Thursday, March 03, 2016

Does a bure withstand the storm?


letter to the Editor of the Fiji Times: Paul Geraghty,Usp, Suva | Thursday, March 3, 2016
In the wake of the recent cyclone, there has been some discussions about the best type of house to withstand winds of such force.

Well, the photos published in The Fiji Times last week from Nanoko and Naibalebale in Viwa (24/2, 26/2) show clearly that the vale vakaviti (traditional Fijian house, known to some as bure) has done remarkably well.
All seem to have come through relatively unscathed, and the one that appears to have collapsed in Nanoko would have preserved the occupants well and not caused harm to anyone.
One vale vakaviti even withstood a large breadfruit tree falling on it.
Such houses are not only relatively cyclone resistant, they are less likely to maim and kill, as does flying roofing iron, are ideal in all weathers, environmentally sustainable and aesthetically pleasing, and their manufacture contributes to the maintenance of a tradition that enhances social cohesion and encourages pride in workmanship.
Yet I will wager that not one government department or NGO is urging or helping people to build this type of house. While preserving our heritage and using what is locally available is preached in other areas, in house-building we seem determined to kill traditional knowledge and make future generations dependent on hardware stores.

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