Thursday, July 28, 2011

We mourn with the people of Oslo

from w
An article in Eureka Street reflects upon the terrible situation when madness causes death, linking the Norway massacre with one in Melbourne several years ago. Bronwyn Lay is a writer of sensitivity. I am proud to be her aunt.

Silence for Norway's dead
Bronwyn Lay July 27, 2011

While Norwegians mourn I am reminded of 25 years ago when I lived on Hoddle Street in Melbourne. On a quiet Sunday night Julian Knight committed Australia's first urban massacre on the street outside my home. That night, except for the helicopter light pouring through our windows, the quietude of death pervaded. We woke to a television screeching horrific noise and a disorientated nation.

Making my way to school I stepped away from the hysterical television and into the aftermath of war. Outside, the normally roaring Hoddle Street was covered in an eerie hush and with debris, dried blood and the drawn faces of police, media and emergency services personnel.

Sobriety fell from the grey sky to permeate everything. There was no running commentary, no flashing images, and no shiny newsreaders barking speculation. At the mourning site anxiety stood still. Nothing felt safe or familiar and I was completely silent inside.

At Clifton Hill Station the commuters were stone. Unlike other mornings where a hum rose from the crowd, everyone was frozen and silently faced the desecrated street before us.

I stood with this spontaneous memorial to strangers who, hours before, had left us. It was as if we stood at a cemetery, at the lip of the abyss, where our trust in others lay obliterated. Made mute, we stood together and met the silence of the dead. This act of solidarity between strangers resisted the blind individualism of Knight, who violently denied humanity to the strangers on the street.

It is powerful to watch the Norwegian people meet the silence of their dead at mass gatherings and marches. They poured from houses to remember together in silence, to reclaim public space and transform the streets into arteries of quiet solidarity. The Norwegian people are teaching us how collectively to mourn and reclaim social trust after it has been decimated.

Hysteria and noise still arise but, mainly, not from the directly affected. Many survivors from the island shooting have made a pact not to speak to the media about what they witnessed, not yet anyway. They don't want to contribute to the clamour that can cloud profound mourning.

Does it add anything to probe the wound while it's fresh? To report, to give an account, risks transforming trauma into spectacle, and disrespects the instinct of the wounded to recoil. There will be a time for public speech.

In the battle to understand what kind of mind perpetuates such evil, mute victims and the truth can get smothered. Australia was unprepared for Hoddle Street. The police, the media, everyone, struggled to comprehend the event. It's tempting and natural to fill incomprehension with blind noise. Collectively and individually the experience of incommensurable loss, the murder of the status quo, can fill us with existential anxiety. Impulsive words rush to fill the void.

In the first hours of the Norway attacks there was screeching about Al Qaeda and radical Islamic clerics. Perhaps in that moment silence was required, for the truth revealed it was someone from within who held the gun to his own people.

The murderer wishes to speak. He wishes to make noise. He wishes to explain himself in court. Like Knight he did not commit suicide and retreat into the final silence he forced upon others. He desires to claim this event for himself and to maintain narrative control.

Criminal law shouldn't exist for this purpose. It shouldn't be a podium for the perpetuation of harm. Once Knight and this man chose to breach our, often silent, ethical pact to respect each other's basic humanity, they lost the moral right to control collective narrative.

This event also belongs to the dead, the survivors and the society that tries to restore the sudden social void. The narrative belongs to the collective and must be wrested away from destructive individualism. Legal processes focus on the individual and shouldn't be hindered, but wisely the Norwegian courts have banned televising court proceedings and thus reduced the potential for the mourning process to be mutilated into a noisy circus. Procedure will be followed but diluting the polemical justifications of the accused respects the victims' humanity.

The scramble to isolate the trigger inside Knight's mind followed us for years. While important, this anxiety dominated at the expense of those affected — the victims. We were so busy being anxious about what kind of society we inherited we inadvertently forgot the fallen.

Watching a few survivors of Norway's massacre speak to the media, it seems boundaries have been lost. Trauma, the extreme slash between the inside and outside and into our bodies, makes speech difficult. Words arrive rushed, stunted, incoherent or slow and cold.

In time they might be able to reclaim their narratives but for now I wish them a deeper kind of silence which, when shared, will ensure they aren't forgotten.

Bronwyn Lay is an Australian writer living in France who has a background in law and political theory.

Cost of living in Fiji

from w
The high cost of living in Fiji makes is so hard for ordinary people to feed their families. Meanwhile people with status continue to eat cake and travel overseas extensively. Quoting from a blog site:
Some food items and basic goods have gone up 55 per cent in the past six months according to a Fiji Labour Party survey.

Last week's survey compared current prices of everyday items with prices in January 2011 after VAT was increased to 15% under Budget 2011.

Garlic, onions and potatoes have come down but staples such as sugar, sharps, butter and cooking oil have gone up. The price of flour/sharps shot up by 30% from $10.99 to $14.26 for a 10kg bag. The price of cooking oil (Punja’s Soya Bean) rose 16% from $3.56 to $4.11 for a 750ml bottle.

The survey found that Rewa butter had gone up 21% putting at $7.34c for a 500g pack. Pre-devaluation 500g of was $3.29. The increase has been put at 123%.

The price for sugar has jumped almost 90% in six months from $2.39 (2kg bag) to $4.50. In recent years it was was selling for 95c a kg. Cooking gas is almost $50 ($49 a 12kg cylinder) - a 31% hike from its pre-devaluation price of $37.50.

FLP says the price of unleaded Super has jumped 60% since pre-devaluation – from $1.57 a litre to the current price of $2.50. Taken over a 6 month period from January 2011, the increase is 5.5%.

Diesel is up almost 80% from $1.33 per litre to $2.37 ltr, rising 15% since January.

Milo has jumped 55% from $6.99 (500g) to $10.79.

In the meat section, lamb/mutton cuts have increased in price by about 5% while Crest chicken has gone down slightly - 1.6% from $12.59 to $12.39 for a size 15. Canned fish and meat have increased by between 5-7% in price since January.

Prices for one or two items surveyed have remained static over the six month period such as Cold Power laundry detergent and Breakfast cracker biscuits.

Tomatoes continue to be expensive fluctuating between $10-12 a kg, despite being in season.

The FLP says its survey did not take into account market produce, prices for which have gone up 100% or more in the past six months since VAT went up to 15%. (original source FLP website)

Monday, July 25, 2011

Lapita pottery

from w
I was surprised when I read this piece in Fiji Village because I'd been told that lapita pottery had been found in the Labasa area several years ago so the title of the article is incorrect. One of the local legends is that the Kaunitoni sailed around the top of Vanua Levu and got stuck on Vorovoro Island and that's another piece in the jigsaw about early Fijian migrations.. Of course the archaological digs for lapita pottery links Fiji with other Pacific Islands and is about a particular migration from up to three thousand years ago. The tribewanted visitors have earlier written about finding lapita pottery on Vorovoro Island.

A Hawaii based website writes as follows (though I wonder about the accuracy of some of the statements.)
The Melanesian people made their way to Fiji from the islands of Vanuatu, New Caledonia and the eastern Solomon Islands. These settlers were dark skinned with many of the physical characteristics of the Negro race.

The other settlers of the island of Fiji were taller, lighter skinned, and with straighter hair. They are often referred to as the Lapita people, named for an area in New Caledonia where large deposits of their distinctive form of pottery were found. Lapita pottery, marked by geometric designs formed by stamping the unfired clay with a tooth-like implement have been found from New Guinea eastward to Samoa.

The Lapita people were also skilled sailors and navigators who subsisted largely, but not entirely, by fishing along the coasts of the islands on which they lived. These people and their descendants form what is now known as the Polynesian race.

Scholars debate which race arrived in Fiji first, although evidence suggests that the Lapita people may have been the first to arrive - from Southeast Asia via New Guinea and New Caledonia, settling along the shorelines of the major islands of Fiji.

The Melanesian people arrived sometime later and were forced to settle further inland in the less hospitable areas of the islands.

Over the centuries the population of the Melanesian people increased and tensions arose between the two races. A large portion of the Lapita people were forced, or chose, to leave the islands of Fiji for places further east - Tonga, Samoa and eventually the other islands which today comprise the area known as Polynesia. The Melanesian people remained in Fiji and became the dominant race of the islands.

Interestingly, however, many aspects of the Lapita culture were adopted by the Melanesians, including their chiefly hierarchical structure.

Lapita pottery discovered for the first time in Vanua Levu
Publish date/time: 26/07/2011 [16:51]

For the first time ever, Lapita pottery has been discovered on Vanua Levu. The pottery dating back 1100BC has been found on Vorovoro Island near Labasa.

Fiji Museum Chief Archeologist, Sepeti Matararaba said they thought Bourewa in Nadroga was the first settlement in Fiji however with this new find at Vorovoro, it meant that the first people to come to Fiji not only settled in Baurewa but split up and also settled in Vorovoro.

Matararaba said at this point in time a professor from Simeon Fraser University and some students are doing surface collection of pottery in Vanua Levu.

Story by: William Waqavakatoga

Friday, July 22, 2011

the good old days

from w
I found some sketches from years gone by - by me in the days when I was sketching around Suva and nearby, but one of Lelean school was painted by one of my students at that school - maybe 1963. One of Veitalacagi, the teachers' house near the girls' dormitory in Davuilevu where I once stayed. One of the mosque in Toorak from the time I lived opposite in a room at the back of the house of my Indian friends. Sounds of the call to worship was intertwined with the tonic solfa choir practices at Jubilee. Two pictures I altered using photoshop, a program I am playing with at present and post some results mainly on the geelong visual diary blog. Better than doing housework I reckon.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Birthday with the grandkids

from w
Not very often we have our birthdays with our grandchildren so it was good yesterday to have a small party for the household of eight here in Newcomb, Geelong. The grandsons wanted to eat Kentucky Fried Chicken so that was added to the prawns etc. and my daughter-in-law made an excellent Lemon Meringue Pie. Of course kava was part of the evening as well. Peceli and I had spent the day in Melbourne, mainly to visit Matereti who is a patient in the spinal unit of the Austin Hospital - he's having a long journey of recovery. We given thanks to God for our health at this stage of our life and grieve for some young people such as Matt who have so many difficulties to overcome after an accident.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Birthday in Geelong

from w
Happy birthday watiqu sia. Seventy-five today. The grandsons got up before 7 a.m. though it was 10 degrees, and made pancakes with lemon and coffee for Peceli. The two photos - one taken for Diversitat's photos around Geelong, the other at a Rotary gig visiting Foundation 61 for disadvantaged men.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Fiji rural and urban children

from w
The topic of the rights of children to question adults has been raised when someone is telling the children of Macuata to exercise their human rights and sometimes not to be silent. The traditional role is for children to obey elders and not to argue back... though I'm sure that city kids in Suva may be different! Sometimes. Well, it's an old story - one of the earliest pieces of advice from thousands of years ago was that 'children don't obey their parents like they used to!'.

Here is how the Fiji Times wrote up the story;
Exercise your rights, Northern children told

Maneesha Karan
Wednesday, July 20, 2011

THE Fiji Human Rights Commission has encouraged students in the Northern Division to exercise their rights.

It has been noticed that students of the division do not exercise their rights compared to the counterparts in the Central Division, according to Fiji Human Rights Commission legal officer Sova Colavanua. She said children in the North were disciplined and hesitant to raise their views on issues. "There is a difference among the children of Labasa and Suva and that difference is the students of the north lack the practice of their rights," Ms Colavanua said.

"Children in the North are aware of human rights, what it is about and their impact but they aren't exercising it in real life. For example, a child (in Suva) will question a teacher if something is handed to him which he or she is uncomfortable with.

"Children here are much more disciplined and they would choose not to voice their concerns." She said there must be a change from the traditional way of not questioning elders. Ms Colavanua said children must exercise their rights with responsibility. "Students need to be disciplined and have respect for others and if they need to voice their concerns against a particular issue, then they must do it the right way, which is respectfully and responsibly," she said.

The Fiji Human Rights Commission will visit 11 schools in the North this week to create awareness and training on child rights, human rights and the responsibility of teachers, parents and students.

The team of four will visit Seaqaqa Central College today.

Murdock, media and morality

from w
This makes the Fiji Times and Fiji Sun look very innocuous, but whether it's editorial control by a billionaire or not knowing what the journos are doing, or control by censorship, the media should always be under scrutiny.

Murdock, morality and the media

It’s hard to avoid the mayhem created when the sleaze of much of today’s media is in the spotlight with accusations of phone-tapping, - as if that is a new thing. Of course editors must know/guess that the sleaze on media personalities, politicians, policemen, sports people becomes stories after speculation and intrusion into privacy such as phone tapping. Murdock has huge power over the media and at the top he is kind of responsible for content if not details. Not to know the details does not mean he isn’t partly responsible because the content is so often stupid and about human frailty. Why we bother to buy the papers (made from beautiful trees) or watch much of TV is beyond me. In Australia we do like to cut down tall poppies – that is the filthy rich and powerful and so Murdock is such a target.

Okay he and his son have apologized. If they are serious then I suggest they donate half of their billions to the poor of the world, the kind of people not in the spotlight but the suffering. Hmmm. I wonder if that could happen!

One journalist writes as follows about the circus in Britain at the moment.

A morality play: When Rupert Murdoch entered Parliament

Posted on July 19, 2011 by Gavin Chait under free speech, journalism, justice, law, media, news, newspapers, politics, UK, World [ Comments: 5 ]

Any morality play has its set-piece characters. The villain, the outraged public, the crusading representatives of order.
Democracy in the UK is very tactile. Parliament is the voice and instrument of the people. Anyone, no matter how powerful, can be summoned to answer questions before the people. These performances can destroy careers and reputations but are an adjunct to the more dull and complex process of police investigations, judicial review and eventual judgement. They permit the public to see their anger expressed.
Rupert Murdoch’s role before his questioning was clear: he is the villain of this set-piece. He was there to be a subject of the collective outrage of British society and to hold himself to account.
Yet you don’t get to be an 80-year-old media tycoon without understanding that a story is made in the telling.
From around 15h30 UK summer time, Rupert and James Murdoch appeared before the Commons media committee.
The questions betrayed a fantastic gulf in understanding of how a modern corporation is run. A gulf best summed up by Lord Alan Sugar, the business mogul who runs the UK version of The Apprentice: “Bloody stupid questions to Rupert about micro detail when N.O.W represents 1% of his empire. Waste of time trying humiliate the old man.”
Politicians were well-aware that they could ruin their performance by appearing to be running a malicious vendetta and so, on the whole, they confined themselves only to the occasional petty aside. But they also expressed exasperation in weird places:
“It is revealing in itself what he does not know and what executives chose not to tell him,” said Tom Watson, a Conservative Party MP. Yet this reveals a limited knowledge about running a company.
I sit only a few dozen metres away from the CEO of one of the world’s largest corporations. He never hired me personally, has no idea I exist and while some of my work may appear before him, that is of no consequence. I work several levels away from people he hired and delegated responsibility to.
Now imagine how remote News of the World must be in a massive media empire that spans everything from sports on cable, to book publishing, to newspapers, and across multiple countries and time-zones. CEOs delegate and managers are entrusted to manage. Large diversified companies collapse if they’re micro-managed.
That doesn’t mean there wasn’t a failure of corporate governance but, if there was a failure, it is hardly surprising that senior executives may not have been aware of it until it had escalated beyond simple remedy.
All Murdoch had to do was be reasonable, apologise profusely and be consistent. He was reviled going into the interview; it couldn’t really get worse, and maybe people would just see an old man trying to cope with a difficult situation.
I found him impressive, measured and interesting. However, except for one occasion, everything he said came across as very carefully thought out in terms of context and consequence.
The committee also spent time trying to allege that Murdoch directly interferes in the direction of news at his papers. Piers Morgan, who used to edit News of the World writes: “Rupert called me every week for 18ms on News of the World – rarely asked about anything but what stories we had that week.”
Conservative MP Damian Collins asked if it is right that people in public life can expect total privacy. Rupert Murdoch’s reply: “Nope.”
Collins followed up: “In the Watergate investigation, looking at that, to what extent do you think that the use of confidential private information and phone records and phone hacking is permissible in the extent of a news story?”
“Phone hacking is something quite different, but investigative journalism, particularly competitive, does lead to a more transparent and open society, inconvenient though that may be too many people, and we are a better society because of it.”
The truth is coming out. No matter how inconvenient for Rupert Murdoch, and he appears to appreciate the irony of his situation.
So, who “won”? I think the Murdochs, and Rebekah Brooks in her later interview, acquitted themselves rather well.
The MPs would often make rather flippant – almost editorialising – questions. The Murdochs and Brooks would immediately start to answer, earnestly and seriously. Realising their mistake, the MPs would interrupt and clarify their question, taking the often spurious allegations out of them.
The experienced journalists wouldn’t let the original question go, choosing to answer before moving on to the redacted question. If people were hoping to see the Murdochs bruised and scared, they got no such reward.
If you were hoping for a fulsome day of entertainment, we got that. We even got to see Murdoch’s wife floor an attacker who tried to launch a foam pie at Rupert. “Mr Murdoch, your wife has a very good left hook,” said Tom Watson.

Shipping to Malau

from w
It's good to read in one of the Fiji papers that there is now a link between Lautoka and Labasa which should facilitate sending containers and passengers between the two places.

Suilven trial run at Malau a success
Maika Rabeleilekutu
Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Suilven anchored at the Malau jetty yesterday morning. Picture: SERAFINA SILAITOGA
THERE was an air of excitement as the community in the Friendly North took time out yesterday to witness the achievement and historic event of Bligh Water's Labasa-Lautoka direct voyage. People crowded the Malau seawall to get a glimpse of the Suilven that comfortably anchored at the Fiji Forest Industries jetty.

The much-anticipated trip has stirred a lot of excitement and pride for the Labasa Chamber of Commerce that had pushed for such development. Chamber president Ashok Karan praised the shipping company for its efforts in helping them achieve a dream. "The business people have to travel hours to Savusavu and Nabouwalu to send our products across to Viti Levu but now, we will just drive 10 to 15 minutes to our nearest jetty," Mr Karan said. "It's convenient and easy for the business community as it saves us a lot of time. It will also give travellers a rest as they don't have to wake up early hours of the morning to travel to Nabouwalu."

Bligh Water chief executive Mervin Lepper said the trip was made possible after Tropik Wood allowed them to use the jetty. "This is a great day for us and today's first trip was a trial run and has been a success," he said. "We have brought in fertiliser and will take back timber from FFI. The passengers will also be part of this achievement and we should be loading passengers in the next two weeks."

Students and teachers also look forward to the travelling to Nadi from Malau. For students, groups would not have to travel to Nabouwalu or Savusavu, but get on the ship from Malau when they travel to Nadi for the Kaji rugby and netball tournaments later this year.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Rotary Club of Labasa

from w
The Labasa Rotary Club changeover:
from Fiji Sun
North Rotarians welcome leader


The leadership of the Rotary Club’s Labasa branch changed hands over the weekend.

This is after the outgoing president handed over the leadership band to his successor.

2010 Labasa Rotary Club president Jagat Prasad wished his successor Avinesh Karan all the best when he handed over the band in Labasa on Saturday night.

Mr Prasad said Rotary was formed on February 23, 1905 by Paul Harris, an attorney who wished to capture in a professional club the same friendly spirit he had felt in the small towns of his youth.

“The Rotary name was derived from the early practice of rotating meetings among members’ offices,” Mr Prasad said.

He said as Rotary grew, its mission expanded beyond serving club members’ professional and social interests.

“Rotarians began pooling their resources and contributing their talents to help serve communities in need,” Mr Prasad said.

He said the organisation’s dedication to this ideal was best expressed in its motto ‘Service Above Self’.

“During my one year of leadership I led five special projects in Labasa which was only made possible through the numerous support I received,” Mr Prasad said.

This was such as the donation of medical equipment worth $1 million to Labasa Hospital, renovation of the Rotary squash court, 20 computers and one generator for Solove Primary School in Seaqaqa, two water tanks to Waiqele Secondary School and organising free interplast surgeries for Northerners.

Incoming president Mr Karan said he had been a Rotarian for three years and to uphold such a position was an honour for him.

Mr Karan, the managing director of Local Woods and Hardware Limited had been providing service to the people of Labasa for 12 years.

“Rotary is all about service to mankind and keeping this in mind I had already planned some needed projects for Labasa,” Mr Karan said.

The father of two would be leading the ten-member club.

The world’s first service club, the Rotary International today has 1.2 million Rotarians belonging to over 32,000 Rotary clubs in more than 200 countries and geographical areas.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Fiji Methodist Conference

from w
So when is the Methodist Conference? And is it still for one day only - perhaps one minute past midnight to one minute to midnight? Control of possible (or past) dissent seems to be the motive for the ban on having a two week conference with time to meet friends, make resolutions, pray, install leaders, and welcome new ministers as well as enjoy the bazaar and choir competition. It is most unfair when other religious bodies can have parades, fund-raising, gatherings and conferences.

Haven't heard anything new since April so what's up?
From NZ media:
Posted at 23:29 on 26 April, 2011 UTC

The deputy general secretary of Fiji’s Methodist Church says the interim government’s allowing its annual conference to proceed this year - but only for one day. Reverend Tevita Banivanua says for the past two years the the regime has prohibited the gathering under the Public Emergency Regulations imposed in April 2009. He says while the church is grateful for permission to meet this August, it usually takes up to a week and a half to get through conference business. “This is tabled for the 55 divisions and each of them has to give an account from their perspective and to cut it down to one, to one-day meeting, is just not possible.”

Reverend Tevita Banivanua says the Public Emergency Regulations are the only remaining obstacle to the church being able to operate freely.

Fiji’s Attorney General says they won’t be lifted until local considerations have been addressed.

News Content © Radio New Zealand International
PO Box 123, Wellington, New Zealand

Monday, July 11, 2011

How you gonna keep 'em down on the farm

from w
It's a hard life for some farmers in Dreketi, trying to make a living from growing rice. Fiji really ought to be able to fulfill all the rice needs for the people but if the price is so little, why try hard? So it is rather disturbing to see the waste of money in court cases in Suva, the gallivanting around the globe by leaders when the backbone of Fiji - the rural people, have difficulty putting food on the table for their children!

from today's Fiji Times
Rice pay setback

Maneesha Karan
Tuesday, July 12, 2011

RICE farmers in Dreketi in Macuata have raised concerns on the poor payment by the Rewa Rice Limited for the rice they have supplied.

Farmer Chandrika Prasad of Malawai in Dreketi told this newspaper he was paid only one tenth of the total supply yesterday.

He supplied 1387 tonnes of paddies at $750 per tonne last week.

The total amount he looked forward to receive was $1040.25 but returned disheartened holding a cheque of $100 only.

Mr Prasad said he was told by staff at Rewa Rice Limited in Labasa that he would receive a monthly payment of $100.

He said the payment was insufficient to meet his family and farming needs. "Rice farming is our only source of income.

There are many other farmers who have not been paid and they are struggling to make ends meet. Rewa Rice Limited is buying paddies but isn't paying us," he said. Mr Prasad said they had their children to send to school to, buy food, pay water bill and pay the bank loan.

He said it was hard for families to survive with a monthly payment of $100.

Mr Prasad borrowed $8000 from the Fiji Development Bank for the purchase of a farm machine and is yet to pay about $2000.

He said poor payment for supply was being experienced by farmers in Muanidevo, Malawai and Nabulu.

Mr Prasad said it was expensive for farmers to travel to Labasa to collect the monthly payments because bus fare from Dreketi to Labasa was $6.

He supplies about 2.8 tonnes of paddies annually from his five and a half acre farm. While attempts to obtain comments from Rewa Rice Limited Board chairman Colonel Inia Seruiratu proved futile, a response is expected from Public Enterprise permanent secretary Elizabeth Powell.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Our relatives on Mali Island

from w
In a workshop on 'climate change' some of our relatives from Mali Island off the coast near Labasa have complained about their difficulties in obtaining food sources these days - less fish, more pollution and so on. I really don't think this has much to do with 'climate change' though. Pollution and rubbish on the shores is a human problem and we all know how the Labasa Sugar Mill pollutes the river systems there! And people throw rubbish and plastic into the rivers too. Mining a sand bar also isn't a good look. Also the fish resources are perhaps less for other reasons, one being that off-shore foreign fishing companies probably sneak into the reefs to get their bait and take away the locals food resources. Other islanders such as in Lau also report less fish for the villagers so it is an important topic for discussion in Fiji.

From the Fiji Sun today:
Mali islanders face ‘devastating reality’

Villagers of a northern island are witnessing visible signs of climate change which is directly affecting their food source and livelihood. Islanders of Mali, an island off Labasa Town described the climate change effects as “a devastating reality.”

With so much concern over the impact of climate change on the island, three representatives from the district of Mali were part of a three-day workshop by World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) South Pacific on climate change in Labasa this week.

Tikina Mali representative, Savenaca Koliniwai said the islanders depended on the sea for their source of livelihood and food.

Mr Koliniwai said there was a noticeable drop in the fish population in their fishing grounds, a significant signs of dead corals and mangroves, and the coastal shores were heavily polluted with plastics and milling timber waste. The Mali district had three villages on the island, Nakawaga. Ligaulevu, Vesi and the fourth on the mainland, Matailabasa. Mr Koliniwai said not only has climate change affected the islands flora and fauna, it was also the result of poor land use practised in the past.

He said many islanders had in the past practiced slash and burn farming and uncontrolled burning which had resulted in the survival of very little of the original native forest.

While all villages were located near the coast on flat tracts of land with easy access to the sea, Mr Koliniwai said life was now a struggle for most islanders.

“At this WWF workshop on climate change, Mali is well represented by the district women and youth representatives because we’re keen to learn strategic ways of combating the effects of climate change.”

“We mean business now in taking back what we learn to our villages and tell the people that it is time to change now and to think about our future.”

“We’re starting to suffer from the result of climate change with great contributions by mankind like us. The sea’s food-chain has been destroyed which is affecting us and our children now,” Mr Koliniwai said. He said it was time for the people to take ownership of projects that would help them protect the environment and ecosystem which they heavily depended on.

Tikina Mali women’s representative, Pola Vakayadra said their women were eager to work together in bracing themselves over the effects of climate change. “I’m so happy to be part of this workshop because I now fully understand the issue of climate change, its effect and what we can do to deal with and overcome it. I’m eager to go back and relate what I have learned to the women on the island,” Ms Vakayadra said.