Thursday, January 29, 2015

Messages from the past

from w
A friend on facebook posted these - came from an autograph book of her relatives.  One from Setareki Tuilovoni, the other from John Havea.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Painting an old village

from w
Peceli did his painting on canvas quickly with acrylics. ( I have only sketched bits and pieces so far for mine with the pelicans.) I helped him with the fiddly bits with a fine brush. He wanted to paint a Fijian village with the old-style bures.

Honour to Peter Drysdale

from Peceli,
Our Rotary friend in Lautoka who has worked very hard in developing housing for the poor by establishing a village called Koroipita has been honoured with the Order of Australia. Congratulations.  Our friend Anton VanDoornik also received an honour this week, the medal of the Order of Australia for his work with Donation in Kind in Geelong which is about sending containers of hospital beds, medical equipment, books, clothes, kitchenware, etc. to South Pacific Islands and in South East Asia. Wendy and I are volunteers with the Geelong Donation in Kind.

Drysdale honours appointment

Litia Mathewsell
Thursday, January 29, 2015

BEING appointed a Member of the Order of Australia while residing and working outside the country is not commonplace, but nonetheless, Peter Drysdale welcomes the honour.
The prolific Lautoka-based Rotarian's name was among selected Australians recognised for their remarkable efforts in the Australia Day 2015 Honours List, announced earlier this week.
He is being honoured for being of significant service to the international community through the provision of low-cost housing for disadvantaged persons in Fiji.
He said he would travel to Canberra in April for the investiture ceremony.
"I will be taking my family along in recognition of their great sacrifice," Mr Drysdale said.
"My wife Josephine and our children left Fiji 17 years ago for their education and other reasons and my family has made a great sacrifice to allow me to pursue my career at Williams and Gosling and this project at Koroipita. I call that the untold story."

from the Fiji Times: Manual for township

Litia Mathewsell
Thursday, February 05, 2015
THE chairman of the Koroipita Housing Project at Naikabula, Lautoka, plans to soon compile a manual that will allow the easy replication of the model township.
Peter Drysdale said he strongly believed such a concept should be implemented across the country to cater for the increasing number of urban drifters from rural and maritime areas, and what he believes would be an influx of climate change refugees.
"Climate change refugees are already happening because their place is overpopulated for starters," Mr Drysdale said.
He said an i-Kiribati woman claiming to be a climate change refugee approached him at Koroipita about two months ago and asked for a house.
"For all the conferences that go on constantly for climate change, I don't think a practical plan is emerging as to where these people will be resettled, as to what form of housing and as to how they will be assimilated into our society."

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Labasa shop opening hours

from w
An 'exhilerated environment' in Labasa, they say !  I hardly think that shopping is so exciting as this.
A letter to the Editor of the Fiji Times is about extending opening hours till 8 p.m. two days a week.  Surely you can do all your shopping by 6 p.m.  Would the extra two hours make Labasa town 'exciting' Will later buses mean kids hang around the shops till dark?  Surely families ought to be home by then to have their evening meal and do family things - homework, etc.

Bid to foster excitement

Salaseini Moceiwai
Wednesday, January 28, 2015
IN a bid to foster an exhilarated environment, the Labasa Chamber of Commerce has come up with a proposal for the extension of business hours in the northern town.
And the bus operators have welcomed the idea, saying the move was one that would benefit everyone.
The proposal was presented at a stakeholders meeting in Labasa on Monday night.
Commerce president Satish Kumar said this was a way of invigorating an exciting night life in Labasa.
"It would rather be tried out for two days and we have come up with Thursday and Friday as these are two busy days of the week," Mr Kumar said.
"We propose to extend the business hours from 8am to 8pm instead of 8am to 6pm for these two days. If all goes according to plan, we will include some more days.
"This is part of efforts to bring about positive changes into Labasa. We all know that after 6pm, Labasa Town is usually empty and the night life is not as exciting as Suva, Lautoka and Nadi.
"At least with the extension of the business hours, we will be somehow boosting the northern economy.
Fiji Bus Operators Association vice-president and Parmod Enterprises Ltd owner Parmod Chand said they were willing to provide their services to the travelling public until 8pm.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Babasiga women go to Taveuni

from w
Some of our babasiga relatives recently went over to Taveuni to help the move of the talatala and radini ni talatala from Wailevu village to Welagi village in Taveuni.  Ateca and Talei posted pictures on their facebook pages about their delightful trip so here are some of their photos. They are of course Ratawa women!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Potential seasonal workers for NZ have to pass a hundred tests

from w
It amazes me that potential seasonal workers have to pass a hundred tests to be eligible.  Normally seasonal workers are pack packers, people passing through, without credentials except a willingness to work.  Read this -  from the Fiji Sun.  Don't they just love red tape in Fiji!

“To ensure that the selection process is transparent, the Ministry has developed two sets of Selection Criteria to be fulfilled by prospective applicants before a final Barrel Selection is executed to determine the successful applicants for overseas employment under the New Zealand RSE work scheme.
“Under the general criteria, Fijian nationals interested for overseas employment must first register with the National Employment Centre (NEC), must be Unemployed, must be living in the rural setting, must hold a  medical card issued by the Ministry of Health, possess a valid Fiji Passport, have Police clearance and hold a clean Police record, have a general health medical clearance, be of good character, must be English literate, must have some skills in agro-farming (etc.), reside in Fiji, must be accountable and a team player, must be honest and hardworking, and must have the clearance to travel overseas. As the New Zealand RSE targets low skilled workers, applicants with minimal education background are encouraged to apply.
“Under the second set of selection criteria which is the specific criteria, workers must pass physical fitness tests, pass the Rapid Upper Limp Assessment, have acceptable BMI (Body Mass Index: <29 a="" and="" audiometry="" be="" by="" clearance="" colour="" doctor="" ear="" ecg="" employment.="" eye="" function="" have="" lung="" medical="" ministry="" occupational="" of="" p="" pass="" specified="" stress="" tests="" the="" to="" vision="">
The Minister emphasised that to be considered for the selection process, an applicant must fulfil two basic requisites, namely to be registered with the National Employment Centre for overseas employment, and hold a valid Fiji Passport.
Mr Konrote also cautioned recruiters who were taking money from people on the pretext of acquiring them a place under the RSE scheme.
He said those wishing to be considered under the scheme must apply through the Ministry of Employment, Industrial Relations and Productivity, and not go through any other external parties. DEPTFO News

It's easier just to get a visitor visa perhaps, cross your fingers and touch wood, and then when the shout of 'tevoro' rings out, run for your lives amidst the fruit trees.
Young people from specified countries can come to Australia on a 417 visa (for under 30 years of age) and are allowed to work for part of their year-long holiday.  But beware of unscrupulous business people wo do not pay the normal wage of about $22 an hour etc.  Such as this story in today's ABC news:

Workplace watchdog says Tasmanian business paid backpacker $1.35 an hour

The promise of sunshine, adventure and a decent wage draws thousands of young people to Australia on working holiday visas every year. But the country's workplace watchdog says too many backpackers are being ripped off by unscrupulous employers. Now the Fairwork Ombudsman is taking legal action against a Tasmanian business owner it says paid an Italian worker less than $1.50 an hour.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

A resourceful babasiga woman

from w
The women in Labasa are often quite resourceful and work hard to support their families. Here is one example.

Fishing for the family

Josaia Ralago
Friday, January 16, 2015
ANA Biausavu Niusoria is a well-known woman in Labasa.
A vendor at the Labasa market, Nau Ana, as she is known, sells varieties of goods from mats and wreaths to fish.
She said it was important for women to contribute to the running of the family financially.
Mrs Niusoria said with the earnings she made from her vending business, she was able to cover for her family's expenses like electricity bills, water bills and hire-purchase payments.
Originally from Viwa Island in Yasawa, Mrs Niusoria sells a variety of goods depending on the demand for them.
She said that even though she was a handicraft person by profession, fishing was always her hobby.
The mother of one said the passion to fish stemmed from her childhood days growing up on the island of Viwa.
Unlike others, Nau Ana goes out to sea to catch her own fish. At times, she is accompanied by her daughter and sometimes she goes with other fishermen and women.
The Fiji Times caught up with her as she displayed her catch in an ice box after returning from an overnight fishing trip.
The fresh fish was ready to be taken down to the market to be sold.
She said that her husband was on leave from his work for now and it was her business that was keeping her family going.
Mrs Niusoria also receives orders for mats and tapa from customers on Viti Levu.
"I have a lot of clients and when they call, I send the items through courier and even though it may be a hassle at times, I do it anyway for my family's sake," she said.
"Now I have a daughter who will attend secondary school so my business has helped us very well.
"I believe women can do a lot. We can weave mats, make baskets and even do flower arrangements which contributes to the family income."
Mrs Niusoria encouraged women living in villages to utilise their resources and earn an income from it.
"We just need to know our goals in life and what we want to do for our families and only then can we achieve our dreams including educating our children," she said.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Volcano in Tonga waters

from w
Plane flights have been disrupted this week as an underwater volcano spews up ash and stuff and the cloud of ash means the cancellation of some flights in the South Pacific region.  Let's hope it is clearing up soon for stranded passengers.  Also, I hope that this will not affect the health of people in the small islands.  Go to this website for photos. Coincidentally or not, the sea has turned red near Tongatapu. However some say it is a kind of algae bloom.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

More about text books in Fiji

from w
A letter to the Editor of the Fiji Times  suggests that all children in Fiji schools be given a tablet to be able to have all their textbooks on-line.  Okay if the schools or homes have electricity and internet.  So I just wondered what the e-material is like in Fiji.  I found that the Year 11 English is vast and quite interesting and if a boy or girl does well in it they will be very fluent.  However the Year 9 doesn't go very far so far - only a novel about Indian Indenture in Fiji and 100 pages of notes.  What about creative writing too?
And for Years 12, 13, 14

From Year Nine Education Department Fiji to download – 100 pages on the novel by a Fiji Punjabi writer.
The Morning
The Morning is a novel in English based on the indenture system (girmit) in Fiji. It is written in a powerful yet simple style and in this book he has told us a beautiful story of the triumph of illiterate and poverty-striken people over the oppression of commercial exploitation of Colonial Sugar Refining Company of Australia.


Available tablets
HOW about we introduce tablets to our schools and have every textbook on soft copy.
That way we wont have to buy textbooks. And as we progress have workbooks on them also and when writing essays or homework the child just email their work to the teacher.
It will make schooling fun. But of course we will put restrictions on the tablet.
Kava Pl Lautoka

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Free text books for Fiji but there's a catch

from w
Free textbooks to all students in Fiji - but there's a catch. The Bainimarama government people want to be popular with ordinary people so make rash promises such as parents no longer have to buy textbooks for school students. But there's a catch. They haven't printed the material yet so teachers have to use old books. Secondly they can give one copy of each book to a school to photocopy, or put the material on a website to download and print out. Now who's going to pay for all of that printing ink? The story is in the Fiji Sun newspaper today but they jam their pages so that we can't copy them, though I think there's a way to by-pass that with PrintScreen.

I've now noticed the same information on Fiji times online stories.  And do all students have equal access with home computers?  Or the ink to print out relevant material?

Free textbooks

Tevita Vuibau
Thursday, January 08, 2015
PARENTS will no longer be burdened with buying school textbooks for the 2015 school year.
This as the Ministry of Education has begun printing materials for classes and subjects and these materials will be transported to all schools in Fiji.
A Government statement released yesterday said school heads had been informed to refrain from giving out textbook lists to parents and instead use the materials they had until a full set of materials was provided by the ministry.
"The schools will also have a soft copy of the full set of materials, which the students can make copies of for their use if they have access to computers at home," the statement said.
And soft copies of all materials will be uploaded to the ministry's home page to allow students and parents from Years 1 to 13 the ability to download all materials.
Minister for Education Dr Mahendra Reddy made the announcements to his senior staff early this week.
"Parents and guardians are to be relieved of buying prescribed textbooks by the Ministry of Education," Dr Reddy was quoted saying in the statement.
"All students in the primary and secondary schools will be provided with a set of the prescribed textbook by March of this year at the latest.
"Teachers are to ensure that each student has access to all prescribed textbooks for their relevant subjects."
Meanwhile, school term one for 2015 begins on January 19 and ends on April 24.
And a letter to the Editor on Friday January 9th. about the timing of the announcement.

Textbook announcement
FREE textbooks for 2016 is welcomed across the country.
For 2016, could the Education Ministry please announce "free textbooks" early?
The fact is that most parents have already procured and even covered with brown paper and cellophane all textbooks (and exercise books) for this school year. This, we did in December to avoid last-minute hassle.
No, I am not complaining about having to buy books; it's our duty as parents. We received the book lists for our children on their third term parents' day last year.
However, what does bother me is the late, very late timing of announcement regarding free textbooks for 2015. If such schemes are to be continued, please announce before the end of this school year to avoid double spending, by parents and by Government.
Early announcement and notification of schools will mean no textbook list issued by schools for next year.
Please take this as a suggestion from a parent.
Happy school year, children!

Interesting news from Tonga

from w
I read with interest that Tonga now has a 'commoner' Prime Minister, a former activist, so times are changing eh.  From Fiji One.

Akilisi Pohiva Tonga’s new PM

eight_col__U__Akilisi_PohivaTonga’s parliamentarians have elected the veteran democracy campaigner, Akilisi Pohiva, as the country’s new prime minister.
The vote was 15 in favour of Mr Pohiva to the 11 garnered by the former deputy prime minister, Samiu Vaipulu, an independent MP.
It is the end of an election cycle that began nearly five weeks ago with Tonga’s second elections under a more democratic system.
Those reforms had been advocated by Mr Pohiva since he began working as a teacher and broadcaster in the 1970s.
He has been the longest serving elected MP, first coming into the House in 1987.
Mr Pohiva has often been at odds with the Tongan establishment, having been jailed on several occasions and losing jobs because of his political views.
But today’s vote indicates he got support from outside his Democratic Party, which has just 10 seats in the 26 member House.
- See more at:

'Akilisi Pohiva, Tonga's new Prime Minister

Nuku'alofa, Tonga
‘Akilisi Pohiva with Samiu Vaipulu outside Parliament House, 29 December
‘Akilisi Pohiva was declared Tonga’s new Prime Minister this afternoon by the Interim Speaker of the Tongan Parliament Lord Tupou.
‘Akilisi won the Prime Ministerial election with a vote of 15-11 from the other nominee, Samiu Vaipulu (the former Deputy Prime Minister).
‘Akilisi becomes the first commoner to be elected as the Prime Minister of Tonga under Tonga’s new system of government that was introduced in 2010.
Following the election of the Prime Minister the House also elected the former Prime Minister Lord Tu’ivakano as the new Speaker of the Tongan Parliament, with Lord Tu’i’afitu (the former Minister of Health) as the Deputy Speaker.
Again the vote was 15-11 for the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker.
The next big task for the elected Prime Minister is to select a Deputy Prime Minister and 12 Memembers of his Cabinet.
A new Tongan government should be in place by the New Year.
and from Australian media;

Akilisi Pohiva was instrumental in the push to reduce the power of the monarchy in Tonga, which ruled until 2010.

A Tongan politician who has previously been jailed for his efforts to reduce the power of monarchy in the kingdom has become the country's first commoner to be elected prime minister.
Akhilisi Pohiva defeated former deputy prime minister Samiu Vaipulu 15 to 11 in a secret ballot in the capital Nuku'alofa.
Mr Pohiva was instrumental in the push to reduce the powers of the king.
Local journalist Fatai Fainga'a said he appeared to be a popular choice.
"I can tell the majority of the public were very excited with the results," she said.
"The result has been submitted to his majesty King Tupou VI and I do believe he was happy with it, despite that fact that Akilisi has a history of always opposing the royal family."
Mr Pohiva was first elected in 1987 and is the longest serving MP in the Tongan parliament.
He was jailed in 1996 for contempt of parliament and was charged with sedition in the wake of the 2006 pro-democracy riots in Nuku'alofa.
Mr Pohiva was one of only five people's representatives to keep their seats at last month's election, which saw 12 representatives and one noble dumped by voters.
Nine members of Tonga's 26-seat parliament are chosen solely by the 33 members of the country's nobility.
The other 17 seats are elected by the people and Mr Pohiva's Democratic Party of the Friendly Islands controls nine of those seats.
Ms Fainga'a said Mr Pohiva used his first speech to appeal to the nobles to cooperate in further reforms.
"He also called on the noble representatives to parliament for more cooperation in order to move Tonga forward for more democratic government," she said.
"This is a huge step forward for that democracy - him being prime minister."
Last year, Mr Pohiva's party attempted to push more political reforms including direct election of the prime minister and allowing the public to vote for the nine noble seats.
November's election was only the second in which Tongan commoners have been able to elect the majority of MPs.
Prior to the election in 2010, the king held the power to appoint the cabinet.
Former prime minister Fred Sevele, who was also a commoner, was appointed by the king, but Mr Pohiva is the first elected to the role.