Sunday, September 29, 2013

Old fort and caves in Macuata

from w
There's a story in Sunday's Fiji Times of finding a cave filled with bones up in the Delaikoro mountains. It's good that some Fijians today are exploring local history.

The skull caves of Naisabuli
Luke Rawalai
Sunday, September 29, 2013
LOCATED 40 kilometres from Labasa town, up in the Delaikoro mountain range, lie the villages of Vatuwa, Viriqilai and Nasealevu. The three are separated by rivers. At Vatuwa Village, where I was to begin my adventure, time seemingly stood still. Much of nature remained untainted by men. Naisabuli the fort on the hill.

On my first night, I heard about the caves of bones in the mountains which overlooked the village. I made up my mind to visit the caves.

The next day, some youths and village elders offered to be my tour guides. Half and hour later, huffing and puffing up the mountain, I deeply regretted drinking too much kava the night before. The caves were located on top a fort which is surrounded by ditches. I was told that this was an old war refuge. Vatuwa villager Paulo Navidi said the fort belonged to their ancestors. It was known to them as Naisabuli.

Mr Navidi said according to legends passed down from their ancestors, the fort was impenetrable and difficult to attack during ancient wars. "Rocks and burning objects were rolled from the top, down towards the enemies," he said."Bamboos and sharp wood were planted at the foot of the fort to make it hard for enemies to pierce," Mr Navidi explained.

Now, looking at the overgrown bushes, I could only make out the location of the ditch which left a semi circle mark at the foot of the fort. On the way up to the caves, I found shards of pottery and shells, evidence of early human inhabitants.

The cave of bones
A friend who had visited the place before had described it as an isolated tomb with a window to a terrifying moment in Fiji's medical history. Looking at the human bones, scattered and piled inside a small cave, I couldn't have agreed more. The bones were clearly those of men, women and children, killed by the measles epidemic in the first decade of the 1900s. They were the ancestors of the villagers of Vatuwa and Viriqilai. The area surrounding the cave looked as if death itself had made a home behind the grove of breadfruit trees that guarded the cave.Peering into a small opening at the base of the cliff I saw human skulls and bones.

Mr Navidi said the measles period or 'Misila Levu' as the iTaukei termed it, was a period of sorrow and wailing for his people."People of Naisabuli who were struck by the disease could not be given a decent burial as they were so many, so they were carried up and kept in the caves," he said."Our people perished in numbers as the wave of measles hit the village."

According to an article in the New York Times on July 12, 1875, measles was brought to Fiji by Ratu Seru Cakobau and his entourage who had contracted a mild form of the illness while visiting Sydney where a measles epidemic was raging. The report is quoted: "The result of the visit of his ex-Majesty King Cakobau to New South Wales forms an awful era in the history of Fiji," the article is quoted as reporting. In the native mind, it had dimmed the lustre which surrounded annexation and had filled the people and chiefs with consternation and dismay. Suddenly, within a week afterwards the air resounds with wails and lamentations. All at once, and in every direction, the people are stricken down with a disease, which, up to this time they had never in the slightest degree acquainted with. Measles spread with 'frightful rapidity' through Fiji and by year's end, at least 20,000 people had died. Among those who died, sad to relate, are the principal chiefs, a majority of those that signed the deed of cession," the article stated.

As I sat and pondered over what I had just learnt about the people of Naisabuli, I realised that the bones in the caves were much larger than that of humans today; also the clubs that greeted us at the mouth of the cave. I concluded that the inhabitants of the caves were indeed giants of an age long gone.

Savu Kokiciaga
From the caves to the waterfall of Kokiciaga to cool down after the long trip. Here legend has it that two sisters from the village fell in love with the same man. One day, both were at the top of the falls. The elder sister was braiding the younger sister's hair when she suddenly pushed her sister. Little did she know, her younger sister had tied the ends of their grass skirts together, so both fell from the cliff to their deaths. The story is an eerie reminder of what love and jealousy can do, even to siblings.

Fijian or Aztec design?

from w
It's obvious to Pacific Island people that the design is Fijian yet the fashion designer called it 'Aztec' and the dress sells for $700F. Hmmm. Appropriation isn't something new.  Look how Ausralian Aboriginal motifs have been used for years on tablecloths, tea-towels, etc.

 August 7, 2013  Posted by  at 5:55 am Current AffairsMatilda's BlogPacificUncategorized Add comments
The Aztec dress in question
The Aztec dress featured on Nanette’s website
A well known New York fashion designer, came under a slew of criticisms on her Facebook Page after passing off her new line of clothing which had designs that bore striking similarities to the native iTaukei masi/tapa designs for an Aztec dress.
Apologising on her Facebook Page with a note said simply:”I am truly sorry for misnaming the Aztec Dress. I respect local artists everywhere and I apologize for any offense this has caused”  did little to calm the fury that erupted from a number of Fijians slamming the designer for mis appropriately passing  off their cultural designs for another culture .
Nanette Lapore’s apology came a day  after various Fijians such as Hibiscus Queen Drue Slater who  raised the issue on her Facebook Page. “Miss Nanette Lepore, I understand there are often overlapping motifs and designs throughout cultures worldwide, especially since the world is now more connected then ever before. However, the so – called Aztec Linen Dress you have going more than $FJD 700 is misappropriation of traditional tapa designs and I hope that you will take note of the outcry from Fijians everywhere and give credit where credit is due, as well as acknowledge this exploitation of our intellectual property,” posted Ms Drue on the Designer’s Page.
Also in the mix was the Fiji’s fashion keeper, Fiji Fashion Week stating that it stood by the indigenous people of Fiji and the Pacific who owned these Masi/ Tapa designs and expressed their disappointment “at the blatant disregard for the intellectual  property rights portrayed by Nannnette Lepore.” FJFW added that it hopes Ms Lepore will acknowledge the source of these designs.
A Kalisiana Buliruarua further posted:Like many Fijians around the world, I was deeply offended by the misappropriation of our masi patterns in your piece ‘Aztec Linen Dress.” There are similarities between some Aztec and Fijian motifs however to any Fijian person, traditional masi designs are instantly recognizable. Please understand our concern and take time to make it known that these patterns are actually Fijian.”
The dress in question is a printed polyester dress featuring a V-neckline and darts at front and back and had a Made in New York label. It’s sold at US$398.
Fijian or Aztec, it’s not known exactly how Ms Lepore came about the prints of her dress. A Faraaz Mustapha further posted on the designer’s page calling on the complainers to do their research. “To all “Fijians” claiming their Tapa/ Masi designs are stolen by this company, take some time and do a mild research. You will see great similarities between Aztec art and the art of the Fijian Masi/Tapa. I feel there is no real infringement on cultural heritage. And if it is, it will only go to the Aztec people, since they are referenced in it. This bickering is like fighting who made the first spear.”
We  let you decide. Put forth here are photos of the Aztec and Fijian designs along with the print designs on the dress.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Just how low can you go - Fiji's minimum wage

from w
It's hard to believe just how low the wages are in Fiji for some people, when those at the top swan around and have elite trips and accommodation.  And the sum of $2.32F  is even less when put into Australian dollars - maybe $1.32A.
From Fiji Village today:
Proposal made for minimum wage rate to be $2.32
Publish date/time: 28/09/2013 [08:07]
Commerce Commission Chairman Dr Mahendra Reddy has proposed that the National Minimum Wage baseline rate should be $2.32.

During his presentation at a stakeholder consultation this morning, Dr Reddy said the survey they conducted with the Ministry of Labour, Industrial Relations and Employment, revealed that a large proportion of workers are earning low wages.

There is an audio file attached to this story. Please loginto listen. 

Dr Reddy said this is why they need a National Minimum Wage rate in order for the formal and informal sectors to be paying above the national wage rate.
According to Dr. Reddy if the proposed $2.32 is accepted as the National Minimum Wage, government should increase it to $2.50 next year.

Meanwhile, two other consultations are expected to be conducted before they submit to cabinet a proposed National Minimum Wage in November this year.

Story by: Filipe Naikaso

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The wedding reception in Nadi

from w
The wedding feast was held in a village past Nawaka where the bride came from, the village of the renowned Ranawai.  The groom's friends who mostly work in hospitality really know how to put on a good feast with lovely decorations, a live band, and excellent food.

A wedding of a babasiga girl in Nadi

from w
The grand-daughter of Peceli's older deceased sister Alumeci, was married recently in Nadi.  Suliana is a secondary teacher and a delightful young woman.  We went over for the wedding and here are some photos of the occasion.  We gave Suli a laptop and a wall cupboard as our gift. Notice the pillows - part of the tevutevu gifts which went on for days and eventually were shared out instead of the bride and groom keeping them all!  We spent most of the time at the home of Suli's mother, Seniloli, a retired nurse. It was a splendid time of catching up with family and four of the babasiga ladies from Labasa came down by ferry for a few days.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Is religion personal or public?

from w
Three items in today’s Fiji media are connected. Archbishop Chong talks about religion as private and public. There’s talk about religion as not being about ‘political parties’ and a letter to the Editor about loud church music in a Fiji town.  Of course in my view religion is certainly personal, but without being attentive to society, social justice, and having a public face, it is rather dim and dull. The way we dress, the buildings we put up, the words we say, the choices we make in occasional protest, marches, world view, is as real as a personal belief in God.

'Voiceless' faith
Nanise Loanakadavu  Saturday, September 21, 2013

THREE weeks after the 2013 Constitution received presidential approval, the head of the Catholic Church in Fiji, Archbishop Peter Chong, has expressed concern about the provision of the documents that states "religious belief is personal".
Interpreting this clause of the Constitution, Archbishop Chong said the government had somehow silenced the church and deprived the people of the right to pursue religious truth in the public sphere. The archbishop said as a church leader the issue was of major concern because it would limit the church on a personal level, thus rendering it voiceless and giving it no opportunity to make contributions to society. He said world-renowned religious groups such as Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists and Christians want to share their truth and help people through their faith to work towards a common truth.
Chapter one of the 2013 Constitution states religious liberty, as recognised in the Bill of Rights, is a founding principle of the state.It also says that religious belief is personal.Archbishop Chong said although religious belief or faith was a personal matter, it also had a public nature. "Although faith or religion is a personal matter it also has a public nature regardless of whether you are a Hindu, Muslim or a Christian," he said."When we have a claim to the truth, we want to put in a public sphere so people can benefit from that truth we've found.
"That is the nature of faith and when God reveals himself, people are then sent to God to receive his revelation. Every religion has a truth to uphold and claim because we believe God reveals himself through our religious symbols."
Archbishop Chong said this was what inter-religious dialogue, inter-faith search and the Ecumenical movement were based on because of the public character of religious belief. "We theologists are the best people to interpret or explain this."
The archbishop further explained that if the church wanted to speak about human rights in the public sphere, it would be seen to be violating the Constitution under this provision. He said when people were deprived of their rights and beliefs they would be confused, therefore placing limits on their freedom to express themselves. Archbishop Chong said when a religion was limited to a personal matter "you are infringing on people's right to freedom of expression".
This, he said, contradicted the Bill of Rights clauses in the 2013 Constitution which uphold this freedom. "This is why we want to put our message out to the public because we value this truth."
But not party politics.
Politics ban for priests
Nanise Loanakadavu
Saturday, September 21, 2013
CATHOLIC priests are not allowed to get involved in party politics, which means they cannot support a party, stand for a party or promote or tell the congregation about which particular party they should support.
According to Archbishop Peter Chong, the head of the Catholic Church in Fiji, this is a non-negotiable principal and forms the basis of the church's position on the issue of the separation of religion and the state. He made the comments in an interview with this newspaper on Thursday about the issue of the separation of religion and the state under the 2013 Constitution."That is a clear distinction, we are not to be involved in party politics or to be seen supporting a political party or even a political institution," Archbishop Chong said. "This is because we cannot undermine the gospel to serve a human institution. We are only called to support the kingdom of God, which is the gospel, but not abuse the gospel and the church to support a human institution."
However, Archbishop Chong said the church played an important role in the public to ensure people were made aware of the situation around them and help them make informed decisions about their political situation. "Our role is to educate and make people aware of the current situation in Fiji. Our role is to also speak the prophetic voice of the church and announce the kingdom of God and whatever else is happening in society. The church denounces the exploitation of people as going against the kingdom of God.
"It's true that there should be a separation of religion and state in terms of party politics, however, the church also has the role."
Archbishop Chong said politics and the church have a common agenda — which was to develop the people. He said they wanted to see people developed from God's perspective and evaluating politics in light of the kingdom of God.

(Meanwhile the Methodists who have got into heaps of trouble in recent years because religion was very public  are now very very cautious!)
Methodist Church general secretary Reverend Tevita Nawadra said while they do not agree with this clause in the supreme law, there was nothing much they could do. At some point, he said, the two should not be separated because they involved the same people."Maybe when we have another Constitution this can change, but for now we will just have to work according to the 2013 Constitution," Mr Nawadra said.
Under Chapter One of the Constitution, religion and the state are separate, which means:* The state and all persons holding public office must treat all religions equally; The state and all persons holding public office must not dictate any religious belief; The state and all persons holding 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  No person shall assert any religious belief as a legal reason to disregard this Constitution or any other law.
So when religion becomes very public in a town with loud amplified sermons and loud music, then ‘public’ does become a nuisance and inconsiderate of people trying to sleep in the evening!

A letter about loud church music

Music please
Please allow me to contribute to the articles about loud music or noise that some religious denominations have been giving us. No doubt some of the music would do well in a dance hall. With all the modern music, rock and roll is not far away.
My grandfather (RIP) once told me a story about a situation that has stayed with me all these years. It was an evening when a young man who was drunk was walking along a road and came upon a hall when gospel music was being played. The music was upbeat in the fashion of disco and he couldn't help it but danced a jig outside the hall where a church service was being held. He swayed to and fro in perfect time to the music, then entered.
The congregation was on its feet swaying to the fast music. The man was delighted and he too swayed and reached out to a female worshiper, the young man thought he was in a dance hall.
Soon the music came to an end and in the silence he shouted: "Music please."As he stood up to continue dancing. He was escorted out.
One day this could happen because of the upbeat music that emanates from halls where loud religious services are being held.

Allen Lockington

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Some people like to eat bats, but others do not!

from w
I remember that in Labasa the boys used to catch the fruit bats who were raiding the fruit trees, and then cook them for dinner.  I haven't tried to eat them yet.  But in other places there's no way people will eat bats, and even in some countries they are regarded as sacred such as in Tonga.  A couple of weeks ago we drove through the village of Kolovai where the casuarina trees are home to  hundreds of fruit bats, or flying foxes. These nocturnal creatures are considered sacred by the Tongan people and remain protected animals in the Kingdom.

Though stories vary somewhat, both Tongan and Samoan legends claim that Tonga's flying fox colony at Kolovai descended from a pair of flying foxes that Sina, the Princess of Samoa, presented to the Tongan monarch (a gift of love, some say). As many as 600 flying foxes can be seen at the Kolovai colony In Tonga bats are protected by royal decree meaning Tonga is one of the few remaining locations where the Foxbat and the Old World Bat thrive in the wild.

Tonga is lucky to be home to the Flying Fox bat and the micro Old World Fruit Bat. The Flying Fox is pure vegetarian eating sap and fruit in the trees and thus plays a vital role in the Tongan ecosystem by pollinating trees and spreading the seeds through scat. Their meter wide wingspan and quick, darting flights in the tree tops makes the Flying Fox an easy mammal to view. Flying Foxes leave their tree roosts about an hour before sunset and begin their circling flight paths.

The Old World Bat is one of the world's smallest bats and can be seen living overhead of Swallows Cave. Old World Bats are some of the world’s lightest flying mammals weighing just a quarter ounce each.

"A baby bat is called a pup"
A website with great photos of Pacific Island bats is

I didn't take photos on our trip so I located photos from the net, including one of a young 'pup'. Well, some mothers do have 'em!

Historical sites in Tonga we visited

from w
Our son and daughter-in-law generously drove us around the island of Tongatapu and we were able to see many of the local historical sites and places of interest. Unfortunately we didn't attend the Tongan worship service Sunday morning which would have been a highlight. Anyway here are some pictures I took and a couple or more I found that were relevant on the internet. These include Cook's landing site, Tasman's landing site, the royal palace (not lived in as the royals have estates elsewhere) a historical tree. I"ll write about other places we visited later on.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

No kava for Johnny, for Jeke, for Ari, for Tomu.

from w.
and from the Fiji Sun which now seems to becoming pals of the Methodist Church.  From the top, orders to clean up the talatala's kava drinking, no loosening of the necktie on Sundays, etc.  No kava for his missus.  Oh dear,  our house in Australia needs a re-ordering then.  Does this go for retired Fijian ministers who happen to live in Australia - where kava drinking is part of social networking, welcomes and farewells, discussion of day-to-day problems and joys..  Okay, I can see where Rev Tui is coming from. It had all gone out of control and there needs to be discipline and order.

The culture of informal kava drinking has got out of hand from my observations. For example at the Nadi market which you would expect to be 90% vegetables and fruit, it is 50% full of tables selling kava. That seems to be an excessive emphasis on something that isn't as important as basic health foods.
photo by C. Marshall.

Methodist bans effective

The Methodist Church in Fiji has confirmed that its bans on kava drinking and smoking have already become effective.
The church’s secretary for communications, Reverend James Bhagwan, said this was the directive from the president, Reverend Dr Tuikilakila Waqairatu.
“Rev Dr Waqairatu made this directive under the authority of the president to make such directives in a situation which calls for urgency,” Rev Bhagwan said.
“He is of the view that the excessive kava consumption within the Methodist community requires urgent and decisive action for the physical and spiritual health of its members. Leaders of the community are called to lead by example.”
The bans are as follows -
n Refrain from drinking kava on Sunday – it is a holy day;
n No iluva ni neketai after worship service – it is neither Christian nor iTaukei in tradition;
n No kava to be drunk at a minister’s or pastor’s quarters;
n No kava to be sold from a minister’s or pastor’s quarters;
n  Wives of ministers and pastors (radini talatala) are not to drink kava.
n Ministers, pastors and church leaders to refrain from smoking.

Reverend Bhagwan said, “The president made these directives to those who serve in the church, in trust and on the understanding that they will be responsible to the call that they have accepted and the authority that they have willingly subjected themselves to.
In terms of the monitoring, the church has its system of checks and balances, and accountability from the local level to the national level.
All ministers, pastors and deaconesses come under the discipline of the church, circuit and division of where they are stationed.
Not only does the divisional superintendent of each of the 55 divisions have supervisory responsibility over the staff in his or her division.
There are also the leaders meetings, quarterly meetings and annual meetings through which the compliance or non-compliance with this directive, and other issues can be raised,” he said.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Shopping in Tonga

from w

Shopping in Nukualofa.  when you need bread and milk for breakie, you just go along the road and soon you will find a small shop. These little Chinese shops - about four foot deep involve a lot of fun in communication. I wanted a bottle of lemonade so Andrew asked for 'lemonade'. She shook her head, didn't understand, so I said to ask for Fanta or Sprite. So he asked for Siperaiti and there was a big smile from the Chinese girl. She understood at last and I got my lemonade. These little shops are scattered about the suburbs of Nukualofa besides the main shopping area which includes a marvellous fruit and vegie market and craft market and even Morisi (Morris Hedstrom) etc. We found a lovely book shop, I think it's called the Friendly Tonga Bookshop, but the books on Tongan culture were way too expensive so I only bought a sketchbook and some good pens.  

The Tongans seem to use initiative and many have little op shops in front of their homes, selling vegetables or second hand clothes, or the sort of things relatives send to them in containers. The people wait patiently near their stalls and make money from people passing by.

I loved the craft market downtown as the items were so beautiful but I only bought some shell jewelry and a couple of fans. 

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Comparing Fiji Airways with Virgin Australia

from w
Comparing Fiji Airways with Virgin Australia  (formerly Air Pacific and Pacific Blue)

Recently Peceli and I travelled to Fiji and Tonga which involved five flights – first Fiji Airways from Melbourne to Nadi, Fiji,  then six days later Fiji Airiways from Nadi to Nausori to connect with the Fiji Airways flight to Tonga.  A week later we returned to Australia by Virgin Australia from Tonga to Auckland then transferred to a flight to Melbourne.  So I felt I was in a position to compare the two airlines.

Firstly the airports:  A real problem at Tullamarine Melbourne is the distance to walk to the gate for departure to Fiji.  Traipsing through those duty free shopping areas.  It’s way too long for people who get tired easily or can only walk with difficulty.  I had a walking stick because of the arthritis. Some people ask for a wheelchair but we didn’t think it necessary but actually it would have helped.  The flight was very good – new brand logo on the plane, on the uniforms of the staff and the usual nice manner in giving ups free fruit drinks, coffee etc. and food, though the roll with chicken (girls next to me said it was fish or bacon!) coleslaw, Scotch biscuit, etc. wasn’t very good. A parcel of roti and vegetable curry would have been nicer with a tub of tropical fruit.  This was a midnight flight by the way.

At Nadi we realized that again walking was a problem but soon a member of staff with a wheelchair  took over and quickly got us though the walk, the immigration, the baggage collect. Very good service.
The second flight was beautiful – only half an hour and we could view the mountains of Viti Levu then the Rewa river before touchdown.  The Fiji Sun newspapers were given out to read and then collected. I said ‘Oh are they rubbish then?’ but my comment wasn’t really noticed.

At Nausori airport there was no problem about walking, but when it was announced that the plane to Tonga would be delayed two hours we weren’t going to just sit around, so found  taxi with a Fijian driver and we had a delightful drive to Davuilevu, to Dilkusha, to Navuso village then a fine curry dinner at the end of Nausori town. We were blessed to have that extra time to do some nostalgia and noticing the changes.
The Fiji Airways flight to Tonga was again excellent apart from the Fiji Sun handed out again and  which I don’t like because of its bias – it actually had the new Constitution in Fijian in it - and again the roll with chicken which isn’t really the best kind of afternoon snack.   The plane I think was the Labasa plane – a 50 or 60 seater – and it flew low enough to see Totoya and some of the Lau islands, and then we had a beautiful view over Tongatapu, the patchwork pattern of farms, the little villages, the coconut plantations.  It only took one hour ten minutes to Tonga from Nausori!

The airport is small and we were a bit tired but joyful to meet our son Andrew and grand-daughter Linlay then drive to Nukualofa.

Seven days later we left Tonga to return to Melbourne – this time using Virgin Australia planes with a brief  stopover at Auckland.  Because check-in was midnight we really hadn’t slept so I certainly was tired and uncomfortable on this flight. We were offered free tea, coffee, water, and had to buy a chunky sandwich with a hint of chicken and a lot of green leaves, rocket  I think – for $10.  It took over two hours to Auckland, and then the wheelchair we had ordered didn’t eventuate at first as there were too many people wanting one. Anyway a Fiji Indian girl (from Taveuni) did help us then but left us at the food stalls where I only had time to buy a bottle of Fanta  and crispy chips. We walked more and more – what a long way to transfers! 

The next plane trip  took four hours ten minutes to Melbourne which I reckon was too slow for flying over ‘the ditch’.  It was uncomfortable and I couldn’t sleep, so was anxious to get to Melbourne quickly.  At last we rolled into place for arrival, and people stood up to get their carry-on bags from the lockers,  but.... the front door had jammed and we had to wait fifteen minutes for the engineer to come. Panic buttons for me – the claustrophobia kicked in and I just grabbed a brochure to read as we waited, taking deep breaths.  Then at last we were out of prison and realized we would have to walk a very long distance once again.  I found a wheelchair, and that helped until we got to picking up the bags. No Virgin Australia staff in sight at Melbourne airport. No – one seemed to bother to help passengers.  It took a long time in two queues because we had peeled yams in a box . At last we got out into the Melbourne cool air to be greeted by our eldest son and his wife. Both of us exhausted. We won’t do two trips in one day with Virgin again!

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Tonga on a Sunday

from w

Recently Peceli and I were in Tonga and spent a Sunday there. The strict rule that no-one works in offices, farms, shops, airports on a Sunday meant that a plane carrying ‘Auntie’ from Fiji that had been delayed from Saturday because  perhaps – the pilot couldn’t find Tongatapu island below because of the rainy weather – couldn’t even go on the Sunday so  Fiji Airways had to put up passengers in the Hexagon, plus their food for nearly two days.  Okay, Sunday in Tonga is the Sabbath,  a closed down day – except for church and fine food.

Our plan to attend Centenary Church  in the morning was put off because I was feeling unwell but we decided to go to the 6 p.m. English Wesleyan church service later. Meanwhile the kitchen was abuzz with so much cooking. Then visitors kept popping in with dishes and pots of extra food, and I presume visa versa.  After midday guests arrived – colleagues of our daughter-in-law and their daughters – with more food including a cooked three month old piglet!  The table was groaning with delicacies and we enjoyed the huge dinner, particularly the crackle and roasted pork, though I did say – loudly – isa, the poor little pig. The day before we had been driving in the countryside and had seen dozens of such little piglets running around near a beach where pigs go fishing and root for mussels.

I was thinking of the elderly Australian man (maybe an architect) with an electric wheelchair who lived almost opposite us in a tiny weatherboard two-roomed house without garden.  Did anyone think of giving him some delicacies on Sundays?  I was told – Yes – the neighbours in the house shrouded by banana trees always sent something over to him.

The English church service at 6 p.m. was held in a large meeting room of the Wesleyan church offices near Centenary Church.  About twenty people – Australians, Kiwis, local , a Fiji Indian family who originally had come from Taveuni.  This was a fairly informal service , people dressed casually, and several people took part. Prayers were intimate and naming people. Their membership shifts as people come and go such as expats on short visits. The leader was an older bearded man from Tasmania -  a retired minister or teacher I wondered. Okay, he was a Principal of a High School, and was in Tonga to do some task with the Uniting Church – to do with the Wesleyan schools. But he did tell me he was also writing a thesis on education and culture.  His reading and sermon was based on the lectionary two weeks earlier. He had plenty of anecdotes and a cheerful manner. His children’s spot was based on Mariner’s adventures and a cave in Tonga, about trust and taking risks.  They were friendly people and it was good to be part of worship  on a Sunday in Tonga, though  we didn't hear the glorious acapella singing of two thousand Tongan voices.

We were amazed by the numerous churches in Tonga, how neat and beautiful they are so I've put a few photos here to show the variations. 

It was good to experience a Sunday where people do not go shopping, or play sport or rush around so Tonga’s strict protocol for Sunday does seem  rather a good idea.  And you don’t have to cook for Monday and Tuesday because there are plenty of leftovers from the Sunday feast!