Thursday, September 29, 2011

Volunteer doctor from Australia

from w
It's happening often in Fiji that young professional men and women volunteer to do tasks in Fiji, from Australia, New Zealand, USA, Japan and elsewhere. It's excellent experience for these young people and of course of great assistance in the projects they participate in. Sarah is a young doctor who has spent several weeks at the Labasa Hospital. One photo shows Sara at the hospital and the other photo is of two of Sarah's new friends who wrote her name in the sand! The Labasa Fiji Times journalist wrote up the story as follows:
Medical student commends service

Serafina Silaitoga
Friday, September 30, 2011

AUSTRALIAN medical student Sarah Peek has taken her hat off to local medical workers for their dedication and commitment in what she describes as a challenging working environment. The medical student from Geelong, who graduates as a doctor at the end of this year, is on a five-week attachment at the Labasa Hospital.

"The hospital staff are great and I just admire them for their dedication and commitment," she said. "For me, the working environment is very different from home which is why I admire them so much for working extremely well."

Ms Peek said the experience made her appreciate the hardship faced by both patients and staff. "The way we do things back home is also different, like the tying of tubes done to mothers so they won't have any more babies, and this is being done in Fiji. In Australia, for a very long time now, we've just used clamps on both sides of the tube and not tie them anymore. So this is one of the different methods I've noted, but apart from that, I just love the staff of the hospital."

Ms Peek said being the only Australian trainee doctor in Labasa had not made her feel homesick at all. "The staff have been kind to me and everyone in the hospital just keeps me occupied throughout the day. I think the people here are so lucky to have such good medical workers looking after them."

Macuata-i-wai island

from w
Evidence once again is there that there are problems for villagers who live close to the water's edge with the sea swells changing the shoreline. Climate change it seems, or just nature's way? This island was once a significant chiefly island offshore from Naduri but these days only a handful of people live there.

from Fiji Sun
Erosion haunts families



Two families who remain living on Macuata-i-Wai Island in the Northern Coast of Vanua Levu fear that one day they may lose their village completely.

The island is under threat as evidence has shown coastal erosion taking place, claiming the beach forefront.

Island chief, Ratu Jone Matanababa said the island belongs to the Yavusa Caumatalevu with links to the paramount chief of Macuata.

Ratu Jone said only two families remain on the island as majority now live on the mainland at Naduri village, home to Tui Macuata, Ratu Aisea Katonivere.

The others have moved to other parts of Vanua Levu and Viti Levu for educational and work purposes.

“There are only nine people living here permanently and we will continue to do so to protect our land. But with the rising sea level in the recent past, we fear that it will one day consume our village,” Ratu Jone said.

The villagers have reported that sea swells have claimed coconut trees that were planted along the shoreline with the beach front moving 50 metres inland.

If not addressed, Ratu Jone said homes along the shoreline would suffer the same fate.

Left behind on the beach where the coastal erosion has taken place are visible foundations of tree trunks.

“We have seen the effects of climate change and we are working with our young people and children in saving our island.”

“This island should be saved because of its historical significance and ties with the province of Macuata,” Ratu Jone said.

According to Fiji’s history, Macuata-i-Wai was home to former Tui Macuata, Ratu Ritova who was killed because he refused to sign the Deed of Cession to hand Fiji to Great Britain.

“We still have the foundation on Ratu Ritova’s home in the centre of the village and where he was tied up days before his death. History states that he was transported to Levuka where he was killed.”

Despite the challenges the islanders are faced with daily, they are hope authorities will look into their plight.

On Saturday, youths and children of Naduri village converged on the island to plant resilient plant species along the island’s foreshore.

“Climate change threatens our futire like nothing else and unless considerable action is taken now, we risk losing our homes, villages and our way of life,” Naduri Youth Club president, Salome Turukawa said.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Villages on Mali Island

from w
Vinaka vakalevu to Opete for posting these pictures on Facebook of villages on Mali Island. Ligaulevu, Nakawaqa and Vesi. Not the sandy beaches of the resort islands west of Nadi but they are home of a lovely people - well, our relatives of course!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Geelong connexion with Macuata

from w
Some of my friends once again are supporting local development in Macuata, such as Joy Baxter. Vina'a va'alevu Joy. Geelong, the largest rural town in Victoria, has a committed group of Rotarians that come and go to Fiji such as to Nabavatu village to help with water pipes, building projects and school gifts.

Unfortunately recent new rules mean that containers full of gifts get stuck at Lautoka wharf as customs duty is now expected on second-hand goods. This is surprising but that story doesn't get into the Fiji media.

from Fiji Times
Geelong gives back to Macuata communities

Serafina Silaitoga
Thursday, September 22, 2011

VOLUNTEERS of the Australian Geelong Rotary Club have helped build two houses in a Macuata village. The group gave back to two families at Nabavatu Village, that used to live in tin shacks.

Group leader Joyce Baxter said her team was humbled to have made a difference in people's lives in Vanua Levu. "We have completed another project in Dreketi," Mrs Baxter said. "We have been coming to Fiji for six years to help the community with material we brought from Geelong donors. The families, one of whom is a single mother and another a disabled man, deserved our help. And after doing a survey of the houses, we chose these two as our priority."

Mrs Baxter said the team also inspected the water piping system built last year. "We only need to carry out minor repairs but otherwise the piping system from the reservoir to the homes is in good condition. We plan to return next year but that will depend on our budget. We have another project we want to set up in Dreketi next year, so if all goes well, then the team may return."

The team also gave medical equipment to the Dreketi Health Centre and helped staff conduct clinics.

Monday, September 19, 2011

The sky in Fiji

from w
The Fiji Meteorological people posted this strange photo on facebook. What is happening to the sun? They wrote: This image was take outside the National Weather Forecasting Centre in around midday. A circular polariser filter was used to tone down the glare that came from shooting directly into the sun, which resulting in a slightly underexposed photo. The white disk seen here is actually the sun. — with Man in the moon.

Babasiga kids in Oz

from w
Here are two babasiga lads - now kind-of Aussies - who have won trophies after the rugby and Australian Rules footie season for the juniors. Andrew got a trophy for the Best Back in the rugby and Jordan for the Most Improved Player in the Under 14th St Albans team and came fourth in the vote count which was something considering he'd never played Aussie Rules until this year. Congratulations boys.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

New bus Labasa to Savusavu

from w
The drive Labasa to Savusavu services both local travellers and those who come to Vanua Levu by ferry to Savusavu. It's an interesting trip, a fairly good road, and the scenery is outstanding. Good luck with the bus company who has put another bus on the road because some of those old buses just shake and grind and shriek going up those hills! The photos are by Dave Robinson.
from Fiji Times:
New bus for north
Salaseini Vosamana
Friday, September 16, 2011

PEOPLE travelling between Savusavu and Labasa will be able to catch a better ride beginning this week in the first ever coach bus for the Northern Dvision. This is the latest investment by bus company Dalip Chand and Sons Limited.

"This is the first coach bus for the North, and it features individual bucket seats and television," managing director Roneel Chand said.

The bus began operations two days ago departing Labasa at 9.30am and leaving Savusavu at 1pm.

Mr Chand said it was an investment worth making, especially with good road conditions. "The whole route is tarsealed and passengers will be able to enjoy their journey," he said. Mr Chand said it was important to provide proper and well-maintained buses for the public. "We don't want passengers to be deprived of a safe and comfortable journey," Mr Chand said. He added the coach bus would be available for hire. "The coach has already been reserved by a group for the weekend and its demand has grown within a day. Another call came in for hire for this weekend."

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Australian Embassy more offices

from w
This does sound a good idea - that people on the Western Side of Viti Levu can have a close-by office to put in their applications for visa to go to Australia for a visit, etc. An office in downtown Suva is also a very good idea - out of the rain and sun! The present situation isn't comfortable waiting in a long line along the roadside.
from Fiji Village this afternoon:
Aust High Comm to open visa applications centres in Suva/Lautoka
Publish date/time: 14/09/2011 [17:09]

People will no longer line up outside the Australian High Commission in Suva in the sunny or rainy conditions as the High Commission has now decided to have a new visa application process. A spokesperson at the Australian High Commission said the Australian government has announced the introduction of Australian Visa Application Centres in Fiji.

This system will start from the 26th of this month with the centre in Suva at the Mid City Mall operational from that day. There will be two application centres located in Suva and Lautoka providing more convenient access to immigration and citizenship services. The establishment of a second point in Lautoka will be a first in Fiji, providing greater access to the people in the Western division.

The High Commission said the new application centres will also offer extended operating hours. The opening hours will be 8.30am to 4.30pm from Monday to Friday.

An application service fee of $40 will be applicable.

The High Commission said all applications will continue to be assessed and decided by the immigration section of the Australian High Commission.

Story by: Vijay Narayan

Monday, September 12, 2011

Old pots found on Mali Island

from w
A good story from Mali Island about carbon dating old pots found there.
from Fiji Times today. Good to get away from politics and rugby! Though it still seems strange to talk about settlements on Vorovoro Island because of the limited water source there.

Early settlers moved to Mali

Serafina Silaitoga
Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Archaeological tests on Lapita pottery found on an island in Macuata last year confirmed that early settlers arrived between 3000 and 3200 years ago.

This is equivalent to those from Bourewa on the Coral Coast in Nadroga, a site presently considered the founder colony for Fiji.

A Canadian team of archaeologists from the Simon Fraser University in Burnaby released a report - Archaeological Excavations on Vorovoro Island - in June.

Headed by Canadian archaeologist David Burley, the report states radiocarbon dating of the undisturbed zone on Vorovoro reveal that first settlement goes far back as 3000 to 3200 years ago.

"These dates are equivalent to those from Bourewa on the Coral Coast of Viti Levu, a site presently considered the founder colony for Fiji," according to the report.

"The early radiocarbon estimate is supported by the style of early Lapita decorated ceramics at Vorovoro, which is similar to decorated ceramics from Bourewa."

The report said Vorovoro sat at the head of Mali island passage and offered direct access to and from the open ocean and was a kilometre from the Vuata and Nalumi reefs which are segments of the Cakaulevu - the Great Sea Reef.

"The Cakaulevu facilitates one of the most resource diverse coastlines in Fiji relative to fish and marine invertebrate species which no doubt was an attractive stimulus for early Lapita exploration and settlement on Vanua Levu."

Tui Mali Ratu Apenisa Bogiso said stories relayed by their forefathers led them to believe that their ancestors first settled on Vorovoro before moving to Mali Island.

He said as the population grew, the elders decided to move to Mali Island. The dates of shifting, however, are not known.

The report supports this story saying: "Traditional history of Tui Mali and the Mali people claim Vorovoro as a founding settlement, following which they relocated to Mali island as population grew.

"This tradition is strikingly correspondent with the archaeological records of Vorovoro in 2010."

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

A critic of forums

from w
I was surprised to read an article criticizing forums that are supposed to be fine consultations to help nation-building. Wadam Narsey has noticed five topics that probably won't be on the agenda and is cynical about the whole process.
Five troublesome ‘real’ challenges for Forum island countries
11:26 September 4, 2011 0 comments

Pacific Scoop:
Analysis – Dr Wadan Narsey
A cynical view of these Pacific Islands Forum gatherings is that by and large, they are:
• fully paid carefree holidays for political leaders and their civil servant entourages, in nice places like Auckland, Brisbane, Port Vila, or Nadi (sorry, no more).
• totally funded (and thereby “managed”) by Australia and New Zealand resulting in
• innocuous statements about the Pacific Plan, Pacer Plus, labour mobility, global warming and climate change etc. All resulting in
• no significant change to any Pacific Islanders’ lives, any time soon.
The same may happen again in Auckland this week. Then again, it may not, depending on how independent and genuinely committed are the Pacific Island leaders to the concept of Pacific Islanders’ “unity”.
This particular gathering marking the 40th anniversary of the foundation of PIF will be judged by history on the strength of their statements or progress on the following key issues, where I suggest some alternatives:

1. Liberation of West Papua

It is a sad indictment of the past few years of PIF gatherings that “Big Power Diplomacy” has emasculated the Forum Island Countries (FIC) from expressing their solidarity with the oppressed Melanesian people of West Papua.
They continue to suffer one of the harshest forms of colonialism and exploitation (going on for decades) resulting in a total crushing of basic human rights of the incredibly poverty-stricken Melanesian people, not to mention massive environmental degradation.
Why have the FICs “forgotten” them?
Because the beneficiaries of this colonialism are first and foremost extremely powerful Indonesia, and secondly the largest mining (copper and gold) and petroleum (oil) companies in the world with powerful political connections in United States, Indonesia and Australia.
Australia (and by association, NZ) have historically been intimidated by Indonesia (strong ally of United States) to raise the issue of the independence of West Papua - their most immediate neighbour to the north.
Just as they were intimidated for decades into silence about the murder of the four Australian-based journalists (and a New Zealander) at Balibo in EastTimor.
It does not help the West Papua cause that Australian mining companies are also big beneficiaries of the mining resources in West Papua.
Because of the immense profitability of these mines which pay little heed to the environment, the mining multinationals freely abuse the basic human rights of the West Papua Melanesian people, giving the lie to their glossy advertisements throughout the world about their alleged care for human beings and the environment.
To show their genuine commitment, Pacific Island countries in the Forum, need to
• call for the liberation of their Melanesian brothers and sisters in West Papua;
• call for Observer Status to be given to West Papuan People’s Representative Office;
• agree to wholehearted support their cause in United Nations
• agree to provide scholarships, training and attachments for the Melanesian people of West Papua in Pacific Island countries, and fully funded by the Pacific countries themselves.
It may seem like a “lost cause” at the moment, but it also seemed like that when in the 1970s, when we in the Nuclear-Free and Independent Pacific and the Young Women’s Christian Movements in Suva used to support the Fretilin Independence movement and freedom fighters like José Ramos-Horta, for East Timor. Look where Timor-Leste is now.
West Papuan freedom fighters Dr John Ondawame, Rex Rumakiek and Paula Makabory (Pacific Scoop, August 30) likewise need the moral and real support of the free Pacific Island countries and peoples.

2. Labour mobility
Probably the most positive development benefit that most Pacific Island countries could gain is by increasing the access for unskilled labor to Australia which has hesitated for almost a decade on this development, while NZ has gone ahead with a small scheme.
This is a win-win situation which has not materialised because of the lack of vision by Australian politicians, and the power of the trade union movement in Australia which fears the downward pressure that unskilled labour from the Pacific would bring.
Individual Forum Countries should not wait for Pacer Plus (that will take a decade I suspect) to be finalised but should move on this front independently, although it can be incorporated into Pacer Plus once (if ever) that agreement is signed.
Small Forum countries like Tuvalu, Kiribati and Tonga, should move on labour mobility on a bilateral basis with Australia and NZ simply because a wider agreement with Papua New Guinea, Solomons and Vanuatu is too frightening for Australia to countenance.
Regardless of developments on this front with Australia and NZ, FICs should use their grouping to explore enhancing this possibility with United States (which has recently opened up labour access to the Pacific) and with Canada (where there have been major inroads in recent years by many developing countries such as the Philippines and West Indies countries).

3. Defence co-operation

Australia and NZ have had great difficulty in recruiting their citizens for their defence forces, armies and navies. The FICs have a surplus of such people.
Forum Island Countries should pressure Australia and NZ to take reasonable numbers of their FIC defence personnel into special units which can assist Australia and NZ with (a) policing the Pacific against illegal activities through enhanced Australian/NZ navies (especially Tuvaluans and i-Kiritibati) and (b) by forming disciplined land force units, under their management, which can be used in peace-keeping activities though-out the world (and the Pacific).
Such measures ought to seriously reduce such expenditure for FICs, provide employment for young willing FIC personnel, and generate foreign exchange remittances for the FICs.
It may (distant hope) give proper professional training to FIC military personnel, although the counter evidence is that the military coups in Fiji have been carried by officers trained by Australia, NZ and India.

4. Ending rugby colonialism
Despite protests and pleas for more than a decade, Australia and NZ continue their colonialist exploitation of Pacific Island rugby.
While Fiji, Samoa and Tonga have long called for their own team to be included into the Super 12 (then 14, then 15) rugby, their pleas have fallen on deaf ears in Canberra and Wellington.
Sports and politics don’t mix, eh? But Canberra and Wellington do not mind refusing visas to any rugby player related to any one in the Military Regime.
Rugby in the Pacific is not just sports, but also part of the economy, and trade earning valuable foreign exchange.
It could also become a great boost to Pacific tourism.
But with lack of support from Canberra and Wellington, their rugby unions have let a great opportunity fort FICs go begging for more than a decade.
The white-dominated Australian and NZ rugby unions continue their pettiness by refusing to allow Pacific Islanders to play for their home teams if not selected for Australia and NZ, thereby guaranteeing weaker opposition at the Rugby World Cups and other international competition.
It wouldn’t do would it, to have Fiji, Samoa, and Tonga wallop Australia and NZ at the Rugby World Cup, would it? After all, there are not too many “World Cups” left that Australia and NZ have any hope of winning.
Forget the fact that all these rugby restrictions against FIC rugby teams and players are contrary to free trade and World Trade Organisation principles.
FICs should take the opportunity in Auckland to examine whether they should re-orient some of their organised sports (and energy and money) towards American Football, Baseball, Basketball and Athletics.
These are not only huge money spinners in US but, as larger markets, would offer far better opportunities to Pacific sports people, than Australia and NZ currently do through rugby, soccer and netball.
This principle is exactly the same as in trade integration: it is far better for small FIC countries to integrate in sports with large countries like US, than with other small countries like Australia and NZ.
Plus, Americans don’t seem to mind the blacks and browns dominating their sports.

5. PACER Plus

It is guaranteed that PACER Plus negotiations will drag on for years.
Pacific Island politicians and civil servants won’t mind because they are guaranteed endless free trips to meetings and conferences, while endless compromises are sought on every little issue. Some one needs to do a PhD on the endless trivial negotiations over the dead PICTA horse.
With the massive liquid natural gas and mineral developments in Papua New Guinea, you can be sure that Australia and NZ will have opened new bilateral fronts for PNG, totally independent of PACER Plus negotiations with the other FICs. (Expect more and more studies and statements by Australian “think-tanks” on PNG which will have suddenly become “more interesting intellectually”).
The rest of the FICs can be expected to chew the PACER Plus cud endlessly, while legal and technical compromises are sought that please every minor little interest in Fiji (oops, not at the moment), Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, and all the other small countries, the latter having virtually nothing of economic value to offer Australia and NZ (except control of large areas of sea and air space).
The FICs have already implicitly indicated to Australia and NZ that they would like to continue their “beggar status” by refusing to put any of their own money into the Chief Negotiator’s Office for PACER Plus, to ensure that the their PACER Plus negotiators will be accountable to them only, and not to Australia and NZ.
This way, FICs can always complain that Australia and NZ were controlling the agenda of the Chief Negotiating Office by controlling their financing.
It is not that FICs cannot afford the $10 million dollars that are needed. Look at the wasted hundreds of millions of taxpayers’ funds in PNG, Fiji and Solomon Islands.
Indeed, the FICs, while annually complaining that there is too much control of Forum Secretariat agenda and senior staff appointments by Australia and NZ, have never demanded that they themselves should pay for the budget of Forum Secretariat and therefore have them accountable.
Indeed, how many Pacific Island leaders would themselves pay for their own attendance at the Forum meetings? Sorry, themselves yes of course, but their teams of civil servants? Hmmm.
FIC leaders seem to have never heard of the cliche “he who pays the piper, calls the tune”.
But don’t expect this handout mentality on either PACER Plus or the funding of the Forum Secretariat to change at this forum meeting or any other.

Dr Wadan Narsey is a former professor of economics at the University of the South Pacific and a former Fiji parliamentarian.
Dr Narsey’s writings on regional trade and sports issues may be read in “PICTA, PACER and EPAs: weaknesses in Pacific island countries’ trade policies”. Pacific Economic Bulletin, Vol. 19 No 3. 2004. Many other articles in The Fiji Times and Islands Business, especially on rugby colonialism in the Pacific, can be found at

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Volunteers in Macuata

from Peceli
I read this piece this evening in one of the Fiji on-line news items - Fiji Times. I was talking to Joy Baxter yesterday on the phone from Labasa. Joy and her team go to Fiji nearly every year as volunteers to help the villagers in Dreketi area. Vina'a va'alevu. Meanwhile two of our containers full of hospital beds, books, computers, etc. from Geelong have been parked in Lautoka - since February - because somehow the customs procedures are just not working like they used to. Money is now being asked for seonnd-hand goods which are ready to be distributed to schools and hospitals.

Aussies return for fourth year

Serafina Silaitoga
Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Three members of the Rotary Club of Geelong from Australia with two villagers of Nabavatu take a break during the building of a new home at Nabavatu. The group has been coming to Vanua Levu for the past four years. Picture: SERAFINA SILAITOGA+ Enlarge this image

Three members of the Rotary Club of Geelong from Australia with two villagers of Nabavatu take a break during the building of a new home at Nabavatu. The group has been coming to Vanua Levu for the past four years. Picture: SERAFINA SILAITOGA

VOLUNTEERS of the Rotary Club of Geelong have returned to help improve living standards of families in Macuata.

The Australian group who have focussed their help on the village of Nabavatu in Dreketi arrived last week to repair two family houses and survey their water project done two years ago.

Group member Joyce Baxter said the team consisted of carpenters, plumbers, retired nurses and health workers who have also helped the Dreketi Health Centre staff with screening diabetic patients.

"This is our fourth visit to the village and we have helped the people of Nabavatu improve their water supply and building a new reservoir for them.

"So we have returned to also inspect the reservoir we built two years ago and see whether it is working fine and so far all is well," Mrs Baxter said.

Since arriving, the group has built one house and is almost done with the second.

"These houses are in need of desperate repairs so we have rebuilt the homes with new timber and framework.

"We have also brought medical material for the Dreketi Health cCntre which we used to screen patients and we will leave it behind for the staff to use," Mrs Baxter said.

The Rotary Club has worked closely with the people in Vanua Levu over the past four years.

Mrs Baxter and her team have brought clothes and food for poor families and helped improve living standards in the villages.

Climate change and the Pacific

from w
On the agenda of the South Pacific Forum will be the topic of 'Climate change' and how small atolls in the South Pacific are faring as the sea rises. Here is a discussion on ABC radio on Pacific Beat/
Kiribati issues highlighted to UN Sec General

Updated September 6, 2011 10:20:14
A climate change action group in Kiribati is seeking international help to fund water tanks for outer islands. Many of these communities are only three metres above sea level and get their water from wells which have become contaminated with salt water. And with the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon on a flying trip around the Pacific, the social and economic impacts of climate change are in the world spotlight again.

Presenter: Cameron Wilson
Speaker: Linda Uan from the Kiribati Climate Change Action Network
Listen: Windows Media
UAN: What's happening is that it's affecting the lives of the most vulnerable, young children as well as the ageing community, so we have people having diarrhoea, vomiting, all the diseases that come with water that's not suitable for drinking.

WILSON: Where is the fresh water coming from then at the moment? Do these people have any access to fresh water?

UAN: At the moment, we have a water lens, it is under the island and this lens collects fresh water with people collecting every day from the wells and also with the water system from the government going in the pipes to other settlements, that water becomes thinner and when it gets thinner, it also becomes salty and brackish.

The alternative is rainwater, of course, but we need to have water tanks to collect them in.

WILSON: So what is it that you're actually asking for to get this program of water tanks up and running?

UAN: Well, fresh water is a need and without water tanks, it is not easy to collect water in quantities. People at the moment are collecting in buckets, 20 litre buckets and coolers, but they are not big enough to sustain them for months. With water tanks 5,000 litres, 10,000 litres, they're very good because they can sustain families over a longer period of time.

WILSON: Is there enough reliable rainfall though to make use of five 10,000 litre water tanks?

UAN: Before we had a drought, now we're in the rainy season and we have rain about two, three, four times a week, so there is a lot of rain coming and we need to have the containers or the water tanks to be able to collect them in.

WILSON: And where do you want these tanks located?

UAN: There are many places that have iron roofing, there are also community centres in all villages who have permanent buildings with iron roofing to collect the water for the communities.

WILSON: Do you know how much money you need for this?

UAN: No, because we're not talking about just one island. We are talking about the whole nation.

WILSON: So where are you or who are you asking to help fund this?

UAN: NZAID has been doing a lot of water work here with the different groups in the government, like the Kiribati adaptation program, so it is one area that has been very active in this research. I suppose NZAID will probably be one that is looking into this, but other donor countries will also be able to look at this real need.

WILSON: Now the UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki Moon, has just been in Kiribati to talk about climate change and the associated problems like this water shortage we're discussing. How hopeful are you that his discussions internationally will draw more attention to this issue?

UAN: Well, just by his coming here, there was a great moral boost for everybody in the country, there was live broadcasts to all island communities in the whole of Kiribati. He spoke to children, he spoke to everybody and it was really good to hear what he was saying about his own campaign as he said, seeing the problems is also believing. And I suppose that is what we have been trying to get out to them, to the international community, because they don't see and experience the challenges that we're having to live with everyday.

WILSON: So in many ways, someone of his standing I guess helps tell that story?

UAN: Yes, we certainly hope so. We've been doing our bit to raise awareness, but to have such a wise and respected leader in the Secretary-General to the UN adds more weight to what we are saying. We're not pretending, we're not making up things. These are the realities of living in Kiribati.

Monday, September 05, 2011

More on South Pacific Forum

from w
Fiji to remain excluded from forum

By Tamara McLean in Auckland
From: AAP
September 06, 2011 1:09PM

SMALL Pacific nations have agreed Fiji should remain excluded from the peak regional body until the military-led nation makes solid steps towards democracy.
A meeting of nine countries last week concluded that Fiji, suspended from the Pacific Islands Forum in 2009, should be invited to rejoin.

But New Zealand Prime Minister John Key said today that none of these Melanesian or Micronesian leaders had conveyed these views to him, and instead supported the current hard-line stance of sanctions and exclusion.

"I think the consensus view very much is that the forum's position of excluding Fiji should be maintained," Mr Key told journalists following a meeting with the small island states.

"However, everyone wanted to see democracy restored as quickly as possible."

He said a number of leaders, far from defending Fiji's military regime, were concerned that elections promised by leader Commodore Frank Bainimarama for two years time may not happen.

"There was a view expressed by a number that they're anxious to see Frank Bainimarama will actually carry out his commitment to hold elections in 2014 given that the commodore has let down the forum on a number of occasions," he said.

Fiji was suspended following Bainimarama's failure to restore democracy in the wake of the 2006 coup.

In a meeting in Nadi last week, the commodore appeared to garner support from the Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.

In a communique, the group endorsed Bainimarama's plan to delay elections until 2014 and indicated it would push Australia and New Zealand to agree.

However, history has shown small island states do not necessarily go into bat for Fiji with regional superpowers offering much-needed aid and trade opportunities.

Read more:

South Pacific Forum

from w
The South Pacific Forum kicks off in New Zealand but Fiji won't be there - not invited, but there are some strange representatives that don't seem particularly relevant to the South Pacific - UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa, French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe, US Deputy Secretary of State Thomas Nides, and senior representatives of Hungary, Slovenia, Luxembourg, Spain, Finland, Kyrgyzstan and Bhutan. Wkhy is Kyrgyzstan there, why Spain?
The answer - in an article by Fiji casts shadow on Pacific forum
Rowan Callick, Asia-Pacific Editor From: The Australian September 05, 2011 12:00AM:

The latter countries are coming to lobby for seats on the UN Security Council for different terms, including competitors with Australia for the term starting in 2013. Fiji has been campaigning strongly, at regional meetings and in New York, for Luxembourg instead of Australia.

well, that isn't really what the Forum is about is it?

Julie Gillard will be there, cooling her heels and hoping no-one is going to mention asylum seekers and leaky boats crossing the wild seas below Indonesia. She isn't really an expert on Foreign Affairs like Rudd, the PM she replaced. He is much more comfortable with dealing with leaders from many other countries.

The 'problem' of Fiji will haunt the meeting no doubt - what to do with that 'difficult' military regime in the Pacific who according to the grandmas and grandads of the Pacific such as Australia and New Zealand has gone down a path that was never expected by the great man of the Pacifid Ratu Mara.

Money matters will be prominent no doubt. The notes below are from the Australian article.

NZ is planning for a forum focused on the positives, encapsulated in the cliche "sustainable economic development". It is opening the forum processes as never before, to businesspeople to participate.

Canberra has sought for a few years to persuade the UN's top administrator to come to the forum and is especially keen to persuade Ban to commit more resources to helping island countries adjust to climate change.

A free trade agreement between Pacific island countries and the EU, which gives the islands $68 million a year in aid, is in the early stages of discussion.

The extension of the Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relations -- a multilateral free trade deal -- from the 14 forum island countries, who have a loose arrangement in place, to include Australia and NZ, has attracted some controversy, with critics of trade liberalisation claiming Australia has sought to hijack the process.

Hayward-Jones thinks Pacific Island countries will likely put pressure on Australia at the forum to explain why the Australian seasonal worker scheme is not delivering on its promise. This issue will attract renewed interest because new PNG Prime Minister Peter O'Neill has offered access to workers from smaller Pacific countries to the enormous construction and resource projects getting under way in PNG.

Hayward-Jones says the debt distress of some countries, notably Tonga and Cook Islands -- which has in part been caused by an over-reliance on soft loans from China -- may be raised.

But, she adds, Fiji is "the proverbial elephant in the room. Bainimarama's actions show he continues to take no notice of the forum or pressures from abroad to relax Fiji's Public Emergency Regulation or make any credible move towards elections." And some island countries exhibit a split personality on the issue.

Satish Chand, an expert in development economics at the University of NSW, based at the Australian Defence Force Academy, says: "The fact the forum is alive and well 40 years after its creation is a mark of success. However, it is time this regional body carried out a stocktake of its achievements."

Three pressing initiatives require political backing in Auckland, he says: labour market integration, management of the Pacific Ocean including innovative seabed mining, and climate change.

Stewart Firth, from the Australian National University's Melanesia program, says China's influence is growing in the Pacific, "strengthened by its truce with Taiwan over competitive aid-giving".

"In response, the US has rediscovered the South Pacific. The American aid program to the region has resumed after a break of 16 years . . . And [the US] seems to be losing faith in Australia and New Zealand's ability to maintain its interests in the region."

Influence in the islands is being contested, he says, with the United Arab Emirates announcing a $US50m ($47m) aid program, in an area "where it appeared to have no obvious interests".

Gillard, though, has up her sleeve an especially attractive tool for maintaining Australia's influence in the region: a bipartisan political deal to double foreign aid to $8 billion a year or more from 2015, with a big slice of it earmarked for the Pacific.

Friday, September 02, 2011

Copeland at the IAAF

from w
We have been watching the IAAF every night this week and last night we were happy to discover that Leslie Copeland was representing Fiji at the IAAF in Korea this week. He is a champion javelin thrower and threw more than 76 metres yesterday. However this wasn't enough to get into the final cut. Anyway, congratulations Leslie for throwing at this level. Here is his story:

ParticipantLeslie Copeland D.O.B. Apr 23, 1988 Discipline(s) Athletics Various

Barely in his 20s, Fijian javelin thrower Leslie Copeland is well on his way to becoming an international star of field athletics with dreams of striking silver and gold. But to get where he is, he has already had to overcome considerable obstacles, having grown up in relative poverty in a rural part of the remote Pacific island chain.
When Leslie was nine his father died, leaving the young family of six children with no bread winner. Despite having seven children of her own, Leslie’s aunt was able to help and Leslie and his siblings remained in education.

At secondary school, Leslie took up javelin and proved to be a natural. He set new records in every category at school and by age 17, he was a national champion. He then won a scholarship to the University of the South Pacific (USP) in Vanuatu.

Near the end of 2007, the Fiji Association of Sports and National Olympic Committee (FASANOC) offered him the chance to train for nine months in Brisbane, Australia. But while Leslie was able to train, he still needed considerable financial support from home. When he returned to Fiji, he was determined he should have a steady job to fall back in the future so he could look after himself and his extended family. Last year, he enrolled on a civil engineering course.

But Leslie is still totally determined to rise to the very top of his sport and both eyes are focused on reaching the 2012 Olympics in London, where he intends to become the first Fijian to bring home a medal.

“There were times in the past where I had lost all hope,” says Leslie. “But I am looking forward to achieving my academic goals and if possible one day in the near future, my dream of being a top athlete.”

Thursday, September 01, 2011

spend time with the turtles

from w
If it is really law that you can't have youth fellowships, women's meetings, Sunday School, prayer groups, choir practices, circuit meetings, etc. in the Methodist Church of Fiji, perhaps everyone can spend time watching the turtles, caring for the environment, delighting in the beauty of God's creation. There is much to enjoy - and to clean up too.

Islands for turtles

Salaseini Vosamana
Friday, September 02, 2011

TWO islands in the district of Nadogo in Macuata have been identified as nesting sites for turtles. This year, Nukuvadra and Katawaqa near Kavewa Island have so far recorded 50 nesting sites with a total of 5000 hatchings.

Nadogo district conservationist Emosi Time said the two islands were monitored to safeguard the turtles since the Turtle Decree was put in place in June. "Most people were not aware of the Turtle Decree and they consumed a lot of turtles and eggs illegally," Mr Time told The Fiji Times. "After various awareness programs and warnings, the islanders complied with the decree. Sometimes we experience a slight change in climate and we monitor the movements of the turtles because they can't move to higher ground. It is a challenging job being a watchdog for turtles but I always regard them as human beings since they are also living creatures."

Mr Time said more manpower was needed to monitor the nesting sites. "I am the only conservationist and I need more assistance because of the distance and the fuel cost for transportation. I have a passion for turtles and I will do my best to safeguard these creatures."