Sunday, March 29, 2009

Something negative - but also a win

from w
I read this amusing letter in today's Fiji Times. Yes, Suva, Nadi, and other towns should win a trophy for Earth Hour/Day/Week because of the ability to manage life without electricity! Sobosobo, though it is a nuisance to have electricity cut off so very often!

Earth hour

FIJI should be awarded the number one country for Earth Hour.

Why? Because of the number of times electricity is cut or there are blackouts because of so-called mishaps is astounding.

Even if it isn't FEA's problem that power went off, the long period people had to wait for FEA to repair the problem is unbelievable.

Fiji contributes to Earth Hour almost every week so will one hour make a difference?

I think people will follow Earth Hour on the 28th but I would like to point out that we may as well be called Earth Country because our electricity blackout track record is very good, thanks to the FEA.


Meanwhile in Sydney they did some great symbolic 'turning off the lights' as in this picture.

But in the suburbs of cities it wasn't entirely successful. I turned off lights, lit a candle and sat for a while, then members of the household decided to dress up and go out on the town, and couldn't see to find their best bula shirts! Peceli had to make a phone call by candlelight. Also two of the neighbouring houses were well lit up and booming with rock music with parties going full swing. So my small gesture was only symbolic but perhaps a reminder of how wasteful we are with four or five lights etc. on at a time.

Something positive - a win

from w
For followers of Fiji rugby, and that means a lot of people in Fiji and those who've migrated to several countries - this was a special day.
from Fiji radio news:
Fiji wins Hong Kong titleMonday, March 30, 2009
The Digicel National 7s team finally ended a 10 year drought in Hong Kong after beating South Africa 26-24 in a nail biting final last night. Fiji last hoisted the Hong Kong title way back in 1999 and last night’s win has seen Fiji in third place on the table.

South Africa is leading the points table with 84 points followed by England with 68 and Fiji on 62 while New Zealand has dropped to fourth with 60 after bowing out of the tournament in the quarter final.

It was two tries to vice captain Emosi Vucago and one to speedster Osea Kolinisau, the Boks replied with two tries but trailed Fiji 19-12 at the breather.

In the second spell, Fiji only managed a try from Seremaia Burotu while Vereniki Goneva and Nasoni Roko were sin-binned in the match which gave the Boks the edge to score a try which was unconverted.

Fiji 26-South Africa 24.

Fiji Sunday School kids in Oz

from w
This afternoon Claire, as usual, took the three children to Sunday School while the adults had a Fijian service, then the children came back and showed us a drama and song about the wheat seeds dying then bringing new life. Here are the pictures of them. Thank you Claire and Altona Meadows/Laverton Uniting Church for the lovely facilities. There are four Fijian Methodist/Uniting Church congregations in Melbourne and various other groups as well.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Gold medals

from w
We had a lovely day - temperature about 24 degrees C, at the Victorian Masters Athletics which were held at Box Hill in Melbourne. Andrew and Peceli competed in their age categories in the javelin events and both won gold medals so we are happy about that. Fijians win gold medals in Masters - sounds very impressive. From a distance the athletes looked trim and terrific, but close up you could tell many of them were over sixty or even eighty! Good on them for keeping fit and having a go at jumping, running, throwing, but I did notice in one event they couldn't leap over the hurdles but just climbed over them!

I didn't compete, just sat reading the Age newspaper under a shady eucalyptus tree, with a drink of coffee and a slice of bread and butter from the tuckshop beside me. Reminds me of Omah Kaiyam and his - 'under the bough, a jug of wine, a loaf of bread, and thee '- or something like that.

Tonight the neighbours in Unit No 4 are having a party, as well as the house backing our back fence, so it's very noisy outside and I guess they don't care too much about the electricity. In a few minutes Earth Hour will start and already we've turned off any non-essential lights. I'll use candles then if I can find one or two but I will still play music.....softly!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Need for a revolution

from w
Our niece, Bronwyn Lay, currently living in France, has an opinion piece in today's ABC - way to go girl! It's about the world economic crisis from the point of view of those who live in France.

Someone who lives in Fiji ought to think about repercussions for citizens in the South Pacific islands, or perhaps the lack of power in the situation means... sega na leqa - who cares enough! But the hoo-haa with the use or mis-use of Fiji Holdings money is a worry surely.

For Bron's article go to this site.

Leaving Labasa and moving on

from w
Here's a story of a family from Labasa who has to move on when their lease was not renewed. There was a painful time, but eventually a good life was found through initiative and hard work. And with the way sugar is going, there's not much good news for those who stay on the cane farms anyway!

Memories for Abdul
By Theresa Ralogaivau
Friday, March 27, 2009

SOME of Abdul Shariff's most painful memories involve watching his home being reduced to rubble as the lease on his land expired and he had no choice but to move. Even now when he at last has found peace and security hundreds of miles away, the heart wrenching experience he has lived through can be more than a dull ache. He often faltered and became emotional as he shared the traumatic times hundreds of cane farmers within 10 cane farming sectors in Macuata went through when their leases expired 10 years ago.

Back then Abdul's family owned one of the biggest cane farms within the Vunimoli sector in Labasa, producing on average 2200 tonnes of cane a year. "The farm had been passed down to me by my grandfather and we had a good life and it never once occurred to me that one day I would have to leave," he said. "We had three big cane farms and ran a shop."

Idyllic life on his farm was abruptly disturbed on the day he received a notice from the Native Lands Trust Board telling him he had one year to leave. "I just couldn't accept it because this was my heritage, something passed down to me by my family. It was work that I had done practically all my life and I was good at cane farming.

"So I went to the mataqali and asked them to renew my lease. They wanted some goodwill payment and demanded I give them my tractor worth around $40,000," he said.

"Next they wanted me to give them my shop and in return they would renew my lease. I barely slept as I worried about my family's future and where we would go. But no matter what I offered them, and the running around I had to do everyday, begging for a renewal but after several months I knew that it just wasn't going to happen and I had to give up," he said.

"It was as if someone died in our family, maybe even worse when I told my family there was just nothing else I could do about it and that we had to leave," he said.

Several days later, the Shariff family set about dismantling the home and shop built over half a century. "It took us less than a month to tear down many years work and everyday we did it we just cried," he said.

"Because we couldn't take down our concrete home brick by brick, we just ran a bulldozer through it and I won't forget that day because we all stood around as a family and cried watching it fall apart," he said.

Shocked and feeling powerless to move on, the Shariff family packed their belongings into a van and drove away leaving behind a pile of concrete rubble marking the end of their life on a cane farm. Today he operates a hire truck service for villagers within the Wailevu West district in Cakaudrove. They all call him 'Baba' the man who transports their cargo of dalo and copra to and from the market. The transition from his cane farm in Naduna to Beula Estate in Savusavu where he had purchased a freehold land was not only difficult but also an eye opener. "All my life I had been doing cane farming and some days after I moved to Beula Estate I'd wake up early thinking that it was time to go and do some 'kudari' on the farm," he said. "And then it would hit me that my cane farming days are over," he said.

But every cloud has a silver lining and for Abdul it was realising there were more to life than cane farming. "When I moved to Beula, I realised I had been living in a well and never knew there was a life to be made beyond my cane farm," he said. "I make good money carrying cargo like copra, dalo, yaqona for the villagers, have cows and bullocks and a vegetable farm," he said. "Although it involves hard work it's not the tough kind that I knew on a cane farm," he said.

"And now with all the problems affecting the sugar industry I feel being evicted was a blessing in disguise and whatever happened is now just a bad memory."

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Too true

from w
Saw this in the Fiji Times. Ain't it the truth!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Another tribewanted interview

from w
This time with Save - here's another tribewanted interview in Vorovoro Island. Another babasiga kid's story.

By Jimbo,
Posted 3 days ago
Reaching out to the north, east, south and west… all the people around the world breathing oxygen and farting methane, welcome to Hammock Society FM. We’re coming in live from utopia, from the blessed hammocks of Vorovoro and today we’re gonna have an education with the teacher of all things Fijian, ladies and gentlemen introducing Captain Culture, the man called Save.

Bula sia

Well here we are at long last, the teacher and the student. For those of you who haven’t seen Save… he has a very big afro which is in proportion to his brain. How big are you going to grow your ‘fro?

Like before, no one cut their hair small because they didn’t have anything to cut their hair with so they grew it big… that was a symbol of Fijians, big hair and big beard, all covered in one piece.

Even the woman!?

Hahahaha…no, the ladies just the big hair.

I’ve seen ladies with beards in some of the local villages, one wanted to marry me.

What did you say?...

Moce (good bye).


Who has the biggest hair in the village?

Warriors, strong men used to have the biggest hair. People say that they work with supernatural powers and they have that gift in them.

What gift do you have?

I have the healing powers of fracture, not sprain… but fractured bones. I use massage to heal. The length of time it takes to heal depends on your amount of power, it depends on how much pain you can take, how much muscle is in your body… but Fijians believe in this kind of medicine.

Where does it come from?

It comes from my mother’s side, my grandfather massaged a man with a broken shin for one month two weeks… he was healed, all fixed and cutting sugar-cane again…. hahahahahahaha.

If you have children, will they inherit your power?

Uhmmmm…. they have to accept, it’s in them already… they have to accept it.

How do you increase your power?

By massaging, by practicing…. because it can be with you but you’re not practicing it.

Wow! That’s some pretty far out stuff… punk rocker wizards in Fiji.


When tribe members arrive here on the island, they bring some kava as their sevusevu which is presented to Tui Mali on Tuesdays. It can be a bit nerve wracking but you’re here to explain the meaning and the process…

Sevusevu also means greeting, like just because the first thing you’re coming here, not to the people but to the land so that is the greeting done to the vanua… the village is just a village, vanua is the trees, everything in that area, the land, the sea, the fish, the people, the people who are alive, the people who are dead. For us, the greeting is different, it’s not just personal to humans… it also ties us to the village… the village will know why you are here and the village will give you freedom, not getting hurt. Once the sevusevu is done, when the wingman holds the kava… he accepts the kava on behalf of Tui Mali, he hopes that you come and enjoy, this is a small place but it is you who is making it big and you are welcome, this is your home, it is your sevusevu. But when Tui Mali takes the kava, what he is saying is like… here may the people of Mali, there’s another kava here in front of me which is a sevusevu, people are coming here to come and live in this place and I hope you could hear this even though you are not here. Then he will turn to us and say to us that you are my eyes on this island… and you are my ears… I’m not here every day so whatever you do here, whatever you see you are doing it to me. He will say one verse from the bible which says whatever you do to your friends, you’re doing it to God always. Sometimes you see him pointing up hahahahahaha…

I’m gonna get a diploma in culture after this interview.

Hahahahaha… I think we should record the next sevusevu and will try to translate it in one culture class… maybe we turn it into a play… that’s what I was thinking.

Sounds like a great idea, let’s do it instead of the meke one day… you must of taught hundreds of people the meke by now?

The meke is the traditional Fijian dance, it is something strange about our culture… you could also say it’s our bible, that’s where we keep our writings of our past and the future. It’s all in the meke, once we know everything we will try to arrange it in words, lyrics and do the meke, after that… it is performed. That is done to keep the traditional way, so everything was kept in the meke.

We got sevusevu classes, meke classes… and then there’s the art of spear fishing….

I use the pole spear, walk along the beach and hunt that way, no swimming. For us, we can see the fish easily than tribe members. Seeing the fish is the difficult thing, spearing fish is easy, seeing the fish is the most important thing. So we just see the waves… how the ripple goes… and the fish will make the waves different so you will know there’s a fish there right. Then you look through the sea to see the fish. To spear a fish in the sea depends… because as soon as the sun rays go through the water it bends right, so I’m used to that.

Do big fish come in that close, surely not?

During the month of October, I was in class seven, about twelve/thirteen years… I come back from school and I went out fishing, this was like a hobby for me every afternoon because there was nothing to do… our house was isolated right on the end… I go out fishing in the mangroves… I see this swordfish coming, it’s about six feet long coming straight to me… the fish knew there was danger in the mangroves and it turned away. I threw the spear at the head but it bounced off, it was really a big one… I don’t know how! Then it turned to me, I started running for the mangroves… I was like half wading through water… as soon as I jumped up on one of the mangroves the swordfish came up, left the sea and dived trying to hit me! But it hit one of the mangroves, it was there… stuck!

That’s like something out of a cartoon, are you winding me up?

No, it’s true… it got stuck… then the nose broke and it swam off. When you’re a small you’ll go for any fish… you’re experimenting, trying to learn.

Do you like the taste of swordfish?

I don’t eat it. What we call tabu, like taboo… there are some fish, some trees, there’s some plant you’re not supposed to touch, to eat… you’re not suppose to go near it. Like me, my family, my area we’re not supposed to eat the saku, the swordfish… this identifies where you come from, like if you know you don’t eat this fish and you meet someone else who doesn’t eat this fish then somehow you are related to each other. It’s a tabu from our ancestors that practiced it.

What happens if you did eat it?

Like me, I ate it once… I didn’t know, it was a curry fish, mixed up and the swordfish was there… and I got ringworm, like a rash… so it’s there and it will always be there.

You obviously skilled at catching fish, I wonder who’s gonna catch your heart?


But Team Fiji tells me you’re already married… married to the grog!

Hahahahahahahaha… yeah, it’s true hahahahahahahahaha…

You’re often pounding the kava getting it ready for the mix. It sends a deep, thumping sound across the whole island… it reminds me the scene from Jurassic Park when the T-Rex is coming and all they can see is the cup of water rippling in-time to the thumps. This sound has become known as the Vorovoro heartbeat.

In other villages, you won’t find me pounding like this… you will find me drinking like this hahahahahahaha, but here I pound the kava.

It’s a heavy job, do you find it hard?

It get’s easier the more you drink, the more drunk you get. Kava makes everything easy hahahahahahaha….

How would you describe the effects of drinking loads?

Errrr… it’s really difficult to say… most of the time you’ll find your head becomes heavy like a small ant with a big bun on it’s head hahahahahaha… like… you’re focused, everything is OK but your body is not that way. It might make you go head over heels hahahahahaha. You can’t walk the normal way hahahahahahaha…

And around the grog mat, you’re serenading the tribe with your musical skills playing the ukulele and guitar upside down like Jimmy Hendrix…

Hahahahahahaha… when I was young, I would listen to music only because I couldn’t get a left handed guitar… so I didn’t want to step back and don’t do it… I thought I might as well do it and find my own chords. I started playing the guitar upside down when I was nineteen, my mum bought me the guitar and taught me only three chords. Just by seeing and listening I try to learn… it was really hard for me… so any chords I would pick and play and if it comes right I would know it’s a chord! So my listening skills was better than my singing at that time. It’s just matching up of strings hahahahahahahaha.

What sort of music do you enjoy?

I love all music hahahahahhahaha…. any music I’ll listen too because I’m trying to get the sound from it. It’s not the whole thing, just the small thing… so I listen to any type… that’s why I don’t know the name of any bands, I just listen to it hahahahaha…

A little hermit crab told me you used to be a bit of a Maradonna in your younger days?

Hahahahahaha… yeah, not really Maradonna, I was playing football for Fiji under 17 and 19… I went to New Zealand. They wanted me for under 21s but I said no, I was studying Architecture, I stepped out of the team. Football was not big at that time, not like now, so I thought I would study instead and then passed out from there and was teaching for five years.

Do you regret giving up the boots?

Yeah, now like… I tell my nephew… if you have that age of going to play I think you should do it because you can study your whole life. When I was teaching, I was also teaching how to play football… I even took a team to Nadi… that was the under 19s and I think I took one of the guys that plays for Fiji rugby sevens… William Ryder. He was my soccer player hahahahahahahaha…

Let’s bring the Fiji National Soccer team to Tanoa Park here on the island and get a match going, I’m sure you’re still got some skills in your toes… we’ll give you a spear too and then we’ll be unbeatable!


What would you say is the main difference between Fijian culture and other cultures from around the world?

OK, the main thing is the Fijian culture is when they know something is wrong they will hide it. They will carry the burden silently and then it’s going to be good after that. But sometimes it is too much hahahahahahaha… we are supposed to be like this… hahahahahahahaha.

Oh maaaaan, and here I am trying to lead a project in a culture that wont tell me something is wrong. Can you teach me telepathy?


Any last words of wisdom for the readers out there?

I didn’t know that traveling is learning, but now I know that people come here and learn so much, they come to learn, I thought they were just a tourist on holiday hahahahahahaha but if travelers are thinking that way, that’s a good thing. Most of them have come and really enjoyed this place, felt this place… it’s the culture we are trying to bring up here, we dig more into our own, it’s not just you learning, we’re also learning about us and you hahahahahahahaha… it’s hard to explain this place… you have to come here and feel, it can be hard to explain feelings, people should just come hahahahahahahaha…

Cool, let’s go pound some grog…

Is that against Hammock Society law?...



And remember readers… chill out, don’t work out! Go Hammocks!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

The Fijian word Kalougata

from Peceli,

The word Kalougata

Kalougata means blessing and as I understand it there are three ways of translating the word. Ah Koy only looked at one meaning. I agree with Andrew Thornley in looking at the word more carefully. In the 1941 Fijian Dictionary the other meanings are ‘sharp’ or ‘pointy’, as a knife, or also as in addressing a god, Sa gata cavucavu na Kalou – the God speaks truly, has power to perform. This is like an Amen. It is good that Ah Koy questioned the meaning of ‘kalougata’ and making us think about it, but he did not go far enough to look at the theological dimension of this word. The word gata as serpent or snake is also mentioned in the Bible and as my teacher Alan Tippett said, sometimes we do Christianize something from a former tradition.

Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert so the Son of Man must be lifted up.
Mevaka sa laveta cake na gata mai na veikau ko Mosese; sa laveti cake vakakina na Luve na Tamata.

From Fiji Daily Post on Saturday

KALOUGATA DEBATE - The origins of 'Kalougata'

Sydney, March 2009

FROM the very early days of the Christian era in Fiji, “Kalougata” was universally recognised as the word for “blessing”.

In 1839, four years after the European missionaries arrived in Fiji, Rev William Cross published the first translation of the book of Genesis.

In Chapter 1:22, for the phrase “God blessed them”, Cross used the Fijian, “Sa vakalougatataki ra na Kalou, ka vosa”.

This was later revised by the missionary scholar, Rev David Hazlewood in the 1864 Fijian Old Testament as “A sa vosavakalougatataki ira na Kalou”.

Hazlewood’s revision was later accepted by Rev Frederick Langham in the 1901 Old Testament Revision, which is the version in use today.

In the New Testament, the first use of the word “blessed” is in the Beatitudes: Matthew 5:3ff. In this case, Rev John Hunt, who was the first to translate the New Testament in full, used the phrase “Sa kalougata ko ira’ for “Blessed are”.

Hunt had the services of brilliant Fijian linguists such as the legendary Noa Koroinavuqona and the Viwa chief, Ratu Ravisa (Elijah Varani), as well as Adi Litia Vatea, relative of Cakobau. These people would have approved the use of this phrase.

The word “Kalou” in Hazlewood’s 1851 Dictionary is defined as “a god” and Hazlewood says that the word is used to denote anything superlative.

In the same Hazlewood dictionary, the word “kalougata” is defined as “a powerful or true god, a god that performs what he promises – hence blessed”.

The word “gata” in Hazlewood’s dictionary has a primary meaning of “sharp” and can also be used in descriptions of the land when referring to “hilly” or “many peaks”.

“Gata” is also used when addressing a traditional deity, in the sense of “so let it be” [viz: Amen].

This is expressive of the god’s power to perform. And so we have the Fijian phrase: “Sa gata cavucavu na kalou”, meaning: ‘The god speaks truly’. A literal rendering of this phrase in English would be ‘the god pronounces to the point or exactly’.

This sense of the word “gata” gives further depth to an understanding of “kalougata”.
Then there is the important idea of ‘functional substitution’, as used by Fijian missiologists like Rev Dr Alan Tippett. This is where something powerful from pre-Christian days is taken and given a sacred Christian use. The best known example in Fiji is Cakobau’s killing stone being now used as a baptismal font. So “kalougata” – a god performing what is promised – becomes “blessed”.

Let us also not forget that ‘gata’ in its meaning as snake has very positive attributes.
The great traditional Fijian deity Degei, of Nakauvadra fame, was imagined to be a gigantic snake, with significant creative powers attributed to it, as well as destructive powers (but then so has the Christian God).

Capell has made the debate somewhat more difficult by not having a separate entry for the word “kalougata” even though it appears countless times in the Fijian Bible.

far more convincing source is Hazlewood’s dictionary, not Capell’s.

* Dr Thornley is a former lecturer at Pacific Theological College and Davuilevu Theological College. He has published books on Fijian Methodism in its foundational years.


Saturday, March 21, 2009

The difference between a university and a TAFE

from w
I was interested to read Mr Meo's discussion on the Fiji Institute of Technology, saying that it should not go the way of becoming a 'university' but be different. In Ausralian we call such institutions TAFE Tertiary and Further Edication. This is true. There is a difference between an academic (book/theory) institution and a hands on/practical/down to earth teaching facility. I like the idea of the FIT as an alternative way of learning for young and older men and women. In Australia such as in the city of Geelong there is the Deakin University and the Gordon TAFE and the latter is very very good. Mr Meo - who was pushed out from his position as principal of the FIT in Suva last year, but now the charge has been dismissed - is rightfully in a position to make a comment. The FIT website may not be up to date but here it is.

I read the following in an on-line Fiji website.

State told to save institute

The Fiji Institute of Technology will become a white elephant within five years if it continues in the path it has taken, says former director Kolinio Meo.
Mr Meo, who was acquitted last week of a charge of abuse of office yesterday broke his silence to the Fiji Sun as he called on the Interim Government to immediately do something if the institution is to survive.

“The Interim Government must recognise this and step in to ensure that FIT survives,” he said. “My prediction for FIT is that, within five years time, it is going to turn into an academic institute. FIT will lose its core functions. The way the current director and board are moving, we will have another university.”

“I hope that this government and minister will not allow that to happen.” He said changes brought about by former interim Minister for Education, Netani Sukanaivalu had left the institute destitute.

When contacted last night FIT director Dr Ganesh Chand wanted the questions faxed over to him and would respond today.

Mr Meo said with the plans he had put in place for FIT during his tenure, was part of the FIT Act which was supposed to be promulgated in 2006, the institute would have been an autonomous organisation and independent of Government assistance. “The Act itself would have been the solution to many of FIT’s problems. I knew it because I designed the strategic plan for FIT. So what happened was, the interim Minister of Education at that time (Netani Sukanaivalu) came in, he says he knows everything about technical and vocational education and he did not want the promulgation.

“If he had signed it then, we would have got money from the banks immediately to fund and develop the school.

“”When I advised the minister, please sir, you sign this, tomorrow we will go and sign with the Colonial Bank to release $16million to complete that building.

“The Hospitality and Tourism School in Nadi is a white elephant now. If it wasn’t for the Interim Government, the school would have been running now,”Mr Meo said the former Education minister had made it a personal and a ‘childish’ crusade to bring him down and put a plug in the pipeline for the plans he had put in place for FIT. “I even wrote to the Interim Prime Minister pleading with him to intercede for the sake of FIT. But the minister himself went along to the PM and said he wanted to change the Act. “How can one person do that when the Act has gone through sector committees in parliament and various stakeholders? It was childish. He ridiculed me and was the driving force behind getting me out of FIT so that someone else can come in.”

Mr Sukanaivalu’s phone was switched off when contacted last night.

Mr Meo said lecturers at FIT now call him to lament about the state of the institution. “Now it is turning into an academic institute and this contradicts with its core functions.

“FIT was supposed to be the engine room for government. Now, I don’t think we can say that anymore. They have changed the structure so many ways and they don’t know what they are doing,” he added.

Current Interim Minister for Education Filipe Bole was also not available to comment.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Volcano near Tonga

from w
On youtube you can see the black and white volcano spit.
It caused a tsunami warning in Suva and seaside areas but then the warning was cancelled. Meanwhile kids and workers stayed home. Where do you run to - I guess Suva is okay with hills but what about some of those little flat islands eh?

Pumice is expected to be swept into the beaches of Fiji. The Fijian people call it soata and it's an abrasive lightweight rock with holes in it and a great resource for cleaning pots and knives so will be welcome perhaps by the cooks and gardeners.

Pumice expected on Fiji beaches
from Fijilive:
In the aftermath of the underwater volcanic eruption in Tonga this week, pumice (floating volcanic rocks) may be swept on to Fiji’s beaches, but most likely after several months.

According to Fiji’s Mineral Resources Department, pumice is expected after such volcanic activity nearby.

According to the Volcano Discovery Journal, a new eruption is taking place in the Tongan islands, between the small islands of Hunga Tonga and Hunga Ha'apai, which are part of a large underwater volcano located about 30 km SSE of Falcon Island. The last eruptions in this area were reported in 1912, 1937 and 1988.

Pilots and residents from adjacent islands observed a huge ash and steam plume from the location of the eruption, rising up to 5-7 kilometres.

There have also been reports of pumice rafts (large amounts of pumice stones stuck together) drifting out to sea. According to NASA (the United States National Aeronautic and Space Administration), their 2006 pictures show pumice drifting from Tonga to nearby islands in a volcanic explosion that year. The Mineral Resources Department said it is likely that pumice from the volcanic eruption may come to Fiji but it could several months for this to happen.

New wing for Labasa hospital

from w
It's a good hospital at times - our youngest son was born there a long time ago, and a very long time ago Peceli himself was born there when it was brand-new! I hope it is functioning well these days but Fiji does have difficulty getting and keeping staff, and often the overseas doctors don't speak Fijian or Hindi which is a problem.
New health facilities for Labasa
20 Mar 2009 02:05:36

The Interim Minister for Health, Doctor Neil Sharma says more Doctors will be assigned to the North, by the end of the year. Doctor Sharma accompanied by his Permanent Secretary, Doctor Sala Saketa, is currently on tour in the Division. They will assess staff and operations, of both the Health Centres and the main sub divisional hospitals, in Labasa and Savusavu. Also on the agenda, was the opening of a new Hospital wing, which includes a 46 bed ward for Mens surgical, a new lab, administration block and library for the unit. The new wing was opened today Interim Prime Minister, Frank Bainimarama.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Who is Betty?

from w
One of the names suggested (leaked to the media) for an invitation to be part of the proposed Forum, is Betty Bigombe from Uganda - which does sound very very far away. Though she doesn't seem to have any connection with Fiji, my word, she is some fine woman. So I wonder if she might be the kind of outsider (without any tags connecting her with Oz or Kiwi-land) who could come into Fiji and make some sense of the situation?

from wikipedia:
Betty Oyella Bigombe is a former Uganda government minister and consultant to the World Bank. She is an ethnic Acholi and has been involved in peace negotiations to end the insurgency of the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) of Uganda since 1994. As of 2005 she was acting as chief mediator between the LRA and government of Uganda. She has a masters degree from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. As well as English and Acholi, she speaks Swahili and Japanese. Bigombe is currently a senior fellow at the U.S. Institute of Peace, which recently produced a video about her latest work in Uganda.

And... also from the internet:
Betty Bigombe has been involved in peace negotiations in Uganda to end the Lord’s Resistance Army’s (LRA) insurgency since the early 1990s. Prior to taking on these negotiation initiatives, she was appointed minister in Yoweri Museveni’s government and minister of state for pacification of North and Northeastern Uganda, and Office of the Prime Minister, resident in the North. She also was tasked with seeking a peaceful means to end the war in north and northeastern Uganda. Following the failure of a military solution, Bigombe initiated contact with rebel leader Joseph Kony. This initiative gave birth to what would become known as "Bigombe talks."
In 1994 Bigombe was named "Uganda’s Woman of the Year" for her efforts to end the violence. She spent time providing technical support to the Carter Center in the peace efforts between the governments of Uganda and Sudan. She then held a fellowship at Harvard University’s Institute for International Development in Public Policy in 1997. Bigombe joined the World Bank in 1997 as a senior social scientist at the Bank’s newly created Post-Conflict Unit and also worked with the Social Protection and Human Development Units.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Mere's wedding in Navosa

from w
It took a few weeks, but we now have some photos of Mere (Pinky) and her husband from Navosa at their marriage in Draubuta. Best wishes to you both and preparations to go to England.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Meanwhile all is fine and dandy at Matei airport

from w
An interesting letter to the editor today about the Taveuni airport!
Airport right of way

MATEI airstrip on Taveuni, after 5pm last week. The fire truck was parked outside the garage with communication radio on loud.

Firefighters had some visitors and they were smacking kava in the garage. There was a tractor parked next to the fire truck. It was not long before we heard the pilot radio-in saying they were four miles out.

As we heard the plane approach, my partner and I walked to the side of the arrival concourse and saw the plane lowering its wheels, approaching to land. Just then, we heard the tractor start and to our astonishment the driver drove straight on to the tarmac speeding toward the other end of the airstrip. At that moment the plane lifted its gear and flew straight over. Neither the fire attendants nor service staff thought anything of it. As the plane made its way around for a second approach, a service attendant mentioned casually "no problem the plane had to fly by because of the tractor".

The kava session continued as if nothing had happened. Up north, tractors now have the right of way on airstrips.

Laucala Island

Blowing a cornet in Labasa town

from w
A nice story from Labasa in today's Fiji Times paper and hooray for the Salvation Army who pick up people without worrying about status and background story.

Playing for his dream
By Theresa Ralogaivau
Monday, March 16, 2009

As Ananaisa Watisoni Qereqeretabua marched through Labasa Town blowing into a cornet, he could almost see himself taking a step closer to his dream job which is becoming a music teacher. It's a career that's a far cry from pushing wheel barrows in and around the market area.

He makes good money from it but the 16 year old has his eyes set on teaching the finer art of music.

Ananaisa a member of the Salvation Army Marching Band is in fact a high school dropout. In 2008 he was a Form 4 student at Queen Victoria School but an unlucky turn of events early into the first term of school saw him dropping out. "I was sick for a long time and was admitted at the CWM hospital," he said.

"My uncle from Vanua Levu took me with him feeling that a change of environment and weather would do me good."

"And I did get better but somehow I just never got back to school," he said.

Instead he took to operating a wheel barrow carting service at the Labasa market making as much as $35 a day.

"It was a beginning for me because now that I was out of school my other option was to work hard and try and make a living and help out at home," he said.

One day a pastor came along and invited him on a musical journey that would change his ambitions and probably his life.

"He said he was from the Salvation Army and that they were providing musical training for free," he said.

"But I didn't know anything about music except that which I heard on the radio."

"I didn't know how to play any musical instruments at all but I was interested in learning about it so I happily signed up for training," he said.

The training held over the two weeks early this month taught the 31 children most of whom are high school to read music and to play various instruments.

Ananaisa according to the office in charge of musical training Pastor Veu Jare at the church took naturally to the cornet. "It's a difficult instrument to play but he learnt fast in just 2 weeks," Mr Jare said. "He is now an instrumental player in the Salvation Army Brass Band," he said.

Ananaisa now has a Certificate in Music theory but he doesn't want to leave it at that and wants to continue on learning until he becomes a music teacher.

Like many high school dropouts that belong to the band music is more than just a form of entertainment for Ananaisa. It's a lifeline out of an impoverished life many of these kids are certain to experience having not completed their education. "Now that I have a certificate I'll continue learning until I get my Diploma in Music and than I'll work even harder so that I can teach music," he said. "Sometimes I do think about going back to school but have decided to stick with this because it's something that I am good at," he said.

On days when he isn't fine tuning his skills with other kids at church Ananaisa can be seen pushing a wheelbarrow at the Labasa market, making a dash for buses from far flung locations loaded with crops and competing for runs with other wheelbarrow boys. "I will continue to do this so that I don't get roped in to criminal activities that could happen to me if I am idle," he said. "It's brining in honest money for me and my family and I know that this is not something that I will do forever because I also got my music to focus on."

"Just a little while longer."

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Fijians at Dandenong

from w
Today Peceli and I drove up to Dandenong Uniting Church for the Fijian service where Inoke was having his trial sermon and leading the worship. Dandenong is a large multicultural city - actually part of Melbourne - and this church is very active with non-English-speaking-background groups - such as Cook Islanders, Fijians, Filipinos, Hindi and Fijian as well as work with refugees such as from Iraq, Afghanistan, Sudan, Burma. Here are some photos taken during the lunch which followed the service, including a five day old baby boy, another grandchild for Asena and Jim Smith!

Friday, March 13, 2009

One step at a time

from w
Let's hope this is one very good step in the climb to a just society for Fiji and respect for the differing points of view. Despite threats during the week about un-inviting some representatives, all political groups were represented including some newies such as the Greens, the Spoons, the Moons, the Coins, the Potts! Okay, I can't remember those new ones!!!

It is a major achievement to sit down and talk and a preparation for the President's Forum (not that the kindly elderly gentleman will have much to say considering his frailty.) There was mention of a paradym shift - hey, what is that? It's an academic term not bandied around much in Fiji, but maybe it is relevant - a different frame of reference, a new model for analysis, that sort of thing.

from Fiji Times this afternoon:
Political leaders find some common ground
Friday, March 13, 2009

Update: 6:56PM THE nation's political leaders arrived at a consensus on several issues pertinent to the proposed President's Political Dialogue Forum (PPDF). Chaired by interim Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama at the Parliament Complex today, the representatives of 18 political parties and the interim government have agreed on the agenda of the upcoming forum which the Commonwealth and the United Nations have been asked mediate.

According to the communique issued an hour ago, the PPDF's agenda will be on:

The democratic experience in Fiji and parliamentary reform;
Electoral reform and general election;
The People's Charter.
It was agreed that representation at the Forum will be as follows:

* three representatives from the interim government,

* two each from the two majority parties _ namely the Soqosoqo Duavata ni Lewenivanua and the Fiji Labour Party,

* one each from the remaining 16 parties, and

* 15 representatives from non-government or civil society organisations.

By Friday next week, all political parties are required to have submitted the names of their representative(s) and at least three names of NGOs or civil society bodies they believe should participate in the Forum.

The 15 non-political representatives will however be determined by the secretariat to the forum after consultation with the interim Prime Minister, said the communiqu.

The extent or manner of their participation with political representatives in the Forum will be determined at the next political leaders meeting on April 3.

The April meeting, which would be the third of its kind since the 2006 takeover, would also discuss the UN/Commonwealth proposals on the chair and team of mediators for the Forum, and how the decision-making process would proceed.

No dates were set for the Forum but it was agreed that it would not be convened until "after all outstanding matters were ironed out and after feedback is received from the UN/Commonwealth on their preparedness to host the PPDF".

Participants also agreed that, while the input of the Commonwealth and UN was appreciated, "Fiji must decide its own future", said the communique.

(and later: Saturday from the Fiji Times)
Positive vibes
Saturday, March 14, 2009

THE involvement of non-governmental and civil society organisations allows a more inclusive approach to the Presidential Political Dialogue Forum, says former prime minister Laisenia Qarase.

After a day of deliberations, political party leaders agreed that the agenda for the PPDF would be the democratic experience in Fiji and parliamentary reform, electoral reform and general election and the People's Charter.

Mr Qarase said if the PPDF had to be inclusive it would need to involve NGOs and civil society.

In a conclusive outcome yesterday, the Political Party Leaders Forum agreed to submit the names of non governmental organisations and civil society organisations by March 20.

Mr Qarase said the Soqosoqo Duavata ni Lewenivanua party did not make a stand on the issue at the first forum last year.

But the party strongly supported the suggestion yesterday as the forum had to be more inclusive, said Mr Qarase.

"Parties will have the opportunity to suggest NGOs and civil society groups to be included.

"The meeting agreed on the participation of NGOs but the modality of their participation will be decided in the next meeting."

Independent interlocutors Robin Nair and Sitiveni Halapua, in their report after the first forum, said there would need to be an appropriate methodology of selecting civil society representatives for the PPDF as there was a plethora of recognised organisations.

The parties feared the inclusion of non-political parties would further complicate the process.

But there was an emerging consensus that an opportunity should be given to non-political parties and individuals to organise their own forum and discuss an identical agenda.

Mr Qarase said the forum had an atmosphere conducive to a good exchange of views.
(posted later on.) Of varying importance and membership are the registered political parties;

The new parties include Green Party of Fiji, Coalition of Independent Nationals Party (COIN) and Party of the Truth (POTT). Other registered political parties include United People's Party (UPP), Justice & Freedom Party (JFP), Soqosoqo ni Vakavulewa Ni Taukei (SVT), National Federation Party (NFP), Fiji Labour Party (FLP), Social Liberal Multicultural Party (SLM), National Alliance Party of Fiji (NAPF), Soqosoqo Duavata Ni Lewenivanua (SDL), Party of National Unity (PANU), Nationalist Vanua Tako Lavo Party (NVTLP), National Democratic Party (NNDP), Conservative Alliance Matanitu Vanua (CAMV), Fiji People's Party (FPP), and General Voter's Party (GVP).

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Compulsory Retirement at fifty-five?

from w
At what age should civil servants in Fiji retire? Sixty was the norm, then fifty-five, then a protest and back to sixty, and now another protest and to fifty-five. Many men and women are in their prime of experience and responsibility in their late fifties so I reckon retirement age ought to be optional. Think of teachers, doctors, nurses, CEOs. That means if you were born in April 1954 you will have to retire in April 2009. Is that correct?
from Fijilive:
Appeals Court orders retirement age at 55 11/03/2009
Fiji’s Court of Appeal in Suva has quashed an earlier decision by the High Court and ruled in favour of the State to lower the retirement age of public servants from 60 to 55.

The Fijian Teachers Association (FTA) and the Fiji Public Service Association (FPSA) had won this case against the State in March 2007 for public servants to retire at 60.

The case was then heard before Justice Filimoni Jitoko.

The State, represented by the Public Service Commission (PSC) and the Attorney General’s Chambers appealed this decision.

It argued that the PSC had the Constitutional right to make regulations for the reduction in retirement age of public servants and that it had met the requirement of fairness and legitimate expectations by conducting proper consultations with the representatives of the public servants.

It further stated that the compulsory reduction of the retirement age from 60 to 55 years was not discriminatory and therefore, did not breach the provisions of section 38(2) of the Constitution.

Today, the three Court of Appeal judges – Justice John Byrnes, Justice Andrew Bruce and Justice Izaz Khan allowed the appeal and quashed Justice Jitoko’s earlier decision.

In his decision, Justice Bruce said: “The rejection of the PSC’s argument by the trial judge (Jitoko) was without foundation because he had no evidence upon which he could decide the extent to which the public servants would have served 30 years”.

“Secondly, there was no evidence to determine the extent to which the public servants would have accumulated enough FNPF funds at 55 to retire and start their own businesses”.

The three judges said Justice Jitoko did not give sufficient weight to the evidence of PSC Permanent Secretary Taina Tagicakibau and Fiji Teacher’s Union General Secretary Agni Deo Singh in relation to the advantages which would be gained by the reduction in the retirement age from 60 to 55.

Tagicakibau in her affidavit of September 26, 2007 said the Government would save $79,519,530 when the reduction in retirement age policy came into effect from January 1 this year. She added: “If posts were filled selectively according to areas of need, the government would save up to $10,455,610 when this policy is put into effect”.

In his affidavit of September 21, 2007, Singh said by the age of 55 years, civil servants would have worked for at least 30 years and would have met all obligations in relation to their children's education.

He said: “There are over 2000 graduates who are unemployed. 800 of these are qualified teachers. A large number of these 800 qualified teachers would have been trained by government at Advance College of Education and Lautoka Teachers College or at the USP on a scholarship”.

“A large number of these unemployed graduates are sons and daughters of poor people who would have taken loans for education of their children Government employment becomes the last and sometimes the only venue for employment because of the limited opportunity for employment in the private sector.”

The three judges said Tagicakibau and Singh were not cross-examined on their affidavits and in their view, the duo’s evidence should have been accepted by Justice Jitoko.

“If he had done so, it would not have been possible for him to conclude as he did.”

The Court also ordered that the two unions, FTA and FPSA, to pay court costs of $3,500.


Monday, March 09, 2009

Pronouncing names

from w
The tourist is telling someone on the Air Pacific plane that they are going to Nuddy.
‘No it’s Noddy,’ says someone.
‘No, it’s Nahndee.’
‘Can’t be as there’s no ‘n’ in it!’ says the first speaker.
Well, it is so. Nadi airport and town is pronounced NAHndee.
It gets complicated in Fiji because the letters ‘d’ has an ‘n’ in front of it, and ‘b’ have an added ‘m’ in front of it, ‘c’ is pronounced ‘th’, ‘g’
is pronounced as ‘ng’ and ‘q’ as ‘ngg’ and so on.
So what is Ba town? Mbbah? And Lautoka? This is usually shortened to La-TOH-ka (by me, anyway). Rakiraki is not Rocky-rocky but RA-kee-RA-kee. And Labasa? Lah-MBAH-sah with the emphasis on the second syllable.
In Australia we have our difficulties also. Tallangatta is not pronounced like Wangaratta or Coolangatta but as TaLLANGatta not WANGaratta. A cartoon by George Haddon shows the arguments about naming country towns in Victoria, Australia. Of course Geelong, where we live is pronounced as Jill-LONG and Corio Bay not as Cor-i-oh but as Cor-AY-oh. Melbourne is not Mel-burn or Mel-borne, but as MEL-bun. So have a good time when you are in Fee-chee or in Os-TRAY-lee-yah.

Now how about singing that song 'I've been everywhere man' and use these names, mainly from Vanua Levu.

Keeping accurate accounts

from w
A workshop in Labasa surely would have been useful in directing those who attended to keep accurate accounts in their businesses. I noticed that one of the delegates said he realized that he should take notice of how his business money was spent - business, family, vanua, etc. I've heard stories of churches also mixing up their accounts - 'hey, run to the grog shop and buy some kava - use some of today's church collection.' Hmmm. Micro Enterprises Development is one way of getting people going so we wish them well.
from Fiji Times today:
Workshop targets north business projects, cash
Tuesday, March 10, 2009

RUNNING a successful business in rural communities is imperative to allow for booming trade in rural areas. A business workshop organised by the National Centre for Small and Micro Enterprises Development (NCSMED) in Labasa, showed participants the importance of overcoming business challenges for a successful and growing business.

Workshop co-ordinator Satwyan Balram said the 22 participants from villages surrounding Labasa were members of the Northern Development Program (NDP) and such workshops were needed to help guide participants make good use of the funding from NDP. He said the workshop revealed to participants ways to identify problems in a business and how to tackle it. Mr Balram said the eight-day workshop also involved bankers who were present to help participants work out their existing financial business plan. "The bankers will help our participants who are existing clients of NDP draw up better financial plans to help their business grow," he said. "The workshop also talks about the available resources and how we can make use of it through the trade market that is available to us," Mr Balram said.

Ilaitia Ruiwai, a participant, said the workshop made him realise the importance of being financially accountable. He said over the past years of running his fishing business he struggled to contain costs, thus eating up his profit. Mr Ruiwai said he used business money for family, traditional and church obligations.
He said the workshop helped him realise the importance of differentiating business and family money.

Football, Aussie Rules and Rugby

from w
I thought this cartoon in the Fiji Times was apt as those Kenyans can run for hours and never tire, but what a fuss is being made for the fact that Fiji got done like a dinner! I am not a football fanatic and don't care too much. I was telling a friend at church yesterday that I had a nightmare in the night. I was attending an Aussie Rules footie match and actually enjoyed it! No way! But of course other people can have their obsessions, that's okay.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Rites of passage in Fiji

Women of Natokalau, Ovalau, with mats they presented to Navuevu villagers yesterday. Picture: JAI PRASAD
from w
There are numerous rites that need to be done when Fijians experience the trauma of bereavement and the story of the bus-fire near Sigatoka last August has been going on for about six months. It was a tragedy and effected so many people from the same family, including some of our friends. The customs are expensive and require a lot of care and time, and some people say to simplify the processes. However for many Fijians it is necessary to go through the grief process in stages and to acknowledge those who have helped. So it's about building up relationships and networks that are worth more than money.
from today's Fiji Times
Village repays debt
Saturday, March 07, 2009

IT was an emotional experience for survivors of the bus inferno that claimed 12 lives last year when they visited the site of the tragedy yesterday. A group of 25 people from Natokalau Village on Ovalau visited Navuevu Village in Sigatoka to present gifts to thank the villagers for all their help during the accident.

Navuevu spokesman Asesela Yamoyamo said it was after six months and six weeks that the survivors and relatives of the deceased came back.

Natokalau villagers presented their sevusevu and gifts to Navuevu villagers and paramount chief of Nadroga Ratu Sakiusa Makutu. Mr Yamoyamo said the village was presented with yaqona, tabua, mats, dalo, a pig and cartons of tinned fish as a token of thanks from the people of Natokalau.

"The accident was a tragedy which many would like to forget it. For the survivors and those who lost loved ones, it will take time. Our village and people tried to help Natokalau during hard times and this ceremony is to thank us for the help provided."

The Tui Naro of Natokalau said it was emotional for the survivors to go back to the site of the tragedy. "They are trying their best to move on in life and we have built a bond with the village of Navuevu."

A group of related families of Natokalau chartered Raiwaqa bus RBL001 to Nadi for a funeral but met tragedy on August 28.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Raijeli from Vorovoro

from w
Here's a delightful interview from tribewanted and Vorovoro Island. Raijeli is talking.
The Hammock Society Interview with Jelly
Community → Hammock Society Interviews → James Kerridge's blog
By Jimbo, ,
Posted 6 days ago
Calling out across the waves to all the people around the world, coming in live from the hammocks of Vorovoro… welcome to Hammock Society FM. And today, I bring you Vorovoro’s very own Beyonce… introducing to the whole world… Jelly.

My name not Jelly hahahahahahaha… Raijeli, like Rachel, not Jelly.

Excuse me, for the readers out there it’s pronounced ‘Chel-li’.

Bula sia everybody.

So… you’re a Mali girl, born and bred?

Yes. My mother is Francis and my father is Poasa. I was born here.

On Vorovoro… like a turtle?

No, hahahahahaha… in Labasa hospital.

Were you educated here?

Yes, I went to Mali District School… then to Suva, stay with Tui Mali and school there before coming back with his wife to All Saints Secondary School.

What was the best school?

Suva. Because All Saints is too strict, too much discipline. You have to wear uniform… long skirt…. plat your hair, keep it nice, Suva more relaxed.

I see you have a big blonde afro… what would your headmistress say now?

Hahahahahahahaha… I don’t know.

What do you use to dye your hair? Is it some sort of coral?

No! My hair is real. I was born blonde, yes. It come down from my great grandmother… that’s what I heard. My nieces are blonde too.

What about your children?

I don’t have any children hahahahahahaha.


I am not married, I am still single.

How old are you?

I am 26 years old.

The biological clock is looming… are you watching the boats full of new tribe members, seeing if there’s a potential husband onboard?


Or maybe you have a boyfriend from Mali Island?

Nooooooo… you cannot eat breadfruit curry with breadfruit.

What a beautiful metaphor for inbreeding.

We’re all related in Mali.

(section deleted)

Do you play any (other) instruments?

The organ… the ukulele.

Many talents, are you in a band?

No, I play in the church. It’s called the Revival Fellowship Christian Church in Labasa, maybe hundred people go.

Any crowd-surfing when you play?


When you play, do people go nuts and start jumping up and down and bouncing around?

No! It is a church. We sing songs, play music, read the bible, make prayers.

So we’re looking for a good, loving, caring, strong, musically gifted, God loving man. Does that sound good?

Yes hahahahahahahaha…

In the meantime, you’ll be here working on Vorovoro…

I’ll be here in the kitchen… helping cooking, baking, washing… everything in the kitchen. The tribe bring lots of new recipes which we try to cook, look very nice.

Taste very nice too. Sometimes around the dining area, there is no talking cos everyone is just enjoying the food so much. All you can hear is the cutlery bouncing off the plates. Sometimes, in my eagerness, I miss my mouth and make a mess.

Hahahahahahaha… like when you eat pawpaw curry.

Ahhhhhhh… p-a-w-p-a-w c-u-r-r-y… I like to say it slow… it makes it sound even more delicious. I could eat it everyday. What’s your favorite meal?

Fish, baked fish. Cut them up, just the flesh and marinate them in garlic and onion… then sprinkle it in salt, wrap it in banana leaf and put it in the oven. Keep checking oven till looks nice, looks cooked.

And when you’re not cooking and laughing your flip flops off, you’re playing volleyball…

Yes, I like to play for fun.

Do you play any other sports?

Bit of netball, some touch rugby.

Any football/soccer?

No, don’t like getting my legs kicked.

The tribe have been here for two and a half years now, what big differences has it made to you and your family?

We now have new power called Jenny Wind Turbine in my house.

Ah yes, a gift from Alan Kelly – a very generous tribemember indeed.

Before we use a diesel generator, it makes lots of noise but Jenny is quiet.

What does she power?

A TV and DVD and lights. I only use it watch rugby sevens.

Have you got a refridgerator?

No, we never have one. We just keep the food in containers, something like that… or pick the food and cook it.

You have your very own supermarket here, what’s growing on the island?

Breadfruit, cassava, vundi…

Vundi! I love Vundi.

You try it?...

Yes, it’s manna from heaven. A big fat banana that you boil in water and the water turns to syrup.

The ants like it too… hahahahahaha…

I bet they do. What else grows here?

Bananas, pawpaw, avocado, mango.

Wow. There’s no need for the evil Tescos Supermarket chain to come here. Vorovoro is very happy thank you very much.

Nice life. We go fishing too, use the hermit crab as bait, throw the fishing line, catch the fish, bite it’s head and kill it… you have to be careful otherwise it might bite your lip… finish hahahahaha… throw it in the basket.

Are we talking about men here or fish… like fish fish?

Fish hahahahahahaha…

Phew! And when you bite it’s head, what does it taste like?


What if you catch a really big fish, bigger than your mouth?

Bang them on the ground, on the rocks.

Do you catch anything else?

We catch crabs too.

Are we talking about men?

No! Crabs! Hahahahahaha… we go to other end of the island on the full moon, in the mangroves, wait for the tide just about to go out. You just have to put your hand on the back of the crab. If you’re too slow… the crab will run off or bite your finger!

Have you been bitten?

Yes. I break off the claw from the crab and it opens up.

So here you are disarming crabs, crushing fish heads with your bare teeth… is there anything that scares you?

The frogs, they live here. I don’t like the frogs, the skin all bumpy.

All the better to put them in your bed!

No! Hahahahahahahahaha… I am part of the Hammock Society too. I will just bring the cake to the Hammock Society.

Sounds good to me, any last words to the tribe readers out there?

God bless and Go Hammocks!

And if you’re a good, loving, caring, strong, musically gifted, sporty, Christian who wants to save this blonde bombshell from gnarly frogs and live in paradise… then please send a photo and a little bit about yourself.


Until nest time readers… chill out, don’t work out

World Day of Prayer today

from w
The theme this year was: In Christ there are many Members, but one Body, and it was written by the women of Papua New Guinea. The 2009 WDP worship service will begin at the first sunrise of March 6, 2009, and will continue until the last sunset so it probably starts in Tonga and Fiji. It's a lovely way of connecting men and women from all over the world, and no doubt there are services in many towns and villages in Fiji today.

I went to the Geelong City Salvation Army serice at 11 a.m. and it was nice to meet up with friends from various different church groups. There was an abundance of material about Papua New Guinea with a focus on the life of women with stories from Bouganville and the Highlands. We started off by saying a greeting in Pidgin - Gutpela moning tru, which makes sense when you say it aloud! The Salvation Army choir of about 28 members sand beautifully accompanied by a piano and flute. Afterwards we had a lovely lunch together.

Papua New Guinea has been described as a "mountain of gold floating on a sea of oil." Land is the most important resource and an overwhelming majority of people's lives revolve around land. While the majority of Papua New Guineans depend on semi-subsistence agriculture for their livelihood, there are increasing numbers of people who earn a living from operating small scale informal businesses in the urban areas. Papua New Guinea has one of the most diverse indigenous populations in the world. More than 800 languages are spoken between several thousand separate communities. This diversity is described well in a Papua New Guinean folk saying: "For each village, a different culture."

Every year a particular hymn is always sung: part of it goes like this.
Across each continent and island
as dawn leads on another day,
the voice of prayer is never silent
nor dies the strain of praise away.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

So let's go fishing

from w
One of the correspondents at the Fiji Exiles Board discussion site (which has a lot of hot air at times and occasionally some sensible postings) is 'Alohabula1' who writes about fishing in Fiji and has expertise. I only know how to eat fish! Here is what 'Alohabula1' wrote today in response to an idea that fishing might save Fiji's economy.
Well as you all know fishing is my pet peeve and I wish FB would not look to fishing as a way out of this economic downturn, it is not a sustainable resource and you can not plant a fish.

Well actually you can with aquaculture which is a avenue the IG should be promoting with foreign investors especially Asians. One of the advantages to Fiji is that the ocean in much of the archipelago is still pristine. THe lack of ciquatera, pollution and other toxins and the abundance of plankton and bait school blooms in the water make for a very fertile enviroment for ocean farming. Fiji would make bank if it pursued that avenue rather than depleting it's already dwindling fish population
Over the last 5 years I have seen a dramatic drop in fish numbers, primarily because hardly anyone is into conservation and foreign longliners are creeping around in the night where they shouldn't be. The pelagics still come through like Tunas, and billfish, but the residential ones like Giant Trevally, Walu, Wahoo numbers are decreasing dramtically. Fish like Napaleon Wrasse are endangered with the catch rate being 80% less world wide, the turtle population has not increased dramatically and it should have if people adhered to not catching them. All of these fish species are extremely slow growing taking decades to obtain a significant size with low reproductive rates. It is a pretty serious situation in it's present state, 15-20 years ago the most abundant waters I experienced were the Great Barrier Reef and Fiji. Australia through conservation has been able retain the sustainability of their resource and I can't say the same for Fiji, it has diminished signifcantly. Looking to use the natural fish stock to revive the economy will just result in the death of another potential Golden Goose OR promote aquaculture and make bank, that is the decision Fiji is faced with now.

If they just started with ocean farming Yellow Fin Tuna within a year they would be harvesting tuna that is between 30 -45 kg or 90- pounders in two years they would be harvesting tuna that would be close to 200.00 lbs ,that is a bare minimum of 1,000.00 a fish locally and much much more on the international markets and it would be a veritable bank account that one could draw on with consistency. It just makes sense in every aspect.

Monday, March 02, 2009

MH burns down in Labasa

from w
Thank you to the firemen who stopped the fire from spreading all along the street the other night. It could have been much worse as all the shops in Labasa's main street are next to one another and they all could have gone up.

The stories of the fire have been in the various Fiji papers yesterday and today, mainly by the journalist up there, Serafina. Morris Hedstrom apparently plans to keep on the workers thank goodness and set up again quickly. Of course wouldn't it be nice if they had a shopping mall over the river halfway up the hills instead of on the low land of Labasa town that once was a swamp and a good place for catching kuka (little crabs)! MH isn't the only supermarket in town of course as there are at least two other large supermarkets there.