Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Marijuana as a commercial crop?

I don't think so. We don't want the youth of Fiji stoned and aimless with drug-taking. There is a difference though if the speaker in Parliament is talking about medical uses for marijuana but he didn't say that. It can be used for serious pain such as cancer but the farming of medical marijuana would have to be well organised.
From Fiji Times:

Mixed views over pot bid

Aqela Susu
Thursday, April 27, 2017
The Minister for Defence and National Security, Ratu Inoke Kubuabola, told Parliament yesterday he would not recommend to Government the legalisation of marijuana in Fiji.
He made this comment in response to a supplementary question by Social Democratic Liberal Party (SODELPA) Member of Parliament Niko Nawaikula who asked the minister if he would at any time recommend to Government the commercial planting of marijuana in Fiji.
Mr Nawaikula said this was because people were planting marijuana as a source of income.
"I don't think I'd like to recommend to Government the legalisation of marijuana in Fiji," Ratu Inoke said.
Mr Nawaikula's comment, however, drew mixed reactions.
Last night Opposition Leader Ro Teimumu Kepa differed from Mr Nawaikula's call, saying it was his "own opinion".
"I haven't heard him mention anything like that before. I think he took everyone by surprise and to me, it is his own personal opinion which he is entitled to," Ro Teimumu said.
She also clarified that Mr Nawaikula's call was not part of SODELPA's policy.
Former SODELPA youth leader Pita Waqavonovono spoke out strongly about what Mr Nawaikula said, saying there were other agricultural products that could be cultivated and marketed.
"Marijuana is actually a dying market and an unpopular one also," Mr Waqavonovono said.
"We are trying to build a society that is not dependent on hard drugs, making it legal is a cop-out. And young people want Parliament to come up with more substantive measures to employment creation, and legalising marijuana won't help."
Two frequent letter writers to The Fiji Times Letters to the Editor column agreed with Mr Nawaikula's call for the legalisation of marijuana for commercial purposes.
Simon Hazelman of Savusavu said as with alcohol and tobacco, marijuana needed to be legalised for control and taxes.
"Ratu Inoke Kubuabola's reply simply confirms the ruling party's tunnel vision regarding the issue. The least Government can do for now is to initiate an investigation of the benefits of commercial marijuana farming," Mr Hazelman said. "The simple fact that the variety used to produce products is of no use to stoners is enough for Government to remove the blinkers and seriously look into the matter."
Nadi lawyer Dorsami Naidu said Government should look at it as a crop that could earn this country a lot of foreign exchange.
Meanwhile, attempts to get comments from Agriculture Minister Inia Seruiratu and Trade Minister Faiyaz Koya remained unsuccessful when this edition went to press last night.

Plan for a hostel for Labasa

This sounds like an excellent idea.  Is St Mary's Hostel still going?  For many, many years the Anglican Church in Labasa had a hostel for girls in Labasa.  No, it was closed two years ago.

Group to build hostel

Luke Rawalai
Thursday, April 27, 2017
THE women's wing of the Macuata Methodist Church circuit plans to construct a girl's hostel that will house female students schooling in Labasa Town soon.
Women's wing president Kelera Tuiwanikai said the hostel would host students within the circuit from Cikobia Island extending to Dreketi in Vanua Levu.
Ms Tuiwainikai said most times, female students from these interior areas had to live with their relatives.
"The women's wing has already managed to collect $24,000 from our soli and we are to decide on other issues regarding the plan," she said.
"In line with Government's focus of developing the North, we found it ideal to construct a hostel for our female students in the circuit.
"We understand that the Fiji National University and other tertiary institutions, including colleges will be brought to Labasa soon and the hostel will complement such developments, providing students with a place to stay in."
Ms Tuiwainikai said they were yet to identify a suitable piece of land for the planned home.
"We had earlier selected one but it was under an agricultural lease so we are looking around again," she said.
"The project is for a worthy cause and the fact that we would be opening doorways for children within the circuit in future is something that we are proud of.
"There are 19 circuits within the Macuata circuit and each circuit raises $200 annually for the cause and the general administration of the women's wing."
--------------------
St Mary's Hostel in Labasa was closed two years ago.

Church closes hostel

Serafina Silaitoga
Monday, December 14, 2015
THE Anglican church has closed its St Mary's hostel in Labasa as deteriorating condition poses risks to the safety of boarders.
The closure means that girls from rural areas who depend on the hostel for accommodation will have to look elsewhere come the new school term.
Church parish priest Father Gerald Billings said they made the toughest decision but was best for all.
"With pressing realities and demands that have now emerged, the Anglican Church of the Diocese of Polynesia had to make an urgent and hard pressing decision on the future of St Mary's hostel," he said.
"The church cannot guarantee the safety of all those under our care and thus the sensible need to take precautionary approach.
"This is a big factor in the closure of the hostel and another reality is the escalating cost of running St Mary's hostel which is now beyond our means."
Mr Billings said the Diocese through special funds had helped keep the hostel afloat.
"However, after two years, the sheer amount needed has brought realisation that the church cannot afford to sustain it any longer," he said.
"There is also a clear decline in the number of girls coming forward to the hostel."
Over the past years, the Ministry of Labour had also issued OHS notices to the hostel board even notices of closure. Mr Billings said the board met last month and decided to close the hostel.
"The first reality is the difficulty in ensuring a safe place to take care of young women. There are possible fire hazards within an aged building and we cannot risk fire from faulty electrical wiring or any other means," he said.
"We used to have 100 boarders and the number dropped to around 30.
"Parents in rural areas have also been buying affordable houses in the outskirts of Labasa and their children have also moved there instead."

Friday, April 21, 2017

The American iguana pest

We don't want this American iguana pest in Vanua Levu!  But apparently one (or more) have swum over to Vanua Levu. Some silly tourist brought some American iguana to Qamea Island and now they have spread to parts of Taveuni and even swum to Koro Island!  Not happy at all!

American iguana culled

Luke Rawalai
Saturday, April 22, 2017
AN American Iguana commonly known as the Giant Invasive Iguana (GII) discovered in Savusavu has been culled and returned to Qamea by the Biosecurity Authority of Fiji (BAF).
The authority confirmed this after the iguana was first sighted in Qamea in 2000 and the neighbouring Laucala, Matagi and Taveuni islands by 2009.
A statement from the authority yesterday said this was the first time GII had been found anywhere on Vanua Levu.
"It is unclear at this stage how the GII made its way to Natewa Bay, Savusavu," the statement said.
"There is a possibility that GIIs were involuntarily assisted across the sea during tropical cyclone Winston.
"Although GII is an arboreal lizard, it has the ability to dive into the sea to escape predators and swim long distances."
The authority said it was alerted of the new GII sighting by local fishermen at a beach situated at the base of Natewa Bay approximately 20 kilometres from Savusavu Town.
"BAF responded swiftly and deployed its GII surveillance and awareness team for identification of the iguana and confirmed it as GII," the statement said
"The team then conducted a thorough survey of the area and visited local villages to conduct awareness. No further GIIs have been sighted in the area or areas nearby."
In 2011, the then permanent secretary for the agriculture minister, Colonel Mason Smith said there were possibilities of the reptile swimming to Buca Bay following a sighting in Koro Island.
Col Smith said then that if it could get to Koro, it could certainly get across to Buca Bay adding they were closely monitoring the situation.
However, the latest statement from the authority requested members of the public not to be alarmed, adding that the GII was primarily a herbivore.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Cane harvesters for Labasa

Something different from the cane gangs who cut cane in Fiji and are paid a pittance.  Will this be the way to go in the future - to use mechanical harvesters though I don't think they'd be very safe on the hills.
Fiji Times story:

New harvesters to benefit farmers

Luke Rawalai
Thursday, April 20, 2017
AN estimated 20,000 tonnes of sugar cane is expected to be harvested from the two new harvesters recently purchased by the Labasa Cane Producers Association.
The association's president Mohammed Rafiq said the two mechanical harvesters were purchased from India at a cost of $720,000.
Mr Rafiq said the two harvesters were estimated to generate an income of $330,000 for the association.
"This year the board and management proceeded towards buying the harvester and decided to buy Shaktiman brand from Gujrat, India," he said.
"The harvesters are in Labasa, assembled and ready to harvest cane in Waiqele and the Seaqaqa area.
"Last year the association's general assembly approved the purchase of the two mechanical harvesters." Mr Rafiq said proceedings from the harvesters' operations would benefit all sugarcane growers in the Labasa mill area.
"During the 2017 annual general meeting the gang representatives of LCPA had approved the following benefits to farmers — pre-harvest assistance with the provision of knives and files, weedicide subsidy, death benefit of $500 per farmer," he said.
However, during the association's annual general meeting last month farmers raised their concerns on whether farmers in hilly areas where harvesters could not harvest cane farms would be assisted in any way.
Responding to these concerns, Mr Rafiq said they could not find a harvester that could work on farms in hilly areas.
He said with the two harvesters now harvesting cane in the flat areas, labourers would now be spread out to the hilly areas.

Korowiri school

A school in Labasa will have a teacher's quarters built and one of the purposes is for the teacher to guard the school out of hours!
Go to http://fijisun.com.fj/2017/04/19/northern-primary-school-to-finally-get-teachers-quarters-after-42-years/
The photo is of children from the Korowiri/Tovata school when they received schoolbags.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Thanks Akuila

A letter to the Editor of the Fiji Times:
Honestly speaking I believe honestly speaking Pio Tikoduadua hit the nail on the head (The Sunday Times 16.04.17) that Fiji's biggest problem at the moment is that nobody's opinion matters, except those of the Prime Minister and the Attorney-General. It's a matter of deep and worrying concern. There seems to be a dearth of such display of costly courage in Fijian society at the moment. This does present a challenge though to leaders and especially politicians, civil servants and civil society organisations. All should take up responsibilities to uphold freedom in relation to restrictions, especially imposed by decrees on the part of state power.

 Rev. Akuila Yabaki Suva

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Don't forgot your home language

Embracing Fiji-Hindi

Shayal Devi 
Monday, April 17, 2017 (from Fiji Times)
MORE needs to be done to maintain and embrace Fiji Hindi as a part of the hybrid identity of Fijians of Indian descent.
This is according to Auckland, New Zealand, resident Quishile Charan.
The University of Auckland student, who has links to Fiji, was one of the participants during an academic conference in Saweni last month, which focused on the abolishment of the indentured system 100 years ago.
"For me, as a person who lost their mother tongue because of the move to a Western country and the resulting racism incurred, relearning Fijian Hindi as a young adult has been vital to my cultural heritage," she said.
"There is a notion of Fijian Hindi being a lesser or broken language and as a community, we need to embrace and maintain the unique language as it is a gift from our ancestors and pivotal to our hybrid identity."
According to Ms Charan, younger Fijians of Indian descent needed to understand how the language was brought about in order to appreciate it fully.
"One of the ways we can grow the passion for our language in the younger generations would be to help the next generation understand how our language was made, that it was formed in times of survival and played a key role in the formation of our current community.
"Fijian Hindi is not dormant in the past, it plays a key role to our cultural identity in contemporary times and it is specific to us as a people.
"To hegemonise a unique language to a dominant one would only harm us and our continual growth as Fijians of Indian descent.
"Fijian Hindi is a reflection of us, of our history, of our relationship to Viti and our ancestral roots in India. Erasing that is erasing parts of ourselves."
Similar sentiments were echoed by University of the South Pacific academic Professor Vijay Naidu, who said the descendants of indentured labourers who arrived in Fiji more than 100 years ago had undergone many changes.
He said the most significant changes occurred in the areas of culture, language and social class.
"The indentured system basically demolished the caste system," Prof Naidu said.
"In Fiji, from the 1920s right through to the 1940s, there were talks of an Indian Government because there was a diverse group of people from India who had their own language and even culture and the obvious caste systems.
"But over time, the Fiji-Indian identity in particular became more significant."
Identity wise, Prof Naidu said the Indo-Fijian identity became more prominent during the post-indenture period.
"What developed was a more distinct Fiji-Indian or Indo-Fijian identity. The origin of the word Indo-Fijian was born in the 1950s.
"Being an Indian in Fiji separated you from the rest and the sense of being an Indian in Fiji became stronger when people moved overseas.
"A group of Indo-Fijians attended a university in India and they were called Fijians. That was a national-based identity.
"There was a loss of language especially to the more distinct ones like Tamil and Gujarati, south or north India but with a loss in language there is also a gain in language and we have now Fiji-Hindi."
He also added today's Fijians of Indian descent were more likely to be fluent in an iTaukei language or dialect depending on where they lived.
"Especially in areas like Vanua Levu. You have Indo-Fijians who go as far as speaking the dialect," Prof Naidu said.
"Likewise for the iTaukei. In the Ba Province and in Nadroga there are those who are very fluent in the Fiji-Hindi language."

Thursday, April 06, 2017

Honey in Mali Island

A small story in the Fiji Times is about the honey boxes and this seems to be an excellent innovation for a small cottage industry. Three of the villages are on Mali Island and one is out of Labasa near the snake stone temple.  Matailabasa belongs to the vanua of Mali.

Vesi find more jobs from bees

LUISA QIOLEVU
Thursday, April 06, 2017
Update: 5:32PM VILLAGERS of Vesi on Mali Island found more job opportunities through their beekeeping projects since they first began on 2015.
The four villagers  Matailabasa, Vesi, Nakawaga and Ligaulevu each received 20 honey boxes and they managed to earn around $8000 after their first harvest on 2016.
District representative Seru Moce said the honey production has proven to be a profitable business for the four villages.
"This project has inspired women to be productive, to utilise the resources available to earn income for their families and women groups from each villages even produces handicraft to earn money. 
We have realised that we need to work together to uplift the lives of our families. The men also help  harvesting  the honey and the profit is shared equally among the villagers,� he said.


Wednesday, April 05, 2017

Farewell Rinieta

Isa, our lovely niece, Rinieta,  passed away this week in Suva, and her funeral will be tomorrow at Vatuadova village near Labasa.  She has been a great worker for women in Fiji and a much loved member of our familiy mataqali.


Two photos taken about 1972 when Rinieta lived with us at Nukutatava Beach. In the family picture she is the girl in the middle of the photo.


Fijians in Perth Australia

from the Fiji Times Thursday:

Crossways for Fijians

James Bhagwan
Wednesday, April 05, 2017
The Crossways community in Perth became the latest Cross-Cultural Church of the Uniting Church in Australia last month, as more than 30 members of the Methodist Church in Fiji were formally welcomed in a service of belonging, presided by Western Australia Moderator, Reverend Steve Francis.
The service, held eight months after a monthly Fijian worship was started at Crossways under the pastoral care of Rev William Lucas, a former divisional superintendent of the Indian Division in Fiji, who is one of the ministers serving at Crossways.
"I believe that today is a milestone for the Methodist family from Fiji," said Jioji Soqoiwasa who has been in Perth since 1996.
"We were looking and looking for a place of worship that we could call home." Mr Soqoiwasa, who became a lay preacher at a very young age while still in Fiji, shared a story with the congregation on how when he was only 19 years old he was appointed to go and serve on Vatoa Island as a lay pastor.
However because of his age, his father did not agree in the meeting and had the appointment revoked.
This caused a change in direction and vocation in Mr Soqoiwasa's life path but it did not weaken his spirituality.
The secondary schoolteacher learned to play rugby while teaching in Sigatoka and eventually moved to Perth to play rugby.
"Vinaka vakalevu to our Crossways family for allowing us to be a family, and letting us into your family."
This is not the first time that there has been a regular Fijian community worship gathering.
"When I came over in 1996, Rev Inoke Nabulivou, a former Methodist Church in Fiji president, was a Uniting Church minister in Perth and always held a Fijian service. I was blessed to work under him."
Although those gatherings were ad hoc and eventually became inconsistent, a seed had been planted for this community of faith.
"Sometimes we are hot, sometimes we are cold. But I am grateful for those who have helped us undertake a new exodus, just as our home church in Fiji is on their new exodus, and revive the community worship and strengthen our faith family as we join with Crossways."
Eventually the community held their first Fijian worship service at Crossways, and as I was passing through on mission work, I was honoured to preach the first sermon to the fledgling congregation, presenting them with a few Fijian-language Methodist hymn books.
When Methodist Church in Fiji deputy general secretary, Rev Ili Vunisuwai visited Perth in July last year, the community was strengthened and encourage to move further along in their journey.
While some members of the Fijian community, belong to other churches, the community worship allows the opportunity for gathering in the Fijian way — through worship and fellowship.
"My wife and I are elders in a Pentecostal Church," said Mr Soqoiwasa.
"But my heart was always burning for our Fijian community to worship together, the way our fathers and mothers worshipped."
Members of the Fijian community shared their testimonies of their years of searching for many of the Fijian community in Perth for a faith community which would not only welcome them but also allow space for worship in their own language.
One of the new members received during the service was former government minister and politician Ted Young, who had spent time also working in the Uniting Church's Frontier Services.
Frontier Services is a national charity working on behalf of people living in remote areas, which covers 85 per cent of Australia. Frontier Services supports the Uniting Church in Australia, through its network of Patrol Ministers, in their pastoral work with indigenous communities, isolated properties, mining sites and other remotely located communities.
In his testimony during the service, Mr Young shared about the opportunity to serve in these remote "outback" areas with Frontier Services, based in South Hedland, serving the whole Pilbara region in Western Australia, which has some of the world's most ancient natural landscapes, dating back two billion years and stretching more than 400,000 square kilometres.
"This was one of most remote areas in Australia, and I worked with predominantly Aboriginal (First People) communities.
"I must thank God for giving me that opportunity and utilising me to share my experiences to help my now fellow Australians living in very harsh conditions in the 'outback'."
On relocating to Perth to be closer with his son and grandchildren, Mr Young asked some fellow diasporic Fijians in Perth whether there was a Fijian language service anywhere.
He found out that unfortunately, after a number of attempts, the community had ceased gathering for worship in the vernacular.
"They told me that there was no service and I felt in me that we must try and gather our Fijian-speaking congregation because it was important that we worship together, particularly for our children and grandchildren growing up in Australia, so that they can experience how we worship back at home so that when they go to Fiji and attend worship they won't be lost."
The search for a church hall to worship in began, as did the search for a minister.
"They told me that Rev William Lucas from Fiji is here and I said I must find him and seek his help. So on my next R&R from the mines where I now work, when I came down to Perth, I was invited to drink kava.
"I went to my friend's house but while everyone was gathered, there was no kava. I asked my friends 'where is the kava?' and they told me we were going to Rev Lucas' home."
Mr Young could not hold back his desire and asked Rev Lucas straightaway for his help in starting the Fijian-language service.
"I thank the Lord and Rev Lucas for immediately saying yes and offering Crossways as a place that we could gather. I am very grateful to the Crossways community for their welcoming and acceptance of our community to be one of them."
As members of Crossways, they will attend the weekly English service and also hold fortnightly Fijian language services.
During the service the Fijian-speaking choir sang an anthem conducted by young Jeremy Vuniwaqa.
In his testimony during the service, Mr Vuniwaqa, who came to Australia from Fiji as a young boy, said he had found Crossways as a place to continue the family legacy of sacred music, as the new conductor of the Fijian choir.
"My father wanted his talent in music to be used as a service to God when we came to Australia.
"We spent five years in Melbourne, where my father was the choir master with the Fijian congregation there, and then we moved to Western Australia four years ago.
"It is a precious gift from God. And that is why my family and I will not stop using this gift and preaching the Word of God, by teaching His people the correct way to sing."
The Crossways community has welcomed their Fijian sisters and brothers with open arms, as was evident in the fellowship that followed after the service, which included a traditional Fijian ceremony in which the new members presented a tabua (whale's tooth) to Rev Frances.
The tabua, the most prized possession for Fijians, was a symbolic offering of themselves as members of the UCA and WA Synod.
The fellowship lunch shared by all was a time of making new relationships.
The reception of Fijian members in the Uniting Church was the first since the signing of a partnership agreement between the Uniting Church in Australia and the Methodist Church in Fiji.
Uniting Church president Stuart McMillan signed the partnership agreement at the Methodist Church in Fiji annual conference last August.
The agreement commits the two churches to work together in sharing their life and mission, affirming the shared Methodist heritage and history.
"Through this partnership agreement, we call on all our sisters and brothers, who have settled in Australia and who are members of the Methodist Church in Fiji to transfer their membership to the Uniting Church in Australia, which is our sister church, and with whom we have had a very long relationship.
"You will no longer sing the Lord's song in a strange land. You have found a home," said Methodist Church in Fiji president Rev Dr Tevita Banivanua in a congratulatory video message to the congregation at Crossways.
In his sermon, Rev Frances urged the new cross-cultural church to be devoted to each other and practice the unconditional love that binds all believers.
"Simplicity, serenity, spontaneity."
* Reverend James Bhagwan is an ordained Methodist minister and a citizen journalist. The opinions expressed in this column do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Methodist Church in Fiji or this newspaper.

Monday, April 03, 2017

Village headman

I am surprised to read that a non-indigenous person can become the head of a village. This seems to me for Fijians to be passing the buck, being irreponsible about culture, perhaps lazy, by allowing someone who is not indigenous Fijian to be headman.  The turaga ni mataqali is a position with cultural attachments so should be Fijian, not Indian men or women even if live within the physical boundaries of a village. The story is from the Fiji Times.

Village head

Litia Cava
Tuesday, April 04, 2017
PEOPLE of different ethnicities are allowed to become village headman (turaga-ni-Koro) if they live within the village boundaries and are appointed by the village council.
The iTaukei Affairs Board's deputy CEO Apakuki Kurusiga confirmed this yesterday.
Mr Kurusiga said non-iTaukei living within village boundaries could become the village headman.
He also revealed the board had received positive feedback from villagers during the village bylaw consultations on the appointment of an outsider to be a village headman.
"So far during our village bylaw consultations, a lot of people have been telling us that they preferred to appoint such people because they know the work of a village headman even though they are not from the village but are members of the village councils," he said.
"The village council is made up of everyone (people) living within the village boundary and those who are members of the landowning unit and those who are residing close by."
Mr Kurusiga also confirmed that Namaqumaqua Village in Serua now had a village headman who was a Fijian of Indian descent. When asked whether such change could affect the villagers, Mr Kurusiga said: "I do not think so because if they have the capability and they are appointed by the villagers, then why not appoint them as leaders."
The village headmen are paid by Government.

Sunday, April 02, 2017

The movie Moana and a petition

We Are Moana, We Are Maui


July 30, 2016
We Are Moana, We Are Maui

Kia ora, Fakaalofa lahi atu, Mālō e lelei, Tālofa lava, Bula vinaka, Kia orana, Ia ora na, Fakatalofa atu, Malo ni, Iorana, Mauri, Aloha and greetings Disney:

As Pacific scholars who have either studied Maui and his configuration of  (time) and  (space), or other aspects of Pacific histories and cultures, we are writing to raise our concerns in regards to your depiction of our culture hero Maui. Currently, there are ongoing international debates via social media by Pacific and non-Pacific peoples about the Disney portrayal of Mauiʼs body, facial features, and mannerisms. While we recognize that Moana is an animated fictional film, the character Maui is not a fictional character to us. He is a revered ancestor for some of us.

For many peoples of Pacific heritage who have either grown up in their homelands or in diasporic communities (homes abroad) in New Zealand, Australia and the United States, our connections to one another are maintained through our ancestral links to the Moana (Pacific Ocean); our kinship ties; and our genealogical and oral historical links to ancient gods, goddesses, heroes, heroines, cosmologies and cosmogonies.

The Moana, our sea of islands, is the Pacific Ocean our ancestors navigated and settled over 2000 years ago across the Oceania. The late Epeli Hauʻofa, an eminent Pacific scholar who coined the term sea of islands in 1993 wrote: Pacific peoples viewed the Moana as a sea of islands. The Moana was a place where they sailed to explore, to nurture  (relationships), to trade and to conquer. Our ancestors raised generations of skilled seafarers and navigators who used the stars, constellations, wave patterns, birds, fishes, winds and clouds to guide their way across the seas where they settled. In the islands they settled they passed onto their descendants indigenous understandings of the world. These understandings were explanations of their existence and would become the basis of their oral histories. Within these oral histories, Hauʻofa reminds us, that one “legendary Oceanic athlete was so powerful that during a competition he threw his javelin with such force that it pierced the horizon and disappeared until that night, when it was seen streaking across the skyline like a meteor. Every now and then it reappears to remind people of the mighty deed.” This athlete is Maui.

Though there are many stories of Maui and variations across the Pacific, there are underlying commonalities in the descriptions of his physical and mental attributes that were tempered by a great sense of humour. Mauiʼs feats are heliaki, beautiful poetic expressions, of resisting oppression and fighting injustice for the benefit of humanity. In essence, for many Pacific peoples, one of the grand messages of Maui’s stories is, to advocate for justice by transforming society. The specificity of Mauiʼs tale is unique to Oceania, but the generality of his legend is universal to all societies.

While the Moana, our sea of islands, would continue to sustain our populations and maintain our ancestral links it would also bring to our shores in the late 1700s and early 1800s interaction with papālagi (Europeans). This contact would invariably reshape our world views, histories and cultures through colonization and a new form of religious doctrine called Christianity. Perceptions of Pacific peoples in the early years of interaction with papālagi were often derogatory and belittling of indigenous cultures…Oceanic cultures were seen as savage, lascivious and barbaric(Hauʻofa 1993). Due to the “civilizing” effects of colonization and Christianity another depiction would inform views, this time through Hollywood film. Hereniko (1999) writes… from Bird of Paradise (1932, 1951) to South Pacific (1958) and The Thin Red Line (1998), Pacific Islanders, particularly Polynesian were portrayed as a simple people lacking in complexity, intellect, or ambition… When Pacific Islanders are not laughing, dancing, or feasting in this idyllic setting, they are often depicted as dangerous, evil, even cannibalistic. These kinds of portrayals by Hollywood films…linger long in the popular imagination, so much so that it is not uncommon [in the present day] for Pacific Islanders who travel to Europe to be asked if they are still cannibals.

The Hollywood stereotypical image of laughing, dancing, or feasting would decades later become linked to a number of health challenges that face our Pacific Island communities. These health challenges have given rise to physical stereotypes of Pacific peoples that are often explained by others as excesses of lifestyles due to too much laughing, dancing and feasting. It is much easier to lay blame for the current health challenges on lifestyle excesses rather than the impact of colonisation, environmental degradation and discrimination in its various forms on our social and economic outcomes.

In the same way we have navigated the mighty Moana we will also navigate the challenges that face our communities. We will do this through education. We believe that through education we will be able to build capacity and capability of Pacific peoples to pierce the horizon artistically, academically, economically and socially. It is the same story that your movie Moana will tell. It will be a story of hope, adventure and overcoming challenges tempered with humour. It will be a story that will hold many life messages, one that will resonate with many of us and our children and our grandchildren.

We wrote this letter to ask that you invest in our communities through our children in providing a fund to support the education of children of Pacific descent. This fund will be used for scholarships that will grow the capacity and capability of Pacific peoples. This kind of investment will be beneficial to you as an entity that is helping indigenous communities. This was the case with Southwest Airlines. In 2000, Southwest Airlines provided a scholarship fund to the Zia Pueblo tribe for using the Zia Puebloʼs sun symbol on the Southwest Airplanes. People praised Southwest Airlines for this investment in a native community (Who Owns Native Cultures?, 2003:91-92).

We are seeking an opportunity to have further discussions in regards to this request and would like to hear from you in regards to the request.

Mālō, Mahalo, Faʻafetai, Vinaka, Māuruuru, Fakaue lahi, Meitaki Maata and Thank you.  
We are Moana, We are Maui

ʻOkusitino Māhina, PhD, Auckland, Aotearoa/New Zealand
Nuhisifa Seve-Williams, PhD, Auckland, Aotearoa/New Zealand
Tēvita O. Kaʻili, PhD, Kahuku, Hawaiʻi
Teresia Teaiwa, PhD, Wellington, Aotearoa/New Zealand
April Henderson, PhD, Wellington, Aotearoa/New Zealand
Malia Talakai, PhD, Auckland, Aotearoa/New Zealand
Katerina Teaiwa, PhD, Canberra, Australia
Cresantia Koya Vakaʻuta, PhD, Suva, Fiji
Vincente M. Diaz, PhD, Minneapolis, Minnesota
Tina Delisle, PhD, Minneapolis, Minnesota
Teena Brown Pulu, PhD, Auckland, Aotearoa/New Zealand
Belinda ʻOtukolo Saltiban, PhD, Salt Lake City, Utah
Karlo Mila, PhD, Wellington, Aotearoa/New Zealand
Albert Refiti, PhD, Auckland, Aotearoa/New Zealand
Sailiemanu Lilomaiava-Doktor, PhD, Honolulu, Hawaiʻi
Christopher Fung, PhD, Boston, Massachusetts
Sione Vaka, PhD, Auckland, Aotearoa/New Zealand
Liana Kongaika Kinikini, DNP, APRN, NP-C, Salt Lake City, Utah
George Gavet, PhD candidate, Auckland, Aotearoa/New Zealand
Joseph Keaweʻaimoku Kaholokula PhD, Honolulu, Hawaiʻi
Josephine Herman, PhD, Auckland, Aotearoa/New Zealand
Edmond Fehoko, PhD candidate, Auckland, Aotearoa/New Zealand
James Perez Viernes, PhD, Mangilao, Guam
Emalani Case, PhD, Wellington, Aotearoa/New Zealand
Laurie Lali McCubbin, PhD, Louisville, Kentucky
David Gaʻoupu Palaita, PhD, Oceania
Kuʻualoha Hoʻomanawanui, PhD, Haʻikū, Hawaiʻi
Helen Tupaʻi, PhD, Pearl City, Hawaiʻi
Anna Marie Rago Christiansen, D.A., Lāʻie, Hawaiʻi
Alice Te Punga Somerville, PhD, Sydney, Australia
Trisha Kehaulani Watson-Sproat, JD, PhD, Honolulu, Hawaiʻi
Kealalōkahi C. Losch, EdD, Honolulu, Hawaiʻi
Jemaima Tiatia-Seath, PhD, Auckland, Aotearoa/New Zealand
Yvonne Underhill- Sem, PhD, Auckland, Aotearoa/New Zealand
ʻAisea Nau Matthew Māhina, MA, Auckland, Aotearoa/New Zealand
Hikuleʻo Feʻaomoeako-ʻI-Kenipela Melaia Māhina, BA, Auckland, Aotearoa/New Zealand
Elizabeth J. Rago, MSW, Kahuku, Hawaiʻi
Laura Zimmer-Tamakoshi, PhD, West Chester, Pennsylvania
Fepulea'i Micah Van der Ryn, PhD, Pagopago, American Samoa
Chris Chan, PhD, Singapore
‘Anapesi Kaʻili, MA, Salt Lake City, Utah
Ty Kāwika Tengan, PhD, Honolulu, Hawaiʻi
Ping-Ann Addo, PhD, Boston, Massachusetts
J. Kehaulani Kauanui, PhD, Middletown, Connecticut
Jacob Fitisemanu Jr, MPH, Salt Lake City, Utah, USA
Eliza Matagi, BS, Salt Lake City, Utah
Vili Nosa, PhD, Auckland, Aotearoa/New Zealand
Ema Wolfgramm- Foliaki, PhD, Auckland, Aotearoa/New Zealand
Brian Kāfakafa Dawson, MA, Honolulu, Hawaiʻi
Mele Taumoepeau, PhD, Dunedin, Aotearoa/New Zealand
Sylvia Frain, MA, Tahuna/ Queenstown, Aotearoa/ New Zealand & Guåhan/ Guam
Lisa Uperesa, PhD, Auckland, Aotearoa/New Zealand


Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Bereavement in Geelong

(Wednesday morning) Last night about forty of us drove to a home in Moolap to pay our respects to the family of Siteri, some who had come from overseas. We gave mats, masi, kava and an envelope of money to assist with the funeral. We sang dozens of Fijian hymns - loud and clear and I was proud of our Geelong group for their attendance and fine singing. Drinking kava was part of the event. The custom of reguregu is held prior to the funeral which will be on Friday morning. The family gave us a nice curry dinner afterwards.

 I wrote this at our writing group at the Wintergarden yesterday. 

A Woman from Levuka

‘Sai Levuka ga’ we sing of a favourite town in Fiji with a row of wooden shops hugging the shore, a cemetery with historical markers, a town backed by a green wall of 
a mountain. Siteri was a child from the island of Ovalau in Lomaiviti. 

Moving to the main island, raising four children, she lived in Suva before migrating to Australia with Geoff. We met in East Geelong a few years ago. She came with her second daughter, Christine while Litea, Andrew and Kevin stayed in Fiji. Siteri established a good relationship with members of our local Unitng Church, had a reserved seat in the congregation and joined in our Fiji group. When a grand-daughter was born she ably helped with minding and later walking to school. I remember the baptism, barbecues at Eastern Beach, gatherings of dinner, kava and yarning with Fiji friends, her excellence in baking cakes and Fijian food, her lovely prayers from the heart. 

Her family came over to visit and we welcomed them – her mother Nanise, and children Litea, Kevin, Andrew. A terrible bus accident in Fiji took her mother and many others and that trauma we will remember. Later, through a time of illness, Siteri was courageous, still smiling and she was assured that God was alongside in that journey. Eventually her body let her down and her time on earth came to an end. 



In God’s grace her Spirit lives on. As we wear black, place barkcloth and mats and flowers on a grave and sing Fijian hymns such as ‘Kaya oti na noda Kalou’ we remember Siteri. Nowadays the song’ Sai Levuka ga’ is also a song of remembrance and our memory of Siteri, a lovely woman of Levuka.