Thursday, October 31, 2013

Planting trees in Seaqaqa

from w
What a good idea, to think ahead and plant 40 mahogany trees so that they will be ready to harvest in several years - for retirement.  Not many people think about the future like that.  Here's a man from Seaqaqa who's doing that  A member of our family has planted pine trees and some mahogany also thinking ahead, but his plan is for education of the family.

40 'twilight' trees

Lote Raboila
Friday, November 01, 2013
AS a sugarcane farmer, Amkar Prasad 55, of Lalakoro in Seaqaqa knows all too well that when the time comes to give up farming, he has no retirement fund on which to lean on to take care of himself in his twilight years. It was with this in mind he, three years ago, set about putting into motion a back-up plan that includes 40 sandalwood (santalum) of the paniculatum species which he planted as investment for when he retires.
"I don't have superannuation deducted from my income like most working people so I planted the sandalwood trees as my retirement money because sandalwood fetches a good price," Amkar said.
Sandalwood is a class of fragrant wood tree valued for the essential oils extracted from its core. Depending on the species, the trees are harvested anywhere from seven to 20 years of age. Both the wood and the oil produce a distinctive fragrance that has been highly valued for centuries. Sandalwood was a much sought after commodity in the area of Bua Bay, Vanua Levu in the early 19th century.
Locally, sandalwood fetches up to $200 a kilogram or $200,000 a tonne. According to the Department of Forestry, last year sandalwood exports amounted to $2.59million. This was an upward shift from $1.57m in 2011 and $2.27m in 2010.
While Amkar waits for this sandalwood plantation to bear fruit, he continues to work his 33-acre farm of which approximately half is under sugar cane of which he harvests between 300 and 400 tonnes annually and 10,000 pineapples.
He also does a mixed crop of vegetables for his family's subsistence.
His farm is also diversified to include 20 heads of cattle and 25 goats.
Sugar cane is doing well this year with the price at $62.58 per tonne which is expected to increase to a record $80.74 per tonne by the end of the year. Last year, the cane price was $58 per tonne.
Amkar took over the farm from his mother-in-law Indra Wati in 2002 with her permission acquiring power of attorney after she relocated to Suva. Indra is a client of the Fiji Development Bank and by proxy, Amkar as well. Amkar has since taken steps to take over the lease, the transfer of which is in progress.
The farm has been financed under FDB's all-purpose sugarcane product since 1998. The product offers financial assistance for land development, land purchase, construction of farm house, farm vehicles, machinery, equipment, implements and working capital to eligible sugarcane farmers.
* Lote Raboila is the media and community relations officer of the Fiji Development Bank.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Remembering Doug Brown

from w
I remember Doug Brown and his family, but it was a long time ago when they lived in Fiji - at Navuso Agricultural College and then Lakena. Below is a Fiji media story about Doug. A longer excellent tribute is on the blog of Graham Davis. Check it out as

Former minister dies

Harold Koi
Wednesday, October 30, 2013
FORMER Minister for Agriculture Douglas Walkden Brown died in Armidale, NSW, Australia. He was 92.
Mr Brown played a significant role in the development of Fiji's agriculture sector, once the country's main backbone earner.
He also managed the national rugby team that toured England, Wales and France in 1964. After graduating from Hawkesbury Agricultural College and serving in the Australian Air Force during WWII, Mr Brown sought to do mission work with the Methodist Overseas Mission.
In late 1946, he was offered positions in Tonga, Samoa, Fiji and India.
He accepted a teaching position at the Navuso Agricultural School in 1947 and became principal in 1948.
In 1949, he married Barbara Curtis and started his family at Navuso, retiring in 1960 for health reasons to farm on his own.
In 1966, he was elected to the legislative council and became the parliamentary secretary for agriculture under the leadership of Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara.
In 1971, Mr Brown became Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries after independence.
He retained his post until 1980 when he resigned for health reasons.
Mr Brown continued his role in Fiji's political arena as a backbencher until 1981 when he became Fiji's consul-general in Sydney.
He returned to Fiji in 1983 as consultant for the Department for Lands and finally retired in 1994.
"Things that impressed me were his sense of humour and a wonderful singing voice," said daughter Angela.
"He was both stern (I was a bit lamu!) but also very warm-hearted."
She said in his political days, she was proud that he could speak the iTaukei language well enough to do radio broadcasts and speeches at political rallies
She said she felt good that he could speak the lingo of the land.
Alf Taylor, who worked with Mr Brown at Navuso, recalls: "Doug is a man who means a great deal to me. He was a talented planner and we enjoyed many hours working on ideas for how to improve things at Navuso".
Mr Taylor added Mr Brown was not as strong in the "practicalities" department and well remembers the latter's wife, Barbara, asking him for help in fixing various household breakdowns.
Mr Brown was a former resident of Navuso, Nausori, Suva and Nadroga.
He is survived by his children Jenni, David, Angela, Stephen, Andrew, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

A bus shelter for Nabalebale

from w
The people of Nabalebale village really need  a bus shelter as they wait along the main highway between Labasa and Savusavu. Vinaka Joy for your help and the Rotary Club of Geelong and others for this initiative.

Bus shelter for village

Salaseini Moceiwai
Wednesday, October 30, 2013
VILLAGERS of Nabalebale in Cakaudrove will soon have a shelter from the rain and the hot sun while waiting for transport.
The Savusavu Rotary Club and Geelong Rotary Club of Australia are working in partnership to build a bus stop in the area.
Savusavu Rotary Club president Tania De Hoon yesterday said the shelter would be constructed near the Nabalebale Health Centre.
"We have planned to visit the village during the first week of next month to sort out logistics. This project will cost about $3000," she said.
"Our partner from Australia will be funding this project and we will buy the materials locally, provide plans and supervise the construction of the bus stop.
"The villagers will also be requested to assist with labour. Right now, we are yet to decide on the date to start such works as we are still in the final stages of planning."
Ms De Hoon said their club, in partnership with sister clubs from Canada had built six waiting shelters in Cakaudrove.
"The bus shelter we have already built are in Nakasa, Vuadomo, Moliwawa, Vunivesi, Natua and Wailevu West. This is part of our community work aimed at helping rural people with their daily lives."
Geelong Rotary Club of Australia representative Joyce Baxter said they decided to help out after seeing women with babies wait in the sun for transport.
"We are glad to help mothers who visit the clinics protect their children from the hot sun and rain," Ms Baxter said.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Catch me if you can - Peter Foster

from w
Catch me if you can?
Is this a genuine photo taken in Fiji, or has it been photoshopped. This scoundrel is at it again, running from justice, and hoping that the arms of Fiji's leader will be welcoming. I don't think so. They'll grab him and put him in a cell themselves. That is, if he is really in Fiji. 

From Sydney Morning Herald; Fugitive conman Peter Foster has provided a photograph he says proves he has fled Australian justice to Fiji.
The photograph shows Foster, who last week did not attend a Brisbane court where he was sentenced to 18 months jail over his involvement in weight loss scam Sensaslim, reading what appears to be Sunday’s edition of Fijian newspaper The Sunday Times....

Do you remember the flying tackle the time he ran around Pacific Harbour in his undies as the police chased him  and caught him!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Fiji Geelong Friendship Club

from w
Our network of Fiji families in the Geelong region has meetings about once a fortnight in homes of members, and last night our friends came to our home for kava, talanoa and a lovely shared meal.  Our members come from Macuata, Bua, Yacata, Namosi, Levuka, Tonga, Coral Coast and other places in Fiji. Recently our group sent four boxes of school items to Mataso Primary School in Ra, and with a grant from the Victorian government Multicultural Commission of $1200 this year we will be able to provide many services to our community and cultural events.  We might be singing next in late November so we'd better practice up our laga, druku, tagica and tenor parts!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

In Naseakula village

from Peceli
It's about time!  Good to see that the Tuatua clan of Naseakula has built a nice footpath which is excellent for the muddy weather that babasiga people experience during the summer months.  This end of Naseakula is where I lived as a child after leaving our bure in Qoitoga when I was about eight. Before that we lived  at a place where the Anglican manse is now. My father somehow donated the land to the Anglican teachers of St Mary's but who knows what the title says these days.  Naseakula those days had little creeks and was good for catching fish and crabs.

Villagers construct footpath to avoid accidents

Salaseini Moceiwai
Thursday, October 24, 2013
PEOPLE visiting the yavusa Tuatua in Naseakula Village, Labasa will soon walk on a well-structured walkway now that the members have embarked on a footpath project.
Development committee manager Josateki Tovitovi said they decided to work on the project for the purpose of preventing children from walking home by the roadside after school.
"The village is located beside the main road and every afternoon, we see groups of children walking home from school.
"The risk of road accidents is something we want to avoid and that's why we have decided to build the walkway," Mr Tovitovi said.
"The members collected $350 to start off the project and the rest of the funds were from sponsors who helped us tremendously.
"Construction work is a bit slow at the moment due to rainy weather conditions but we hope to complete it soon so we can start using it.
"Through this project, we are also promoting healthy living because we will not be walking on grass and mud anymore."
Mr Tovitovi said they were also looking at raising funds for the construction of their new hall.
"After this project, we will come together and discuss ways of raising funds for our hall."

Friday, October 18, 2013

Macuata women making fine mats

from w
Good to see the women in Macuata showing their wonderful craftwork. Congratulations to Jamida fo her fine mats and loloma and peace to a woman who crossed the cultural divide and married a Fijian man.

Jamida's 'blessing'

Salaseini Moceiwai
Saturday, October 19, 2013
HER belonging to another ethnic group has not discouraged her artistic character from competing with local iTaukei women to weave mats and create handicraft items.
Jamida Bi Tuinalolo is a classic example of a person who has integrated successfully into a society which is ethnically different from her own.
Despite being a Fijian of Indian descent, the 45-year-old mother of four heads the Soqosoqo Vakamarama Ni iTaukei in her Naocobele Village in Nadogo, Macuata.
Mrs Tuinalolo was among iTaukei women who displayed their artefacts for sale at the Rural Women's Day in Labasa this week.
"I started weaving about 13 years ago and it has become a part of my life. I have been weaving handicraft items made from kuta (freshwater reed) for four years now and items made from pandanus leaves (voivoi) for nine years," she said.
"All my four girls know how to weave and I am really very proud of them because this is one way of maintaining their culture and tradition.
"I receive high income from selling such items and the money is used to pay for household expenses and other family needs."
Mrs Tuinalolo is perfect in weaving kuta mats and is also s fluent speaker of the Nadogo dialect.
Married to the head of the yavusa Tabaraki in the village, she believes her role as head of the Soqosoqo Vakamarama is a blessing.
It gives her the opportunity to use her talents from a business background to encourage iTaukei women to strive for the best in life, starting in the village with income-generating opportunities.
Born into a rich business family in the area, Mrs Tuinalolo said she had eloped with the love of her life, Laisiasa Tuinalolo when she was 18 years old.
"Marrying an iTaukei was not an accident and I am happy where I am today because I have learned to be a responsible woman with important roles.
"I want my children to learn the cultures of both ethnic groups and continue the tradition because it's our identity. We have integrated well with the villagers and I am proud to be one of them now."
Mrs Tuinalolo says she encouraged women to make use of their potential and skills because it can be a source of income for their own families.
"Its only proper to utilise your potential well because it will help you in the future. I would also like to encourage young women who weave to always develop their skills," Mrs Tuinalolo said.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Gifts to hospitals in Vanua Levu

from w
The hospitals' requirements are often more than what the Fiji Health Department can give so gifts from overseas are always welcome.  An example is given below - in today's Fiji Times.  Our local Rotary Donation in Kind sent many containers to Fiji for schools and hospitals but there is often a problem at the wharf with extra costs and even duties demanded.  It is easier to send to other countries in the South Pacific and South East Asia. Yesterday our Fiji Geelong Friendship Club packed four large boxes with items to send to a primary school in Ra area so we hope and pray it will get there on the next boat.

Help for hospitals

Serafina Silaitoga
Thursday, October 17, 2013
ABOUT $80,000 worth of medical equipment has been given to the people of Vanua Levu to use at the Labasa and Savusavu hospitals.
Given by the Friends of Fiji Health team from New Zealand, the equipment include wheelchairs, walkers, crutches, medication and other apparatus for emergency cases and hospital wards.
Group trustee Rajesh Chaudhary said this was the second visit to the North.
"Our donation first came last year with another group and we didn't come to the North but stayed in Viti Levu," he said.
"This year, we travelled here because we thought remote areas such as this would need it more."
Labasa Hospital board of visitors chairman Ami Kohli said the gift was of great assistance to the hospital and the people of Labasa.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Fiji Women and facebook

from w
Nice facebook page for Department of Women- Team Women Fiji and a website. Just hoping it will be more than just publicity for the regime. And we don't need blokes pictures even in the background. Okay?

from the Fiji Times yesterday:
Ministry launches website, Facebook page

Tuesday, October 15, 2013
Update: 3:50PM THE Ministry of Welfare, Women and Poverty Alleviation launched their brand new Facebook Page and website this afternoon at their headquarters in Suva.
Chief guest and Minister for Women Dr Jiko Luveni said the launch was a way for the public to have direct access to quality information both on a formal website and a social media site.
The impact of the social media cannot be underestimated we need to capitalise on this, Dr Luveni said, minutes before launching the sites.
The website can be accessed on: and the Facebook Page is Department of Women Team Women Fiji.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

A video of Fiji's Independence Day 1970

from w
One of the men from Mali Island posted this video on facebook.  It is quaint,  bit out of focus but historically interesting..
and also  and there are three other parts.

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Fiji Day

Best wishes to friends of Fiji for today - Fiji Day.

Fiji Day and remembering Rakiraki

We remember when Fiji became independent in 1970. There were celebrations throughout Fiji. We were in Rakiraki and there was a formal function there. Some of the children from the local Methodist Primary school where Peceli was the chairman sang 'This land is your land', (Woody Guthrie song) appropriate for Fiji. I taught them new words. An old Indian man got excited, jumped on stage and danced bhagra style.

This land is your land, this land is my land,
From Suva Harbour to Yasawa Islands.
from the raintree forest to the Rewa delta
This land was made for you and me.
As I went walking along King’s Highway
I saw above me the golden canefields
I saw below me the curve of beaches
This land was made for you and me

It was an optimistic time. Hmmm. Those were the days, my friend... The days when there was respect and optimism and Ratu Kamisese Mara was at the helm.

It was a different country then
below the Kauvadra,
our cement block manse
coloured aqua, pink,orange.

Outside two piglets rooted
under a broad mango tree,
Kanakana and Lesumai.
A near-blind woman brought
cassava peelings for them
and then yarned with Nau
over sweet tea and pancakes.

The pretty girl from across the road,
her hands painted with henna
married with a rainbow splendour
under the shining canopy.

The village next door blessed us
with jokes and stories
the rooftops of reed,
the walls of plaited bamboo.

Our first child was a gift
then another son soon after.
Amidst sugarcane fields
dotted with houses of tin and dung,
the farmers with little money
offered gulagula and spiced tea
as our babies slept,
one in a cradle of sugar bags.

But there was a march one day
with ominous hand-painted banners,
men as warriors, faces blackened.
I didn't think much of it then,
that year before independence.

To me it was all sunlight
without a hint of shadows,
it was a different country then.

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Collecting seaweed, a good initiative

from w
One of the little islands of Macuata is Kavewa which I only know through a taralala song.  The people are busy gathering seaweed for a lucrative income. Good on them. Way to go. Use initiative and find a marketable product. The story is from the Fiji Times today.

Seaweed harvest to boost income

Salaseini Moceiwai
Wednesday, October 09, 2013
THE people of Kavewa in Macuata are looking forward to pocketing cash when harvest from their seaweed farms are sold next month.
On Monday, officials from the Fisheries Department and the media visited the island and found villagers cleaning the long lines of seaweed a few metres away from the shoreline.
Initiated by the department, the project involves about 20 villagers, said village headman Emosi Time.
"So far, we have about 970 seaweed lines and more to come as villagers are showing more interest in this income-generating project," he said.
"This is the second week for this seaweed farming and we are looking forward to a better harvest come the maturity period in four weeks time.

One tonne of dried seaweed costs about $800 and our target is to have as many tonnes as possible."

Mr Time said the harvest would help boost their savings for the upcoming festive season.
"We can say that through this farming, we are slowly collecting our Christmas and New Year's money.
"This is the way forward for us."
Principal fisheries officer northern Joji Vakawaletabua said they facilitated the project for the islanders.
"We taught them how to engage in such farming and provided some equipment to help them start off their farms.
"Now that they have started well, we are also monitoring their farms to ensure that the seaweeds mature on time."

Dudley High student wins model of the year Litea Matanisiga

from w
Dudley High School girl takes up modelling at Fiji's Fashion Awards this week.  Congratulations Litea She might have a career ahead of her, but hey girl, keep up your maths and sciences too!  Story from Fiji Sun.

Winner Litea back at school

MHCC Fiji Fashion Model of the year, 18-year old Litea Matanisiga .  Photo: PAULINI RATULAILAI.
MHCC Fiji Fashion Model of the year, 18-year old Litea Matanisiga . Photo: PAULINI RATULAILAI.
18-year old Litea Matanisiga is looking forward to her first catwalk experience abroad. The trip is part of her prize for winning the MHCC Model of the Year at the MHCC Fiji Fashion Week show last weekend.

“Last year’s model got to model overseas. I am hoping to go through the same experience as well,” Litea said.
Fiji Sun caught up with her yesterday at Dudley High School where she was preparing for the Fiji School Leaving Certificate examination.

The Form Six student looked relaxed and composed despite the hectic schedule last week. She said it was an enjoyable experience at the Fiji Fashion Week.
Litea said she was blessed to win the award in her debut year. While she enjoys modelling, she said it is not a career for her. “I am just doing it for fun. It is fun though,” she said.
Originally from Kavala in Kadavu, Litea said she was signed up to model by her older sister. “My parents are now taking it seriously. They have now agreed to sign up my younger sister who is still attending Ratu Sukuna Memorial School to participate next year,” Litea said.

Friday, October 04, 2013

Wages for cane-cutters in Fiji

from w
In Labasa cane-cutters work in gangs and are often given accommodation and meals so it has been suggested that if they are to be given the minimum wage of $2.50 the farmers cannot make any profit.  This article is from today's Fiji Times.  Photos are from Vunivau Labasa and one cane-gang is from the prison and I don't know how much they get paid.

Debate on minimum wage benefits

Serafina Silaitoga
Saturday, October 05, 2013
THE proposed minimum wage may not benefit farmers in Labasa, says Satish Kumar, a businessman and vice president of the Labasa Chamber of Commerce.
Expressing his views about the proposed wages at the Ministry of Labour's consultation yesterday in Labasa, Mr Kumar said people in the area relied on agriculture for income.
"We rely on cane and agriculture for income in Labasa and if $2.50 per hour is the minimum wage rate given to sardar or canecutters, how will the cane farmers survive?" he asked.
"The present government is trying to revive the industry but with the wages guideline being proposed, it will not happen.
"This is because at the end of the day, farmers pay their labourers, transportation, sardar and food to feed their labourers and this all comes from their pockets."
Mr Kumar said having farmers to take care of such costs would only leave them with no savings.
"So what will be left with them?
"The industry will decline if that happens."
But national minimum wage consultant Dr Mahendra Reddy said canecutters were paid by tonnes and not by hourly rate.

Ba Hospital - to be or not to be

from w
I'm getting confused messages about Ba Methodist Mission Hospital.  Last year there was a plan for an upgrade, but now the plan is to forget about it and to build a new hospital in Ba.  With what money I wonder. Anyway here are some news items from today, and the past, and something I wrote in Babasiga blog some time ago.

From Fiji Village today - Saturday October 5 2013:  
Over 19,000 people to benefit from new Ba hospital
 More than 19,000 people in Ba and surrounding areas can expect improved health care system in coming years as construction work on the new Ba hospital is expected to start in January next year.

A memorandum of understanding was signed between the government and the Ba Chamber of Commerce this afternoon.

The Ba Mission hospital was built 87 years ago and according to the Prime Minister the building is beyond repair.

Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama said the building has started to show signs of it's age and stressed that they are not interested in “band aid solution” and it is time to move forward to a new approach.
Commodore Bainimarama said the project is expected to cost more than $23 million. He added that the government will fund the first phase of project by providing an allocation of $7.3 million next year.

The plans are expected to be finalized in coming months and according to the Prime Minister he has asked the government officials to fast track the process. He stressed that under the new constitution every Fijian has the right to health.

The new hospital will be located at Clopcott Street.

Story by: Praneeta Prakash
From Fiji Live yesterday.
New $23m hospital for Ba October 04, 2013 07:02:30
Ba is to get a new $23 million hospital under a private-public partnership between the government and the Ba Chamber of Commerce. Work on the project starts next year with the aim of replacing the 87-year-old current Ba hospital. Following the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the two parties, Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama said new Ba Hospital is long overdue. "We’re not interested in any more Band-Aid solutions." Construction of the new hospital will be in stages and government will fund the first phase with an allocation of $7.3 million in 2014. By Reginald Chandar

Read more at:
However a year ago there was a different plan.  So what happened to that plan?
a video from Fiji News about Ba Mission Hospital and upgrading.
Ba Mission Hospital to receive $16 million facelift – last year?
Monday, February 27, 2012 at 4:04 PM


The Ba Mission Hospital will have a 16 million dollar facelift in the coming years and plans are underway to raise these funds. This was revealed the to the Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama by the Commissioner Western Commander Joeli Cawaki after the Prime Minister wanted to see a change in location of the Nailaga Health Centre.The Prime Minister’s concerns were raised after he was made aware of the difficulties faced by the staff of the Nailaga health centre during the recent flooding.
Commander Cawaki said that the Special Administrator Ba – Tavua, Arun Prasad has been in close contacts with him regarding the upgrading of the Ba Mission Hospital. “The proposed $16million facelift will help the Ba hospital cater for all of Ba,” Cawaki said.
The Nailaga Health Centre services the people from Matawalu, Votua, Nawaqarua and Nailaga and is prone to flooding as it sits on the bank of the Ba River. Apart from the Ba Mission Hospital, there are only two health centres in Ba – the Nailaga Health Centre and the Ba Health Centre.
From the archives of Babasiga blog

In Ba and Lautoka the CSR gave some medical care for their staff and workers in those early days, but did nothing for 'free' Indian migrants, nor did the government of the day. In Ba with thousands of people, there was no hospital. The Methodist Church staff in various places had set up small dispensaries such as at Nausori and Navua. In 1913 Cyril Bavin wrote 'The Church in Australia has been asked for years to provide a hospital, and all that they have has been two dispensaries and one nurse!' The compassionate policy that began with Hannah Dudley gradually evolved slowly. 

Rev Piper in 1919 stated a case for a Mission hospital for Indian women because the Government did nothing for them. In the same year J.F. Long began work at Rarawai, Ba. His wife was Dr Olive Long (nee Rivette) and she started to relieve Indian women of their ailments. So in 1924 a decision was made to build a hospital in Ba but not to exceed the cost of 2000 pounds. Local Indians raised 500 pounds. Local Fijians helped by carting river sand needed for the conrete and the CSR gave an engine and trucks for transport. So on 5 June 1926 Ba Hospital was opened.(More of this story can be found in Harold Wood's book Overseas Missions of the Australian Methodist Church Vol 111 Fiji-Indian and Rotuma.

Over the years, fees have been kept fairly low and the hospital at Namosau has been a wonderful gift to the Ba community. Our first two children were born there in the late 60s and I feel gratitude to people like Dr John Horton and Sister Satya Bali. 

As funding from Australia diminished, there were financial problems, so as far as I know, the hospital was handed over to the Fiji government. So what's with this debt of nearly half a million dollars? The hospital has been a gift to the community out of compassion,