Friday, May 31, 2013

Should Fijian art and crafts be repatriated?

from w
Browsing the net for something else, I discovered that for three years archivists in England have been collecting and putting together Fijian cultural items of art and craft, some going back over 140 years. This is at the University of East Anglia.  I do wonder about intellectual property rights and whether the items collected during the 19th century ought to one day be given back to Fiji. I know that some items in the Melbourne office of the Uniting Church were given back.

A website has an interesting article - 16 pages - which includes a description of how Baron von Hugel collected the Fijian artifacts before 1870.   Go to

Von Hügel's curiosity - Hau
by N Thomas - 2011 - Related articles
He had died in 1870; Baron Anatole, as he became, had indeed ... ―Introduction‖ to their 1990 edition of von Hügel's Fiji journals (Roth and Hooper. 1990) ...

The Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology is hosting the first ever exhibition dedicated to Fijian Art outside Fiji. It draws on MAA’s exceptional collection of Fijian artefacts, photographs and archives, a collection closely linked to the early colonial history of Fiji and the foundation of the Museum.
Baron Anatole von Hügel, MAA’s first curator, travelled within Fiji between 1874 and 1877, a period coinciding with Fiji’s entry into the British Empire. Along with Sir Arthur Gordon (First Governor of Fiji) and Alfred Percival Maudslay (Sir Arthur’s private secretary), von Hügel assembled an impressive Fijian collection, including outstanding objects presented by Fijian and Tongan chiefs. This material formed the founding ethnographic collection of the Museum when it opened in 1884. The opening of this exhibition in June 2013 marks the centenary of the Museum moving to its current building on Downing Street.
Chiefs & Governors: Art and Power in Fiji
Chiefs & Governors: Art and Power in Fiji
Chiefs & Governors introduces important aspects of Fijian art and culture and highlights key moments of Fijian pre-colonial and colonial history. Combining historical and contemporary objects and installations, Chiefs and Governors emphasises the dynamism and creativity of Fiji.
A catalogue will accompany the exhibition: Chiefs & Governors: Art and Power in Fiji by Anita Herle & Lucie Carreau.
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A babasiga lad turns sixteen

from w
Last night we had a party in Geelong for Jordan who was sixteen yesterday. We'd invited members of the Fiji Geelong Friendship Club to come to our home for kava, birthday cake and plenty of fine food. It was a lovely evening of friendship, Fijian music on the TV from a gizmo of some kind, and plenty of kava flowing. Thank you to Bale for most of the cooking.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Alan Tippett Symposium

 Alan Tippett Symposium on Mission & Cross Cultural Ministry 13-14 September 2013 | Alphacrucis College | Sydney, Australia

 The Story
His writing was nothing short of prolific (500 books and articles, published and unpublished) and also very insightful. It is those insights that will be be highlighted at this symposium.
Some of the last words that Dr Ralph Winter wrote before his death in 2010 were about Alan Tippett. In writing the series introduction to Tippett’s material about to be published by William Carey Library, he said,
“…in the field of anthropology, he didn’t miss a thing and had a compendious knowledge, especially of the Southern Pacific sphere. His alert mind took him in many directions, some complete surprises and from volume to volume in this series you will find very little overlap and much that is rich for contemplation.”
Although so much of his ministry was served overseas, which meant he wasn’t known well in Australia, Alan Tippett never lost his heart for his homeland, or his intention to assist the world of missions in and from Australia. That was most clearly demonstrated by the fact that he returned to Australia for his retirement, and that he brought his incredible library and archival resources home to Australia with him, which he donated to St Mark’s Library in Canberra as a research collection.

The Symposium
Hosted by Alphacrucis College, the inaugral Alan Tippett Symposium on Mission & Cross Cultural Ministry is supported by the Australian Association of Missions Studies (AAMS),Missions Interlink, and St. Mark’s National Memorial Library, Canberra.
Now 25 years since his passing away, this event celebrates the significant legacy of Alan Tippett. Since then individuals have done work in and through his collection, including “Raicakacaka”, Rev Dr Colin Dundon’s historical PhD thesis on Tippett, completed in 2000. Rev Kev Hovey is working (part time) on a PhD on Tippett’s missiology. More recently, a team of Tippett’s colleagues and protégée in the USA arranged with Dr Ralph Winter for William Carey Library to publish a number of his unpublished works. One of these was published in 2012 (The Jesus Documents), and there will be others published by the time of the symposium.

With the “timelessness of Tippett’s missiology” as Dr Charles Kraft describes it highlighting the enduring worth of his material, this symposium - an anthology of Alan Tippett’s works - has come from the convergence of all of these factors to conduct this missions and missiological symposium in Australia in 2013.

The Australian missiologist, Dr Alan Tippett, passed away in Canberra on 16 September 1988 after a productive life as a field missionary with the Methodists in Fiji for 20 years, then as a missiologist. In his time as a missiologist, he was first linked with Dr Donald McGavran’s Institute of Church Growth at Eugene, Oregon, USA, and then, along with McGavran at Fuller Seminary’s School of World Mission.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Regarding the new Tui Macuata

from Peceli
 I was happy to see the photo of Ratu Wiliame at first, but offerng a prayer and blessing should be done by the Talatala Qase not by Ratu Peni. Then when I see Ratu Peni with a big beard doing the blessing I stopped to think about it. Only Macuata people can understand the protocol. We have two chieflly clans, one is from Bolatagane which is Ratu Osea's family, and the other one is from Nawaivuvu and Vuya.  Usually they alternate in taking the Tui Macuata role. Ratu Jone Matanababa is the turaga ni yavusa in the Nawaivuvu and Vuya clan. Ratu Peni  should have realized the sensitivity of the situation and asked advice from both groups before rushing into an installation. Now the two groups are at odds with one another as indicted in the story in the Fiji Times. We people from Macuata are embarrassed by this situation. We need to pray for good sense and a right outcome.

from the Fiji Times today:

Chiefly split

Serafina Silaitoga
Thursday, May 23, 2013
A TEAM of police officers was deployed to the village of Naduri in Macuata yesterday to keep the peace after a split over the choice of the new Tui Macuata Ratu Wiliame Maivalili Katonivere.
The atmosphere was tense as the two halls in the village accommodated two factions that had differences over the decision made by Taukei Namara Ratu Peni Sogia.
Divisional police commander North Senior Superintendent Fulori Rainibogi said the officers were sent to the village to keep the peace among villagers.
"We sent a team to monitor the situation in Naduri and ensure that nothing happens in the village," SSP Rainabogi said.
Police officers patrolled the village lawn and sat in meetings in the two halls. Ratu Peni and members of his tokatoka Namara sat in their own hall at one end of the village while members of the tokatoka Nawaivuvu and Vuya under the yavusa and mataqali of Caumatalevu met in the village hall in Lomanikoro of Naduri.
A heated argument erupted between Ratu Peni and traditional leaders of tokatoka Nawaivuvu and Vuya when they met to discuss the issue. Ratu Peni said in an interview with this newspaper that he had informed the traditional leaders meeting on Tuesday afternoon and no one objected.
He said the objection to the idea only happened yesterday morning.
But the turaga ni yavusa Nawaivuvu Ratu Jone Matanababa, who led a team of traditional leaders to Ratu Peni's house to ask him to call off the installation, said the consultation process followed was not right.
On his return from the meeting, he told clan members that the discussion was not fruitful as Ratu Peni had refused to call off the installation. "E katakata sara na veivosaki, caka na vei dusi, so na ka sega ni dodonu me cavuti sa cavuti ena delani katakata ni veivosaki. (It was a heated argument and fingers were pointed. Some words that were not supposed to be said were uttered.)," he said. Ratu Jone told clan members they did not agree with the decision made by Ratu Peni. He told them they were disappointed over the process followed to choose the new chief.
The disappointing factor, he said, was that the tokataka Nawaivuvu and Vuya had not met to discuss the successor of the chiefly title.
Young men in the hall suggested they visit Namara to iron out the issue with Ratu Peni while other members of the clan asked police about the powers they had to stop the installation.
But Adi Samanunu Katonivere, the younger sister of the late Tui Macuata, who was also in the hall told the men that if they wanted to clear the air with a good heart, they should visit Ratu Peni.
"Ko ga e kila ni nona itutu na gole i Namara me lai veivosaki vatakei Taukei Namara baleta na ka sa mai yaco, tucake gole kina baleta me savasava na noda tou veivosaki." (Whoever knows that they are the rightful people to go to Namara to talk to the Taukei Namara about this issue, please go so we can discuss openly with clean hearts).
Ratu Jone told his members that for the sake of keeping the peace in the village and their relationship as a family, it was important for them to remain calm and follow the proper channel of challenging the decision made by the Taukei Namara.
However, the young men present at the meeting told the elders they couldn't keep accepting such decisions because they would remain disappointed and so it was important for them to settle the matter.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Some Fiji drawings and paintings

 From w
Here are a few of my sketches and paintings I made in Fiji - from Cuvu, Suva, Nukutatava, Pacific Harbour and other places. Click on any to see enlarged.  The one of the village church is actually a linocut.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

A babasiga kid has knee surgery

from w
Jordan, our grandson had knee surgery at the Royal Children's Hospital in Melbourne this morning and is recovering well this afternoon, even eating Maccas for his evening meal! George is staying with him and it's a beautiful hospital. His anaethesist sang a Fijian song to him as he went under. That children's song about a bulumakau. Apparently the anaethesist spent his childhood in Fiji! Peceli and I visited this afternoon and picked up Andrew Junior who was there all day for moral support. Jordan is in Platypus Wing, a lovely area decorated with paintings. Jordan's injury was to do with the growth plate on one knee (injured in a river near Labasa quite some time ago!)

and there's a bit to do over the next months to get it going well.
And on Sunday Jordan has visitors from Geelong - Andrew Snr, Andrew Jnr and their friend Jhiah.
And on the third day Jordan came home with a magnetic device to start the process of fixing his leg - over four or five months. Apparently the technology is very new and Jordan and another teenager were the first children in Australia to have this method of reconstruction of the limb.  The bionic boy!.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Can Fijian play Aussie rules? Yes!

from w

Nic Nat rules the roost in thrilling Eagles win
from a WA paper: May 17, 2013 - 9:59PM
Nic Naitanui knows how to finish a story.
His kick after the siren to hand West Coast a two point-win over North Melbourne was meant to be. It had built to this all week.
He had been the middle of all the pre-game hype as he looked to face the big Roo Majak Daw for the first time.

Unfortunately for North, as the siren went on the 12.18 (90) to 13.10 (88) result, Daw was sitting on the sideline with the red subs' shirt on – with only four touches and one goal next to his name.
Naitanui capped off a great night and thrilled the crowd with a high flying mark to earn the shot at goal.
The Kangaroos should feel a bit dudded.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Special books about Fiji in a Melbourne bookshop

from w
Yesterday Peceli and I were delighted to be able to purchase a superb diary by May Cook, the wife of a missionary who lived at Nasoso, Macuata. Rev Oswald Cook worked tirelessly in Macuata and later in Lakeba. May is a lovely writer, noticing small details of life in the Naduri area and on numerous boat trips along the coast, and observing Fijian customs in the period 1904-1906. Her son collated her diaries and published them not many years ago with only 100 copies so we were lucky to get one pristine copy. Thanks to Rev Cyril Germon whom we visited a couple of days ago who said, 'Peceli, there's a book you might be interested in because it's about Nasoso and Macuata a hundred or more years ago.' I searched the internet and found libraries where the book is located and also bookshops. Kay Craddock- Antiquarian Bookseller, in the Assembly Hall Building - next to the Baptist Church - 156 Collins Street Melbourne, had the book. Website  There were about twenty excellent precious books about Fiji - first editions - that kind of book - but the prices were high as you would expect. But anyone interested in the history of Fiji can go there and browse.  A gem of a shop in the heart of Melbourne.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Happy Mothers Day in Fiji

from w
May all mothers and potential mothers in Fiji have a lovely day today - also the adopting mothers, the orphanage Mums, the absent mums, the families who mourn their mothers who have passed on, baby sitters and carers of children.
Here's a picture of Mila and Talei from Vatuadova.

Monday, May 06, 2013

About the Labasa River

from w
Always there is talk about cleaning up the Labasa River environment and being aware of degradation when mangroves are removed. Well, here's another effort to replant mangroves to save erosion and destruction.

Major rehabilitation for river

Salaseini Moceiwai
Tuesday, May 07, 2013
A MANGROVE planting program is scheduled for parts of the Labasa River in the hope of reducing the effects of climate change in the area.
Organised by the Department of Environment under the Building Resilience Project, the initiative will start next month in conjunction with World Environment Day.
Senior environment officer northern Senimili Nakora said the project's goal was to reduce the vulnerability of targeted communities to the impact of climate change through a strengthened and co-ordinated approach within the national climate change policy and strategy framework.
"We aim to achieve these goals with an approach that involves resilience — building in high bio-diversity tropical mangrove areas and associated coral reef, sea-grass and upland ecosystems across its community project sites," she said.

Photos of Labasa River are by Bhaskaroo.

Sunday, May 05, 2013

Learn to swim

from w
There have been many drowinings in Fiji during the past year.  Children play in water even when there is a flood and a raging river. Adults going out fishing do not use life-jackets.  The sea is warm and you can float for hours as long as you don't panic. Yet thousands of people in Fiji never experience the pleasure of swimming and it's necessary for all people who live near the sea or near rivers.  How many schools have swimming classes for the students?  Years ago I took swimming lessons for a group of girls from Dudley High School. Most were timid and scared in the water at first but after six weeks they became more confident and some could swim. At least they learnt to float and not panic - I hope.  We lived by the sea at Nukutatava, near Labasa when our three boys were very small and they just went into the water with their cousins and somehow taught themselves to swim, but not all families do this.

 Here is a letter to the Editor in today's Fiji Times.

Swimming class
I THINK more awareness should be done on drowning. Mandatory classes on swimming should be taught in schools. I firmly believe that the reason for most drowning cases is that the victims don't know how to swim. People must be taught on how to handle a crisis. Most people get confused and nervous when they see someone drowning. We have to start from the grassroots if we want to lessen the number of drowning cases. I hope necessary authorities will have a thoughtful view on this issue seriously.

Watched the movie 'The Land has Eyes'

from w
I was lucky to notice that NITV planned to screen the Fiji movie 'The Land has Eyes' last night, so we were able to watch it.  Set in Rotuma it is the creative result of a Rotuman academic, Vilisoni Hereniko, working in Hawaii. It is a lovely film. The culture and language of Rotuma takes first place as the story revolves about a teenage girl coping with the contradictions of life - corruption, beauty, family loyalty, heritage and myths.  Pity it was on late at night and not in prime time.  Australians need to be aware of the peoples of the Pacific, even this little island group called Rotuma.  NITV are putting on great programs - Australian indigenous, Maori, films from Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea, Solomons and Fiji.

One website writes it up as:

May 7, 2010
Melanie Schnell
Pear ta Ma ‘on Maf / The Land Has Eyes (87 min., 2004) is a visually stunning film set on the remote island of Rotuma in the South Pacific. Directed by Vilsoni Hereniko, it is the first indigenous-made feature-length film from Fiji. Its making is an admirable example of how the process of producing a movie can be as important as the finished film.
“I wanted to give something back to my community; I wanted my people to take pride in their language,” Hereniko, a professor at the University of Hawaii, told an audience as he introduced the film during the fifth-annual imagineNative Film Festival in Toronto, Ontario. “Today, people no longer live in traditional thatched-roof houses. The whole movie set had to be constructed, yet after we were done, people moved in and are living there.” The film also encouraged the people of Rotuma to relearn traditions such as mat-weaving and canoe-making.
The Land Has Eyes centers around Viki, a young girl who fights to clear her family’s name in the face of the island’s corrupt colonial administration. Strong, independent, and smart, she is inspired by the Warrior Woman from her island’s mythology as she enters womanhood amidst cultural and family challenges. The lush beauty of the island contrasts with her struggle for justice as she follows her dream of leaving the remote island to pursue further education in Fiji.
Viki adores her father, a patient, traditional Rotuman man named Hapati, and listens intently to his stories. When she becomes angry with her mother and sister for keeping her from learning how to cook and weave mats, Hapati encourages her to develop her scholastic abilities. Viki excels in school, where she learns English quickly, but her world begins to crumble when Hapati is wrongly accused of stealing coconuts by their wealthy neighbor, and their community turns against them. Because Hapati cannot understand English, his neighbor is able to frame him and only Viki, hiding under the court window, knows of the injustice. The movie’s title comes from Hapati’s reassurance to Viki of the ancient Rotuman belief that the land is vigilant and will eventually avenge wrongdoing.
When Hapati’s overwork to pay off his court fine overtakes him, Viki enters into her own inner, surreal realm, as the village people gossip about her mental instability and rebellious ways. The end of the story proves that her father was correct about the land’s vigilance.
The beautiful visuals, haunting music, and realistic characters lend honesty and simplicity to this story, which is based on Hereniko’s own life story. The director lived on Rotuma Island until he was 16, when he won a scholarship to complete his secondary education in Fiji. In the 1960s and 1970s, administrators for the former British colony had no knowledge of the local customs or language, and often allowed corrupt members of the community to take advantage of fellow islanders. The importance of knowledge both old and new are woven together throughout the film, as the heroine bucks tradition and uses her modern education, along with her respect for her cultural beliefs, to win justice for her family.

Friday, May 03, 2013

Silence and children in Fiji

from w
The speaker was rather game to criticize Fijian culture at a Fijian Teachers meeting, however he has a point. There is a perception that a child is cheeky if he or she keeps on asking questions. It is children's place to be rather quiet in the presence of adults, so in school many children do not ask questions.  We found that with grandsons when they relocated to an Australian city and high school.  They were always lauded as very polite by the teachers - perhaps because they were not as talkative as the Australian students.

from Fiji Times today:

Inquisitive mind and spirit

Demayble Pasoni
Saturday, May 04, 2013
Culture can contribute to the problems of Fijian or iTaukei education.
Children have an inquisitive mind or spirit and they ask questions based on their observation, the most common being, Why?
Former High Court judge Justice Filimone Jitoko, who was chief guest at the Fijian Teachers Association 79th Annual Delegates Conference, made the comment when he launched the event in Suva.
He said the Fijian or iTaukei culture stifled the enthusiasm of the child to learn, citing an example where parents or adults were overheard telling the child, "O sobo, o sa rui gone dau taro" (You ask too many questions), or "Sa rauta mada na taro" (Stop asking questions).
Such statements make children believe that asking questions are not polite and are inappropriate behaviour.
Justice Jitoko said schools and teachers must be pro-active in encouraging children to ask questions.
He cited the old Chinese proverb, "He who asks a question is a fool for five minutes — he who doesn't remains a fool forever."
He said teachers and parents needed to break down the cultural barrier and re-ignite the enthusiasm of curiosity in the minds of children because it was vital to their education and their future.
A paradigm shift in the home is necessary to recognise that a child that asks a question is not a nuisance because it shows that the child is starting a life-long adventure of learning, gaining and storing knowledge that will positively contribute to making a success of his life later.

Thursday, May 02, 2013

Political parties registered

from w
And about time too. Holding the applicants on a tightrope at times -  but now it's okay for these parties to get on with their tasks.

from Fiji Village this morning:
NFP, FLP and SODELPA registered as parties
Publish date/time: 02/05/2013 [17:59]
The Registrar for Political Parties Mohammed Saneem announced today that the National Federation Party, the Fiji Labour Party and the Social Democratic Liberal Party or SODELPA have been registered under the Political Parties Registration, Conduct, Funding and Disclosures Decree.

The Registrar said as of today these parties will be able to operate, function, represent and hold themselves out to be political parties.

The Registrar said that he had taken a liberal approach in assessing the applications and although there were anomalies in all three parties membership lists, he was satisfied that each contained more than 5,000 valid signatures.

The NFP applied for registration with 7,574 member signatures, 189 of which were discounted as anomalies and total remaining 7,385.

The FLP applied for registration with 8,456 member signatures, 284 of which were discounted as anomalies, total remaining 8,172.

The SODELPA applied for registration with 8,825 member signatures, 136 of which were discounted as anomalies and total remaining 8,689.

He said the anomalies will be referred to the relevant authorities, including the police for investigation and any further action.
Meanwhile, these parties are given 30 days to submit to the Registrar a written declaration giving details of all assets and expenditure including all contributions, donations or pledges of contributions whether in cash or in kind, made or to be made to the initial assets of the political party.

Party officials and in the future party candidates will also have to disclose personal incomes, assets, business connections, directorships, gifts and liabilities.

Story by: Tokasa Rainima