Saturday, November 25, 2006

lamenting - Fijian lele - a poem and a song

from w
As the lurching and cruel words in Fiji continue to cause fear in the community and we pray earnestly for common sense to prevail, I am reminded of words from a poem by Yeats and a song by Leonard Cohen. In Fiji there's a song genre called lele which means lamentation, which can mean a loss of love or more. I certainly feel very saddened by the turn of events and pray for people who are in positions of power to turn around the situation, away from a lopsided, divisive and dangerous pathway.

Part of a poem by Yeats:

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Leonard Cohen’ song Hallelujah

Now I've heard there was a secret chord
That David played, and it pleased the Lord
But you don't really care for music, do you?
It goes like this The fourth, the fifth
The minor fall, the major lift
The baffled king composing Hallelujah

Hallelujah Hallelujah Hallelujah Hallelujah

Your faith was strong but you needed proof
You saw her bathing on the roof
Her beauty and the moonlight overthrew you
She tied you To a kitchen chair
She broke your throne, and she cut your hair
And from your lips she drew the Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah Hallelujah, Hallelujah

You say I took the name in vain
I don't even know the name
But if I did, well really, what's it to you?
There's a blaze of light In every word
It doesn't matter which you heard
The holy or the broken Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah Hallelujah, Hallelujah

I did my best, it wasn't much
I couldn't feel, so I tried to touch
I've told the truth, I didn't come to fool you
And even though
It all went wrong
I'll stand before the Lord of Song
With nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah Hallelujah, Hallelujah etc.

Meanwhile sit under a tree and read a book

a cartoon by Michael Leunig. Make up your own title. I thought at first he might be reading a Travel Warning but...whatever....

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Does the media beat up stories?

Does the media beat up stories?

From Peceli

What is the truth behind the morning news stories? On the TV, on the radio, there is all this talk about Fiji and other countries such as Iraq and Lebanon, and it’s always sensational and about death or threats. Stories from Tonga last week. A story about Fiji this morning. We heard that the Australian ships heading for Tonga will now go back to be near Fiji!

On our morning TV we saw Alexander Downer, Australia’s Foreign Affairs Minister, speaking again, saying there is clear evidence that Commodore Frank Bainimarama is planning a coup in the next couple of weeks.

Police Commissioner Andrew Hughes in Fiji said that a total number of ten politicians, civil servants and former military officers are now under investigation for allegedly inciting the Army Commander Commodore Frank Bainimarama to act against the government.

Police Commissioner Hughes reveals that intelligence received has confirmed that these people have been actively involved in exploiting the military and advising the RFMF on its ‘clean up’ campaign.

Following the Fiji Police Commissioner, Hughes’s statement, Downer said that Fiji's justice system should be allowed to do its job and he supports the role of Andrew Hughes. Downer said Fiji police should do their work and if they feel they have charges to bring, then they should do that, and prosecutors should take those matters up and they should be considered by the courts. Downer said it’s not for the army to intervene in the legal processes of a country.

My view is that if the Fiji President was strong enough, we wouldn’t have got to this stage. He should have spoken up clearly and say threats are not on. The President, with his vanua power and his position as President is the one to stop this continuing trouble. Seems like lots of people just do not know what they are doing. Fiji is in a wilderness and needs strong direction. The spirit of the vanua of Fiji is haunting us now and surely wanting us to do the right thing.

What do you think? How can the current situation be solved?

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Fiji Budget passed and a confusion of loyalties

from W.
A confusion of loyalties

Today in Suva, the Budget passed the first stage in the Lower House. In this process, there has been much discussion about loyalty to party, to the Multi-Party Cabinet, to the nation's future. For some politicians there was certainly a problem about choice of which loyalty comes first.

from Fijilive:
House passes 2007 Budget
Wednesday November 22, 2006
Opposition Leader Mick Beddoes and his deputy Bernadette Rounds-Ganilau today voted for the 2007 Budget while only 22 Fiji Labour Party members voted against. The four Labour Cabinet ministers who were present in the Lower House also voted against the Budget. The Budget was passed with 40 affirmative votes. Five FLP ministers were not present in the House when the vote was taken.
We each have to decide which of our loyalties comes first. We have various situations and institutions that demand our loyalty and concern. At times this becomes a big headache as various demands do not sit comfortably side by side.

This is so in Fiji as anywhere.

As a mother my first priority and loyalty is my children and their children. Other people might put their prime loyalty to their job, such as a soldier in the army. In Fiji this year there seems to be many demands upon the people's loyalty - towards family and tribe, towards an institution such as the army, towards a political party, towards a rugby team or the old school network.

Here is a list of some things that may demand our loyalty and attention, and they don't always sit well with one another:

1 one's own survival and health
2 family
3 religious institution
4 job and the 'boss'
5 the next generation and the future
6 a political party leader
7 government of the day
7 identity as member of clan/tribe/vanua
8 the law and legality
9 ethnic group
10 nation
11 the wider world - neighbours in the South Pacific
12 the health of the planet
13 God

Okay, back to Fiji politics and the day of the Budget. Let's get on with an opportunity to move forward instead of dancing on thin ice and continuous squabbling. To use another cliché, let's see the bigger picture.

I guess I am happy when the little turtle is happy - political parties are rather small when we look at the Pacific Ocean and inhabitants.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Survivor 14 in babasiga land

From Peceli

Survivor 14 in babasiga land

Story from the SBS Australia Fijian Radio

I listened to an interview today of one of the Labasa families who are employed for the Survivor 14 filming in the Vunivutu area of Nadogo, Macuata. Look North certainly becomes a reality now when millions and millions of dollars are being spent to make the series in Fiji at the present time.

The lady who was interviewed works as a cleaner for the film company and there are fourteen of them tidying up the small temporary houses. She was lucky to be chosen she said. Her husband is related to Tui Nadogo. They live in Labasa town. She is from a very distant little isle of Ono-i-lau and they have five children. Her husband works in the Post and Telegraphs in Labasa.

The applicants for the jobs had to have references when they applied and she had previously worked in Morris Hedstrom store. She said they work fifty hours a week at $3.50; an hour and so far she has purchased a television, a mobile phone, a washing machine and paid the school fees for the children.

This is an example of how an overseas investment such as Survivor 14 impacts upon the local people, not only the landowners and shopkeepers and transport but ordinary people.

Fiji English Dictionary - how to purchase

from w
I found the details on the Fiji Times advertisement for the book.
Available at Fiji Times $22 special offer

There are 690 pages, with 18,000 carefully selected words, detailing English as it is spoken in Fiji, including common Fijian, Hindi and other words which are used daily when Fiji’s citizens speak their common language. Included is the meaning, pronunciation, and often the derivation of words. Sample pages are given on the Fiji Times website.
D — first page (PDF - 158KB)
K — first page (PDF - 183KB)
N — first page (PDF - 230KB)
All sample pages: D, K & N (PDF - 565KB)
Hard Cover
RRP: $38.00
Fiji Times Intro Price: $32.50 VIP
Soft Cover
RRP: $28.00
Fiji Times Intro Price: $22.50 VIP
Note: additional charge for registered postage.
For enquiries about mail order, call Foto Ledua on + (679) 322 1657 or email
I looked at the sample pages and realize that there are many Fijian and Hindi words included, so it is not strictly a Fiji English Dictionary at all. It's more like a 'common language, mainly English, as used in Fiji'.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Update on effects of Nukualofa riots in Tonga

from Peceli
It is very unfortunate that people have lost their lives in the riots and fires in Nukualofa, Tonga. We have many Tongan friends here in Australia, New Zealand and overseas and it is almost unbelievable that such a thing has happened. Our prayers go to the people of Tonga, especially in the town of Nukualofa.

from Reuters
At least six bodies found after Tonga riots: police

November 16, 2006

We searched the burnt building and we found six body remains NUKU'ALOFA (Reuters) - At least six bodies were found in the riot-torn Tongan capital on Friday as rescue workers searched buildings and shops torched and looted during violence in the South Pacific island kingdom the previous day.

Soldiers and police cordoned off streets in central Nuku'alofa where up to 80 percent of the buildings were destroyed by the pro-democracy protesters.

"We searched the burnt building and we found six body remains," assistant police commissioner Unca Faaoa told Reuters.

"Only six but other buildings are still being searched."

Uneasy calm in Tonga after yesterday's riots

from Peceli,
The string of political problems even reaches the usually placid and calm islands of Tonga. There have been stirrings for some time now because of the great gulf between royalty and commoners. The build up of anger and resentment has been there even before the king died recently. The Parliament has to know this and make adjustments.
Michael Field, an experienced Pacific journalist writes about the situation.

The website of the Tongan newspaper article is here.

Uneasy calm in Tonga
UPDATED 10.10am Friday November 17, 2006 from New Zealand news.

NUKU'ALOFA - An uneasy calm settled on Tonga's capital this morning after it was reported the government bowed to a wave of violent pro-democracy protests. The AP news agency reported police and troops had taken control of central Nuku'alofa.

The apparent breakthrough came after a day of tension in the capital, where rioting crowds overturned cars, looted and set fire to shops and offices, and stoned government buildings including the prime minister's office. Osi Maama, editor of the Tongan Times, had told Newstalk ZB earlier this morning that the rioting was continuing and had spread outside the capital. Chinese-owned shops were being targeted and the police had been powerless to help, he said.
Tonga's government imposes curfew on capital.

Posted at 8:23am on 17 Nov 2006
Tonga's Government has imposed a curfew on the capital Nuku'alofa after last night's riots which left a large part of the business district in ashes.Tonga Broadcasting Commission says virtually all of the Chinese stores in downtown Nuku'alofa and many areas of Tongatapu were torched.

Its Political editor, George Lavaka, says the only thing moving in or out of Nukualofa this morning are either police or the army. "All the schools are closed today, some of the government departments, the development bank, and defence have stopped school children from going into the main centre today, because it has been cordoned off. We don't know when we are going to have an official estimate of how much damage but they will be going into the millions."

George Lavaka says the army are guarding their building after demonstrators threatened to burn it down yesterday.
Radio New Zealand International

Friday November 17, 2006
By Angela Gregory, Claire Trevett and Agencies

Tonga's capital of Nuku'alofa was ablaze last night after a democracy protest erupted into a riot involving rampaging youths. Mobs roamed the streets, overturning cars, smashing windows and setting fires while police watched. Property owned by Tonga's royal family and Prime Minister were targeted by scores of angry youths, many fuelled by alcohol.

Journalist Mateni Tapueluelu told the Herald from the city streets at 8pm (NZ time) that hundreds of Tongans were roaming the inner-city area smashing windows, trashing businesses, looting goods and setting fires.

Firefighters stood by helplessly as flames raged. "I would say 80 per cent of the CBD is burning."
The violence broke out after thousands rallied in the capital demanding a vote on proposed democratic reforms to the country's semi-feudal political system.

When the vote did not happen before Parliament went into recess for the year, youths began trashing the Prime Minister's office, the court house and other public buildings. The riots had quietened by 8.30pm and a proclamation was issued declaring the downtown area to be "under surveillance" to ensure large groups could not gather.

Dr Sevele had gone on Tongan radio appealing for calm.
As well as the Prime Minister's office, the youths attacked public buildings including the Magistrate's Court, the Public Service Commission Office and the Ministry of Finance, plus the Nuku'alofa Club, offices of the Shoreline power company, the ANZ Bank, the Pacific Royale Hotel and other businesses.

Tapueluelu reported that the rioting and burning continued after the Government held an urgent Cabinet meeting and agreed to the people's demands that 21 MPs be elected democratically by 2008.

At present just nine of the 32 MPs are elected by popular vote. The rest are appointed by the King.

It appeared many of the rioters were not aware the Government had apparently acceded to their demands - because their leaders were not able to communicate with them as the kingdom's AM radio station was off the air.
A blogger from New Zealand has an interesting article about Lopeti Senituli an activist - sometimes called a 'Tongan Revolutionary'. He spent his younger days in Fiji and the writer calls the SCM there (a Christian group) Marxist! The blog article is found here.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

coconut oil as fuel - a safer subject than politics

Coconut oil as fuel is used in the Solomon islands for boats as a substitute for diesel, but it takes ten coconuts for one k - so that is just too many. A TV program -SBS probably - ran a story on this a couple of days ago. I'm posting about a safe subject - if I talk about Fiji politics, steam comes outa me ears!

I wonder how much work is done in Fiji about bio fuels such as coconut oil. Apparently they tried using it at Sigatoka and also in Taveuni. A researcher, Morris wrote about it in Island Business.

Morris says a coconut oil-producing operation in such a localised setting would be a viable alternative, “with people in rural areas processing coconuts around them and producing oil they will use themselves, so they no longer have to buy diesel from the mainland”.

A project in Welagi, a village on the Fiji island of Taveuni, demonstrated that coconut oil could be used in a diesel generator. The project is highlighted in Cloin's paper, not only because it proves the technology works, but also because of the special challenges it presents.

As part of a French-funded project, the village obtained a small copra oil press that enabled it to produce oil from dried copra.
I suppose you can fuel your boat, go on a picnic, use some oil to fry the fish, and even have a back massage.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Protecting the chicks ----- I wish!

Lai and Mahend,
or maybe Lai and Frank,
maybe anyone of us or everyone of us.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Part-Europeans in Fiji

A comment on one of our blogs was a request for information about a Part-European family in Vanua Levu.

The part-Europeans in Fiji are sometimes called kai loma (group / in the middle) or more politely vasu (relative o Fijians) and are descendants of white Australians, Americans or Europeans who established themselves in Levuka, on the plantations of Vanua Levu or the outer islands of Fiji during the 19th century, and took Fijian wives. By 1881 there were around 800 part-Europeans; today there are about 13,800.

Rob Kaye writes: Part-Europeans generally speak fluent English and can at least understand Fijian, if not speak it fluently. Conversations may be carried on in both languages simultaneously, with jokes made in the tongue that best suits the story.

Many still live in Levuka or Savusavu and of course Suva. Part-European families in Vanua Levu in the early 1900s include the Eyres, Millers, Simpsons, Whippy’s, Pickerings and their descendants are still in Fiji. An example of the ancestor of a Part-European family is Fiji is the story of Mr James Brand Simmons.

From The Cyclopaedia of Fiji 1907 p. 282

Mr James Brand Simmons was born in London, October 5th 1849 and educated in London. On leaving school he was apprenticed to the sea, and served his time as a midshipman in the White Star Aberdeen line. He holds a master’s certificate and has had various commands amongst other is that of the Colonial Sugar Refiing Co’s schooner, but principally sails his own. Arriving in Fiji in October 1870, he started business in Levuka and opened up a cotton plantation on the Dreketi River during the American war. On its ce3ssation, and the consequent fall in price, he planted sugarcane and erected a mill. The cane was of great density, the largest ever obtained in Fiji being got from it. Sugar fall to 8 pounds per ton, through the influx of beet sugar to the Australian market, he turned his attention to cocoanuts and cattle, spare land having in the meantime been planted with a the nuts. Mr Simmons owns two estates, one on either side of the Dreketi River, 1572 acres freehold – Matikovatu and Vataboro – of which 400 are under nuts in various stages. Coffee and coacoa also grown on the estates. Cattle are reared largely on both, as also are pigs and goats. Fijian labour is employed.

The two pictures are of William Miller in Savusavu, taken about 1900 and Albert Miller today.


A website provides an excellent discussion on identity from the Part-European perspective.
Fragmented Identities Among Postcolonial Fijians Extending the Hand of Kinship and Respecting the Right to Choose.

Lucy de Bruce is from the Kailoma community of Fiji and lives in Australia. She is interested in researching Kailoma social history - how they fit into Fiji's race-conscious society… (and) she ponders the question of the Fijian identity and its relationship to equitable citizenship. After the 2000 coup her brother wrote a paper To The Hearing Committee on Fijian Unity. A Position Paper Submitted on Behalf of the Vasu/Kailoma Interest Group of Fiji. This is given on the website.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Coupes not coups - local control of a forest in Drawa

Coupes not coups – local control of Drawa, a forest in Vanua Levu

Drawa is a forested area in the middle of Vanua Levu which cross the border of Macuata and Cakaudrove. A project is under way that gives voice and control to land and forest to the local clans of this place. There are six main villages of residence for Drawa mataqali members and their households. Two villages - Drawa and Vatuvonu, are located within the model area; another two - Keka and Lutukina, are in the periphery of the area and, located away (north) from the model area, are Batiri and Nayarailagi villages. A discussion on the project can be found here.

‘The following specific objectives for the plan are representations of concerns and needs arising from participatory appraisals and surveys carried out in and outside the model area.
1. Ensure a continuous timber supply from the production forest areas for the benefit of present and future generations
2. Select agriculture sites and systems based on environmental, social and economical requirements
3. Clearly and formally delineate agriculture sites to better address land use needs and enable effective monitoring of land use activities
4. Determine income generating activities which has minimum detrimental impact on forest resources
5. Strengthen women in their role as primary household providers through crop diversification (at subsistence level)
6. Diversify into cash crops that are economically viable, environmentally suited, and contributes to general well-being
7. Identify market opportunities
8. Evaluate customary agriculture systems and existing husbandry and management practices for improvement towards soil conservation and land sustainability
9. Protect threatened and vulnerable plants, historical sites, and cultural artefacts
10. Establish a land use monitoring structure which actively involves the landowners

A young guy, Michael Wilczek writes of his part in the Drawa project. My time in Fiji
24 Feb 2006

Visiting the GTZ Project, Vanua Levu

In the second month of my internship I was able to visit the project of the German Technical Cooperation (GTZ) in Drawa, Vanua Levu (second largest Island in Fiji). The GTZ project is about a community managed forest area, which includes awareness rising and training concerning sustainable forest management. Most of the Inhabitants have understood that they should conserve the forest for the next generation.

The people in the Drawa area are doing this by wisely cutting only specific trees (old enough and well sellable) and they are generating more income. In addition the people living in the project area are involved in every step of the programme fulfilling the social component of the concept of Sustainability. All the activities focus on sustainable development.

The Drawa area is situated in the middle of Vanua Levu. In contrast to the coastal areas this location is blessed with endless and dense forests and deep, clean rivers. A real paradise, too!

Drawa VillageMy trip started with a flight from Suva to Labasa (Fiji’s fourth-largest town with 25,000 inhabitants) in a small plane with 15 seats. In Labasa I was picked up by Jalesi, the GTZ Project Manager. We drove a long way to get to Drawa Village. We used the new road built in cooperation with the GTZ: a rough and stony road through the forest. Before that road was build the village could only be reached by using horses or on foot.

The village is directly situated by a river. Whenever it gets too hot or you want to take your morning shower you just jump into the river! The people and especially the kids were wonderful and showed me all the hidden secrets of the village, like the Heralding Stone, that was used to call people together in former times or the ‘Pully’, a bucket that enables you to get water out of the river without going down the hill.

Batiri Village
The next village we visited was Batiri. We did our Sevusevu (welcome ceremony) where I presented a traditional thatched mat to the chief of the village. Because of a funeral lots of visitors were there. To show our respect we went into the house of the wife who’s husband past away and joined many women crying.

This was a weird moment, because some of the women were crying out loudly (Fijian tradition) and in the other moment they talked to me normally. After meeting the family I stayed with I was surprised about the well organized ‘catering’. They fed about 100 people nearly at the same time.

Keka VillageThe last village I went to was Keka Village, a small village far from the main road. This site is not completely integrated in the project right know, but they are willing to join. After a few bowls of Kava and a talk with the chief I watched the kids swimming in the river and jumping from a bridge. The sweets I brought were loved by the children and so they surrounded me watching my camera and telling me their names. We didn’t spent the night there and I went back to Labasa that day.

My WorkIn the first days we visited the forest. Jalesi showed me the trees that are going to be cut. They are marked with numbers and Bands. The hike was amazing! The dense forest seems to be endless and shows a wonderful variety of plants and animals..

I was also able to do some work for WWF: I made some new contacts with teachers in Vanua Levu for the WWF School Climate Witness Project. In Labasa I went to the ministry of education and picked up a list of all schools that would be very helpful to the work of the Peace Corps Volunteers, who are going to do activities in the schools. The activities include a presentation to explain Climate Change and a survey that helps the kids to interview their grandparents about changes in nature they have noticed.

Michaela Wilczek

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Qoliqoli and a Turtle Story

from W.
Qoliqoli and a Turtle Story

We were talking about this much-hyped Qoliqoli Bill and Peceli said that there surely will be technical problems about the boundaries between the different sites, and how do you draw a line in the sea? So here’s my story about it.

Ari wants to go fishing for a turtle for Uncle Jeke’s birthday party.

It’s the year 2007 and nowadays there are pretty pink, yellow, green, and other coloured ribbons on the mangroves that show every fisherman where the boundaries of qoliqoli are. Ari’s boundaries are set with purple ribbons.

Okay, but does the vonu (turtle) know that?

Ari sees a lovely big turtle, nice and fat that will be excellent for the feast. Ari swims after it with his spear. Okay, the turtle looks back at him, winks and keeps swimming past the purple ribboned mangrove and stops and nibbles on some sea grass and looks back again.

Ari doesn’t know what to do so he says, ‘Hey Vonu. Just wait there, while I go to Auntie Susu and give her some grog so that I can come back and chase you again.’

Two hours later Ari is back in the sea and he’s got permission to use Auntie Susu’s qoliqoli. But the turtle has other ideas. He’s smart. He swims past the yellow-ribboned mangrove that denotes Auntie Susu’s boundary to Uncle Tomu’s qoliqoli which has red ribbons on the mangrove. The turtle looks back, smiles at Ari who is getting rather tired of swimming by now.

‘Hey Vonu. Just wait there, while I go to Uncle Tomu and giver him some grog so that I can come back and chase you again.’

Ari goes to Uncle Tomu’s village and takes his kava, but Uncle Tomu is a modern man and he reads the Fiji Times. He says, ‘No thank you, Ari. I want $50 in cash, then you can use my qoliqoli.'

Well, Ari goes to the moneylender, who has a canefarm on the side, and borrows $50.

And you can make up the rest of the story……..
So what do you think of the implications of the Qoliqoli Bill, especially how will boundaries be set and sighted? And how to tell the fish and sea creatures not to jump the borders when you are chasing them?

Yellow Bucket - a Suva response to the past week

The Yellow Bucket is a column, sometimes humorous, sometimes cynical, about life in Fiji, particularly Suva.

From the Yellow Bucket (kava bucket) at Fiji Village – part of their response to the past week in Suva:

To quote the Acting Commander Teleni “we reserve the right to yell and scream”. Hopefully the Government has learnt that for the moment, the best policy is to develop selective hearing, keep channels open but ignore the extraordinary statements.

Over time hopefully the foreign media will learn that this is a repeat of the popular fable “the Commander who cried wolf” and realize that this is no longer a story.

Sadly this current cycle of bluster started at a time when Howard and Clark were in Fiji for the Forum. Combined with a slow news patch (no great scandals at home and the footy season is over) and Peter Foster taking his dive, it meant that Fiji stuck out on the media radar.

Once the foreign media circus arrives they have got to generate something exciting for back home. Running a “life is normal” story isn’t going to justify the expense budget.

Don’t get us wrong, we don’t blame the foreign media and their interesting interpretations of Fiji politics. We spend hours in debate around the bucket trying to cover all the angles, trying to summarize the complexities in a 60 or 90 second sound bite.
Tragically the message to tourists and foreign investors is once again one of instability. They have an image that the military represents an erratic rogue element within Fiji society, one that they can’t factor into risk analysis with any certainty. The conclusion is then inevitable “nice place not worth the risk”.

For tourists particularly from our core markets there is a growing resilience to these dramas. Many know that the tourists areas have never and will never be affected but at the same time the fear generated by the publicity is real and will affect bookings short term. This is a huge price to pay for some ill tempered remarks.

This brings us to our final conclusion. What has been the over riding sentiment around the yellow bucket this week? WE ARE ANGRY! Angry that as tax payers now paying 15% VAT we have to pay the salaries of all these characters as they tear down everything that we have worked so hard to build and for what, so they can feel important strutting around in the world media.

We just can’t believe that for all their efforts the military is rewarded with a $10 million dollar INCREASE in the budget AND that they still getting a higher allocation than the Police. Meanwhile we navigate disintegrating roads and struggle to get water in our taps. GRRRRRRRRRRRRRR
More on our frustrations next week when we tackle the Budget!

Another look
We hear Peter Foster’s hunger strike and all the drama generated by mummy dearest has proved quite convenient. It has allowed Foster to remain effectively under lock and key without being charged giving local and international police time to finalize charges relating to apparently to various international money laundering ventures.

As an expert on slimming products Foster will shortly be able to sample the efficacy of the Fiji version dhal bhat and tea and cassava. It seems to have worked wonders on the coup convicts!
So, what is the response of many people in Suva?

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Epeli and Henry in Vorovoro Island

From Peceli

Many thanks to people like Epeli and Henry

Thanks for the lovely traditional Bure that now becomes the beginning of the land mark of the Tribewanted in Vorovoro Island. There are a few people I would like to mention their names, firstly Komai Viriviri Epeli Gauna, the traditional builder of the large bure. It is not an easy assignment as the building materials all have to brought in from the mainland.

Epeli is a mataisau. The word matai means expert. He is a skilled carpenter and boatbuilder and right-hand practical man to the Tui Mali. Epeli build some of the boats that are used in Vorovoro and Mali. Epeli lives in Vuo village near the Malau Timber Mill and Vuo is a village of Mali Island people. I met him on Vorovoro Island when I was there in August and we talked then with Epeli and Tui Mali about designing a large bure for the tribewanted people.

Secondly Henry Marshall who is now registered in the chiefly yavusa (tribe)of Ligaulevu. He was a skilled mechanic with the Fiji Sugar Corporation, now just retired, and he lives in Vuinika which is near Vuo. He helps with engines and assists the Tui Mali. He is a matai ni idini (engine). And he has a car to drive the Tui Mali to Labasa town.

Thank you also to the women of Mali, particularly Tui Mali’s wife Ana who is a secondary school teacher. She and the women organised the decorations for the interior of the bure.

It is rare today to see the building of a traditional bure in the Labasa area. I don’t think there are any bures in Naseakula or Wailevu villages. The materials are difficult to obtain because most of the land has been turned into sugar cane farms so the forests are gone.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Official opening of large bure in Vorovoro

A great achievement to get the large communal bure up and opened despite several weeks of rainy weather. I've taken the liberty of pinching some pics from the Chief's blog on the the tribewanted website. After all our relatives built it! Peceli hasn't seen the pics yet as he's gone off to Altona Meadows Uniting Church for the Fijian service but he will be happy about it as Tui Mali is a close relative and friend and we want really good things to happen for the Mali island people. So far, so good with the tribewanted eco-tourism project, despite a few knockers on some websites.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Macuata Day - far away from the Suva crowd

Far away from the noise and bluster of Suva and the overheated talk by journalists who should take their kura medicine and have a good lie down, was a lovely cultural day in Naduri village in Macuata. It was Macuata Day. We have been to similar cultural days in Naduri and enjoyed the festival atmosphere which usually includes fund-raising, mekes, and a feast.

The main guest this time was Ratu Jone Madraiwiwi. Part of his speech is quoted in the Fiji Times today - November 04, 2006. His words are moderate and he is careful not to take sides. He sounds like a very patient man indeed!

VICE President Ratu Joni Madraiwiwi, , said although he and the President had been criticised publicly, they would remain calm. And he assured that the standoff between the military and the Government would be dealt with carefully. Given the military's aggressive reactions, it would not be wise to stir things up at the moment, he said.

Speaking in Fijian to more than 4000 villagers at the Macuata Day celebrations in Naduri, Ratu Joni said the storm would die down and the people should think of the past and reflect on the future. He said it was important to understand where the country was heading and to move on. Ratu Joni said it was useless to point fingers and everyone should reflect on their own actions and remain calm.

He asked the villagers to pray for peace and for guidance for the leaders and there was no reason to become a party to the tension.

Ratu Joni said wisdom and understanding were needed to solve the impasse. He said gatherings of festivities such as the Macuata Day was needed at times when the political atmosphere was tense.

Tui Macuata Ratu Aisea Katonivere said Ratu Joni's speech was very encouraging and motivating. He said the chiefs of Macuata had discussed their stand on the current situation, which they would relay to Ratu Joni. The people of Macuata, he said, wanted the current government to continue its term without interference. He said the government leaders and the military should sit down and work out an amicable solution to their differences.
FT Nov 7
The organiser of Macuata Day, Adi Seinimili Dyer said the function was revived to bring all the people in the province together.She said the money raised would be used to construct two hostels in Labasa and provide scholarships to students for further studies. Adi Seinimili said the Macuata Provincial Council was focusing on the education of children from the province. She said it was important that children had the resources to further their education and have a comfortable accommodation while studying in Labasa.


Though Suva and the events of the past week seem distant from a community where newspapers are not often read, the people certainly would have listened to the radio and perhaps become alarmed for their kin living in Suva.

We are not isolated people wherever we live. We are connected and there’s this theory that when a butterfly flaps her wings somewhere, it will have an effect elsewhere.

What do you think about Ratu Jone's speech?

added Nov 13th.
Peceli's brother went to Macuata Day and said it was a fabulous day for the women's soli (offering) and because of the tauvu relationship with Bau, there was plenty of teasing going in with the Vice President, Ratu Jone. Also the Wailevu people excelled in their dances - wesi (spear dance) and seasea (women's standing dance). All this jollity when Suva was simmering with disquiet the same day!

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Wise words from a bishop in Vanua Levu

from W.
Words fail me at this time when adults create fear amidst a population of mostly sensible people and I think of those kids doing their Fiji Examinations today after a week of raging newspaper headlines and macho talk.

A bishop in Vanua Levu quoted in today's Fiji Times speaks the voice of reason:

....Meanwhile, Bishop Apimeleki Qiliho the Anglican Bishop from Vanua Levu said as a church leader, he is concerned about the current impasse between the military and the government.

"I urge the leaders of both the government and the military to urgently resolve their differences and to exercise their moral responsibilities," he said.

Mr Qiliho added that it is the moral duty of the government to defend and uphold values such as respect, dialogue, caring for the need, national unity and placing high value on wealth distribution in the country.

"Part of its moral duty is to take heed of the concerns raised, not only by the military, but by many other citizens about some of its controversial and questionable moral conduct in recent years."

He said the Government had to remember that its authenticity depended on the confidence of the people on how it governed them.

Mr Qiliho added that it was important that as citizens of this country, our moral responsibility was to remind both the government and the military to exercise their moral duty and that is to adhere to the boundaries of their roles and responsibilities.