Sunday, March 31, 2013

A funeral in Nakawaqa village

from w
Peceli is over in Labasa at present and within two weeks there have been three bereavements so it's a holiday filled with commitments to the close and extended Fiji family.  These photos are of Degei's funeral at Nakawaqa village, Mali Island. The Ratawa family from Vatuadova village had to travel to Malau landing then go by outboard boats to the village where the funeral proceedings took place over a few days of rain. Two cows, gifts to feed the visitors, had to be towed from Malau to Sigawe then walked to Nakawaqa. Did they actually have to swim for fiteen minutes, I wonder. Anyway the ceremonies are over but the sadness continues as Degei, the husband of Ulamila, Peceli's daughter, was much loved, a generous, gentle, gifted man whose talents were in turtle fishing until Ulamila developed her sugar-cane, and they became the focus for development in the village. Degei was 53 and died from a serious illness. Our prayers are especially with Ulamila and their children Talei and Eroni.


Saturday, March 30, 2013

Easter Day

from w
Pacific Islanders in Australia still maintain their traditions of taking Holy Week and Easter seriously. Our local church in Geelong has a Tongan minister, the Rev Ikani Vaitohi and he and his family are much loved by the church community here. And our Fiji family and others belong also to East Geelong Uniting Church. Today we had a dawn service at Limeburners Point, Geelong, and it was a cold morning at 7 we had to rug up. The sun didn't shine until we reached the church for breakfast time. Later we joined with Leopold Uniting Church for a 10 a.m. inspirational service and then lunch. We sang Happy Birthday to our Andrew who turned 14 today and to Jhaih who will be 16 in a couple of days. A fine way to celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

CCF are quick off the mark

from w
While ordinary Fiji people out in the rural areas haven't a hope of reading, digesting, making an analysis and comments on the new proposed constitution of Fiji,  the CCF have been quick off the mark and have made a good attempt at analysis and criticism.
Go to

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Uniting Church of Oz joins Pacific Conference of Churches

from w
I received a message from Rev Dr Jovili Meo in Sydney to say that the Australian Uniting Church is now a member of the Pacific Conference of Churches. Perhaps reps from Australia were observers before. This to me seems a good move as long as the reps don't try to be 'big brother' and overpower the small Pacific churches with their viewpoints, as it seems to be the way in the South Pacific Forum type of bodies.

Uniting Church in Australia joins Pacific Conference of Churches

The Uniting Church in Australia has expressed gratitude to Pacific Churches for the decision of the Pacific Conference of Churches (PCC) to admit the Uniting Church as a member.
The Church’s application for full membership was considered by the 10th PCC General Assembly, which took place in Honiara in the Solomon Islands from 3-10 March 2013.
“This is an important and welcome affirmation of the Uniting Church’s desire to contribute to regional unity in the Pacific,” said senior UCA Pacific church leader Mrs Lisa Meo after the General Assembly announced its decision.
In its application for membership, the Uniting Church frankly acknowledged its part in and the part its predecessors played in the history of colonialism.
"Membership of the Conference helps us see where we belong and with whom we belong. It affirms that we are a Church of the South, joining with others to resist powers that demean people and damage the environment across our region. We have much to learn about how to follow Christ in our context and membership offers us more ways we can learn from others," said Rev. Dr Kerry Enright of UnitingWorld, the Uniting Church's agency for international church partnerships.
The Uniting Church’s application also committed to building on existing strong ties between Pacific and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander congregations.
One of the leaders of the Uniting Church delegation in Honiara Rev. Rronang Garrawurra said he looked forward to building on a deep shared history. 
"We feel that as first peoples we can achieve more by working together than by getting help from second peoples.  Membership is a form of indigenous solidarity," said Rev. Garrawurra, who is the Chair of the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress.
 “Self-determination must be rooted in the empowerment of the people. To be self-determining in regard to their identity, they must, as a consequence, be grounded in God and the land as those created in the image of God.”
"Many Pacific people who came to Australia over the years were incorporated into Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island communities, while Pacific church people have often served and continue to serve in Aboriginal communities."
The Uniting Church's application undertook to ensure that Pacific and indigenous communities in Australia within the Uniting Church will take a leadership role in the Church's future interactions with the PCC.
The President of the Uniting Church Assembly Rev. Professor Andrew Dutney thanked PCC members for their favourable consideration.
"Our PCC membership is a re-commitment to the founding belief of our Church that we 'are called on to bear witness to a unity of faith and a life in Christ which transcends cultural and, national and racial boundaries'.”
"It will also help us become better and more responsive church partners," said Rev. Prof Dutney.
25 March 2013

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Palm Sunday in Fiji and Australia

from w
It's customary in Fiji for the day of Palm Sunday to be a special day for children of the Methodist church to lead the church services and it's called Children's Sunday.  In Labasa this year one family has made a special cake for the day so here's a photo of Peceli, who is in Labasa at present, admiring the cake - before breakfast, so I hope the cake can stay intact until lunch time for the children to share. And throughout Fiji children dress neatly and in unison to lead the church services.

Meanwhile in Australia it's dramas and joyful singing as in the East Geelong Uniting Church where our family go each Sunday.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

No Constituent Assembly re the draft Constitution

from w

No Constituent Assembly and a hurry up for discussion – a speech on Fiji’s radio last night indicated that instead of an Assembly as planned, there will be opportunities for comment and questions in various meets throughout Fiji.   But very little time to ponder the implications.

From Fijilive

Draft constitution out, but no assembly: PM March 21, 2013 06:32:39

Fiji’s draft constitution has been released but there will be no Constituent Assembly to discuss and pass the document as initially planned. Instead, members of the public will deliberate and decide on the final constitution. Fiji’s Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama said the decision to do away with the Constituent Assembly stem from the “lack of commitment by the political parties to  register  under  the  requirements  of  the  law.” “There are allegations of   fraud andimpersonation.  This  does  not  provide  a  conducive  climate  to  hold  the  Constituent   Assembly.  We cannot be delayed  by  such  circumstances,” Bainimarama said. “Racism and corruption cannot form the basis of a new beginning for our beloved country.” He said the decision will also ensure the country keeps to the timeline set to ensure elections are held by September 2014. The draft constitution is ready and is available to the general public via the media and government websites. Members of the public are advised that they have till 5 April for their thoughts and recommendations on the draft constitution. “In  assessing  the  draft,  please  understand  that  it  has  been  put  together  by incorporating  the  positive   aspects   of   the   Ghai   draft,   and   with   the   view   to   withstand   the   test   of   time.  Constitutional,  political  and  economic  stability  is  critical  to  create  a  prosperous  Fiji,” he added. 

Read more at:
Copyright 2013 ©

The text of this new draft constitution can be found on the Fijilive site as or on the Fiji Government website though I got a warning that this file might harm my computer.
Two parts I think are of interest;
One is about immunity  which is controversial , the other is about Fiji as a secular State.

Secular State

4.––(1) Religious liberty, as recognised in the Bill of Rights, is a founding principle of the
(2) Religious belief is personal.
(3) Religion and the State are separate, which means––
(a) the State and all persons holding a public office must treat all religions equally;
(b) the State and all persons holding a public office must not dictate any religious
(c) the State and all persons holding a public office must not prefer or advance, by
any means, any particular religion, religious denomination, religious belief, or
religious practice over another, or over any non-religious belief; and
(d) no person shall assert any religious belief as a legal reason to disregard this
Constitution or any other law..

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

women in Labasa

from w
Though the women of Suva were not allowed to have their march a week ago, the women in Labasa are allowed to. Why the difference?  And they did it again, this time in honour of a guest, Dr Jiko, from the government. Yes, the women are speaking up these days against violence and gender issues. Of course Macuata has always had many strong women.  Story from Fiji Times.

Women march, again

Wednesday, March 20, 2013
Update: 9:56AM WOMEN of Macuata marched through Labasa Town this morning to celebrate International Women's Day - for the second time.
Led by popular school band of Nabala Secondary School and accompanied by Minister for Women Doctor Jiko Luveni, more than 300 women marched through town and danced and cheered to the tune of the band.
Most of these women celebrated International Women's Day on March 8 but decided to repeat celebrations in a bigger way because of a visit by Dr Luveni.
The civic centre building is also packed with women displaying and selling their handicraft items at stalls provided.
Celebrations will be held throughout the day.
And also Dr Jiko brings gifts to the women of Macuata.  Story from Fiji Village.
100 women given sewing machines
Publish date/time: 20/03/2013 [15:06]
A 56 year old woman of Macuata is looking forward to lifting her standard of living by earning some money for her family.

Samanunu Katonivere of Naduri Macuata is amongst the 100 women groups who were given around 230 sewing machines by the Social Welfare, Women and Poverty alleviation Ministry today.

Katonivere said she is looking forward to making money by selling the clothes that she will sew.

She said similarly many women in her area survived by selling coconut baskets and handicrafts for a long time but it was not enough for survival.

However, she said things will change now.

Meanwhile, the Minister for Women, Dr Jiko Luveni will be touring Savusavu tomorrow and meet up with women’s group there.

Story by:
 Khusboo Singh

Monday, March 18, 2013

Fuss over a new plane for Fiji

from w
Looks like the new Air Pacific plane is showing off to all and sundry by flying around Fiji to a bit of hoopla, even flying over Labasa town.  It's to be called the Island of Taveuni which is nice.  We always liked to fly in the one named after Vanua Levu of course. One of the most beautiful of flowers comes from Taveuni, the tagimoucia red and white flower on a creeper and there's a song about it. Go to to hear the Kadavu choir sing it. Taveuni Island is a very beautiful island, one of my favourite places in Fiji.

North overfly

Tuesday, March 19, 2013
Update: 10:45PM EXCITEMENT filled the air as workers, students and shoppers ran out of their offices and schools to wave at the new Airbus that flew over Labasa Town at 10:45am.
While some stood on the ground and waved up at the plane, some workers stood on the rooftop and took pictures.
The Airbus 330-200 flew into Labasa from the mountain range near Mali Island and made a round over Labasa Town.
It flew towards Waiqele and turned back to town much to the excitement of the Labasa residents before it headed to the West.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Best wishes to our Catholic friends in Fiji and elsewhere

from w
The Spirit, well she won this time, over the machinations and musical chairs of the cardinals. A Jesuit - good, a man who wears just white for his introduction - good, knows the Third World - good, chooses the name Francis - good.

ARGENTINIAN Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio has been elected the new Pope. He will be known as Pope Francis the First.  Pope Francis is 76. He is the first Jesuit to be elected Pope and the first to hail from Latin America. He is the first non-European pontiff in 1000 years.Bells rang across St Peter's Square this morning as white smoke billowed from atop the Sistine Chapel signaling the Catholic Church and its 1.2 billion followers had a new pope.

Read more:

Saturday, March 09, 2013

A Fijian Twenty-first birthday

from w
Last night we had a wonderful party here in our home and back yard for Epa (Abraham) who celebrated his twenty-first birthday. About sixty people gathered - from rugby clubs, workmates, family friends, church, Fiji Geelong Friendship Club for a lovo dinner. The teenage boys Jordan, Andrew and Jhiah looked after the music and there was even a small swimming pool to cool off as the weather here in Geelong has been so very hot for over a week. Anyway it was a balmy tropical night and we had a good time, I think some still celebrating at 5 a.m. today! It's good to keep up some Fijian traditions even for the Fiji diaspora people like our extended family.