Saturday, September 30, 2006

Modern Fijian women and dress

On formal occasions, older Fijian women often wear a longish dress and sulu underskirt but younger women wear a jiaba and sulu occasionally - a fitted top with matching sulu with elastic in the waistline. Of course modern girls wear clothes suitable for different occasions such as sport, dance, work - maybe conservative, and sometimes with lots of glamour, sometimes jeans. For housework or fishing a T-shirt and informal suluvakatoga might suffice. (colourful length of cloth wrapped around). The dress code for tertiary students at FIT requires conservative dress for students so there is an on-going debate about the rights of young women to dress how they please.

The pic of some of the Hibiscus Festival candidates in Suva is taken from a copy of the magazine Marama.

Pretty girls and very nice dresses - another pic of Hibiscus girls.


Friday, September 29, 2006

Fijian women and changing dress

Courtesy of Rod Ewin's excellent website, the Fiji Museum, and oceania-ethnographica, here are a few examples of the changing dress of Fijian women - from the liku to cotton cloth.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

USP Open Day Pics

Vakaivosavosa tipped us off about some new Fiji blogs, including one that has some great pictures taken at the recent USP Open Day. Check this out Kailau.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Fiji Day and some thoughts about land

From Peceli,

Fiji Day comes every year and is in two weeks time. I want to make this as a special time to me and my people back at home and to make a commitment to Fiji the place of our birth, especially the Labasa or babasiga area. I am thinking about land in Fiji.

To our own people and net work I am trying to look at the freehold lands in Fiji because I have reading about the offer for sale of freehold land, especially small, beautiful in Lau and Vanua Levu. I am not happy at all about this because an island could be owned by only one person for their selfish pleasure.

Freehold land is best if it is used appropriately for a larger number of people For example, the Vunivacea and Nukutatava freehold land next to our mataqali land is used for the benefit of the people of Fiji. This freehold land has been used by a hundred or more cane farmers and a Christian youth training centre. This is sharing.

My mataqali owns about 2000 acres of talasiga land (grassland) and it is all leased for 30 years to our Indian friends except 200 or more to our mataqali members in five lots. We have six cane contracts and have been doing this for since the 1970s. We think this is appropriate for the time being. Undoubtedly I can say thank goodness for the Native Land Trust Board that has protected most of our land in Fiji and kept the documentation.

We know what happened in the past about land in Fiji. My brother’s name is Dakai which means ‘gun’. He is named after a great-uncle Dakai because in the earlier days, when a foreigner wanted land he gave a musket or two and was given the use of a large tract of land. The expectation was to use the land for a time being, not for ever. Then we all know what happened then. The Fijians could not access their land again.

This is how islands like Mago in Lau changed hands – at one time someone gave a thousand coconuts, but there’s also a story about the murder of the indigenous people and their bones are in a cave. And in Rabi Island, the real Rabi descendents live in Taveuni. Adi Da and his followers on an island, Kanacea, and the real owners are in Qamea. The stories go on and on.

So when I see on the internet, islands for sale for millions of dollars, I remember those stories told to us. I hope that some of the buyers know these stories and will think further than just having a paradise hideaway for themselves.

Has Mavuva Island, Macuata, been sold yet?

from Wendy
Found this on a web when I was browsing islands for sale in Fiji.
Mavuva Island. How to interpret the story, sure does depend upon your point of view. I suspect it has already been sold. It's near Nukubati, in the vicinity of the Tui Macuata's village of Naduri and Macuata-i-wai island.
Price: USD$2,500,000 (or nearest offer)


Mavuva Island is located approximately 23 nautical miles from the colourful town of Labasa, which is situated on the second main island of Fiji, Vanua Levu. Four hours is the flying time from Brisbane to Nadi, with a 45-minute duration connecting flight from Nadi to Labasa. High speed Water Taxi Transfer from Labasa to Mavuva Island Resort takes approximately 25 minutes, with a total of approximately six hours travelling time from Brisbane to Mavuva Island Resort.

General Description

Mavuva Island is freehold and is 48 acres (194,000 square metres) in size, with approximately a further 20 acres (81,000 square metres) of surrounding beaches. The island rises to 110 ft (35 metres) and has a gradual slope to the eastern side. The island is volcanic in origin and has some lava formations. The island sits on a coral reef, the edge of the reef being located approximately 400 metres from the beach, and is surrounded by protected water up to 20 metres deep. It is a very prolific reef with an abundance of sea life. The island is covered with coconut trees, and the branches of these trees spread over an area of approximately 1000 square metres. There is an abundance of tropical fauna.

Climatically, this region of Fiji has consistently the best weather in all of the Fiji Islands. Whilst it obviously gets hot, particularly during the summer months, it does not experience the same degree of humidity as many other regions. The winters are absolutely perfect, with blue skies, warm waters and beautiful evenings. And whilst no part of Fiji is immune to hurricanes, Mavuva Island has suffered very little damage of any sort over the past 30 years. Because of these favourable conditions, the Resort Management Company is better able to confidently offer holiday packages throughout the whole year, rather than on a seasonal basis.

History of the Island

The Island was originally discovered in approximately 1880 by a German American named Steiner who had arrived in Lautoka in search of the famed Fijian sandalwood. Fiji had earlier in the century acceded to Britain as protection from neighbouring Pacific nations. The British had cut out all sandalwood in this region and so our early explorer moved north to Vanua Levu in search of fresh timber supplies. In doing so he discovered Mavuva Island, and the Chief for this region lived on Macuati-I-Wai Island which is three kilometres away.

At this time there was much tribal warfare. On arrival in this area our early explorer befriended the Chief as he was a Gunsmith, and offered to fight off the warring tribes against the Chief with his flint lock pistols and armoury of gun powder. This gesture endeared our early explorer to the Chief, who in appreciation gave him two islands in the region, they being Mavuva Island and Nukubati Island. He approached the British and requested title deeds for the two Islands in question. These were granted to him and the original title deed for Mavuva Island in fee simple number 490 was issued to him. (my italics)

Over the years the original descendants passed away leaving only tow last dependents. One is currently still living on Nukubati Island, the other a gentleman by the name of Robert Fox resided on Mavuva Island. As he was aging, the last of the descendants sold the Island to Pacific Haven Limited in approximately 1965. The directors of this company had been trading in the tourism industry in the South Pacific for some considerable time. Part of the agreement on purchase of the Island was that they should take care of the aging Robert. Some years later he passed away. Prior to his passing, one of those directors, Frank Hansen and his wife, took up residence on the island. After starting construction and building the main dining area and kitchen, Frank decided that because the island was in actual fact the Garden of Eden, and one of the most beautiful places on earth, with its coconut palms, curtain fig trees and the other magical fauna, he decided that he would not share it with the rest of the world, and lived there in retirement for some twenty years. On his death in 1992 his wife Joan moved to Sydney.

The island is now reluctantly being placed in the market as the original owners (my italics) and beneficiaries are living offshore.

Fiji Islands for sale: shame, shame, shame.

When I read stories of huge, really huge, sums of money being asked - and given - for beautiful Fiji islands, I feel quite ill. There are many websites of dealers advertising the sale of Fiji islands. Here is a sample from the Lau group.

Lau Group, Fiji
• Property Info
• Web #: 74726
• Price: €25,000,000
• Lot Size: 230 acres
• Status: Active
• Type: Residential
• Category: Island, Ocean, Private Islands, Tropical, Villa, Waterfront, Water View

If you read that website and the desciption re Blue Lagoon etc. just imagine how you would feel if your relatives live nearby who are subsistence fishermen, or even your ancestors once lived or fished from this island?

The land grab by foreigners in the late 19th century was obscene. Paper titles were not understood by the local people at that time. A few muskets to give power to a chief, a blanket or two, for huge stretches of land or an island or two.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Speaking up or be silent?

From Peceli,

The Fiji newspapers are motivated by selling papers, so sent journalists to a secondary cadet passing out parade at Korovisilou, Serua, and caused a storm by translating Frank Bainimarama’s Fijian speech into English and published them.

And now there is a response by many different directions. This includes the American Embassy protecting themselves by saying that one of their men didn’t mean what he told Frank. And now there is a response from the Joint Parliamentary Committee on Natural Resources. The Prime Minister also responded.

Vosavakadoudou – when you speak up – is a good thing in my opinion. Silence is worse and then the people grumble later.


Commander Told to Acknowledge Indigenous Fijian's Needs
By fijivillage Sept 26
The Army Commander must take heed of the needs of the Indigenous Fijians and support the Qoliqoli and Indigenous Land Claims Tribunal Bills.

After revelations that the military is expected to call the government to withdraw the controversial Qoliqoli Bill, Chairman of the Joint Parliamentary Committee on Natural Resources, Mitieli Bulanauca, said despite some concerns on various clauses in the proposed legislation, all stakeholders know the need for the Bill.

Prime Minister, Laisenia Qarase, told Village News this morning that the RFMF must raise its concerns with the committee and will be given serious consideration.

However, the army maintains that the Qoliqoli Bill will only divide the nation and needs to be scrapped. The Army Commander must take heed of the needs of the Indigenous Fijians and support the Qoliqoli and Indigenous Land Claims Tribunal Bills.

After revelations that the military is expected to call the government to withdraw the controversial Qoliqoli Bill, Chairman of the Joint Parliamentary Committee on Natural Resources, Mitieli Bulanauca, said despite some concerns on various clauses in the proposed legislation.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Torika Bolatagici - way to go girl!

An up and coming artist from Melbourne, Torika Bolatagici, is currently in Fiji following her passion for photography. Torika is a young lecturer in photography in a university art department. Way to go. It's great to see Pacific young women with a passion for art.

Here is a sample of her work and for more go to her flickr website.

Frank was quiet, now he's speaking again

from Peceli
from Fiji SunArmy outburst ‘on US advice’
Stay out of our affairs: Beddoes


Military Commander Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama yesterday said his warning of a return to cannibalism if divisive Bills continue to be pushed by greedy and selfish people in power was based on the advice of an American army general. Commodore Bainimara-ma said he was motivated to speak out against the Qoliqoli Bill by US General John Brown’s challenge during last week’s Pacific army management seminar (PAMS) in Nadi that divisive issues “should not be faced with politeness but with honesty”.

“In Fijian, it is vosa vakadodonu. It is addressing something that is wrong right there and then rather than holding back or keeping quiet about it,” he told the Fiji Sun.

His comments that Fijians may find themselves in grass skirts and in pagan beliefs if such Bills are made law was met with condemnation by religious and political organisations. etc..
It's interesting that after a long silence, the Army Commander, Frank Bainimarama is speaking again, after the white paper has been passed. Now he's comfortable to say his thing again. The question we have to ask is what is his motive in saying it in Fijian to a group of secondary school cadets at their passing out parade. Or he wants to get into the newspapers again. I don't think he should pass on the attention to someone else for his speaking up.

Without doubt the Qoliqoli Bill has a lot of complications and to me it has to be deferred and certainly talked about. Perhaps he means that mataqalis will argue with one another on who owns what and their will be greedy intentions. Like some of the concerns about NLTB and they are even critizing Ratu Sukuna now.

Maybe Frank Bainimarama should make up his mind. Does he want to be Army Commander or does he want to be a politician. As a citizen of Fiji, Frank has the right to give his opinion of course.

In Macuata we too have a dilemma about the qoliqoli areas. We know that we own an area, yet who really claims it, the mataqali or the yavusa?

Friday, September 22, 2006

Two Fiji wood engravings

Though photography was used in Fiji in these years, here are two wood engravings. There's not much information but they do say something about status, culture, and the putting on of the cloth when people join the lotu -church. The man in front with an umbrella has a higher status than the others. The liku - little grass skirt denotes the old ways or a bit of both. The gifts are for a church function? When people in Fiji criticize the donations in money/kind/hospitality do they realize that this is an old tradition in Fiji - to present gifts? The early missionaries just carried on from that tradition and called it vakavisioneri but it was not new at all.

I do not like the implication in the picture about diving for coins to amuse the vavalagi visitors/tourists. That is so patronising. Does it still happen?

The pictures are in the Melbourne library.

Date(s) of creation: March 20, 1878.
print : wood engraving.
Reproduction rights owned by the State Library of Victoria

Date(s) of creation: July 12, 1875.
print : wood engraving.
Reproduction rights owned by the State Library of Victoria
edited by w. 25 Sept.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Vorovoro - USA magazine article

USA Today 14th September:

Excerpt from article, and they have a video too. Check out USA Today.

The cameras are rolling when the adventure begins at the Grand Eastern Hotel in Labasa, a dusty commercial center for the sugarcane-growing region on Vanua Levu, one of Fiji's two main islands, and a 30-minute boat ride from Vorovoro...

Keene, engaging and boyish-looking with perennially tousled strawberry-blond hair, introduces the Tribewanted team — tribe manager, tribal TV presenter, health and safety guy and a British documentary team. As part of the orientation, Baya runs through kava ceremony etiquette. (Don't stand when the chief is seated — unless you're a cameraman.)

There's a perfunctory safety briefing, elaborated on later: In case of fire, run toward the sea. Beware of falling coconuts. Watch for poisonous sea snakes. (The bad news, there's no antidote. The good news, they're shy.)

And with the ritual signing of the liability waiver, the group is off in a fleet of taxis to the dock, where a telegenic red-and-blue wooden boat carries them to Vorovoro.

It doesn't take long to lose track of time here. Several women from Tui Mali's extended family serve meals — island fare such as fish curry, coconut cake, cassava and banana pancakes — until the kitchen is up and running and the visiting tribe pitches in. The world's third-largest reef lies offshore, and the snorkeling is amazing. Several members are perfecting their fire-twirling skills. Others learn to weave grass mats. There's work for those who want it — cleaning up old fire sites, heightening the bucket shower, installing springs on the toilet doors.

The early days play out like Lord of the Flies (before things went terribly wrong) and The Beach (also before things went terribly wrong), with a hint of Tom Sawyer and the whitewashing-the-fence episode. In some ways, it's like an adult summer camp. But there's also an element of self-aggrandizing make-believe. For instance, when Warren Wright, 44, who has been elected chief of the month by the online tribe, kneels before real-life chief Tui Mali at the welcoming kava ceremony, and says, "I represent many people from around the world joined together to live in harmony with each other and the environment," well, it's just a tad over the top.

This is, after all, a business proposition, albeit one with some lofty ideals. And that welcoming ceremony, though beautifully choreographed and authentically executed by the real-tribe dancers and singers, wouldn't have occurred if Tribewanted hadn't paid about $300 and a black-market whale's tooth for the privilege. The three-year lease fee is $35,000, plus $5,800 a year in rent, and $17,500 in donations to the community, along with salaries for workers.

"We're not here to change lives," Keene says. "We're here to have an adventure, to have a positive impact and protect the environment."

The big bure has been started with local expertise and a few sweating pale-skinned volunteers.

edited 22 Sept.

Remember Queen Salote?

The new king of Tonga's grandmother, Queen Salote, was an outstanding woman much loved by the Tongan people.

Also, in London when Queen Elizabeth was crowned, Queen Salote rode in an open carriage and delighted the crowds with her presence.

For stories and photos of the preparation for the funeral of the late King of Tonga go to Matangi, the Tongan newspaper. As the funeral has been held today, there will be many stories on various web sites.

Respect and disrespect for religious views

From Wendy
Though I try hard, sometimes I find it hard to show respect for some religious groups. Now I am polite about Hindu temples such as the Tabia temple west of Labasa shown here, Muslim mosques, and most Christian churches in Fiji, but I do find it difficult to be polite about the methods of some fundamentalist groups. Judgmental attitudes are not okay. Labasa is a real playing field for all kinds of religions. Are the people gullible or are they in turn taking advantage of the visitors? One American group, the Baptist Ledge church has set up in Labasa. I noticed in the missionary’s diary how he goes into Methodist villages, even Naseakula. Hmm.

He wrote ‘I pray that it encouraged the people of Labasa Bible Church, a small but faithful church that has faced persecution from tribal witchcraft, Islam, Hinduism, and liberal Methodism.’

Wow! Liberal Methodism in Fiji! That’s a new one on me. Well, I’m liberal so is he talkin’ about me!

Another quote from the missionary’s diary when he visited the Hindu temple near Matailabasa. This is his view, not mine!

‘We then went to visit a local Hindu temple known as "The Snake Temple." It is a temple built around a giant rock that juts up out of the ground and looks somewhat like a coiled cobra. The locals believe the rock is "growing" and thus in some way responding to the prayers of the people. (Which it isn't according to the local Christians, but even if it was jutting more, like a lot that accomplishes and helps!) Families paraded around the rock burning incense and offering fruit and milk to the rock. As they made their offerings and deposited their money in a box they rang a bell to get the attention of the gods to make sure they would notice their offering. Can't have any god falling asleep while making your offering! How sad that they serve gods of bondage, who are not real gods at all. Two different gentlemen approached us when leaving the temple and wanted to talk to us and thanked us for coming to visit their "god." We talked with them about the One True God who made everything and done not seek to be appeased with the works of our hands. One shared how he comes regularly and prays to the rock and gets what he wants. He believes the rock hears and answers. I didn't sense the Spirit's leading to pull a prophet Elijah and the prophets of Baal on him, but we know who would win and who the True Living God is. Tomorrow I will be teaching Romans 1 and how people have exchanged the truth of God for a lie and worship the creation rather than the Creator, thus experiencing the rightful wrath of God. ‘

Hmmm. The photo here is taken from flickr from Russdogg who described the Growing Rock Temple as awesome!
Unfortunately some temples are broken into, money and items stolen or damaged. This kind of disrespect is very unpleasant indeed. Three breakins in the past week occurred in the Suva area. Why? Searching for money perhaps, but an appalling lack of respect.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Savusavu expatriates and prices

Savusavu’s expatriate community upping prices

A friend from Labasa drove us along the coast east of Savusavu to see the developments there, numerous fine houses and some resorts. Who lives there I wondered. Apparently there are pieces of freehold land being sold on the internet and Americans and others are finding solace in the quietness of this coastal area, not only yachties. And their presence is impacting upon the prices of land and services and ordinary food. And the community want the Savusavu airport upgraded - but I like the ferry better than the little plane!

From Fiji sun Sept 15
Millionaires pose threat to the poorTown’s trade in US dollars raises prices
Locals in a growing tourist town are feeling the pinch of paying high prices of goods and services brought on by the influence of the American currency. Villagers are forced to pay skyrocketing prices meant for the rich who have made Savusavu their home. And the Savusavu Chamber of Commerce has called on the Government to investigate the quick-buck dealings of those who, it claimed, are millionaires who have flourished the real estate markets at their own prices.

The chamber said the rich have controlled the prices in trading without taking into consideration the suffering of local villagers. Sixty per cent of freehold land is owned by Americans in Fiji’s Hidden Paradise where about 100 expatriates live full-time. “It is high time that the Government steps in and conducts an investigation on how these so-called millionaires come into the country and make a quick buck and leave the country without putting any single cent behind,” said chamber acting chairman, Elenoa Weatherall.

Mrs Weatherall said with the boom in the tourist industry and the continuous increase of prices of goods and services, locals would always be disadvantaged. “Tourists will come and go but the grassroots are feeling that insurmountable pain,” said Mrs Weatherfall. “I mean, if you want to make business in Savusavu, you have to take into consideration the needs of the locals and that is not happening here.”

Food sold in supermarkets and restaurant top the list with customers having to pay double of what they can spend in other towns and cities. She said a customer could spend close to $10 for a serve of food from a restaurant, which is 50 per cent more of what they could pay in a restaurant in Suva. Services such as the Internet are also paid for at a high price with most outlets trading at a price of $8-$10 an hour. In other urban centres, people only pay $3 for internet use, Mrs Weatherall said.

She said the prices of land offered by real estates agents was alarming and only targeted the rich. Prime residential lots are currently sold at a hefty price of $250,000 to $500,000. “I think it’s about time the Government steps in and stop the outflow of money overseas at the expense of the locals. No percentage of the sale is left behind for the locals and that is a bit unfair,” she added. Taxi driver Mahendra Reddy said he had been longing to buy a freehold lot for his grown-up children but had to shelve the plan.“The price is too high and purchasing one is only a dream,” said Mr Reddy. Mrs Weatherall called the Prices of Income Board to monitor the prices of goods in Savusavu.

Mayor Ram Pillai said he had warned his people not to sell their land. “What will happen to the locals if all the land is bought by people overseas? Savusavu is filled with freehold land but there is a limited amount now available. It now costs $300,000 for an acre. People pay the same to buy a house and land in Australia or New Zealand,” he said. “Prices of food like fish, prawns and vegetables have also gone up. We buy 80 per cent of vegetables from Labasa and Suva because people here no longer plant.” Senator Setefano Osonamoli, said in statement made in Parliament, that land sales are made by overseas agents who are not subject to our controls and are advertising on the Internet.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Look North to Vanua Levu and airports

from Peceli

Look North to Vanua Levu

The term ‘Look North’ can mean look to Asia for markets, but also it can mean look to Vanua Levu, the northern part of Fiji. It means to boost the infrastructure of air land and sea for the people of the 'Friendly North.’

The parliamentarian Robin Irwin, who represents Savusavu and the North may have said some untimely and tactless comments at a recent Tourism Convention, but the point he made is true, that Vanua Levu has been neglected by the Fiji government.

Two items were in the Fiji news yesterday - one about Savusavu airport needing extensions and the other about Labasa, my home-town and putting lights at the airport so that there can be flights after 5 p.m.

Another thing is that Labasa airport needs to be extended. At present it is 1 and a quarter miles long and needs to be extended to 1 and half miles to take heavy air traffic. My wish is – wouldn’t it be good if I could fly from Avalon airport near Geelong directly to Labasa!

From FijiTV news Runway lights planned for Labasa Airport
13 Sep 2006 17:59:04

For the first time in many years, the people of Labasa will soon be able to enjoy night flights in and out of the Northern division. This follows Airports Fiji Limited's decision to install night runway lights at Labasa Airport.

AFL says they are more than happy to carry out a ministerial directive to address the concerns of the travelling public to the North. The last flight into Labasa's Waiqele Airport just before sunset.

For many years, quarter past five everyday has been the cut off time if you wanted to get in or out of Labasa.

That will soon change. AFL is now in the process of installing night runway lights which means extended flights time in and out of Labasa. This AFL says will be part of their committment to governments Look North Policy.

But it’s not likely to be cheap.

Airports Fiji Limited CEO Ratu Sakiusa Tuisolia says the AFL Board will at the end of this month consider the financial, commercial and technical feasability of installing runway and approaching lights here.
Night flights into here are also envisaged to boost tourism up north.

For the local area MP who himself served for 15 years as a domestic airline employee at Labasa Airport, its a relief.

Tuisolia says as a commerical venture, AFL expects to pass on the costs of this capital investment to our domestic air carriers who will soon be operating extended flights to Labasa. Tuisolia says they have given themselves a three to four month lead time to get this new project it off the ground.

from Wendy

Promises, promises! Look at a Fiji government article from February 2005 with all the grand plans for Vanua Levu.

To read a story about a flight from Nausori to Labasa go to babasiga archive posting.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Tongan nose flute - from the archives

A rare instrument in the South Pacific these days is the nose-flute. But once it was more common in several islands, especially Tonga, where it was played to awaken a member of the royal family. Some lullabies have similar melodies to that played on the Tongan nose-flute.
(from my old research papers) W.

The historical island of Viwa

During the Conference on Bau island, the Macuata guests were hosted on the nearby island of Viwa. This is an island of historical significance in the history of Fiji, particularly relating to the Methodist missionaries such as John Hunt. One day Peceli went with some Macuata delegates to Viwa and saw the John Hunt Memorial Church and climbed up the path to the hilltop where John Hunt used to pray. He didn't take his camera that day, but I found a few photos of Viwa.

A balanced, unsentimental description of the early Wesleyans in Fiji was written by John Garrett in To Live among the Stars. An excerpt is found here.

A book about John Hunt, which I have not yet read, is advertised as follows:
Inheritance of Hope,The : John Hunt, Apostle of Fiji by Andrew Thornley translated into Fijian by Tauga Vulaono. Published by the Institute of Pacific Studies. ISBN 9820201594. Recommended retail price $28.

John Hunt was a Wesleyan missionary in Fiji for just a decade, 1839-1848. Nevertheless, his work was of such impact that he ensured the eventual conversion of the Fijians to Christianity. The Inheritance of Hope examines Hunt's upbringing and training in England, his marriage to Hannah Summers and their time of missionary work in Fiji. Surrounded constantly by the vitality and prosperity of a warlike yet welcoming people, Hunt introduced western ideas of education and medicine together with the religious and ethical principles of Christianity. His theological forms of education in Fiji as well as his many translations, including the first Fijian New Testament, are enduring testimonies to his work. Only 36 when he died, Hunt has justifiably earned the title of Apostle of Fiji. Soft cover, 532 pages. Published in 2000.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Fiji and Tonga kings and chiefs

From the Editor Fiji Times
We in Fiji take special interest in the king's death, not only because he has been a prominent figure in the Pacific region for over four decades, but also because the Tongan royal family has close links with some of the chiefly households in the country especially in the Kubuna and Tovata confederacies.

When Queen Salote, the late king's mother died in December 1965, the then Legislative Council was adjourned as a mark of respect.

The two nations have also enjoyed a long established link in tradition and kinship. History tells much of the exploits of warriors from the neighbouring nations, the most popular of which was the Tongan brave Maafu who at one stage held much influence in the two confederacies.

Tongans have a special affection and respect for the royal family. While many are increasingly voicing and exhibiting disappointment with how kings and queens have ruled the kingdom and treated their subjects, loyalty to the monarchy has stayed firm. The Tongan royal family, like the British monarchy, is unlikely to be done away with. Not ever it seems.

Looking from the outside, it is easy to question even criticise how a population of over 115,000 could exist in such a semi-feudal system today.
But this is how the people of The Friendly Islands have chosen to exist and it is only they, not anyone from outside, who know best what is in their best interest.

A picture worth a thousand words
Tuesday, September 12, 2006
The picture: That special moment in the Tongan palace: Back (from left): Ratu Edward Cakobau, Ratu George Cakobau, King Taufaahau Tupou, Ratu Kamisese Mara, Ratu Penaia Ganilau, Pat Raddock (Fiji rugby team manager). It was taken on Monday July 3, 1967.
Tonga was preparing for the crowning ceremony of King Taufa'ahau Tupou IV on Tuesday, July 4, 1967. Fiji Times reporter Matt Wilson and photographer Nitin Lal were in Tonga to cover the event. Four Fijian high chiefs were in Tonga to attend the crowning ceremony.They were Ratu Sir George Cakobau, Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara, Ratu Sir Edward Cakobau and Ratu Sir Penaia Ganilau.

This is part of the report by Mr Wilson which the Fiji Times carried on the front page on Tuesday, July 14:

THE Fiji Times brought off a scoop today the only picture taken of King Taufa'ahau Tupou IV with his Fiji guests inside the Royal Palace. Credit for the scoop must go to the King's uncle, Ratu Edward Cakobau, who asked for royal permission for Fiji Times photographer Nitin Lal to take the picture.

Shoeless as a mark of respect, we were ushered into the cool, elegantly furnished Privy Council chamber. Members of the Fiji delegation arranged themselves into a group around the smiling, urbane King while I sat cross-legged, island-fashion, near the door. Obviously well acquainted with cameras, his Majesty suggested: "You have a wide-angle lens camera, so you can take a group photograph".


Peceli and Wendy’s comments:

It is true that there is still a strong tie between Tonga and Fiji, but the awe and mana of the high chiefs is gradually changing, and perhaps fading away. In Fiji the three biggest chiefs have gone – from Kubuna, Burebasaga, and Tovata. In Tonga they have maintained a feudal system of king, nobles and commoners, even though there is a groundswell of a democracy movement.

The time has come now when we have to think seriously about the role and power of people who inherit these positions in society, land and associated wealth. Certainly Fiji is cosmopolitan and cross-cultural so traditional systems are not enough.

from Wendy
For a pic of how Tongans dress for a funeral go to my sketch of three young women in geelong-visual-diary.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Farewell to the King of Tonga

from Wendy

in today's Fiji live news:
Pacific mourns late Tongan king
The whole of the Pacific is saddened by the death of Tongan King Taufa'ahau Tupou IV last night, said Fiji's Foreign Minister Kaliopate Tavola. "Tonga, Fiji and the whole of the Pacific is saddened by King Taufa'ahau Tupou IV's death," Tavola said.
Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase would be issuing a statement later today. Great Council of Chiefs chair Ratu Ovini Bokini said Fiji's chiefs are awaiting official word from government before they decide on the appropriate actions to take.
Some of Fiji's nobles have close blood links to the Tongan monarchy.

King Taufa'ahau died in Auckland's Mercy Hospital last night, ending his 41-year reign.

Fairfax reports that Lord Chamberlain Fielakepa announced the death this morning: "The King of Tonga at peace. The sun has set in the Kingdom of Tonga."
The photograph of the palace at Nukualofa was taken at the time of the King's Coronation and was published in a National Geographic story. I used the picture in a music paper comparing Tongan and Fijian music.

Our condolences go to the people of Tonga, and our Tongan friends in Geelong, Melbourne, Sydney, Auckland and Fiji.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Qoliqoli Bill and stunned mullets

from Wendy

Qoliqoli bill – and the reef will go kar-boom!

Here’s a nice little section from the bill that amuses me, and reminds me of a yavirau I participated in several years ago. A yavirau is a community fish drive using a fence of vines and a powdered plant that stuns the fish so you can just grab them easily. This method of fishing is not usual, and only for a special function in a village. They don't always use the powder to stun the fish.

A yavirau is described in Drew and Melissa's blog and the pic comes from there.

Okay, it's not a joking matter when people creep along the reef at night so no-one sees them to do great damage to the reef with obnoxious methods of fishing.

from the Qoliqoli Bill:

Use of explosives and poisonous substances
37.(1) No personshall use any kind of explosives for the taking of fisheries resources.
(2) No person shall take,stupefy, kill or harvest any fisheries resources by the use of any of thefollowing substances or plants
(a) any chemical or chemical compound;
(b) any substance containing derris;
(c) any substances containing the active principal of derris, namely,rotenone; or
(d) any plant or extract or derivative from any plant, belonging tothe genera Barringtonia, Derris, Euphorbia, Pittosporum or Tephrosia,
or place any such substance or plantin any water for the purpose of taking, stupefying killing or harvesting anyfisheries resources.
(3) A person whocontravenes subsection (1) or (2) commits and offence and is liable onconviction
(a) for subsection (1), to a fine not exceeding $100,000 or to 10years imprisonment;
(b) for subsection (2), to a fine not exceeding $50,000 or toimprisonment for term not exceeding 5 years.

Friday, September 08, 2006

In the Loop - at an ABC Radio Australia studio

from Wendy

In the Loop

On Thursday Peceli and I were privileged to be invited to a discussion live on air at the ABC Southbank, Melbourne. The program ‘In the Loop’ is part of Radio Australia’s outreach to the Pacific. We had a discussion with Heather Jarvis, as well as Jeremy, who was linked up from the USP broadcast studio. Other staff at ‘In the Loop’ are Isobelle Genoux and Clement Paligaru, the latter who comes from Fiji.

The program went live to air into the Pacific so I don’t know how many of you guys in Fiji actually listened in! The topic of discussion was our blog site babasiga and we fielded questions without prior preparation so I hope we said the right things! It’s a bit different speaking into microphones and thinking on your feet to writing a piece for a blog posting, which can easily be deleted!

Twenty minutes before commencement I had one of my loopy moments of claustrophobia. Though the ABC building is modern and spacious in the large entry hall, the passages and broadcast studios are dark, small, and like caves, so I was startled and panicked a bit, and had to sit outside and look at the sky through the wall to wall windows for a few minutes... and actually watch the glass-walled lifts go up and down!

Anyway, the interview was fine, with the door open, and it was an enjoyable experience, Peceli and I taking turns with questions, and I was too far away from him to kick him under the table if he said something inappropriate. One question came from left field from Jeremy – What do you think of the Qoliqoli Bill? Well, we hadn’t really thought of that one. I’m glad they didn’t ask me what I thought of certain political matters in Fiji, or in Australia!

Anyway Heather was great, easy-going, and made us feel comfortable.

The program went for about half an hour and then the ABC news rolled in. It was interesting to be in a place where the ABC come from, as I am an avid fan of several of their programs, even late at night.

We had only been to the building once before to a Radio Australia celebration near the Iwaki Auditorium where some Cook Islanders danced and we represented the Fiji-Melbourne community.

Another program that comes from Radio Australia is Pacific Beat.
Today’s Pacific Beat includes audios of latest Pacific news such as the visit of Fiji’s Prime Minister Qarase to Australia.

Two fish stories from Macuata

Two fish stories from Macuata

From Peceli

There are sufficient sea food for all the people in Fiji if they take a lot of care of the sea natural resources and even new types of sea foods as they do in Australia.

Qoliqoli in Labasa dialect is kolikoli.

A visitor from Naitasiri was in Labasa village and after consuming a lot of kava in the night, they asked him to come and eat as the table was ready. A big head of fish was given to him.

He asked, 'What is this?'

The marama of the house said in Labasa dialect, 'Na koni koli,' which means the fish head.

The Naitasiri man quietly just ate the tavioka and salt.

'What is the matter?' they asked him.

'Certainly I'm not going to eat the head of the koli!" To him the word koli means a dog. He wasn't going to eat the head of a dog!


When I was in Mali one time we had a wonderful meal of daniva because at times the qoliqoli area is a rich resource in small fish, which the deep sea fishermen call bait.

The deep sea fishermen who catch $30,000 of fish in one trip, need bait, so they send men to a Fiji island in Macuata or Lau, give a gift of something like bags of flour, crates of tea, etc. and ask permission to get some bait fish.

Okay, the village chief agrees.

The fishermen then put out a 5 k line into the Passage - not too far from the shore of the island actually, wait for the low tide and take everything in its path - turtles, dolphins, large fish, small fish. All they want is bait, but they deplete the area, time after time.

So deep seas fishing is related to the qoliqoli - the traditional fishing grounds.

For an article about tabu waters along the Macuata coast click on this site.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Qoliqoli - fishing

from Peceli

Silver seas, mangroves and shorelines

Yesterday I was asked what I thought about the Qoliqoli Bill. I haven't read it yet but I am glad the subject is coming out into the open for discussion. I am writing about our love of the sea, especially the fishermen tribes, such as the Lasakau on Bau Island. This is relevant to the current discussions about the Qoliqoli Bill in the Fiji Parliament.

Qoliqoli means fishing, so it really is about fishing in Fiji waters. It is about how to negotiate a mutual agreement between traditional Fijians who live by the sea and the developers such as for hotel and resort purposes. We hope that everyone can benefit out of this bill. A win-win for all concerned.

When I arrived at Bau land a couple of weeks ago I noticed how unspoit and undisturbed the shoreline was with mangroves still intact. It had not been changed and women could still go fishing, looking for crabs and shellfish. We were on our way to the chiefly island of Bau with a group of Conference representatives. There were ten of us in the 40 hp outboard boat going through the calm water of the Waisiliva sea . (Silver)

It came in my mind the famous song 'Ena dela ni wai siliva, lei Bau na kemui rorororo.' Which means - You are famous Bau, surrounded by the silver sea. And the other song the Centenary Choir used to sing when they visited Melbourne, 'Au kacivi ira levu na luvequ tu yawa mera levu tale mai ena vanua ni tadra ' - Calling back the sons and daughters of Fiji to think about our homeland.

Last year I was at the Conference held in Nadi at Narewa village. This was quite a contrast to Bau island. They had built a new church which cost $3 million, built in the centre of the village. The people have ready-made wealth from the tourist resort developments at Denarau and the township of Nadi.

But what I noticed was that the men and women now had limited access to their shorelines and sea resources. Denarau with its alternations of the shoreline meant that the mangroves were pulled out for the sake of development. The villages around Nadi are neat and tidy and well developed because of the development leases.

Next year the Conference will be held in Macuata and most likely in Naduri, a village beside the sea where the Tui Macuata lives. This is babasiga land in the midst of sugar-cane growing land and the shoreline is mainly mangroves. We have written about the Tui Macuata's concern for the Great Reef and the tabu on it.

My concern is appropriate development of our shorelines and the sea, respect for the reefs as well as enjoyment of the beauty.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

New magazine for Fiji women - Marama

from Wendy,

First time for me to see this magazine. It's glossy and looks great. Not full of size 8 vavalagi women, but 'real' women of Fiji. Lots of feature articles about interesting Fiji women, even a woman engineer, health, food, fashion, gardening, relationships queries. Even the crossword is based on Fiji questions. A few handouts from government and organisations but done selectively.

The woman on the cover is Lailun Khan who heads the Fiji Islands Trade and Investment Bureau.

It looks like a nice magazine to complement Fiji Living which I wrote about in an earlier post.

Some pictures from Mali Island Fiji

from Peceli
Two pictures show some of the students from Mali District Primary School on a school day. The other photos were taken on a Sunday outside Vesi village church. These are the people who will be associated with the tribewanted project on Vorovoro. Our Geelong Rotary clubs sent a container to Fiji which included boxes of books, computers, and beds for boarders for some of the children at the Mali school. These are all related to our family!

Monday, September 04, 2006

Babasiga kura / noni farm

from Peceli

Babasiga kura

I was very interested to meet a family in Labasa who have developed a business growing and producing kura medicine. Fijian Kura is called noni in many other Pacific countries.

Rahega’s family came from Naseakula village and settled in Dreketilailai which is about 25 k out of Labasa in a beautiful mountain area. I met the family when I was in Labasa three weeks ago and they invited me to their farm. As an alternative to sugar cane they have planted kura (noni) and established an excellent business, producing bottles of kura medicine for sale. The farmer uses seeds from the fruit to plant and start the seedlings. He also breeds sheep for the Fiji market.

Contacts if interested in buying;
Rahega Farm, Dreketilailai,Labasa,Fiji
Mobile: 9973 029

E-Mail Address
Ateca Taulia
Nasea Drugstore, Labasa, Fiji

Lot 88, Kaikai Street, Nepani, Suva, Fiji
Phone: 3396 544
Mobile: 9911 927

Outside of Fiji, I have some sample bottles of kura made in Labasa. If you want more information, you can provide your email address or contact details as a comment to this posting.

Other postings about kura are in our August archive, on August 9th and 10th.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

My pictures from Bau Island Methodist Conference

from Peceli,
These are the first lot of photos printed this morning. I felt very privileged to visit Bau Island for the Conference. I have not been on Bau Island for many years. My lecturer, Dr Alan Tippett once lived there as a talatala and he always taught the students at the Vuli Talatala to respect history and anthropology. Bau Island is a place with much history including the coming of the lotu to Fiji and spreading throughout the islands.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Landscape is more than Real Estate

Landscape is more than real estate
Even professors of economics with hundreds of academic papers under their belts can get it wrong if they focus on financial aspects of land. Landscape is more than potential real estate for money-making.

In today’s Age newspaper, Hamish McDonald writes 'Land fever hits Pacific paradise', as locals lose out as developers gobble up Vanuatu. An awful story of greed, manipulation, and the indigenous people losing out. This is fair warning to Fiji indeed, and thank heavens that the Native Land Trust Board has over the past sixty years had some kind of way of moderating such greedy takeovers.

Land fever hits Pacific paradise
Hamish McDonald, Port Vila
September 2, 2006

NATIVES spoiling the views and privacy of your dream beachfront villa in Vanuatu by gathering on the shore and launching their canoes?

One expat real estate agent here had the answer for a potential buyer: keep a couple of big dogs and a shotgun, and make sure the locals believe you would use them.

Pacific historian Claire Slatter recounts this vignette in a study for Oxfam New Zealand on Vanuatu's tourism and real estate boom, pointing to a looming crisis in what has been the most peaceful segment of the Melanesian "arc of instability".
In years to come, will John Howard's new army battalions, being raised to help with Pacific contingencies, be used to rescue Australian sea-changers from gated beachfront estates under siege by landless, jobless islanders?

For several years, Vanuatu, which gained independence from joint British-French rule in 1980 and has 205,000 people, has been gripped by land fever.

Developers, who include some convicted con-men from Australia, rushed an opportunity created when the Government went through a budget crisis in the mid-1990s, and adopted neo-liberal policies to unlock land, held in complex traditional ownership. But the rush has created an explosive social problem in a Melanesian region where land is identity, source of food, and social security for a population mostly outside the formal economy.

Russell Nari, Vanuatu's director-general of lands, says almost 90 per cent of land on the main island of Efate has already been leased out, and large tracts of the big northern island, Esperitu Santo, are following.

Go to Age website for more of the article by Hamish McDonald.

Vorovoro Island - project up and running

With the arrival of the first group, the tribewanted project is up and running. They were welcomed traditionally by the Mali people and given a lovo feast. Tui Mali and many of the Mali people were there so it's very different from 'Survivor' type of projects where there is no or very little interaction with the indigenous people.

Quote from Fiji Blog on tribewanted:
Tui Mali in his response to the first footers landing commented: “Normally there is a line in the sand. On the one side are tourists and on the other are Fijians. On Vorovoro today there is no line. We are one community and we will live, work and play together. You are generating employment in our communities, education in our schools and happiness in our homes. Bula Vinaka (you are very welcome)”

Peceli told me - in an email - that he was on the phone to Vorovoro and wished them well with their project.

Now they won't have lovo feasts every day, so now the hard work starts. They need to learn how to catch fish for themselves!