Friday, December 30, 2011

For the New Year

from w
One of my facebook friends posted this and I thought it was so good I 'borrowed' it to repost here as our New Year greetings. The picture is of one of my Christmas presents - a mortar and pestle, which requires a bit of elbow grease.


By Ken Sehested (adapted)

May your home always be too small
to hold all your friends.
May your heart remain ever supple,
Fearless in the face of threat,
Jubilant in the grip of grace.
May your hands remain open,
Caressing, never clinched,
Save to pound the doors
Of all who barter justice
To the highest bidder.
May your heroes be earthy
Dusty-shoed and rumpled,
Hallowed but unhaloed,
Guiding you through seasons of tremor and travail,
Apprenticed to the godly art of giggling
Amid haggard news
And portentous circumstance.
May your hankering
Be in rhythm with heaven’s
Whose covenant vows
A dusty intersection with your own:
When creation’s hope and history rhyme.
May Hosannas lilt from your lungs:
Creation is not done
Creation is not yet done.
All flesh,
I am told,
will behold
Will surely behold…

Benedicere (“to bless, to praise”) is based on a prayer by Ken Sehested, author of “In the Land of the Living: Prayers Personal and Public.”

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

What is there for tourists in Labasa?

from w
We've been discussing what the Labasa area can offer to tourists, especially the day-trippers from visiting ships and we are trying to assess what would be good programs/locations for just a few hours - besides shopping in the town. There's Wasavulu stones and its cultural history (though now there are houses there and I think stones have been moved about), the Hindu snake temple at Matailabasa with the stories of the growing stone, there's the hot water sites, a picnic on Vorovoro Island, there are working sugar-cane farms, and so on. It has been suggested that a visit to Naduri as a cultural tour - the remains of the old chiefly bure - but Naduri is a bit far away. Certainly the men from Seaqaqa can dance though! The floating island at Nubu is rather far away. Anyway, the Labasa Tourism committee are working on it all. Once upon a time we had a little eco-tourism place at Nukutatava but that was a long time ago. There are Labasa stories on the internet which give a few clues about what is interesting in the Labasa region such as this one - during 2011. and I think connecting with people is the most important thing for tourists - meet up with a real family or go to a primary school and interact with the children.

from Fiji Sun (they have journos in Labasa often with stories - which is better than the spin and handouts that pepper that particular paper.

Labasa Tourism Association focuses on 2012, cruise boats
December 29, 2011 | Filed under: Fiji News | Posted by: newsroom

The Labasa Tourism Association has vouched to focus on pushing for infrastructure improvement for the year 2012 in order to attract more cruise liners to Macuata.
The association believes that Government’s plan to build an international port of entry near Tabia called the Middle Point, which is about 20 minutes drive from Labasa Town would be the major development opening doors for more cruise liners.

Labasa Tourism Association president Paul Jaduram said meanwhile Reef Endeavour, a vessel of Captain Cook Cruises, this year anchored at Malau. “Through this vessel’s four trips to Labasa there was a record of more than 310 tourist arrivals,” Mr Jaduram said. He said during their visits the association found out that there was a need to bring improvement in infrastructure and development of site scene in Macuata.
“During our recent meeting we discussed nine major infrastructure and services that affected our tourism industry in North,” Mr Jaduram said.

1. Very high air fare from Labasa to Suva, Labasa to Nadi and return
2. Lack of international port of entry
3. Construction of bypass road
4. Tarsealing of the road from Dreketi to Nabouwalu
5. Historical sites to be developed with their histories
6. Improvements of side roads in and around Labasa Town
7. Seating facilities around Labasa Town
8. Dredging of the river mouth up to Labasa
9. Upgrading of 'Waiqele Airport terminal building and introducing night landing facilities

He said once these infrastructure falls into place tourists would feel comfortable and would more often choose Labasa as tourist destination. “We have been having continuous discussion with the Commissioner Northern Lieutenant-Colonel Ilai Moceica on developing some site scenes such at the Three Sisters Mountain,” Mr Jaduram said.
He said the association hopes to build an eat-out place for tourists close to the mountain. We have also thought of suggesting tourists to visit Tui Macuata’s chiefly village Naduri where there is still a major historical site scene associated with stories for interest,” Mr Jaduram said.

He said he was also working with the general manager of Fiji Sugar Corporation’s, Labasa Mill Karia Christopher to provide passenger component for tourists to sit in groups and move around Labasa for site scene. “We are very much committed in bringing more tourists to Macuata in particular Labasa to lift the tourism industry,” Mr Jaduram said. He said the association was expecting more than eight tourist vessels and cruise liners to berth in Macuata next year.
Now, put yourself in the shoes of a visitor to Labasa with a few hours only. Some things they would expect - a place to have good food at reasonable cost, a clean toilet, some culture, some photo opportunities, not get too far away and miss the boat! That means drinks and snacks available at each location visited and a good toilet! So I hope the committee are not just thinking about opportunities to make money - some things are free - smiles, relationships even if just beginning, good will.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Dreamcatchers and American Indians

from w
There's talk about building a casino in Nadi and a mini-one in Suva. I'm sure the Methodist church and traditionalists do not approve at all. Poker machines and gaming tables cause a lot of mischief, not only false belief in winning, but aspects of crime as well. Do we want this kind of scene in Fiji?

Turtles and a boy from Nakalo

from w
They have good publicity officers, these greenies who love turtles and good luck to them, getting story after story about conservation and saving the Fiji turtles. Here is another story about a boy from Nakalo village in Macuata. From today's Fiji Times.

The turtle is my friend
Theresa Ralogaivau
Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Josua Muakula is the youngest dau ni vonu in Fiji. Picture: SUPPLIED
AT just 18 years old, Josua Muakula is the youngest dau ni vonu in Fiji. The dau ni vonu or turtle monitor are those few men, just 25 in all, who have taken on the massive challenge of protecting turtles and boosting their numbers, by advocating for sustainable harvesting.

Why would a teenager get so involved in a bid to protect the one creature he has been feeding on for most of his young life?

He answered simply "The turtle is my friend!" It's been around two years since Muakula last gorged on turtle meat.

Transformation hit him like a storm when one day sitting in a turtle monitors' training organised by WWF South Pacific Office at Nakalou village in Macuata, he realised just how defenseless the 'vonu' was.

"This is one animal that doesn't put up a fight, from when we catch it to when we kill it for the pot. It's a sad creature, the way it just quietly waits to die," he said. For a boy who has hunted turtles for game and food, the realisation stirred deep regret in him and he wanted to make a difference for turtles.

"I wanted to stand up for them because I found out how their numbers kept on going down. I know that if we don't do something about it, future generations will never get to see a turtle and knowing the important role the turtle plays in our marine environment helped cement my decision."

On the modest end, Muakula said he has consumed between 70-80 kilogrammes of turtle meat in his life. Growing up at Denimanu village on Yadua island in Bua, his life has been closely intertwined with the sea. Ever since he can remember, he has been out fishing or diving for turtles.

He caught even more when he dropped out of school in Form Four and took up beche-de-mer diving as a career. Muakula said it was always a proud, egoistical moment to walk home with a turtle in tow.

"Everyone on the island loves turtle meat, it's so tasty so if you came with one, then you would truly make people happy because island tradition is such that the meat is shared out equally," he said.

"And all the young boys competed, so if you caught a turtle it was like a stamp of approval for manhood, or you were seen as having the potential of becoming a great diver one day!

"That training changed my life, I saw a turtle cry after that, and the tears moved me. It wanted my protection so I decided to leave behind my once favorite dish."

These days, Muakula actively rallies behind turtles, sharing the turtle gospel wherever and whenever he can especially with his worst critics his peers.

In the first few months of his new journey, they often taunted him, teasing him with mouth watering turtle meat dishes, challenging his knowledge about the decline in numbers of the marine reptile.

"It was hard even to watch them kill one so I just stayed away from where these occurred. But I kept on telling them about the need to protect turtles and eventually some of them started changing too.

"Now several want to sign up as turtle monitors and have decided to also make a stand for turtles. They know me and they see the change and they wonder about it so I work hard to impress upon them the importance of turtles, not just as a source of food, but also the role it plays in the sea.

"We wouldn't enjoy a lot of the other fishes that we earn an income from if we didn't have turtles. We need them so I show them how serious it is by not eating turtle meat and they see I mean business. Now like me they want to be turtle friends for life."

* Theresa Ralogaivau is the communications officer at the WWF South Pacific Program, Suva, Fiji. Email:

Monday, December 26, 2011

Solar lighting for Udu villages?

from w
There's an interesting idea - to train four grandmothers from Udu villages in solar engineering to go back to their villages to install electricity. Will the men take notice of the older women when they come back? Story from the Fiji Sun today. will they be taught in English, Hindi or Fijian? The reference is to 'illiterate women' which is rather a put-down as the women of Fiji are not illiterate at all. Also, the idea is for the village to become motivated to do many other things. Perhaps this is a nice dream but hey, it's not easy doing development in the rural areas.

North 4 to India stint
December 27, 2011 | Filed under: Fiji News | Posted by: newsroom

Four women, each from four different villages in the Northern Division, will be going to Rajasthaan, India next year. They will attend six-month training as solar engineers. This is a collaborative initiative between the United Nations Women and the Ministry of Women, Social Welfare and Poverty Alleviation to empower women in Fiji.
The founder of Barefoot College in India, Bunker Roy, accompanied by the Commissioner Northern Lieutenant-Colonel Ilai Moceica and United Nations Women regional programme director, Lena Lindberg selected the women last week. Mr Roy said his selection was based on four important criteria. “The village should not be connected to any electricity grid. There should not be any electricity generator. Less wealthy village and without outside help,” Mr Roy said. He said the selection looked at the poorest of the poor villages without power supply.

Lieutenant-Colonel Moceica said the four women who were grandmothers were from Udu Point, Kubulau, Lutukina and Vunidogoloa. “Grandmothers were chosen from these villages so that they can come back from India with the training to install solar lights to light up their village without seeking help from outside,” Lieutenant-Colonel Moceica said.
He thanked the Ministry of Women and United Nation Women for this initiative and creating opportunities for women. “Very soon these four villages will be the model of a modernised setup in the North and it would help encourage other villagers to make changes,” Lieutenant-Colonel Moceica said. He said this set-up would bring improvement in the lives of women and their households. “The fear to cook food early in the morning in the outside kitchen under the small kerosene lantern would soon f He said poor families would then not need to worry about spending money on buying kerosene.

“Once these solar lights will be installed in the villages, I believe men would begin to build toilets, bathrooms and kitchens attached to their houses, under one roof, to provide security for and peace of mind to women,” Lieutenant-Colonel Moceica said. He believes that in the next three years, the landscape, housing, business and education in rural villages in the North would be lifted to a better standard.

UN Women regional programme director Lena Lindberg said she was glad that the husbands of the chosen trainees were so supportive by allowing them to travel to India to be trained.

“India, through its Indian Technical and Economic Co-operation (ITEC) programme, will fund the training and when these trainees return to their villages they will, in turn, train people in the installation and maintenance of the solar electricity system,” Ms Lindberg said. She said UN Women would be providing all the necessary equipment for the solar setup and the village would be responsible for the maintenance.

When asked why he chose grandmothers to be trainees Mr Roy replied that grandmothers would not run away from their villages for greener pastures like youths. “We chose illiterate grandmothers to be trained because they understand the important basic need in life, like electricity. They would share the knowledge and lift the standard of their village without having any intention to run away to overseas or to Suva to earn an income,” Mr Roy said.

He said this would be big challenge for the grandmothers but not for him.

“We have trained more than three million people around the world for jobs as solar engineers, teachers, midwives, architects and doctors,” Mr Roy said.

He said he had trained more than 300 grandmothers from Africa to become solar engineers and now he wanted to provide the same opportunity for women in Fiji.Mr Roy said 10 women in Fiji had been selected to be trained in India and they would leave by next March.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Mo marau ni Siga ni Sucu

from w
Happy Christmas for today and everyday - as we have everything we need - every day. Here's a photo of children at Nukutatava beach, the picture jazzed up by one of the young relatives with a mix of cultural references about Christmas in other places than babasiga.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Labasa Mill

from w
Noticed a story about Labasa Mill which shows the difficulties of the sugar industry in Fiji.

Labasa Mill closes with dismal performance
Crushing at the Labasa Mill ends tonight with this season’s crush of around 570,000 tonnes of cane.

FSC estimates a standover crop of 40,000 tonnes which brings the crop total to 610,000 tonnes compared to pre-crush estimates of 654,000 tonnes, a shortfall of 44,000 tonnes.

The mill made about 44,000 tonnes of sugar returning a high TCTS of 13:1 (13 tonnes of cane to make a tonne of sugar) due to frequent breakdowns. Milling inefficiencies resulted in an estimated loss of 13,000 tonnes of sugar calculated at a TCTS ratio of 10:1.

In monetary terms, this loss equates to $13 million of which the growers will bear $9 million or $15.78 per tonne of cane.

The loss is huge. Somewhat similar results are expected from the other three mills which have also been plagued by milling problems. Bad news for the industry and its future sustainability.

S. Lal

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Christmas party in Tuatua

from Peceli
We have started the Christmas parties in Tuatua, Labasa, lots of girls in the household and me, lovely food and a decorated Christmas tree.
from Wendy
Well, we haven't eaten yet tonight as ten of us have all been active in cleaning the garden and back yard, green house, shed, and moving the rabbit and guinea pig from the front verandah to their hutch inside the back shed, all nice now. It took a while to catch the rabbit though, running all around the back yard until we put both Izzy and Ozzie in the gaol cage to take to the new clean hutch.

Monday, December 19, 2011

More than a story about an iguana

from w
I thought the writer was going to talk about lizards of the many-legged variety, but then she goes on to talk about society. Good on you girl!
From the Fiji Times Features:
Dance like the matadors
Fay Volatabu
Monday, December 19, 2011

Picture: Asinate Bakabaka with a crested iguana at Kula Eco Park in Sigatoka. Picture: BALJEET SINGH/ THE FIJI TIMES FILE

RECENTLY, a German national was prosecuted for trying to smuggle a crested iguana out of our country. I wondered why would anyone want to pack such a creature in their bag and literally share the ride with it. As you would have guessed, I have a special negative relationship with the reptile specie and though the size may not matter, a reptile is a reptile whether it be minute, pretty, or priceless, I would literally run a mile when I see one.

Despite my fear and utter dislike of reptiles, a particular type has been my nemesis for life. Wherever I turn I see one, the chameleon to be exact. I have been living with them all my life and often it is quite difficult to distinguish the animal from the surrounds.

The chameleon is a small lizard that changes colour according to its surroundings. Have you seen any in your neighbourhood lately?

They are the ones that go to church on Sunday, speak about eliminating violence but beat up their wives every other day, go to work in a reputable office dressed in a suit, talk about transparency but are secretly involved in corruption; speak words of edification and honour but secretly defame characters; appear to be a saint, go to all the church meetings and are great givers but secretly venomous pythons? I'll ask again, have you seen any lately?

These chameleons change colours depending on the surroundings and often you cannot even tell them apart.

These reptiles have the tendency to change colour, change character and are very unreliable as they change with the wind, the backdrop or circumstance. Today, the backdrop would be green and they would be also, but tomorrow when it is orange, you will not see them as they will also be orange. They will say anything or in some cases, do anything to be invisible and we must commend them for their versatility as they would be good spies for any secret service.

But, in the real world where real people with real problems and real challenges exist, they are sometimes the deadliest people around as they will save their own skins or shed their skins to be alive.

It is now getting to the end of the year and as business winds up, it is also a time to reflect on the year. Have all the commitments we made been carried out? Did we stop victimising our wives or children and family members? Did we improve our fiscal policies?

Did we honour the commitments made in secret or did we just say words in haste to suit the situation but reneged on our agreements or on our word because we did not feel like it, or because the circumstances changed and with it our responses, like the chameleon.

Our nation has evolved in that unlike before when things were solved by the war club or bare knuckles. We have refined our skills and become more dialogue-prone.

What this means is that unlike before when all a warrior had to do was to reaffirm his power with a wield of his club to show people how he felt, now it is through 'dialogues', 'conferences', 'conventions', and we cook up so many eloquent expressions and academic endeavours such as chat cafes, chat rooms, roundtable, square table and whatever else to describe our attempt at finding solutions to some mundane and trivial issue which could easily be solved through action. Wouldn't it be better just to say meeting or discussions and call a spade a spade?

Need we become chameleons and join the crowd crying out for dialogues, panels, conferences, conventions in the bid to be relevant, yet, risk being more irrelevant in the process?

We have conventions, we have laws such as the Universal Declarations of Human Rights, Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women, Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Domestic Violence Decree, Family Law and many other international and local legal instruments.

Why do we need to keep on discussing or dialoguing the obvious when we need to go the next step up, which is, action.

Is it necessary to have cafe discussions, virtual chats , roundtables, conventions, conferences or spend more time and money or whatever new form of pow wow is yet to be cooked up?

Shouldn't we just cut to the chase and just start acting on previous discussions and recommendations?.

If you asked me, dialogue is just a fancy way of saying detour, or roundabout or maybe red lights ahead. We have legal instruments, we have our commitments, we have our honour and integrity to live for and live by.

Must we keep on dialoguing and say what needs to be said in a given situation and keep on changing our tune and risk being like the chameleon who will change colour to suit the backdrop?

Or can we be like the German national who saw the value in a crested iguana (even though I cannot comprehend such fascination neither do I condone his method) and decided to act on his impulse and gut feeling regardless of the consequences.

Don't get me wrong, I am not condoning the illegal act but the spirit which prompted the act and that was urgency and action in seeing something of value.

Maybe it is like that with the matadors of Spain, where they dance with the bulls and try and coax them into a corner.

The matador dances with the bulls but at the end of the day, he gets the results. Can we start dancing like the matadors and take the bull by the horn, move a step up from the dialogues and start the actions now?

Can we not tolerate violence in all our homes anymore?

Can we stop beating and neglecting our children?

Can we have shelters for our rural women selling at the markets? Can we have more businesses for women supported and set up?

Can we ensure that women are taken into consideration whenever a policy, a development or even a prayer is said?

If we can truly do that instead of just saying it, then we have truly evolved from being a versatile and scared chameleon to being a priceless crested iguana that the world would die for, or in some case go to jail for.

So what are you? Chameleon or crested iguana? If you are a true native of Fiji, then remember that you are a critically endangered specie and more importantly, we need you to chase out all the chameleons. God Bless Fiji and all its habitats, great or small.

* Fay Volatabu is the general secretary for the National Council of Women Fiji. Email: or

Santa in Labasa?

from w
It's hard to believe a replica of an ancient Middle Eastern bishop, St Nicholas, has melded into a character walking around the steamy wet and hot streets of Labasa! But there he was yesterday - in town, aka Satish Chand from Tuatua, a suburb of Labasa where Peceli is staying at present. Maybe Peceli saw him. It's a pity that these days Santa Claus has often got prime spot, instead of the baby Jesus.

Santa zooms into town


People on the main street of Labasa Town got a pleasant surprise when Santa Claus or Father Christmas zoomed into town on his motor bike yesterday. His appearance was a source of delight on the many faces in Labasa Town yesterday. He greeted people, both young and old, with his trademark greeting of Ho! Ho! Ho!

With Christmas only five days away and Santa Claus very busy with last minute gifts for children who have been good, he has sent some of his helpers to bring Christmas cheer.

And Satish Chand of Tuatua in Labasa is one of Santa’s helpers. For the past four years Mr Chand dons his Santa suit and jumps on his bike to bring a smile to children’s faces. Mr Chand said to him such a practice was a way of sharing Christmas spirit with the people of Labasa.

“Children read in books and watch cartoons about Christmas and see Santa Claus. So every year I try to make it real for them,” Mr Chand said.

The 39-year-old man said he wished to make people feel the joy of Christmas in these hard times and know that Christmas was a time of sharing love and receiving blessings. He said he was happy doing this because he brought smiles on children’s faces even though some little ones were scared to see such a huge man in a red suit.

His message to young children this Christmas: “Do not worry because Santa Claus is already in town.”

Sunday, December 18, 2011

A study on silence

from w
I came across an interesting post and followed up with a couple of links about 'Silence' in the Fijian way of life. It looks like an interesting book but it is hard to track down and buy. The topic is intriguing and I came across the issue of the importance of awesome silence when I researched music and the vanua in Labasa. Here's the piece I found on a blog:


The Pacific has been the scene of much important thinking. Recent Pacific publications present ideas that are not only relevant to Pacific societies, but have important implications for the other cultures around it. One of these is a project to recover the meaning of silence.

As Unaisi Nabobo-Baba argues in her book *Knowing and Learning: An indigenous Fijian approach *(Suva: IPS Publications, 2006), the silent child in a Western classroom is seen as a problem. By contrast in many traditional Pacific communities, silence is seen as a culturally appropriate mode of behaviour. Nabobo-Baba goes further and develops a taxonomy of silence, which includes 18 different ways of being quiet, including ?silence and the elements? and ?silence when in awe of custom?

(see herefor
an extract of her book).

The cultural meaning of silence poses some challenging questions:

- What is the positive expression of silence?
- How can silence be reconciled with modern democracy?
- What is the role of silence in modern Western countries like
- How can silence speak?
- What is the constructive role of silence in the classroom?
- What are the creative dimensions of silence?

Would you be interested in being part of a further discussion about this issue? If you would like to be involved in the development of a colloquium on silence, you are invited to send in your details. This includes:

- Name
- Role
- Area of interest
- What you would like to contribute to this development

Contributions can include research, a specific perspective, a performance, a venue or a program context. Please send an email Responses are due 21 January 2012. We will then follow up your interest and keep you in the loop about events where silence will be heard over the next two years.

Unaisi Nabobo-Baba, University of Guam Kevin Murray, Southern Perspectives

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Fiji migrants

from w
It was interesting to read that Australia is the main choice of destination to settle for Fiji people wanting to leave their homeland. Australia, then New Zealand before others. I suppose it is because they are not too far away and also they are both lands of excellent opportunities (hopefully) and they will be welcome. Immigration matters of course may be difficult and painfully slow but perseverence and patience gets you there in the end for applications.

from the Fiji Times:
Destination Aussie
Serelisoni Moceica
Sunday, December 18, 2011
A tall 28-percent of Fiji's total migration numbers are reported to have picked Australia as their destination of choice.

A report released at the University of the South Pacific earlier this week showed Australia received the largest share of Fiji's migrants compared to other overseas destinations.

"Our study shows the three main destination countries for Fijian emigrants are Australia, New Zealand and the United States, which is consistent with the findings of a 2006 World Bank report," the Development on the Move report on Fiji said.

The report said 22 percent moved to New Zealand, 18 percent for he US while 10 percent migrated to the United Kingdom.

Other destinations quoted in the book were Iraq, Kuwait, Egypt, Afghanistan, South Africa, Japan, India, Philippines and other Pacific Island countries.

The report said largely ethnic Fijian teachers and nurses have migrated to work in Kiribati, the Marshall Islands and the Federated States of Micronesia.

Australia's regional de' attache, Judith Robinson said Australia has benefited from Fiji migrants over the years.

"In return, the Australian government is doing a number of things that we hope will be part of the migration scheme and we hope will be ultimately beneficial not only for officials but countries as well,"


from Peceli
Yesterday I took some of the children down to Nukutatava beach for a swim and a picnic and a good time was had by all. This is the place where my family lived in the 70s when the boys were very young. We had three bures near the sea then, constant running water, and it was a delightful place with many coconut trees near the shore. Erosion has since taken away some of the beach. Today I visited Paul Jaduram in Labasa and we both went to Nukutatava. Our neighbours have vacated their property - the Christian Fellowship Training Centre - because they wanted to relocate to a site nearer to the larger population such as Suva.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Visit to Nabalebale

from Peceli
Yesterday we went across Vanua Levu towards Savusavu to visit the village of Nabalebale so here are some photos we took. Two of my grandchildren accompanied me and we met up with some friends and also with Ilisoni Ligairi who I knew many many years ago when he was a Lelean student and I was in the Vulitalatala at Davuilevu.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Visit to Vorovoro

from Peceli
Today we went by Degei's boat to Vorovoro Island. It was an excellent visit to see Tui Mali. The tribewanted gang have left so it is quiet these days but still beautiful. We passed Nakawaqa village on the way, so here are some photos. Talei was the boat girl in one of the photos - it's school holidays now.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Eco-friendly cane farming?

from w
Is it possible to have eco-friendly cane farming. Well, they are trying in Labasa. Here's Kate's view on things there.
from Fiji Times today:
Sights on a green future
Kate Findlay
Tuesday, December 13, 2011

WALKING though the fields of a Waiqele sector farm, Shambu Lal the manager is impressed with the results of the Labasa Cane Producers Association's new push towards green sugar.

In a flurry of press, the association signed an agreement with WWF committing to collaborate towards the goal of growing more sustainable, eco-friendly sugar. The association was the first in Fiji to become Fairtrade certified: a hard-earned achievement other producers are still working toward that will see continuing improvement for farmers lives and the environment.

Back home in the UK and in North America, the Fairtrade symbol is a household brand, a big deal. At the other end of the spectrum from the producers, whole universities, towns, and cities are becoming Fairtrade certified, meaning all the produce possible: from sugar and bananas to cocoa and coffee are sourced from producers like the Labasa Cane Producers Association who give workers a fair wage and strive to work in harmony with the environment.

It's gratifying to see the extra money people spend back home translates to a premium here, which finances projects like the one I see now. Back on the Waiqele farm, WWF's sugar man Ryan Collins guides us through the plantation to where it meets the Wailevu River.

The river flows directly onto the Great Sea Reef, a globally important reef for its turtles, dolphins, sharks and rays and the third longest reef in the southern hemisphere. Protecting the biodiversity of the Great Sea Reef is the reason WWF are in Fiji, even though we seem to be the only people who know it exists.

Pollution from sugarcane farms can damage the reef; particles of loose soil can wash off farms smothering the kaleidoscopic of coral beneath, as can algal blooms caused by fertilisation runoff.

The good news is that solutions are simple and low-cost: for one terracing or contouring the gradient of the slope prevents topsoil getting lost, and soil-sampling to determine which blend of fertiliser is required not only saves money on their purchase but improves yields.

Trash-mulching' is another technique, where instead of burning the parts of the plants which remain after harvesting, they are used to line the fields, acting both as natural fertiliser and weed-controlling agent that prevents soil erosion.

Just watching the labourers on the farm harvesting cane is tiring, and once again we set off on our merry way.

* Kate Findlay is a staff member of WWF South Pacific Program's communications department. Email:

Another tour group to Labasa

from w
It does surprise me that tourist boats come to Labasa but hopefully there'll be more than the shops to interest them. There's potential for tourist sites but most of them haven't been set up for the comfort of visitors. One is the Wasavulu stones but there needs to be a signifying marker to explain the stories. Tourists don't want a repetition of just shopping do they? They want something to remember. Anyway the Labasa journo has been busy writing up about the visit. I think Naduri is too far from Malau. A better idea would be short boat ride to Vorovoro Island. And rather than the Sugar mill, why not a visit to a working cane-farm with a cup of lemon-leaf tea and gulagulas?

Chief's home a possible tour site
Maneesha Karan
Monday, December 12, 2011

MORE sites have been identified by the Labasa and Macuata Tourism Association for tourism development. Among the potential sites are the home village of the Tui Macuata at Naduri, says association president Paul Jaduram. "We are looking at developing historical sites in the province which can benefit the tourism sector," he said. "One of the sites identified for development is the village of the Tui Macuata because it is the home of one of our leaders."

Mr Jaduram said other sites planned for development include the Three Sisters Mountain at Batinikama. "These three mountains are very popular and they also have a cave and a Fijian myth behind it which makes the site captivating for tourists and sightseers. We are working with the Native Land Trust Board and the government to develop this mountain site and we plan to build some bure at the foot of the hill for visitor use."

Another site being eyed for development is the Waiqele hot springs.

"We need to create many more sites to attract tourists - it will create a sense of adventure and thrill for visitors," he said.

Survey to uplift tourism activity in the North
Maneesha Karan
Monday, December 12, 2011

AN academic has shown interest in boosting the tourism industry in the Northern Division by carrying out a survey of tourists visiting Labasa. The survey is being conducted by the USP's School of Tourism and Hospitality Management lecturer Dr Stephen Pratt, who was among the members of Labasa and Macuata Tourism Association to welcome tourists from Captain Cook Cruises at Malau on Friday.

Dr Pratt said the survey was a measure undertaken by the USP to help the various economies in Fiji. "USP is trying to help local economies by providing its expertise and through education," he said. "Labasa has lots of tourism resources and this place has a lot of potential to grow and expand in terms of tourism. We would not like to just participate in the tourism activities but also help develop and expand it in the North."

A questionnaire will be distributed to tourists on Captain Cook Cruises, which they would be expected to fill out during their tour of the North and have it returned to Dr Pratt. The data from the questionnaire will then be analysed and results distributed to the Labasa and Macuata Tourism Association.

"The survey would help ensure tourists to the North get an authentic and enjoyable trip of the North," said Dr Pratt.

Association president Paul Jaduram applauded the academic's interest.

Friday, December 09, 2011

Weather station Labasa

from Peceli
I wanted to see for myself the new weather station up on the Vatudamu hill overlooking the sea so we came up here and took a couple of photos. Meanwhile I am enjoying being with the village families at Vatuadova.

Thursday, December 08, 2011

wedding in Labasa

from Peceli,
The wedding in Wailevu village was very fine. Samisoni is from Bameti's Wailevu clan and the bride came from a village in Cakaudrove. The other photo is of the children of Vatuadova who sang songs for me and we gave them biscuits and chocolates! School has broken up now for the year so the children are playing. I'm getting back into the rhythm of Fijian village life with visitors, functions, parties going on for the Christmas season. God blesses us indeed.