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.


Peceli and Wendy's Blog said...

This letter to the Editor of the Fiji Times is relevant to this discussion.

Finau Naigulevu Turaga, Nadi International Airport | Saturday, April 1, 2017

HAVING read and witnessed the vanua 'o Rewa's embrace for the Girmitiya descendants, brings me to take stock of realities that some politicians play around with to gain votes.

I believe myths of democracy, colonial influence and justice, politics and human rights as enlightenment tools are untrue and unreliable.

I believe indigenous people can make decisions for their own welfare and their future generation.

I believe it should be mandatory that bylaws be left entirely to the different vanua to decide.

I believe governments are not permanent and should not decide on matters such as vanua, natural resources and village leadership.

With rural development and schools, why has rehabilitation taken so long and what of the funds received overseas for the victims of TC Winston?

Perhaps rural leaders should be involved in rebuilding programs.

Peceli and Wendy's Blog said...

Another article about this topic - in the Fiji Times:
Kurusiga clears air
Kalesi Mele
Thursday, April 06, 2017

ITAUKEI Affairs Board deputy CEO Apakuki Kurusiga has clarified that only an iTaukei can hold the position of village headman.

Mr Kurusiga said he made an error in referring to the head of a settlement just outside of Namaqumaqua Village as a village headman.

He said the selected leader was from a settlement, which was beginning to simulate iTaukei traditions within their community settings.

"He is now their turaga. That is what they are calling him, and they are trying to follow what we have in our villages," he said.

"They are not within the village setting but a settlement outside that, and they are living happily together because they are drinking from the same source of water for which these community members pay a certain levy.

"I think I used the wrong word. I caused it myself."

He added village headman positions could only be conferred on someone the village had collectively agreed upon.

"The regulations say iTaukei that is within the boundary or those members of the village that are landowners and live outside the village boundary and are also included as members of the village council."

He added the positions can also be filled by an iTaukei from a different village provided the vanua agrees.

"The onus rests on the Bose ni Vanua. If they agree that someone who is iTaukei but is not from the village can take the position of turaga ni koro then that is theirs to make."

Peceli and Wendy's Blog said...

Apparently there are two positions which can be confused. Turaga ni mataqali is a vanua position and turaga ni koro is a practical position. The first must go to a man or woman who is indigenous, the second is perhaps optional if there is an outstanding person with skills to look after the day to day running of the village/settlement. However I think both positions should be for Fijians with strong connections to the land through their ancestry - they should take up the responsibility.