Monday, March 26, 2012

Canterbury Fijian Church

from w
Peceli and I spent most of Sunday at the Canterbury Uniting Church in Sydney. (We went up there by plane for a family wedding on the Saturday.) Canterbury is a Fijian congregation with four or five other church communities as part of the parish. The morning worship was at 10.30 and at 4p.m. the three vanua groups gathered for second services scattered around the church compound. So there was opportunity for talking with old friends and making new friends, kava drinking (which was tabu for a while) and delicious meals of Island food. They have built a new hall which is very fine and useful. I went out with the Sunday School teenagers rather than listen to a sermon! They have a beaut big Sunday school with many older students. As next Sunday is Palm Sunday and in the Fijian custom - Children's Sunday, four girls were practicing their sermons under the tutoring of a fine young teacher. It was a lovely day for Peceli to meet up with friends, and I even met up with an old Lelean student. Now if he is now 67, what does that make me feel? Canterbury has one of the best Fijian choirs I have ever heard and they must miss their annual trips to Fiji conferences. Let's hope there'll be one next August. Vina'a va'alevu to our friends- old and new - at Canterbury, for the lovely time together. Praise God that we can use our own languages, customary ways, and music in our migrant community churches.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

An Oz wedding

from w
Peceli and I attended a beautiful wedding of our nephew Alex and his bride Laura, in a delightful rural setting past St Alban's two hours and more out of Sydney. We drove by rental car after flying from Avalan by Jetstar to Sydney, and had to cross one river by ferry. As driving through Sydney suburbs is chaotic with many twists and turns and choosing the right lanes, Bibi, our Fijian nephew, came to our resuce and was navigator for half the journey. Vina'a va'alevu Bib. More news later as we are on the internet at a hotel this morning! We plan to attend the Canterbury Fijian Uniting Church later this morning.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

New Foreign Affairs man from Canberra

from w
Bob Carr sounds very promising, a man of intelligence, humanity, and experience. I hope he can deal well with Fiji in the future. Here is an article from today's Age with a summary of his maiden speech in the Australian Parliament. His idea of 'an overlap of cultures' as a way of life where there is respect despite difference, many cultures and religions side by side without exaggeration is very fair.

History exhibits possibilities of tolerance and respect
Bob Carr
March 22, 2012

We can aim for an overlap of cultures rather than a clash of civilisations.

LAST month, US soldiers burned copies of the Koran at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan. Days later, young people destroyed 238 war graves in Benghazi, Libya.

Intentional insult or error of judgment, such acts can look like cultures at war, as did the Taliban when it dynamited the Buddhas of Bamiyan, carved in stone 15 centuries ago.

At such times, people might believe we are being tugged towards the nightmare that American writer Samuel Huntington predicted in his 1996 book, The Clash of Civilizations.

And yet … I remember King Abdullah of Jordan saying in a speech at Davos: ''Let us avert the clash of civilisations, and help the overlap of cultures.''

An overlap - the idea is inspiring, especially compared with the alternative notion of monochrome monoliths burning one another's books and smashing their statues.

There have been, in the world's history, some very fine cultures of tolerance.

In southern Spain in medieval times, Muslims, Christians and Jews lived and worked together in the polity known as al-Andalus.

As Maria Rosa Menocal wrote in The Ornament of the World, it was a society that had the courage to ''live with its own flagrant contradictions''.

I've sometimes asked Chinese leaders as we've talked over dinner, ''What was your favourite dynasty?''

In my experience, the Chinese usually nominate the Tang, ruling between 618 and 907. It was the time, according to one of my interlocutors, ''when China opened to the world and the world opened to China''.

Its sometime capital was Xi'an, a walled city of a million people with mosques and churches and Buddhist monasteries, where ancient texts from India were being translated into Chinese. Persian princes in exile made it their home.

The grid-like streets were thronged with tradesmen, horsemen, acrobats and musicians who had travelled from central Asia along the Silk Route. It was cosmopolitan. The empire was full of foreigners learning from Chinese civilisation.

Sydney businessman John Azarias recently wrote an account of Greek-Alexandrian poet Constantine Cavafy, whose ''constant companions of the mind were the multi-ethnic worlds of the Seleucids, of the Ptolemies, of Byzantium and of the Ottomans''.

Again, the culture was untidy, contradictory, pluralistic - not a culture demanding conformity to a single religion or language.

Surely rich enough to fit King Abdullah's ideal of ''an overlap of cultures''. As I heard Bill Clinton say once: ''Our differences make us interesting. Our common humanity is more important.''

What can we Australians do to steer the world away from Koran burnings and the bombing of Buddhas and towards peaceful overlap and pluralism?

We can make sure that our multicultural society continues to tick over. There is no need to fetishise multiculturalism … but simply to relax into our easy-going Australian ethnic and cultural diversity, based on tolerance and respect.

We can enhance our work in the region for interfaith dialogue. We can work with Indonesia, home to the world's largest Muslim community, which continues to spurn extremism. As Burma democratises we will give it aid to educate and feed its children. We will encourage it to resolve complex internal conflicts and to entrench human rights. But we will also encourage it to value the evidence of its pluralistic past - like the precinct in Rangoon that includes a synagogue created by Jews from Iraq in the 1890s sitting next door to a 1914 Sunni madrasah which, in turn faces a Hindu temple and a Hokkien temple, with Methodist, Catholic and Anglican churches all nearby.

Running foreign policy is not just about protecting our national interest.

It is also being an exemplary global citizen when it comes to protecting human rights and the world's oceans.

We can also promote and defend cultural diversity, the idea of a planet of 7 billion that celebrates and does not deny its contradictions.

This is an edited text of Senator Bob Carr's maiden speech yesterday.

Read more:

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Micro managing our lives

from w
It seems that these days the Labasa people are being instructed in all sorts of things by the local police. Gossiping is a crime. Leaving children home alone is a crime. And now we are told that it is not the job of schools to teach manners, but parents. Okay it's primarily a parenting role to instill into children good manners, excellent behaviour, ethics and a knowledge of right and wrong, or good, better and best. But to say that schools are only about academic achievement is incorrect. Teachers surely incorporate ethics and the desire for behaviour into their class management and in use of computers, books, sharing resources, respect for adults and fellow students and also in the way the play sport, the way they behave in the buses and so on. I do agree though that there are times when parents do put priorities a bit askew - running errands by the children is considered more important than doing homework, choir practice comes before talking with your teenagers about how they feel about life etc.

From the Fiji media I read this:

Better parents and teachers
Fred Wesley
Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Villagers of Naqai outside Labasa Town were given an important message late last week.

They were told teachers are not responsible for imparting ethical behaviour and discipline to children. That responsibility, they were reminded, fell on the shoulders of parents.

It was all part of a residential community policing program by police in the northern division.

The school, they were told, was not an institution for imparting ethical behaviour, proper manners and conduct but instead it was only meant for preparing children to be academically stable.

Under the new Crimes Decree, they were reminded that parents could be charged with negligence if children complained about being left home alone.

Villagers were told some children did not perform well at school because of parental negligence. They were told that some parents had developed a habit of leaving their children alone at home.

In another part of Labasa, financial constraint was cited as a major cause for children drop-outs.

Fiji Teachers Union general secretary Agni Deo Singh said studies revealed that 48 per cent of students did not complete high school education while 2 per cent failed to reach Class Six. He was speaking at the opening of the new FTU office in Labasa at the weekend.

Students living in rural areas, villages, and outer islands, he said, usually dropped out because of a lack of financial support.

The two issues share one common factor. They both affect our children and how we educate them.

Obviously there will be differing views on the importance of parental guidance and lessons learnt from teachers.

It is not hard though to accept that both can play important roles in nurturing children.

While parents have a responsibility to provide the basic necessities for children, there's no doubt about the fact that a great teacher can make a difference in a student's achievements. It thus important that we recruit, train and reward such teachers.

The bottom line is we need better parents.

Parents who are focused on their children's education can also make a difference.

Ideally, as parents, we should be monitoring homework; making sure children get to school; rewarding their efforts and talking up the idea of furthering their education. Let us, as parents, get involved with our children's learning.

Better parents can help make teachers more effective. Better parents will also set priorities that place their children on a very high pedestal.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Vatuadova church plan

from w
Our village near Labasa has a new project - a new church. The first church was built about twelve years ago and it is now too small for the number of people coming to worship - some come out from Labasa. Vatuadova village started as two houses way back in about 1967 and is the extended family of the Ratawas with very good houses and cane farms. Vina'a va'alevu Epi Dakai, Ateca, Mila, Degei and others and to those who are hardworking with the new project. When Dakai talks about 'children abroad' this is a bit a hint isn't it for us guys in Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, England and elsewhere! The Fiji Times wrote up this story. A nice positive story amidst some of the disquiet of other news of the day.

Villagers build house of worship
Salaseini Vosamana
Saturday, March 17, 2012

Vatudova church building committee chairman Waisele Tuidama marks the construction of the new village church by laying the foundation of the building. Picture: SALASEINI VOSAMANA

VILLAGERS of Vatudova outside Labasa Town will soon serve God in a composed environment following the groundbreaking ceremony of their new church building yesterday. The villagers decided to embark on the $120,000 project because the existing building could not cater for the increasing congregation.

Vatudova church building committee chairman Waisele Tuidama said the villagers had put aside part of their money received from lease payments for the new building.

"The villagers have taken a strong stand to put aside some funds from lease payments for the project," Mr Tuidama said. "The existing building is always full every Sunday because those people in nearby villages and settlements usually attend the service. Construction work started last week and we are expecting to complete the project in six months time," he said.

Mr Tuidama said the villagers, who were from the mataqali Nadogo in Wailevu, had made it an effort to contribute part of their income towards the development of their church.

Mataqali head Epi Ratawa said the project was a major investment. "It has become a norm for us to contribute one tenth of our income to the Lord because we believe it will spawn more blessings for us," Mr Ratawa said. "This project is a major investment we are working on this year and our children who have resided in other parts of Fiji and abroad have significantly contributed funds. We will not grow weary in trying to create a better house of worship because whatever we are doing will be rewarded one day," he said.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

When is chatting gossiping?

from w
What will they think about next? Who is going to listen in to the conversation of a group of women at the marketplace? Since when has gossiping/talanoa/yarning/telling stories about people been a crime? Sobosobo! Talking is what we women do!

Gossiping is a crime
Salaseini Vosamana
Friday, March 16, 2012
A GROUP of women vendors in Labasa were yesterday told to refrain from gossiping because it was against the law. Organised by the community policing officers in the north, the short discussion was aimed at bringing women together to inform them about the new Crimes Decree associated with women issues.

In her formal address, police constable Mere Mocetoka told the women that anyone was liable to spend one year in prison if found gossiping or making bad remarks about another person.

"Every day, new faces visit the market and women are fond of sitting together in groups to make gestures and gossip about them," Constable Mocetoka said.

"It's an attitude we have grown up with but it is something the law recognises as illegal. Gossiping is a contributing factor to fights and hatred among one another, which is something very common in women," she said.

Constable Mocetoka said they decided to organise the brief discussion because they received complaints of gossiping from women last week.

"We have been receiving complaints since last week and the best way to solve this problem is by telling them (women) the penalties they are likely to face when they are charged.

"Nowadays, an old woman can be sent to prison if she is found gossiping.

"The law won't entertain such unsuitable behaviour," she said.

The women thanked the force for informing them about the new Crimes Decree, something they were not aware of.
And also here's an article from the internet - that gossip is good for women!
Gossiping is healthy?
June 7th, 2011 | Author: admin

Gossiping ?!!.spontanously commented about someone else looks, friend’s affair, what and why someone doing or not doing are common behaviour isn’t it?!, particularly among women. Talking and laughing about beauty, men, fashion even watching tv gossip seems fun indeed, not surprisingly many women can stand gossiping for hours.
Is gossiping have benefits? Even healthy?.

Based on researches lead by Prof. Stephanie Brown from university of Michigan, shows that gossiping activity which always associated with women, is good for their health. Wow, come?!. Stephanie and collegues explained that women tends to feel much eager and happier when they enjoy gossiping with their friends. Those actifivity can reduces stress, anxiety and worries. Gossiping can improve progesterone hormone. This hormone has significant role for women. Its affecting ability to interact with peoples. Research shows that women with less-gossiping activity experiences decreasing progesterone hormone. On the other hand, women with high-gossiping activity will be much happier, flexible, healthy and live longer.

Why women are gossiping?

Curiousity. People particularly women easyly curious about other people’s affair.

Women has need for sharing every informations about their daily lifes.

Women seeing gossiping as a media to seek informations around her.

Women loves a detail information about anything than men.

Some study shows that women more confidence to talking about something than men.

A study shows that women has powerful capability to spread information than men.
Most women liking and enjoying talking than men.

Women more expressive than men to talk or exposing about something than men.

Talking, and then go on to gossiping isn’t easily thing to avoid.

People or most women tends to easily interested, sensitive and focused on negative informations.

Surprisingly, human brain have strong capability to catch and remind negative than neutral or positive information.

Study shows that people having tendency to talking, gossiping, or even judging others.
Advantages of gossiping

A scientist Robin Dunbar from Oxford university says that gossiping isn’t always bad thing, it can be a media to collect unity among people.

Researcher Eliza Bliss-Moreau says that by gossiping, we can learn and stay away from any bad thing that people we are talked about. Its mean we can learn from bad examples.

Even gossing has positive effect, it doesn’t mean gossiping turned to a bad habit. So, go gossiping girl!,..but control it ok, don’t let it ruining our daily life by gossiping time to time and forgetting any others that is more important. Do you agreed ?..

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Sea levels rising at Kiribati

from w
At first it seemed that the people of Kiribati want to move to Fiji, but no, the proposed purchase of land at Savusavu is for investment purposes they say. Good idea anyway, as we do feel pity for the people of Kiribati and also Tuvalu are having trouble with the sea rising and they eventually will have to move away from their islands.

Church offers land for Kiribati
Serelisoni Moceica
Wednesday, March 14, 2012
MORE than 5000 acres of land in Savusavu has been offered by the Anglican Church to the Kiribati government for investment.The freehold land that belongs to the church group costs more than $16 million.

The comment was made yesterday by the Kiribati High Commissioner to Fiji, Reteta Rimon, as she confirmed reports that the land sought by Kiribati was for investment and development purposes and not for relocation as reported in the media.

"There are plans to purchase this land and the church group has offered us this piece of land, which the Kiribati government seeks to use for investment like agricultural purposes," Ms Rimona said.

She says the agricultural purpose is to address matters like food security that is being threatened because of the effects of climate change in their island homes.

"This is a Kiribati government initiative and has been approved by Cabinet," Ms Rimon said. The Kiribati ambassador said the plans were yet to be endorsed by the Kiribati parliament. "The idea is supported by government and all that is left is the parliament's endorsement, the parliament is sitting in April," Ms Rimon said.

She said talks with the Anglican Church was still in progress. The church's Trust Fund will comment once talks have been finalised.

Kiribati, which straddles the equator near the international date line, has found itself at the leading edge of the debate on climate change because many of its atolls rise just a few feet above sea level.

Monday, March 12, 2012

There's usually a catch

from w
An article in Saturday's Fiji Times sounded an excellent opportunity for people who have been paying off their mortgages for years and years to the Fiji Housing Authority to be pardoned and get the debt paid off. Some have paid more than twice the original cost over the years. It seemed a good idea to investigate if it helps people in villages with several houses purchased through the Fiji Housing Authority. Okay, a family member checked it out and it's only for individuals and not for houses bought communally by a clan. Now that does seem unfair and favours only certain home-buyers and not others. There's usually a catch to 'good news' stories in Fiji isn't there!

Here's the story:

Home assistance
Elenoa Baselala
Saturday, March 10, 2012

A $2million government assistance will see at least 300 customers of Housing Authority having their debts partially or completely written off.

And yesterday, one of the 300, Navosai resident Peni Waqaimoala was still reeling from the news of his windfall. "I have no words to describe how I fell, I had the best night of sleep in ages," Mr Waqaimoala said. "I am thankful to the government and Housing Authority for having the vision of providing assistance to people like my family."

Yesterday, HA confirmed that the first 16 homeowners who have qualified for the scheme would have received their letters this week. "In this instance, we are extending the social housing policy to assist more homeowners by considering those who have paid over two times the principal loan amount, are retired and can prove genuine financial difficulties in repaying their home loans," Housing Authority chief executive Alipate Naiorosui said.

"The assistance under the social housing policy is in line with the announcement by the Prime Minister in January, 2011 to ensure that all Fijians have access to decent and affordable housing by 2020, which saw 92 families having their home loan accounts completely written off.

"Initially under the policy, homeowners who had paid over two and a half times the principal loan amount, are retired and or who are facing genuine financial difficulties were considered for full or partial write off", he said.

HA spokesman Dwain Qalovaki said if existing Housing Authority homeowners were facing genuine financial difficulty, they were requested to contact HA to see if they qualified under the policy.

"In special cases where the homeowners are temporarily facing financial difficulties, we are able to facilitate freezing of interest charges to their home loan account. The financial assistance to the 16 homeowners this month totals over $200,000 of both government grant and HA provisions. Housing Authority is expected to assist more homeowners in the coming months by providing full or partial write offs," Mr Qalovaki said.

The main objective of the policy is to encourage home retention and ownership.

Thursday, March 01, 2012

Oz new Foreign Affairs minister

from w
Bob Carr apparently relented and decided to take up a Senate position and the Foreign Affairs role after Rudd moved to the back bench. A good man, smart and popular I think, so I wonder what will be his relation to the people of the Pacific Islands, especially Fiji.

Former premier was ready to take the stage

March 1, 2012

If Bob Carr had become foreign minister he'd have brought to the job extensive contacts, very firm views, and an activist approach to Australia's diplomacy. Carr would have been determined to make a splash, both in the Senate and on the world stage.

According to those with whom he has shared his views, he would have very likely closed down the Australian drive to get a seat on the UN Security Council.

The expansion of Australian activities in Africa would have been reviewed in favour of more representation in Chinese and Indian cities and the Gulf area.

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And the government would have been looking carefully at its guiding principles for dealing with the US-China competition in the Asia-Pacific region.

Carr knows personally a dozen members of the US Senate, and calls Henry Kissinger a friend. He has spoken to many in the Chinese leadership and is at home talking about Chinese dynastic history.

As he settled into the job, one of his first tasks would have been to consult those who had earlier run foreign policy, including former prime ministers Bob Hawke, Paul Keating and John Howard, and former foreign ministers Gareth Evans, Alexander Downer and Kevin Rudd.

In the Senate, the theatrical Carr style might have attracted a few more journalists to tune into the upper house's question time.

Although the NSW ALP and, it seems, the PM, were attracted to the radical idea of the Carr experiment, Stephen Smith and presumably some others were not. Smith had had to stand aside when Rudd demanded the foreign affairs job.

Read more:
and more recently
from ABC
Carr rejects talk of softening Fiji stance
By New Zealand correspondent Dominique Schwartz

Posted March 09, 2012 20:26:46

Foreign minister designate Bob Carr has rejected media reports that he is planning to soften Australia's hard stance against Fiji.Mr Carr was speaking in Auckland after holding informal talks with his New Zealand counterpart Murray McCully. Mr Carr said he had noted Friday's announcement by Fiji's military leader Frank Bainimarama about planned public consultation over a new constitution.

Both Mr Carr and Mr McCully greeted the announcement with caution and said time would tell if the Fiji's rulers were truly moving towards democratic elections. The former New South Wales premier also says he will be seeking more information from the ACTU about the human rights situation for workers in Fiji. Mr Carr says he wants to further investigate claims that any union official who speaks out against the interim government still risks life imprisonment.

"Certainly one of the tests we'd consider in the future is the right of organisation in the workplace," he said. "That's a fundamental human right. I'd expect to have more conversations with unionists, in particular the ACTU."

Mr Carr said his hour-long discussion with Mr McCully about the region was wide-ranging and helpful. He will meet prime minister John Key on Saturday morning.

It is his first overseas trip since being named the replacement for Kevin Rudd. He is due to be sworn in as a senator and foreign minister on Tuesday.