Saturday, April 27, 2013

Tui Macuata laid to rest

The Fiji media and facebook have many stories about the funeral of the Tui Macuata, photos here are mainly from a Government site in facebook and from Rev Vula (who resides in Malake Island as a minister) who is from Mali, who went to the funeral.  Our family was represented by some of the women of Vatuadova.  I think many people took photos, discreetly I hope, on their phones or wtih cameras. There were up to two thousand people to be fed after the funeral so that was a huge task and for once it was correct to catch turtles for the chiefly occasion, though it was taboo at all other times.

From Fiji Sun

Ratu Aisea rests at their sautabu

By Siteri Taleitaki
The late Tui Macuata, Ratu Aisea Cavunailoa Katonivere, was finally laid to rest at the sautabu; the chiefly burial ground in Naduri Village yesterday.
As his casket made its way into the sautabu, the tikina ‘o Sasa was ready to bury their chief. The burial of the chief of Caumatalevu is the traditional responsibility of the Taukei Vuniwesi of Sasa Village.
Boundaries were placed around the burial grounds, as instructions for visitors and the people that it was a tabu to move closer to the Sautabu.
Speaking to Fiji Sun Adi Naomi Qiokalou, a representative of the Tikina o Sasa, said they were proud to prepare the final resting place of their late chief, the Tui Macuata.
Adi Qiokalou says it is their traditional role to prepare the burial ground of the chief of Caumatalevu. The tikina ‘o Sasa remained at the chiefly burial ground until the late Tui Macuata was buried.
Adi Qiokalou was grateful for the tremendous support and said: “Turaga Tui Macuata, Taukei kei Bolatagane rest in peace.”

Friday, April 26, 2013

Tui Macuata going home

from w
Isa, the journey back to Naduri from Labasa meant that the Tui Macuata is going home, ready for the huge day tomorrow of his funeral.  There was evidence of great respect by the people of Labasa - offices and shops were closed for a period and many people lined the streets by sitting on the ground as the decorated truck went by.  It is a reflection of the good will of of babasiga people towards the chief of Macuata.

Chiefly cortege heads home
Friday, April 26, 2013

Update: 3:25PM HEADS bowed, tears flowing, the people of Labasa paid their last respects as the funeral cortege of the late Tui Macuata, Ratu Aisea Katonivere, left Labasa Town for the chiefly village of Naduri this afternoon.
Traditional warriors escorted the body to the village. 
The vanua of Labasa led the funeral cortege.
Draped in fine masi, the truck carrying the chiefly body slowly made its way to the village, from where the late chief left last week on that fateful fishing trip.
Students lined the route from the Labasa Hospital Road and the town, draped in black, came to a standstill as thousands paid their respects.

Labasa at a standstill for Ratu Aisea

Friday, April 26, 2013

Update: 2:59PM STUDENTS at Labasa Primary School lined the Labasa Hospital Road with government officials for their last respects to the Tui Macuata, Ratu Aisea Katonivere.
Girls sat on crossed legs as a sign of respect beside the roadside as traditional escorts prepare to take his body to Naduri Village.
Labasa's main street sidewalk was filled with townspeople who are waiting to catch a last glimpse of the late chief.
The body of the late Taukei Bolatagane is expected to leave Labasa Hospital in the next 15 minutes. Children, adults, civil servants and the town of Labasa has come to a standstill.
And the video on youtube with the awesome sound of the blowing of the conch shells reveals the power of the vanua and connections that Tui Macuata had with so many people and the strength of the relationship with his own people..  Go to

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Ra qiqi in Naduri village

from w
A story in today's Fiji Times is about the little silver eye bird  (zosterops lateralis)  as an omen in Naduri. The second piece is from an earlier babasiga post by Peceli about building a house in Naduri, and the third piece is a poem I wrote, associating the little bird with the destruction of the forest.  Ra qiqi the bird is in the first line of a meke ni yaqona and another version is more like a lele, a lament.

Warning of death on wings and a song

Sunday, April 21, 2013

SIGNS of a looming event that would strike the vanua of Bolatagane were revealed to two traditional leaders in the village of Naduri, two days before Macuata's paramount chief, Ratu Aisea Katonivere died out at sea.
The kingmaker of the chiefly title of the Tui Macuata, Ratu Peni Sogia, and the Marama ni Yavusa Naduri, Kalisita Bulikula, yesterday said they saw signs, but could not interpret their true meanings until the tragic news reached them.
Ratu Peni said a bird, known as the Qiqi, kept flying around the verandah of his home on Wednesday.
"For us, the Qiqi bird is a sign of good or bad news. It is something that has happened from the time of our forefathers.
"I was lying in bed when I heard the bird flying around the porch. This went on all day. My wife and grandchildren lying inside the house got frightened and moved to the back of the house after complaining about the bird.
"I told them to remain calm and not bother because I knew such birds heralded news. I didn't know whether it was good or bad news. I prayed and asked God to give me the peace to accept whatever would happen whether good or bad," Ratu Peni said.
He said when the villagers told him about the passing of their high chief, he bowed his head and thanked God for giving him peace at that moment.
"Only then I knew the purpose of the bird's visit to my home. As a little boy, whenever these birds visited the village, my father knew something was about to happen, but whether it was good or bad, he never knew, until it actually happened.
"I thank God for the life of my brother. He was very kind and never refused help to anybody.
"E na maqa va'adua ni va maqa. Tamata tauco'o dau lai ere'ere vua, e tu vua se maqa, ena soli ga e dua a (He will never say no. Anyone who asked him for help would receive something, even if he didn't have all that was asked for)," Ratu Peni said.
The Marama ni Yavusa Naduri said on Wednesday night, she chanted an iTaukei song in her sleep as she dreamt of a big function on the village lawn.
"I was asleep and my husband woke me up because he heard me singing an iTaukei song. I sat up in bed and told him that I dreamt of many people on the village lawn. People I had not met before and they came from all over the world.
"Naduri Village was full of people and in my dream, while watching these people, I was standing in the middle of the ground and singing the song.
"I prayed and asked God to reveal to me the meaning of my dream.
"When the sad news was brought to me on Friday morning, I cried and thought of my dream. But God has the last say and we really miss our brother," Ms Bulikula said.
Ratu Aisea Katonivere died early Friday morning at about 3am after his fishing boat sunk in the qoliqoli of Naduri. His cousin, Ratu Peni Vulaca, and nephew, Ratu Vereniki Marawa, who were with him, survived.
Building a chief's house in Naduri
One day we visited our elderly relative Sakaria in Naseakula village and he told us about the little bird in the forest near Naduri and he sang two versions of a song about Ra Qiqi and the building of a chief's house in Naduri.

During the 1940s Sakaria was part of a house-building project to build a new house for the high chief in Naduri down the coast from Labasa. They went into the forest to find the most suitable timber and only when the little forest bird, the white-eye, called, they knew that they had found the right tree. The men cut down the tree and chanted as they hauled the logs. The fine chief's house was builtd and named Bolatagane which means 'The House of the Strong'. Naduri is the village of the chief of Macuata

Traditionally the the duru or bou, the king post, has to have a human sacrifice. A man is buried with the king post. While they were building they chanted as they placed the kingpost in the hole and a man Epeli was thrown down. Luckily a young chief Kini Jioji from Labasa growled at them and he pulled the man out just before the king post was pushed down. Kini Jioji said, 'Sa gauna na Lotu!' This means we are Christians. No more human sacrifice!

In the Fiji Museum in Suva are two door posts carved as a man and a woman and the sign says they come from a chief's house in Naduri. The photo Wendy took of them did not come out. Today in Naduri the remains of the chief's house are left undisturbed and this is a tabu site.
Ra Qiqi the white-eye bird

Sing to me softly Ra Qiqi, a lullaby lightness,
not the guttural of men. Your wings tremble
amidst silver-leafed saplings, despite obscenities below.
Ia ia.

Beware of loggers' teeth ripping the forest apart,
severing the canopy. You panic and zigzag away,
your habitat stricken, the rape explicit.
Ia ia.

Here was a moment to lament, your song ignored,
Once, you signalled a season, timely and right,
your wing flashed, sacred white-eye.
Ia ia.

Your song flutters a message, one ironwood tree,
opening the canopy once in a decade
to build the Big House for the chief.
Ia ia.

Your full-throated cry dissolves to a lament
for the stolen land, the broken forests.
Isa oilei, isa oilei.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Rest in peace Tui Macuata

From FBC radio

The Tui Macuata – Ratu Aisea Katonivere has passed away. Ratu Aisea was on a fishing trip yesterday with two others when his boat started taking in water and capsized. FBC News this afternoon spoke to Ratu Peni Vulaca – one of the survivors from the incident. Still emotional from the ordeal, Ratu Peni described how he and the Tui Macuata started swimming to shore after the boat capsized. Ratu Peni says he tried to help Ratu Aisea for as long as he could. Naduri villager, William Foster who was part of the rescue team says the people of Naduri and the whole of Macuata are still in shock. 
Ratu Aisea’s body has been taken to the Labasa Hospital while traditional leaders are meeting to decide the funeral arrangements.
Ratu Aisea Katonivere is a Fijian chief and politician from the northern Province of Macuata, where he is the Paramount Chief and Chairman of the Provincial Council. He holds the title of Caumatalevu na Turaga na Tui Macuata, which is usually abbreviated to Tui Macuata. Since June 2006, he has also represented his province in the Senate as one of fourteen nominees of the Great Council of Chiefs. In the parliamentary election of 2001, he contested the Macuata Fijian Communal Constituency for the United Fiji Party (SDL), but was defeated by Isireli Leweniqila of the Conservative Alliance (CAMV). On 23 February 2006, he announced his candidacy for the Presidency or Vice-Presidency. When Great Council of Chiefs met on 8 March, however, it reelected Ratu Josefa Iloilo as President and Ratu Joni Madraiwiwi as Vice-President.
A BIOPAMA champion in the Pacific
08 March 2013 | News story
A tireless champion of conservation in his province in Northern Fiji, Ratu Aisea Katonivere, brings political experience, leadership, local knowledge, and successful community engagement to BIOPAMA efforts in the Pacific region.
Mr. Katonivere hails from the village of Naduri in Macuata Province, where he is the Paramount Chief and Chairman of the Provincial Council. He holds the title of Tui Macuata. His ‘kingdom’ is made up of 110,000 people living in 117 coastal and inland villages and includes the Great Sea Reef, an area of 78,242 square miles that is the world’s third largest barrier reef. In the early 2000’s he joined with four other chiefs to establish the 32-square mile Macuata Marine Protected Area Network, which has been widely recognized as one of the world’s most successful models for marine protected areas. In 2006, he won the Global Ocean Conservation Award. 

Tui Macuata attributes his conservation success in part to capacity building, the key component of BIOPAMA. “It is important to embrace scientific knowledge and harmonize it with traditional knowledge,” said Tui Macuata, when attending the IUCN World Conservation Congress in Jeju, Korea last year. “Capacity building works when the society – the communities – are involved from day one.”

In addition to attending the BIOPAMA event at the Global Protected Areas Programme’s Protected Planet Pavilion during the World Conservation Congress, Tui Macuata actively participated in the recent BIOPAMA Pacific workshop, providing valuable input and guiding efforts on networking and appropriate forms of capacity building for the region. Fiji’s locally managed marine area (LMMA) sites are under consideration for BIOPAMA programme engagement, and Tui Macuata will be an invaluable ally in this partnership.

More than 80 percent of protected areas in the Pacific are community managed. “We put the community first, we put the community second, and we put the community at the end,” concluded Tui Macuata in Jeju. “When the community is left out the project doesn’t work. With community participation and capacity building, we were able to embrace the new management regimes that were brought in by the various NGOs that are now working hand in hand with us. We can now sustain our marine protected areas for the future.” This insight, and Tui Macuata’s success to date, will provide valuable lessons that will enable BIOPAMA to build a solid foundation for improving protected area management and local livelihoods in the Pacific.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Spring water near a beach

from w
I've been thinking about 'water' this week for a task coming up. Then I found pictures of Nukutatava beach where we once lived when the boys were very little, and the spring water dripping from the cliff only a few feet from the sea, enough clean water for ten people those days. A place where Hindu families used to do their puja because of the amazing gift of fresh water near the beach. We used a bamboo pipe to catch the water into a pool, then piped the water to a tank. We actually had water for two showers and two toilets near two of the bures. Unfortunately the houses are no longer there and erosion has damaged the beach. Meanwhile the water continues to seep from the rock to provide fresh water and neighbouring farmers still go there to collect water when there is no rain.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Opportunity for fashon designers

from w
I was interested to read that two persons from Fiji will go to Melbourne in June to study fashion design at Kookai, an excellent fashion house. Their designs are beautiful and geared to the 20 year olds. It's good to see the owner, Robert, thinking of training young designers from Fiji because Fijian fashion design is up there as very promising . Robert's mother came from a chiefly family in Bua so the connection with Fiji is very strong. Vinaka Rob and designer Tutu.

Kookai to greet Fijian interns

Tevita Vuibau
Friday, April 12, 2013
WORLD-RENOWNED brand, Kookai, will soon welcome two Fijians into their Melbourne-based headquarters for a month-long internship.
The pair — Yolla Johns and Netani Vulakoro — were the winning entry of last year's Most Promising Designer category at the Fiji Fashion Week (FJFW).
In line with one of FJFW's aims this year to send all 2012 winners abroad, Ms Johns and Mr Vulakoro are set to leave the country in June for their attachment.
"I'm so excited but at the same time, I'm also quite nervous about the experience," Ms Johns said yesterday.
She said she wished June could arrive sooner.
"I have no idea what to expect, but whatever it is, it'll be a challenge and I can't wait," she said.
Mr Vulakoro shared Ms Johns' sentiments, saying that in preparation for their internship, they were putting together other ideas.
"We're currently working on new designs to take with us along with the designs we showcased at the FJFW last year," he said.

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

From little Kia Island to Sweden

from w
It's amazing that a group from the island of Kia off the Macuata coastline have been able to travel to distant places such as Sweden. Way to go! Congratulations on their conservation project too.
From Fiji Times today: The photos by Meagan Kelly were taken during her visit to Kia and on her blog.

Students take trip

Serafina Silaitoga
Thursday, April 04, 2013
FROM the little island of Kia in Macuata to Gothenburg City in Sweden — a group of students who have not seen a plane have considered themselves blessed to be part of a world competition that will fly them to the second largest Swedish city.
The five-member group will represent Fiji and the Pacific at this year's United Nations Environment Program/Volvo Adventure Awards in June.
The group, who are reef rangers of C3 (Community Centred Conservation), will also be the first group from the Pacific to be part of the global competition among seven other countries.
The rangers were assisted by C3 officials with the application done last year.
C3 co-ordinator Akosita Rokomate said they sent pictures and the programs of work done by young rangers on the island of Kia that won the hearts of organisers.
"The five students are excited because they have never been out of Labasa and have not even seen a plane so the thought of having a new airbus is making them even more excited about the trip. They want to get a ride on the new airbus," Ms Rokomate said.
"It is a fully-funded trip by the organisers and our application made it to the seven finalists out of 130 other applications that came from around the world. So it is a proud moment for us in Fiji," she said.