world. One of the most anticipated event is the Suva Secondary School's Music Festival which was revived last year. Organised by the Pasifika Voices formerly Malaga Singers of the University of the South Pacific, the festival saw a wonderful display of choral music by secondary students in Suva.

GERALDINE PANAPASA talks to coordinator for the event, choral conductor, composer and senior lecturer at USP Igelese Ete.

Times: What is the festival all about?

Ete: Uniting, inspiring, and uplifting the youth and community of Suva through the creative arts especially singing,

Times: When did the festival start?

Ete: Well I hear through the grapevine that it started around the late 60s early 70s. But lay dormant for around 10 years until we decided to revive it last year.

Times: How did the idea for a festival as such arise?

Ete: Well it's my passion to use music as a vehicle to inspire and uplift whoever is involved. So when I established the Pasifika Voices (formerly Malaga Singers) last year they were also of the same mind of reintroducing the Music Festival, which is something that I've long being involved in New Zealand.

So the choir decided to re-establish it as part of Pasifika Voices community outreach. This year we've established the Suva Community Gospel Choir which rehearses at the church where I'm based 'New Life Centre in Raiwaqa' and it adds that extra community dimension.

Times: Why were students brought in to participate in this event?

Ete: Not sure if you mean the secondary schools students? If so they are a part of this because we want to empower and inspire our young people to achieve in whatever they choose. And also they all have God given purpose and gifts, to cultivate these gifts so they may serve and inspire their families and communities.

Times: Was the event last year the first of its kind in Fiji?

Ete: As I mentioned earlier it stems back to the late 60s and speaking with the evergreen amazing Ethyl Naidu there has always being a strong ethic of building unity and empowerment through music and dance, we have just continued on from the foundation set by Ethyl and her contemporaries. So it wasn't the first of its kind it was basically a re-ignition and revival of a long held tradition in Suva.

Times: How many students participated that year?

Ete: Last year we had around 250

Times: What was it like working with students?

Ete: Extremely rewarding seeing the gifts and talents blossom, also serving young people so they can serve the next generation.

Times: What are some of the challenges you faced and how did you overcome these?

Ete: Well I suppose its always financial I find even now. It takes a lot of effort to convince prospective sponsors about the huge impact that this festival has not only for the students involved but also for the community and nation. I pray one day we, Pasifika Voices can just concentrate on organising the music and dance without the whole organisational logistics.

The Pasifika Voices are working tremendously hard to ensure that the festival is an amazing success, and you have got to remember they're only students, some just out of secondary schools. Organising what corporate companies would find challenging I'm full of admiration for the Pasifika Voices for their work ethic and passion to ensure the young people receive the very best.

Times: How have preparations been so far for this year's music festival?

Ete: Extremely challenging and tiring for all involved, at the same time rewarding and exciting as we are making a difference to our community.

Times: How many students have volunteered to join?

Ete: Well in the choir we have 450 plus the Pasifika Voices and Suva Community Gospel Choir we will have a mass choir of approximately 550 which is just going to be absolutely amazing.

Times: Comparing this number to last year, have numbers increased or decreased?

Ete: As mentioned earlier we are moving up in numbers which is fantastic.

Times: Are you anticipating the same challenge as last year or will this one be different?

Ete: I think there will be the same challenges but I expect them . in fact I would be a little worried if there weren't. It also keeps us on our toes and away from complacency.

Times: Is there a particular theme for the event?

Ete: Yes it is 'Powerful beyond measure' suggested by one of the members of the Pasifika Voices, a famous line used by Nelson Mandela in his inaugural presidential speech. We want to lift the self-esteem of young people, to let them know that they can achieve anything through faith in God and action. They are powerful beyond measure, and to use that God given power to serve each other and their community and nation.

Times: How do students benefit from such an event?

Ete: Obtain unity, self confidence, respect for each other, developing as a family, to realise that the creative gifts are important and also that they obtain acknowledgements from their schools. I think of prize giving ceremonies at the end of the year. You will always see awards for top scholar, top sportsperson but I hardly hear about the best or top musician, vocalist or dancer, visual artist. I feel our creative people are always neglected and marginalised by the education system, we need to value our creative youth and inspire them further.

Times: What do you think of the vocal talents of secondary school students in Fiji?

Ete: Well it's just like the rugby talent in Fiji. They have the natural ability and gift so with the resources, infrastructure, leadership they are powerful beyond measure.

Times: Should there be some sort of development program for these students in their respective schools?

Ete: Absolutely. A Creative and Performing Arts program should be developed in the grassroots level as that is where the young people are most influenced.

Times: How important is this event for Fiji as a whole?

Ete: Extremely important, it is an event that will inspire, empower and uplift the nation in these challenging times. Music and dance is where we turn to, to inspire ourselves. This event will do just that. We want our community to walk out with a feeling of euphoria, and positivity and that they can achieve and serve and that they all have a God given purpose.

Times: Why is it significant to realise the tremendous talents of the young in Fiji?

Ete: Simply if we neglect ourselves and what our purpose is in life we live life unfulfilled and our creative talented young people must be given opportunities to develop their gifts or else they will always feel unfulfilled and that is very dangerous.

Times: What can people expect from this year's event?

Ete: Well they can expect a phenomenal inspiring sound and movement that will move their body mind and spirit.

Times: What makes it different from last year?

Ete: I think the sheer size of the choir. 550. It will be epic in sound and sight.

Times: Any other comment regarding this event?

Ete: Just asking the whole Suva community to support your gifted and creative people as they will in turn empower the future generations.

Some historical photos about Tonga

from w.
One time when I wrote a paper comparing Tongan and Fijian music I used some photographs from an old Geographic magazine so here are some of them. And also I found some of historical interest of Queen Salote, and the visit of Queen Elizabeth to Tonga in 1953. The famous photo of Queen Salote at the coronation of Queen Elizabeth in London was probably what put Tonga on the international map as she waved to the crowds ignoring the rain. One photo is of people lying down on the grass in front of the king's palace during the coronation about forty years ago. Will they do that next week at the next coronation?

The Tongan nose flute was softly played at dawn to awaken the royal guests in Nukualofa. The leader of the group was the Honourable Veehala, Keeper of the Palace Records.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Going to Tonga for a coronation?

from w
I wonder who is representing Fiji next week in Tonga for a splendid occasion - if you like hierarchies and that sort of thing.

“Coronation a Worthwhile Event for World’s Last Remaining Polynesian Kingdom”
By Takafly Brown & the Silhouette

After years of mourning, trials and tribulations the last remaining Polynesian kingdom is set for a very joyous coronation for King Siaosi Tupou V on 1 August 2008 … but alas, already its preparation has received some harsh criticism.

According to Tonga’s Tourism NZ representative, Will ‘Ilolahia the coronation expenditure is only $1million more than the TOP$4 million spent on the recent Pacific leaders Forum held last year, “... So what is the big-deal.!” It is estimated that the Coronation will bring the Kingdom close to $10 million in foreign earnings – twice what she will spend, let alone the world-wide publicity!

“It will celebrate a worthy new Head of State and also marks the beginning of an evolving Tongan democracy. It is widely accepted King Siaosi Tupou V has granted the people’s wishes by appointing the present PM who is a people’s representative. Previously it was his younger brother, now Crown Prince Tupouto’a Lavaka,” ‘Ilolahia said.

Tonga’s Monarchy is a fundamental institution of Tongan Society. The Coronation is the Crowning of this centuries old system which is already attracted world renown celebrities.

Tonga’s last Coronation was 41 years ago, so this Government and the majority of Tongans worldwide are proud to have this event where the newest Pacific developing democracy can demonstrate why “the Friendly Islanders’ still have a King.

Air NZ has already added additional flight to its normally peak July schedule. The Tongan Confederated Society of NZ (TCSNZ) has fundraisers planned this month for NZ based Tongans wanting to attend the coronation. TCSNZ represents elected Tongan community leaders from all metropolitan Auckland Councils.

This is contra to recent Camwest TV3 reports claiming that for many Tongans “the coronation expenditure does not sit right.”

Aisea Kaifa of Onehunga Methodist church declares he will be taking his family, “for my daughters to witness the coronation is not just for the King, it’s the Tongan peoples coronation”.

Tongan Government confirms most invited guests are paying for their own fares with many wanting to spend their own money whilst in Tonga, Proceeds from sale of memorabilia will go to various charities in Tonga and there is already a committee to oversee this.

American Peace Corp veterans are hosting their anniversary reunion
to coincide with the Coronation. A Norwegian Foreign Affairs official Ms Peki Matheson presently in Ethiopia, Africa, has confirmed her attendance. Traditional Tongan fales are specially being built to cater for those wanting a taste of cultural living…

For the usual feasts, these will be done on a voluntary basis - not the government paying as claimed by misinformed media.

Now is a time for Tonga to celebrate like it always has, since day one...we celebrate birthdays, weddings, graduations, etc; churches are always celebrating with their annual conferences and “misinale” this is accepted – annual events. But Coronation comes one in every 40 years! For once let Tongans enjoy together with others whether they are royalists, democrats, indigenous and visitors, young and old the heralding in of a New Beginning …

Fijians at Sydney at World Youth Day

from w
The Catholic promotional World Youth Day (week-long) in Sydney was a resounding success with over 400,000 people at the Sunday Mass in the main racecourse in Sydney yesterday and various events during the preceding week. Young people from many countries of the world gathered to celebrate and be inspired. A group of Fijians, some say up to 400, were there also. Here are some pictures I 'borrowed' from the internet.

I watched some of the TV programs on the event, and wondered if that intellectual man in the centre of attention, would really have preferred to be sitting in his study with books. Congratulations for an excellent event (though... read in small print... where were the women leaders, women speakers, female clergy, bishops, even Sisters of Mercy? Not up front. The liberal Catholics were not part of the event perhaps.)

Fiji Consular Services

from w
I have just read an informative blog about some of the various Consular Services in Fiji. Some strange stories and some good responses from some embassies.
Go to May's website: I found ti via failed paradise blog site.

Friday, July 18, 2008

I never promised you.....

from w. A song has been bouncing in my head - as it often does - this time after reading a couple of news items from Fiji. Hmmm. I never promised you... about cancelling that dratted promise of an election next March. Sobosobo! The song is by Joe South.

I beg your pardon,
I never promised you a rose garden.
Along with the sunshine,
There's gotta be a little rain sometimes.
When you take, you gotta give, so live and let live,
Or let go.
I beg your pardon,
I never promised you a rose garden.

I could promise you things like big diamond rings,
But you don't find roses growin' on stalks of clover.
So you better think it over.
Well, if sweet-talkin' you could make it come true,
I would give you the world right now on a silver platter,
But what would it matter?
So smile for a while and let's be jolly:
Love shouldn't be so melancholy.
Come along and share the good times while we can.

I beg your pardon,
I never promised you a rose garden.
Along with the sunshine,
There's gotta be a little rain sometimes.

Instrumental break.

I beg your pardon,
I never promised you a rose garden.

I could sing you a tune or promise you the moon,
But if that's what it takes to hold you,
I'd just as soon let you go, but there's one thing I want you to know.
You better look before you leap, still waters run deep,
And there won't always be someone there to pull you out,
And you know what I'm talkin' about.
So smile for a while and let's be jolly:
Love shouldn't be so melancholy.
Come along and share the good times while we can.

I beg your pardon,
I never promised you a rose garden.
Along with the sunshine,
There's gotta be a little rain sometimes.

To fade.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

More about the Adelaide Fijian Conference

From Wendy

Friday at the Fijian Conference in Adelaide

The venue was a large complex next to our village, and I was right – it was a woolshed in design. The main hall became a Fijianised building with a massive kingpost decorated with barkcloth, and also church with a banner and barkcloth on the speaker’s stand. This Convention Complex was usually hired out for business conventions, even boxing, so perhaps Jovilisi Ragata was right in praying that the place be cleansed a bit!

The conference discussions and sessions were in various styles – academic, story telling, humorous or serious, and passionate preaching. As the sessions were 90% in the Fijian language I had to concentrate to get the gist of the meaning. I liked Jone Lotu’s presentation about where we have come from. It was very clear with his use of the data projector to show old historical photos of Fiji over the past two centuries. An Australian minister who headed the Mission arm of the Uniting Church, Dr Tony Floyd addressed the people, as did Rowan who gave a spiel about the upcoming National Christian Youth Convention. He told a good story about adults separate from the youth until they were instructed to be silent, listen to the youth noise, then go to the youth tent, put up the tent flaps and join them!

The chair of the conference, Dr Jovili Meo, gave a presentation comparing the structure of the Fijian Methodist Church and the Uniting Church in Australia, comparing democratic processes and where the power lay. Was it in the Presbyteries in Australia?

I was very happy that Esther King the gospel singer was part of our conference. She led a session in singing and got us standing and waving our arms and trying out some new and old gospel songs. Rev Inoke Nabulivou gave a session on Fijian church music and we sang, among other styles, a polotu, the Lauan style of singing – the best! My voice was starting to come back after bronchitis so I joined in lustily.

The Concert that evening was wonderful entertainment: choirs, gospel choruses, action songs, many kinds of seasea, even a meke wesi with young boys from Melbourne. I have written about the choirs in an earlier posting, but I was cheering along the Dandenong singers.

Afterwards in our little villa there was plenty of yarning past midnight and the guys went off to find a house where there was kava flowing. Yaqona was not part of the ceremonials at this conference, only informally late at night!


Early morning, Peceli and I drove into the suburb of Glenelg for a look and to pick up a couple of things at the supermarket. It’s behind the church, a man in a newsagency told us. St Peters Anglican, a srong old church totally ringed/separated by a road. A bit symbolic I think.

Opening worship was led by the youth with an excellent keyboard player, words of wisdom and action songs. More parish reports included one from Peceli about Altona Meadows, and Rev Graeme Sutton from Dandenong.

The main session was led by Rev Jovilisi Ragata (who had been with Peceli on the Cuvu mission in January and again a few weeks ago) who confronted us with a need to be shaken from apathy, indifference, lack of commitment. Several people stood up after his call for commitment. This was another challenge to my anxiety about being tolerant of different styles and religious views.

After another lavish lunch I just had to sleep for an hour, then went to the last part of Lisa Meo’s presentation about the relationship between men and women. Some of the men’s views were seriously challenged. I thought we had got past this view of who was the boss and couldn’t believe the old views of some people! Good on you Lisa for raising the subject and getting to the nitty-gritty of power in relationships.

Though meals were available and abundant, the delegates were invited to fast during the day and some did so. A small formal meeting elected the incoming chair (again Dr Meo) secretary, treasurer and assistants. The next conference will be held in Darwin. We really thank Sitiveni and the small group of Adelaide and Darwin Fijians who worked tirelessly to make the Adelaide conference so successful.

Tidy up, pack up, hand in keys of villas. I watched the sun rise about 7.30 and we had brekkie in the villa.

The farewell Service held in a very crowded hall under the dining room led by Rev Vitinia Waqabaca from Parramatta church in Sydney. The youth presented a gospel song. The preacher was Rev Dr Jovili Meo, our Chairman who as usual spoke with clarity, intelligence, and humility. It was a long service, nearly three hours, and there was no time for the offering! Holy Communion was served to both adults and children. It was a very gracious and lovely worship service.

In summarising my view of the conference, I was impressed with the youth programs and their input, their enthusiasm, and there is hope for the future. Secondly we were challenged to be respectful of different styles of worship because usually Fijian Methodists are conservative in body language but this time we had some moments in the conference where there was charismatic speaking in tongues, hand-waving, American styles of songs. This was confronting to some people. However, what I valued most was the one to one conversations or in small groups, sometimes reminiscing, sometimes hearing painful stories, and making new friends. I think one of the functions of such a conference is for migrant Fijians in Australia to hear one anothers’ stories and to build one another up in the Christian faith and in how to live in this land.

We had lunch together and then said farewells, gave back cases and bags in our car to our villa housemates who were catching planes. The Melbourne bus was leaving at 2 p.m. and we left the Shores Village about the same time, driving to central Adelaide for a quick look, then searching for the turnoff for Murray Bridge and the freeway. After two hours Peceli decided it would be best to find a motel in a country town as an eight-hour drive would be just too long after all the late nights.

After staying in the little town of Keith for a night, we set off about 4.30 a.m. Geelong was a long way but once the sun was up it was a pleasant journey (apart from all the huge trucks) and nice landscapes around Stawell, the Grampians area. We stopped to look at the graffitied Sisters Rocks. We arrived back home by midday to have a good rest and to thank God for the lovely five days we had experienced meeting friends and engaging in stimulating discussions.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Arriving in Adelaide for Fijian Conference

from Wendy

If hibiscus blossoms were on the beds, we could have been in a Fijian tourist resort. There were the white fluffy dressing gowns, a fridge full of drinks and cheese. I thought these were ‘complimentary’ to the extreme until I noticed a flapping white paper. ‘You will be charged on your account for drinks and items consumed!’ I did think spirits, wines, and elite label beers were surprises for a Methodist Conference! WE DID NOT COMSUME!

We had an elite villa for six people – three from Geelong, two from Rakiraki (on holiday in Sydney and came with family friends) and a guy from Melbourne who slept on the couch who we barely saw.

The first view of the Shores village was how large it was with about 130 houses, a recreation hall, a dining-room up very steep steps with a small hall underneath and next door was a giant size convention centre (wallsof corrugated iron which made it look like a gigantic shearing shed) and attached was a silver service dining room for weddings (which we did not enter). The convention centre alone cost $1000 or $2000 a day. Next time, which will be in Darwin in two years time, maybe we should use a Uniting Church venue which would be free.

Though Peceli and I arrived in Adelaide at 2 p.m. Thursday the villa keys were not ready so there were a hundred suitcases and bags scattered on the grass and Fijian people sitting on rocks waiting. Some had been there many hours. Okay, lunch was ready – and a lavish smorgasbord lunch it was, then we got our keys. About 450 people were expected to join in the conference. The children were happy jumping on a blown up plastic thing and the youth were about exploring.

Below the dining room was a beach of sorts – lots of rocks, seaweed, a few boats, but then a shoreline for walking. A painting on the lounge wall of our villa was of a delightful palm beach – maybe Sydney – a bit different. Anyway it was winter and no-one was swimming in the sea. It was such a cold wintry grey day and the delegates from Darwin were noticing. Anyway we were not here to play, but to pray.

Peceli went to the Conference hall for the welcomes and opening worship, but I was still coughing a bit and so was my new friend from Totoya (now Rakiraki) so we just had a good yarn in the villa and plenty of tea. We were waiting for Ema to arrive on the 9 p.m. flight but it was delayed three hours! And, as always when meeting Fijian people, we found lots in common and we were related too.

View from our villa verandah of odd tree and communal laundry.

(More to come later about other days at the conference).

Gardening in Cuvu

from Peceli,
When I was in Cuvu recently I was shown a very large yam from the Vakatawa's plantation. I want to thank the Vakatawa,(pastor) my tauvu, and also the Vakatawa of Rukurukulevu, my tovata. They grew a lot of yams in their valevale and show a good example to the villagers. They are not only preaching the Word but in the early morning they go to their teitei to plant. This is what the Interim Minister of Agriculture Jo Cokanisiga was talking about - the need to work hard in using the land to grow vegetables and fruit.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Judging a Fijian choir competition

from w

On the Saturday night of the Fijian Conference at the Shores village in Adelaide there were many performances, skits, cultural dances, action songs, modern gospel songs and four choirs performed anthems to be judged in a choir competition: Sydney/Canterbury, Melbourne/Chadstone, Parramatta, and Dandenong. The Conference was very fortunate to have such an esteemed and knowledgeable singer, Esther King, as judge. On the Sunday the results were announced and her informative explanation of her criteria will be helpful to choirs in the future. Here are her ten main points when selecting winners.

I. Choice of song – that it suits the singers that you have – good soloists, trios, older voices, younger voices.
II. Presentation of the song
III. Pitch is correct and not flat such as singing under the note
IV. Attire – costume and the appearance of the group
V. Dynamics – warm, sharp, movement, interesting shifts
VI. Musical technique – the song is put across to make you believe that the singers mean it
VII. Diction – the clarity of words
VIII. Balance of voices – what should be done – heart, mind, body, spirit. The Kingdom of God is believable
IX. Style – young crisp voices or older voices, high and low voices, all ages and tonality, the ability to project voices. Some experienced choirs have developed their own tonality and style.
X. Lyrics and arrangement – is it a set arrangement or newly composed by a member of the choir? The judge needs to see the score to check pitch and voice parts. Try and write your own music if possible.

So according to these ten points the judge decided upon a winner. All choirs were excellent, looked attractive and sang very well. However, the winners according to the criteria of the judge Esther King (Litia Daveta) were
First: Sydney with 95 points,
Second: Melbourne with 94 points,
and equal Third Parramatta and Dandenong (each 90 points).

Actually my favourite was Dandenong and the soaring soprano soloist Apesai Smith's wife) with the choir, lovely sweet song, very well done. Of course I usually like choirs such as the Choir of Hard Knocks as there is more to singing than perfect pitch!

Fijian Conference in Adelaide

from Peceli,
Ni sa bula vinaka. We just came back from Adelaide after four fruitful days and two long drives - more than eight hours each time and we stopped a few times on the way. Here are a few pictures I took during at the conference of Fijian congregations of the Uniting Church. The hosts were the Adelaide and Darwin Fijian communities and we especialky Jone Lotu and Talatala Siti and their committees. It was an excellent conference and Wendy and I will write more about it later. One photo is of Dr Jovili Meo presenting 2nd prize for the choir competition to the Melbourne choir leader. One is of Rev Alan Hatcher who was once a missionary in Fiji. Youth were full participants in the camp, showing their talents in singing, dancing, and action choruses.