Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Photographs from Meg Campbell Back

from w
Meg lived at Treasure Island for a time and took fabulous photos while in Fiji. Nowadays I think she lives in Auckland and takes photos at weddings. Here are two photos she took    - one at Koroipita, a settlement built up on the inspiration of Peter Drysdale of Lautoka Rotary, and one taken at Udu, Vanua Levu.  Check out this website:

Monday, April 28, 2014

Excellent - holiday visas and allowed to work

from w
This is excellent news, that people from Fiji can go to Australia on a holiday visa and at the same time be allowed to work. This has been a bugbear for a long time - visas that won't let Fijians to work during their visit to Australia.  Owners of fruit growing properties along the Murray, in Griffith, Shepparton are crying out for workers and like Pacific Islanders who work in groups because they find it hard to get Australians to pick onions etc. This is a great opportunity for young and old Fiji visitors to make some money to send back home to support families who are having a hard time financially at present.  I read this item this morning in Fiji Village.

(and an update in Wednesday's Fiji Live.)  It is only intended for young adults and is not yet finalised.
Holiday/work visas. Not finalised yet for Fijians. Not for older people, only young adults. They suggest reciprocal rights - that is, Oz people can also work in Fiji. I don't know about that one. Anyway this is the kind of visa they are looking at.
Work and Holiday visa (subclass 462)
Currently this visa is for young people who want to holiday and work in Australia for up to a year.
Requirements - You might be able to get this visa if you:
are at least 18 but not yet 31 years of age
don't have a dependent child with you at any time during your stay in Australia
have a passport from:Argentina Bangladesh Chile
Indonesia Malaysia Thailand Turkey USA Uruguay.

Australian government approves working holiday visa for Fijians
Publish date/time: 29/04/2014 [08:07]
The Australian government has approved a new initiative of working holiday visa for Fijians.

It is a reciprocal arrangement unlike the seasonal workers scheme that would allow Fijians to work in Australia for 3 months while on holiday or vice versa.

This was one of the main issues discussed between Minister for Foreign Affairs, Ratu Inoke Kubuabola and Australian Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Senator Brett Mason who met in Suva yesterday.

It is the first official visit by Senator Mason to Fiji in his current capacity.

During the meeting, Minister Kubuabola briefed Senator Mason about the developments in Fiji regarding the upcoming national democratic elections on 17th September. He also conveyed the Fijian Government's appreciation for all the assistance Australia is providing for the elections.

The meeting also discussed a range of bilateral, regional and global issues.

Senator Mason returns to Australia today.

Story By: Ronal Deo.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Re the micro-finance institution in Labasa

from w
One letter writer in the Fiji Times is not happy about the closing of the micro-finance in Labasa.

Micro-finance decision
GOVERNMENT'S decision to close the Co-operative Micro-finance Institution in the North has served the rural members a severe blow of financial exclusion.
Certainly the move is not consistent with the co-ordinated approach for the development of the North being advocated by the acting Commissioner Northern and the Ministry of Agriculture (FT 24/3, FT 25/3, FT 8/4).
Whatever reason is given for the closure of the institution, it definitely is not for the poor management that caused the failure of the other rural-based micro-finance institutions across the country (FT 24/4).
Co-op MFI North has been ably assisting its members to create and sustain their livelihoods since 2005. Its cash position is healthy, even after the withdrawal of government cash grants, and members' deposits are intact.
Members are shocked at the insensitive decision to close the institution without considering their and potential members' needs.
Hundreds of savers, including farmers, fishermen, beekeepers, market vendors and other small and micro businesses, have benefited from the service with their equity contributions towards funding assistance from the Northern Development Programme (NDP) and other agencies, for their business start-ups.
Members in Macuata, Bua and Cakaudrove are linked to some of the various government development initiatives in these provinces. They are the marginalised and the poor who are contributing to the economy through the empowerment provided by the micro financing service. This is what the governor of the Reserve Bank meant when he spoke of the benefits of financial inclusion (FT 26/3).
According to the Bureau of Statistics 2009 Household Income and Expenditure Survey, the North has the highest percentage of the population living under poverty and the highest incidence of poverty in the country.
To close the micro-finance service will further marginalise potential beneficiaries, the aspiring entrepreneurs.
They will be consigned to the mercy of the more exclusive financial institutions with rigorous access conditions and to the informal loan vendors, who tend to prey on the desperate needy.
The government's decision to cut off the service in the North is a regressive move and contradicts its own aim for a co-ordinated approach to development.

Nukutatava today and before

from w
This is the life. Back at Nukutatava beach, our own land and beach Peceli is enjoying a swim and rest after the business of the funeral and protocols and visitors. We had lived here for three years back in the 70s. Andrew snr and Andrew junr and a bunch of kids were there too.  All of the photos were taken last week except the one with the bures - that was way back in 1972, and the one of the two boys George and Robin also taken about 1972.

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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Ausaid in Fiji

from w
Despite the awkwardness between Fiji and Australia over recent years, the important grants of aid still keep coming, but not through the current Fiji government, but in different ways.  The following report is from the Fiji Times and Fiji Sun ran a story about a particular school in Labasa identified.  Also go to this website for a detailed report on Ausaid in Fiji.  It is very large. The school in the story is in Seaqaqa in Macuata, Vanua Levu, Fiji. And from the website of Aid Dfat I read:

Australian Aid works through commercial contractors, civil society groups, other aid donors, and Pacific regional development organisations to deliver Australia’s aid to Fiji.No Australian aid is provided through the Fiji interim government. We deliver our aid where and how it will most assist the people of Fiji.

Schools identified

Repeka Nasiko
Thursday, April 24, 2014
FIFTY schools in the country have been identified to receive assistance from the Australian High Commission's Access to Quality Education Program (AQEP).
AusAID counsellor of development assistance for Fiji and Tuvalu Joanne Choe said together with stakeholders, AQEP has prioritised 50 of the country's most disadvantaged schools to receive assistance as part of the program's phase one support.
"AQEP works closely with the Ministry of Education, school controlling authorities, school management committees, non-government organisations, faith-based organisations and education stakeholder community to make a difference for the most disadvantaged children and the most disadvantaged schools," she said.
"Education is a key pillar of Australia's aid program and we recognise that access to quality education is every child's right.
"We also believe that contributing to quality education for all is a means to achieve economic growth and improve the wellbeing of society."
She said the five-year program would cost a total of $93million.

Handover New Look Sparks Life

Teacher, students applaud help from Australia
Bulaivou District School’s new-look classroom blocks and facilities were opened yesterday by the Australian Counsellor for Fiji and Tuvalu, Joanne Choe.
Headteacher Maika Buli thanked the Australian Access to Quality Education Programme (AQEP) for the completion and maintenance of the school.  He said the programme had brought light to Bulavou District in Macuata and all other schools in the Northern Division to have a better learning environment.
“When there was darkness AQEP had brought in light. When there was below performance, it had uplifted the school standards,” Mr Buli said.
“We thank AQEP in guiding us through and supporting us in all its activities and uplifting the students who will be our next future leaders and contributing as well to the economy of Fiji.”
Year Seven student Kolaia Malamala said the new learning environment brought about change to the students and the school.
He said they were blessed with the assistance.
“Now we have good classrooms, desks and tables and we now can study in a good learning environment,” Kolaia said.
“Boarders now can enjoy their new double bunks and can move around easily as before we have missing window blades and rusty floors to walk on.”
Mrs Choe said it was encouraging to know that the 97 students now had new classrooms in which to pursue their education.
“We hope that students will feel happier in their new and improved classrooms and we trust they will be motivated to attend school regularly and work hard in their studies,” she said.
The upgrades include renovations to eight classrooms, student and teacher ablution blocks and two teacher’s quarters.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Easter Day in East Geelong and Pacific Islanders

from w
A happy Easter Day to you all.
 Wesley and Dudley churches in Suva held a combined sunrise Holy Communion Service at 5.30am at the Suva Peace Garden in commemoration of today, Easter Sunday and all over Fiji there were special walks, services and celebratons of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Pacific Islanders dispersed in many countries of the world also celebrated today in special ways.

We had an early rise, going to Limeburners Point for the Dawn Service but the sun didn't come up bright and shiny until 7.30 when were up at the church Bay Room eating weetbix and hot cross buns. Then worship at 9 with almost a hundred people including five young men and women from Germany. I said Guten morgan to them and also Ich liber diche which caused a smile. The church was full of colourful butterflies. Then morning tea and I chatted with South Geelong older men and women. George's wife Bale is making roti and curry for lunch. We had many Pacific Islanders t our morning program - Samoans, Tongans and Fijians. Two of them are ministers of the Uniting Church, Rev Sani and Rev Ikani. We are really blessed.

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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The funeral of Epi Dakai Ratawa at Vatuadova

from w
Talei from Vatuadova kindly put 71 photos on facebook taken this morning at the funeral of Epi Dakai Ratawa at Vatuadova village. Peceli, Andrew and Andrew Junr are there after flying from Melbourne to Nadi on Tuesday night then on to Labasa.  Even though it is not quite finished, they were able to use the new church at Vatuadova.

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Moana rising of the sea - the film

from w
The film will be released soon but already there have been stage productions. See two youtube video clips.. And there's a reference to the film version in today's Fiji Times.  To me, telling the story through dance, drama, music, art is always more interesting than seminars and debates and long lectures.

  • Moana: The rising of the sea (video clip 1) - YouTube
    Dec 8, 2013 - Uploaded by Rolando Cocom
    The show depicts various cultural dances/songs of Pacific Islands facing climate change.... In this clip - it's ...
    Dec 5, 2013 - Uploaded by Christopher Ward
    By the Oceania Centre for Arts, Culture and Pacific Studies Introduced by Professor Vilisoni Hereniko, University .

  • Moana: The rising of the sea

    Torika Tokalau
    Thursday, April 17, 2014
    THE Pacific message of climate change and the rise in sea levels was loud and clear in the world premiere of Vilsoni Hereniko's film Moana — The Rising of the Sea on Tuesday at the Oceania Film Festival.
    Hereniko said the challenge during the making of the film was capturing the strong emotional effect from a stage performance onto film about the issues highlighted. And after a positive appreciation from film lovers on Tuesday, Hereniko was satisfied that that was achieved.
    "The film focuses on the human dimension of climate change, how it feels to be forced to abandon your homeland and everything you hold dear," he said.
    "There is an urgency, particularly for low-lying islands such as Kiribati and Tuvalu, that the film captures.
    "It makes us realise that the threat of being inundated with water is here, and will never go away. It will become more and more intense, and what are we going to do about this?
    "This is the message in this film."
    Hereniko said the issue highlighted in the film was one everyone that had ever lived or lives in a small Pacific Island nation could relate to.
    "For anyone who has lived or lives on an island surrounded by the deep, beautiful, but dangerous sea, the thought that one day your island will be submerged under water is a possibility too cruel to contemplate.
    "And yet, this is happening in several islands in Oceania already, with more islanders contemplating their imminent demise and what that would mean to them as a people, a culture, even a nation."
    He said it was important for him to stage the world premiere of the film in Fiji because the film originated from Fiji.
    The film was funded by the EU. The issues highlighted were portrayed by a brilliant cast from USP's School of Performing Arts from the 2011 music drama production.
    The stage production was directed and choreographed by Peter Rockford Espiritu, with original music by Igelese Ete.

    Monday, April 14, 2014

    Something good for the people of Udu

    from w
    The people who live at the extreme east end of Macuata have always had trouble regarding transport to Labasa but the plan for a barge to start operating is excellent news.
    From today's Fiji Times:

    New barge to boost shipping service

    Repeka Nasiko
    Tuesday, April 15, 2014
    A NEW shipping service for villages between Malau and Udu Point is expected to lessen travelling hours and transport woes.
    Acting Commissioner Northern Alipate Bolalevu said the MV Sigavou would service the new route.
    "There are a lot of agricultural products that need to be transported to main town centres and this new route will make it easier for villagers to take their produce to these places," he said.
    "The route will start this month from Suva and then it'll make its way to Malau then onto Udu Point and then to Cikobia, Naqelelevu and then to Saqani."
    Mr Bolalevu said about a thousand people would benefit from the service.
    "For the tikina of Tawake alone, there are about five villages and they will all benefit from it.
    "This will open the door to development in these areas."
    The MV Sigavou was commissioned by the Prime Minister in February.
    The ship is the first vessel to join the Government Shipping Service fleet after 29 years.
    Rear Admiral Bainimarama had announced that the new barge could carry 20 passengers and was purchased from Malaysia at a cost of $US2.6million ($4.7m).
    He said a second landing craft, with a 30-passenger capacity as well as cargo, would arrive from Malaysia this month.

    Sunday, April 13, 2014

    Children's Sunday in Labasa

    from w
    Yesterday was Children's Day in Fiji - a day when children dress in white with bow ties, or flowers, and are upfront at church services then have a nice lunch. These photos were taken at Vatuadova village yesterday by one of the girls. Today the scene is different, a vakatunaloa (tin and bamboo shed) is being built ready for the hundreds of visitors coming for a funeral later in the week. And tomorrow is Ateca's birthday. Life is certainly contractions - pleasure and pain. The funeral is for Peceli's younger brother Epi Dakai who was born on October 30th 1938 so he would be 75 years old.  Click on any photo to see the whole album.
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    Friday, April 11, 2014

    Geelong and Fiji

    from w
    Last night our family joined in with about two hundred people to fund-raise for a Fijian family where the grandmother has serious medical issues such as amputation because of diabetes. The medical care in Fiji is not as good as previous years and many patients do not get adequate care.  Church people and Geelong and Ballarat Fiji connected families met for dinner in the Belmont Uniting Church as were entertained by a fire dance, string band songs and the friendship and fellowship was great. A big crowd so some had to sit on mats on the floor. The food was really Oz with some cassava but that was fine. There is a generosity expressed in events such as this and the link between Geelong and Fiji affirmed.

    Tuesday, April 08, 2014

    To 'change the mindset'

    from w
    A relative brought me some Fiji newspapers and magazines this week and it was interesting to compare the Fiji Sun and Fiji Times. So different. Now, to the topic. I am sick and tired of the term 'change the mindset' that is bandied around a lot in Fiji particularly from a particular political point of view.  It is assuming that people have the wrong mindset - or point of view - or prejudice or frame of reference about life in Fiji.  I think this is actually rude because it is putting down people as ignorant.  Even a talatala at Centenary was using this term, according to a story in the Fiji Sun - which is of course a newspaper that is  slanted in one direction and loves such a term as 'change the mindset'.  The Methodist Church in Fiji already has an excellent spokesperson in the media, but I don't think Rev Bhagwan uses this term. It's alright to present ideas to attempt to influence people but you have to be respectful and just offer different ideas, not to say  to change your mindset that is wonky!

    Open Pulpit for Guest Preachers aims to ‘Change Mindset’

    Methodists want to walk the talk about harmony, multiculturalism
    The Methodist Church in Fiji aims to change  mindsets by inviting guest preachers to the Centenary Church in Suva.
    Reverend John Samuel, was the first preacher to take up the invitation yesterday. He had arrived in the country in January to teach at the Pacific Theological College in Nasese, Suva. He is from Madurai, Tamil Nadu, South India.
    He has been a preacher for the past 25 years. The church’s senior minister Eroni Moce said he invited Reverend Samuel to help change the mindset of the people.
    “It is easy for people to preach or talk about multicultural, multiracial and not to discriminate but it is hard for people to actually do it,” he said.
    “I invited Reverend Samuel for a purpose and that is to help change the mindset of the people as the people here are usually seeing iTaukei share the word of God but today (yesterday) it is different.”
    He added people need to change their mindset and not just to say but do things.
    “The people that were present today (yesterday) were enthusiastic to know what the preacher will teach,” Mr Moce said.
    “I believe everyone who went home today was happy with the changes we are trying to do which will definitely help them spiritually.”
    Reverend Samuel said it was a privilege to preach at the Centenary Church yesterday and hopes to do it more often.
    “Today (yesterday) I preached about resurrection and how Jesus died on the cross so that our sins are forgiven,” the 57-year-old said.
    “I chose to share this message as Easter is in a few weeks time and glad that God has plans for me.”
    He also added the service was joyful and exciting as people were attentive and listened with interest.
    Reverend Samuel will return to India in June.