Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Inspection in Macuata after the flood

from Fiji Times today:

Deforestation cause of North flooding
1204 FJTWednesday, February 28, 2007
Update: 12.04pm

DEFORESTATION and farmers' negligence were contributing factors to flooding in the Northern Division.And the Director of Agriculture Extension services Kiniviliame Namoumou, has come out strongly against reports that blamed agriculture practices as the main cause of flooding. ''The irresponsible deforestation in some of the areas affected by the flood must also be looked at and it is very important to delve into the logging practices used in these areas, Mr Namoumou said.

Mr Namoumou said most of the affected areas were exposed to some sort of deforestation in the last ten years and this has come back to have its ill impact on these villages and settlements especially during a torrential downpour. ''When the trees were cut down the roots which hold the soil together begins to weaken and thus lose their hold on the soil allowing it to be easily washed away and causes heavy siltation in the rivers,'' Mr Namoumou said.

Mr Namoumou added that Extension Officers in the Agriculture Department are duty bound to extend to farmers the appropriate farming technologies and practices but the onus is on the farmers to adopt them. He also said that there is an urgent need for Land Conservation Acts to be enforced and appropriate strategies put in place to ensure that the act is adhered to.

Mr Namoumou who toured the Northern Division with the Interim Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forests, Jainend Kumar last week is optimistic that farmers in the affected areas will be assisted in one way or another.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Fiji javelin thrower and a netballer are winners

Fiji jav thrower Leslie Copland won best male athlete and sports personality of the year in the FASNOC awards. Javelin throwing is a great sport to watch, but a hard sport to practice, often alone with few colleagues to throw against. Congratulations Leslie. And congratulations also to Matila Waqanidrola for winning the award for female athlete of the year, a netball player. Great to see healthy young people focussed on doing their very best in their chosen sports.

from Fiji Times today:

Sports can unite people: Lakhan
Monday, February 26, 2007
The photo shows: Winners are grinners ... Matila Waqanidrola and Leslie Copeland with their awards
Indra Singh writes:

SPORTS should be given the top priority if a choice has to be made because it breaks all the boundaries and gets people of all walks of life together. This was the message from Fiji Association of Sports and National Committee president Vidhya Lakhan during the annual awards night in Suva on Saturday night. The awards were held to honor athletes and officials for their tremendous work both on and off the field.

Lakhan said there were many people who during turbulent times had to make choices and most of the times sports was made to suffer due to these choices. "I know that there are times when decisions have to be made and I urge all that when it comes to making a decision between sports and other issue, sports should be given the priority," Lakhan said. "We know most of the sports are run by volunteers and when we lose them than this affects sports." He said during moments of uncertainty sports brought people together. "We have seen that sports play a major role in bringing people together," he said.
Fiji's top javelin thrower Leslie Copeland was the toast of the night as he scooped two of the top awards on offer. He was awarded the Sports Personality of the Year and the Athlete of the Year Male. He thanked his coaches and all those who had helped him reach his goals. "I am very happy with the awards and I'll use it to work harder and improve further," Copeland said.

Athlete of the Year Female, Fiji netball skipper Matila Waqanidrola said the win was for netball as the team was preparing for the South Pacific Games and the World Championships this year.
"Hopefully this win will help lift the sport further as we have two big events this year," Waqanidrola said.

Winners:Sports Organisation of the Year-Fiji Swimming Association; Sports Administrator of the Year-Cindy Bolakoso; Technical Official of the Year-Jashint Maharaj; Coach of the Year-James Goulding; Sports Volunteer of the Year-Anthony Ho; Sports Photograph of the Year-Mark Vele, President's Commendations-Mark Vele, Iliesa Delana; Rajnesh Prakash.
If the current 'cleaners' would concentrate on getting athletics and other sports into all the schools instead of chasing lads who get lost and get a taste for soft drugs, Fiji would be a better place and there would be healthier young adults in the future.

(added later - Copeland won gold at Samoa)

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Help for Fiji children through Donation in Kind

from w

Heather Van Vlokhoven, Tevita Nakalevu, Caroline Caldwell and Jan Bullock are pictured here with boxes to fill a container to go to Lautoka for Fiji school children. The boxes include kits of school supplies and stationery packs for teachers, textbooks etc. Rotary clubs in Geelong contribute to sending containers to several South Pacific countries each year. This particular container has been filled through the assistance of sue Bolton and the Lara Girl Guides.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Fiji's Yellow Bucket

from w.
Fijivillage Yellow Bucket occasionally gives a quirky, realistic, sometimes irreverent, take on the political and social life of Fiji. Lately they have been quiet, simply simmering the ingredients as the plot thickens. Anyway they are back with a take on how people in Fiji are looking of events. The ‘yellow bucket’ refers to a plastic bucket used for kava drinking I presume and the author/authors are anonymous. I am only using extracts from the article.

The Bucket is Back By fijivillage Feb 16, 2007, 17:25

…….. The first challenge is to come to terms with the magnitude of change, the reality of military rule and what that entails. Yes we know there is a civilian administration in place tip toeing within the boundaries of the constitution (this assumes the broadest possible interpretation possible of the blue book) but the fact is what Commander Frank wants he gets. For those of us brought up in the tradition of Fijians vs. Mahend politics this new Fiji order takes some getting used to. The military has been particularly strategic in this regard. Under the guise of emergency legislation they have left the media (with a couple of early exceptions) alone but have instead targeted those critics of the regime using “incitement” to validate what has on some occasions been some pretty tough treatment we understand however that this may be about to change.But lets get back to the basics lets strip away all the buzz words and slogans and delve into what this is really all about. 36 years of indigenous Fijian rule (with a couple of momentary lapses) created a Fijian elite that dominated public life. While there were the occasional scraps and some fell in and out of favour, power was essentially shared within this group maintained via democratic and when necessary military means.

(section deleted – as it’s too long but gives the background of Fiji since 1987)

The scale of change that has taken place presents issues here. There is a large group of displaced, disgruntled and in many cases financially desperate former politicians and public servants who now sit wondering how they and their families are going to survive. As any student of revolutions will tell you resistance is usually born in the disgruntled educated middle classes who then provide leadership to the masses.

YB understands a couple of attempts (and we are not talking about the democracy protests) have already been made by this newly disenfranchised group to stir up dissent with little success.So what is the mood of the masses? Right now the ordinary Josefas and Jigneshs are still confused. Survival is their main priority with school fees to pay there is no time to worry about politics. But they are adding up the pluses and minuses and the tally currently looks a little like this. For Jignesh the pluses are increased security (the aggressive clean up of criminal elements is appreciated by all), the whole multiracial tone of the new government, increased access to “guvment” in a whole range of new areas previously sealed off, removal of the blue print, the fact that Mahend is in power and they like the sound of the whole “clean up” campaign. Minuses largely center around worries about the economy, job security and the impact it could have on his personal bottom line but in general he supports the coup and ousting of the government.For Josefa the pluses would once again be increased security (there is a BUT coming), the clean up (unless one of his relatives is affected) and possibly talk of changes to NLTB land rental distribution. As a Fijian he is used to “guvment” and more particularly politicians delivering or at least promising to deliver the goodies although many have waited for years. These can range from simple assistance to get a licence or FNPF money to more direct hand outs often at a very basic level. For the moment he is testing the army and waiting to see how they perform. Underlying this however is a reluctance to get involved in politics. He is aware that he has been manipulated in the past by nationalist politicians and isn’t going to be fooled again so would have to be given a very good reason to take action.Minuses would be more significant then his neighbor Jignesh. He probably voted SDL initial anger at their ousting has now passed and for the moment he can live with it. He will be skeptical but not surprised by the corruption claims and waiting for proof.Top of the minuses will probably be concerns over the military’s jack boot approach to stomping on dissent particularly if relatives have been targeted. All this adds up to a general sense of apathy not particularly for or against just watching and waiting.But the “jack boot” approach does, for the moment, represents the biggest threat to maintaining a tranquil transition. It does appear that the military is now moving to shift strategy with the lifting of travel bans, this we understand will be accompanied by a general softening of the military’s aggressive stance re criticism and freedom of expression. Once again we hear that there is a feeling within the armed forces that now is the time to start sampling public opinion. Also they are aware that human rights abuses get in the way of international relationships and with the crucial EU aid review looming it is time to repair the image.

You do get the sense that we are now entering into the third phase of this process. The first being the initial take over and clampdown, the second a consolidation process aimed at securing power and ousting opposition elements. The third is one of starting the process of delivering on the promises. This means getting down to the business of government and this is where the Commander is faced with critical choices that will determine ultimate success or failure.

(and so on)

Read the whole text for yourself anyway.

An excellent discussion on reactions in Fiji to the Four Eminent Visitors report (supposed to be FOR YOUR EYES ONLY but who in Fiji worries about things like piracy of tapes, copyright material, etc.) is on Ms Vakaivosavosa’s blog site. The whole text of the 20 page report is on the net already anyway on another site.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Adam's most excellent adventure on Vorovoro

from w
I don't want to pinch his story and pics so read and look for yourself - an excellent week's adventure on Vorovoro Island with tribewanted, and he posted over 170 beaut pictures on flickr.

His story starts of as follows:

My Vorovoro - Adam Carter

15 February 2007
Starting from the beginning then – the plane ride from Nadi to Labasa. You get into a small, roughly 15 seater, plane after having your luggage weighed, and even getting on the scales yourself (I flew with Sun Air). It was funny though, just to look at the difference between the way Sun Air and Air Fiji operate (their check-in counters were side-by-side in Nadi Airport). Sun Air as a whole seemed to be very laid back (they didn’t even have a proper staff uniform for crying out loud), which was cool, because that could never happen anywhere at home, and it was just a nice reminder of how different the Fijian culture is as a whole. It was easily the smallest plane that I’ve been on, so it was definitely a bizarre feeling to have the plane fish tailing down the runway as it picked up enough speed to take off. I know it’s been said before, but the views on the plane ride to Labasa are spectacular at the worst of times........

Romanu Fiji's excellent top cop

From Peceli
It is a very good thing that Romano Tikotikoca came back to Fiji in this time of great need in the Fiji Police Force. I know Romanu personally and regard him as a very good friend and a reliable and intelligent leader. He has brought officers for study and later officers’ wives to our communities here in Melbourne and Geelong. So in today’s paper I was interested to read this article from Verenaise Raicola. I have selected some points raised in the article today.

Members of the disbanded Police Tactical Response Division who will now make up a new unit. Military-appointed Acting Police Commissioner Romanu Tikotikoca says the Police Tactical Response Division will be resurrected. The unit's role will be to support police divisions and formations requiring additional manpower for major events.
Mr Tikotikoca said as police officers, Australians and New Zealanders still worked with the Fiji police and other Pacific Island states in the Solomon Islands under RAMSI, the Regional Assistance Mission to the Solomon Islands.
On morale in the police force since the December 5 military overthrow of the Qarase Government, Mr Tikotikoca said, "The force no doubt was affected as a result of what eventuated. "That is a natural phenomenon it affects people psychologically and it has affected the organisation. "It is not only me, it is all of us who will build this organisation together, and for us to move forward, we need the assistance of members of the community as well. That is one of the responsibilities I am dwelling upon in trying to boost the morale of our people. They are responding well to that,"said Mr Tikotikoca who started in his new job last Friday.
He said the work of the Anti-Corruption Unit fell directly under Interim Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama and not the police, so he could not comment on the framework of the organisation. "The manpower is form here but operationally these people work under the commander,"he said.
Mr Tikotikoca said in view of the situation in Fiji today, people could rest assured of continued police service in accordance with the laws of Fiji, the Police Act and regulations and the force's standing orders. He thanked the people of Fiji for their continued adherence to the rule of law and their assistance to police. Mr Tikotikoca said police would continue to be a community-based organisation in order to serve and protect the people of Fiji and her visitors, through the enhancement of community partnerships.
"As such, it will foster community-policing programs and shall remain professional, transparent and accountable to society in its law enforcement role.Efforts to enhance police services to members of the public will continue to be our priority.’ Mr Tikotikoca said institutional strengthening, however, would be determined within the framework of the 2007 budget allocations to be announced next month.
Mr Tikotikoca said in relation to their cooperation with the military, police would ensure that full support was rendered to the army in terms of their assistance in the execution of police functions laid out in section 5 of the Police Act and for the purposes of public order and safety.
"I wish to thank the military for their assistance in reducing the number of crimes committed during the last two months. Police, however, will continue to take the lead role in law enforcement and investigations."
Mr Tikotikoca said in the recent past, sophisticated crimes had reached our shores in the form of international drug trafficking, people smuggling, international fraud, money laundering and other types of organised crimes.
"We shall continue to develop preventative strategies, including the strengthening of the police intelligence machinery and the Criminal Investigations Department to deal with these types of crimes,"he said. He looks forward to the continued close cooperation with law enforcement agencies from abroad, particularly those within the region. Mr Tikotikoca said police would continue to enforce the'no drop policy'whereby all complaints would be recorded on receipt at police stations or police posts.
"However, in relation to complaints of civil nature, complainants will be advised to take their own lawful actions,"he said. "I assure members of the public of our commitment to the maintenance of law and order and the provision of assistance to you. Again, I thank the people of Fiji for maintaining peace and stability in your communities.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Is much sandalwood - yasi - grown in Fiji today?

from w

Last weekend we watched a program on TV about a lucrative business growing sandalwood in Australia so later discussed whether much happens in Fiji about sandalwood these days. I did a search on the net and found out a little, and we need to do more research because wouldn't it be good if this could become a product - after ten years or so - for Fiji's farming community.

This is what I found out.

Sandalwood is called yasi in Fiji and also grows in Vanuatu and Tonga.The plant belongs to the Santalaceae family. The tree can grow to as high as 12m with trunks reaching 30cm in diameter. The tree is semiparasitic with the roots attaching to other host trees and providing water and some mineral nutrients. Accordingly, it is well adapted to periodic dry conditions. The flowers are rich pink to purplish red, and the fleshy fruits drupe turns from green to purple or reddish-violet when matured. The fruits and flowers are found throughout the year.

Sandalwood is an integral part of the history and ecology of Fiji.

The aromatic wood of yasi is highly prized and in the early 1800s American and English ships exploited the yasi in Vanua Levu, particularly Bua. They even called Vanua Levu Sandalwood Island. They damaged the plantations by chopping at the trees to obtain the rich oil base of the tree. Within thirty years the forests were decimated. I suppose the Fijians were given axes and trinkets. It is a sad tale of exploitation.

I wonder how much sandalwood still grows in Fiji. There certainly is some because I’ve seen girls with sandalwood dust in their hair at weddings and some products are made in Fiji using sandalwood. Are there any/many commercial ventures in specifically growing yasi. There was a conference in Nadi about it and trials and tests are done at places like Koronivia Research Station. One of our mataqali young men is interested in the possibility of starting a yasi plantation. The seedlings require other plants because they don’t grow alone. They are good for dry areas such as babasiga which is Macuata. They say that yasi grows in Bua Province, Dogotuki in Macuata, Kadavu; Ono-i-Lau; Lakeba; Oneata (Lau); and Nausori Highlands in Northwest Viti Levu. One company is registered in Labasa but an email only got a connection in China.

Is there a connection between logging and flood damage in Cakaudrove?

from w

There's not many details but one article from FijiTV suggests that the damage to villages and land in Cakaudrove, such as Vaturova (not to be confused with Vatuadova, sometimes spelt Vatudova in Macuata) was partly caused by illegal logging. I do not know whether these are old-growth forests or mahogany or what. the Commissoner Northern also said that after the disastrous floods in the Labasa area in 2003 he advised people to rebuilt on higher ground and to plant their gardens on higher ground, but this advice was not heeded.
Vaturova logging is connected with timber mills in Labasa so I would like to find out more information.

Logging and Flood Damage - From Fiji TV news 14th Feb
Poor logging practices blamed for destruction of homes in recent flood 14 Feb 2007 18:06:51
The Commissioner Northern's Office blames poor logging practices for the destruction of homes by recent floods in Vaturova on Vanua Levu.

And the Office has questioned the existence and relevance of the logging code. This is a common site in the eight villages worst affected by the flood in the district of Vaturova on Vanua Levu.

Commissioner Northern Misieli Naivalu says logs and trees destroyed many homes in the district. Work is still underway to asses the extent of damage to homes and the number of families that would need news houses in Vaturova. The Commissioner Northern's Office wants answers from the regulators.

Authorities want to know whether loggers have been monitored closely to ensure their business has been conducted in accordance with logging code. Naivalu says irresponsible logging must stop. He says proactive action is urgently needed to prevent worse flooding in the north.

Monday, February 12, 2007

New flights to Labasa - Pacific Sun

from w

This is a bit of a commercial for the new service provided by Air Pacific for within Fiji so I pinched their logo and their map! Not that I have any problem with the other airline as I've flown several times from Nausori to Labasa and back. Thanks Gilbert from Promoting Suva for giving us the link.

The following information has been adapted from the website for Pacific Sun.
Cheap Fares - Airfares will be available for certain sale periods from as low as:
Domestic Fiji Special Bula Fares (FJD) fare plus vat plus surcharge

Nadi-Suva 68.00 plus 9.00 plus 25.00
Nadi-Labasa 103.00 plus 13.00 plus 25.00
Nadi-Savusavu 100.00 plus 13.00 plus 25.00

Suva-Labasa 83.00 plus 10.00 plus 25.00

**Children's fares are 75% of Adult levels**
Note: - Fares quoted are one way. Fares & Vat and Surcharges are in FJD- Surcharges include fuel and insurance surcharge. (May vary depending on currency fluctuation)- Valid for sale from 29 January 2007 to 28 February 2007- Valid for travel from 01 February 2007 to 30 June 2007

There are other fare categories that can be found on the website.

The Pacific Sun fleet upon acquisition consists of the following aircraft:
2 x ATR 42-500 (44 seats)
3 x Britten Norman BNZ2A Islanders (9 seats)
3 x De Havilland DHC-6 Twin Otters (14 seats)
Check their website for contact and other details.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Some help is arriving for Labasa flood victims

from w.
Villages, farms and schools in lie-lying areas are now recovering from the floods. Some of the schools lost books and furniture such as All Saints Secondary School near the Qawa River and Guru Nanak Primary School which is in a location that was once swamp land. Here are two pictures from Korowiri village which was flooded and the people used the local Methodist Church as a temporary camp. Notice the priorities - keeping the TV safe up high, and the cushions for the church pews!

A request for people in Suva to send items to Labasa urgently has come from the Women’s Action Centre as follows:
Can you please donate any spare clothes, bedding, school items, for people from Labasa and surrounds, who are currently facing a crisis after flash flooding?

WAC has organised limited free cargo transport from Natovi to Labasa so please drop in any spare items to WAC at 333 Waimanu Road, Suva (Opposite the CWM Maternity unit) AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.

Many homes in the North are still covered in mud and stale water, and lots have lost all they own. Schools are still closed as many are being used as crisis centres, and many children have lost uniforms and books for the year.

*Any spare cartons or heavy duty bags (in good condition) are useful too. *We are sending the bags as soon as possible (Latest Thursday 15 Feb).
And now the rain is coming down in Viti Levu and the western side is copping flooding! That's the tropics and it is the summer rainy season, but there is so much damage caused every time there is a flood.

Vorovoro tribewanted survived the storms

from w

From chief’s blog

A lot of trees have fallen on the island but there is no structural damage. All tribal handywork so far stood the test and the Great Bure shrugged it off like a fijian rugby player side-stepping his opponent. Kitchen flooded but we were able to rescue everything.

Boats were pulled to safety apart from blue boat but it survived the pummelling.
Pontoon for jetty took a heroic effort from Api to save, but it was saved. Some of the jetty walkway has been lost.

Island now clear after good weeks work. Big water tank is full!


Labasa seems to be much more of a mess. The river burst its banks and the high street was flooded up to the level of ground floor windows. The whole town is covered in mud. It looks like a disaster zone. The Grand Eastern is a big mud bath and we're lucky our office is on the first floor, otherwise all our gear would have gone. Flights in and out of Labasa operating as normal.


There is going to be no problem staying on Vorovoro as infrastructure is fine. It is going to put the project work back a couple of weeks though as material orders from local saw mill will be put on hold as it was flooded.
Wildgreeza from tribewanted has lots of photos and anecdotes about Vorovoro during Christmas and New Year and the recent storm which he called a cyclone. Two of his pics I have posted here show a view of a part of Labasa taken from a plane, and coconut trees bending in the wind.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Are these the sea snakes in Survivor 14?

from w
In Fiji there are sea snakes or sea kraits and I have only seen them twice:
once several were sunning themselves on rocks in a quiet location in Vorovoro Island, and the day our family visited Nukutatava Beach after resolving a land dispute that gave us back access to our tribal land, and two were curled around fallen coconut trunks in the shallows. Peceli said this was a sure sign of approval of our winning our land back.

A Hacking Family website that includes descriptions of this kind of sea snake also has descriptions of other Fiji creatures such as the iguana.

They write as follows:
Air-breathing sea snakes are common in Tonga and Fiji. The Banded Sea Krait has a distinctive black head and black and white bands and flat tail (adapted for swimming). It's often seen on the reefs, but can also be found along the coasts, on the rocky shores. The sea snake photographed here has a yellow and black head, and is also called a sea krait, but I don't know its species. Most sea snakes come ashore in freshwater inlets and give birth to live young on land. Although these snakes have a toxin many times more deadly than any land snakes they are very docile in the sea (some divers handle them, but not us!) and their mouths are so small they cannot get purchase on anything much bigger than a small finger. They also only eject venom when feeding or under great duress. We have had one slither up into our dinghy and we used the boat hook to fling it out, not wanting to find out the extent of the creature’s definition of “great duress”! A week later Sue was standing on the sugar-scoop working on the dinghy and felt something gently rubbing her foot. Freak out! It was on the deck, under the ladder! The flash picture scared it back into the water!

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Should the institutions of the church and/or army dabble in politics?

from w
The Methodist Church President's notion of reconciliation to work nicely with the army might smooth the ruffled feathers caused by the forthright statement.
Methodist Church to Monitor Executives Closely
By fijivillage
Feb 9, 2007, 13:08

The Methodist Church of Fiji will now closely monitor church executives to ensure that they are not part of any moves that may bring disrespect to the church or cause instability in the nation. Church President Reverend Laisiasa Ratabacaca has confirmed that any statement from the church regarding the current situation in the country will only be issued by him.

Ratabacaca said the church standing committee will now be responsible for drawing up a road map that could see all races in the country working together and helping the interim government move forward.

This Sunday all members of the Methodist Church will be told what the church wants from them (my italics) in helping the interim government and to see that they are not used by individuals with personal agendas.

Some of the letters from ‘YOUR SAY’ are interesting.
So the Military is saying that it is ungodly for the Methodist church to be dallying in politics ... is this a case of the pot calling the kettle black? And what did they call their call their act of treason against an elected government ... oh yes ... they called it a 'clean up campaign'!

I remember the comments made by a poster on this forum - 'that people who live in glass houses should not throw stones.'

The military should not be calling institutions names because they started a trend of meddling in something that was not their business to meddle in. They disrespected the highest office of this land by saying that they did not recognise him as being their Commander-in-Chief - in fact it was Teleni that said that... They just got back to recognizing the President as their Commander-in-Chief when they were trying to get VB sworn in as PM and to get the immunity decree signed by the President.

Reapi Nayacakalou
• • •
aquamyasia - you quote
"It clearly states in the Bible Romans 13. Obey the government, for God is the one who put it there. All governments have been placed in power by god. So those who refuse to obey the laws of the land are refusing to obey god, and punishment will follow."
At present there is a Govt. in place in Fiji that the church refuses to accept and obey.
You say all governments have been placed in power by god.
Is the church refusing to obey God??

y• • •
The last time I checked, Commander Bainimarama is a church goer and he knows the word of the Lord.

Yet he went ahead.

So, if the Church claims blanket veto over all Christians and speaks for all...then...how do we explain then and women in uniform who are presumably predominantly of the Christian faith and avid Church goers..are they sinners?

And the President himself ... has he no fear of God?

I think the Church propaganda is just pure stirring the pot, they have nothing better to do ... they need to find useful programs to get the community re-energized into productive things.

Vinod Chetty
• • •
The military should do a clean up campaign in the Methodist Church all over Fiji.

Jolly Good
Auckland, New Zealand
We need a new president.

Please be positive, we need someone who can decide for a nation who are clashing on one another, Fiji is like a boat sailing on rough seas. We need a captain that can swim without help! A President who can make decisions when we needed it: right now. This is not politics, I do agree with with the Methodist Church, it's not that I am a member of this particular church, I am a concerned citizen with children who will stand today and tomorrow for my beautiful Fiji. Please think wisely: we are running out of time. Our economy is going down very fast.

Ratu Jiasa Ratumuri
• • •
Just a reminder to all. It is not the church that has an opinion on political situations rather, people who are in the church using it as a medium of fronting their own personal views. Do not speak against the church but against people using it as a front for their own political agendas.

I would like to add however, that these people expressing their views, as silly as it is to use the church, are correct.

A quick return to rightful democracy is what Fiji needs. Frank and his men (and women) must resign and make way for a fair and rightful return to democracy as soon as possible.

One more thing: with the retirement age now set at 55, isn't Iloilo way past that? I wonder how old Frank and his puppets are?

Laughing Fijian
• • •
Can someone tell me which part of the Constitutional or administrative make-up of the Methodist Church gives them the authority to ask for a Nation's Head Of State to resign?

I am waiting for answers: let's really clean up Fiji. because we have too many hot headed leaders representing minority groups who want to run Fiji.

Groups like the Church with very narrow vested interests must be stopped from exploiting the situation because it know the level of gullibility within its membership and wants to take advantage of it.

Vinod Chetty
• • •
Just because the army has lost its way, does not mean that the church should also lose its credibility by by indulging into things they are not mandated to. The church is way above politics and should not stoop this low. It is also unchristian to be malicious and unforgiving.

Places of worship are places where people go for sanctity and peace, not to get stressed over political issues which has a divisive affect. I thought we had come a long way from the colonial days.


Survivor 14 showcasing a babasiga location starts today

from w
Apparently the Survivor 14 set in Fiji starts on TV today in USA, but I haven't heard a whisper yet about when it will start in Australia or Fiji. We must wait with bated breath to see bits and pieces of the land that we love - not so much about the contestants - but the Fijian cultural input and whether it rings true or not!

There are several interesting maps on Dan Bollinger's 'spoiler' site and one is very good of the Vunivutu area where the series was filmed. Go to this site. I won't copy the map here because it takes a million bytes and also there's a niggling thing about copyright that I (sometimes) respect.

Meanwhile our babasiga site is getting lots of hits today because somewhere we are listed on some meta site! Well, I hope they read other stuff too besides the old posting about Vunivutu! For those just tuning in here for the first time, babasiga is a Fijian word that means 'sunburnt land' and describes the drought-prone land of Macuata. Of course the people of Macuata have had a major flood this week which drenched the town of Labasa and caused a great deal of damage to schools, shops and canefields.

That's the rhythm of life in Fiji.

updated 10th Feb. Something from BuddyTV
February 7, 2007
Situated on the side of a mountain, the Tribal Council set of Survivor: Fiji conveys the idea of being part of a time where there were warring tribes towering down and ready to take enemies out. Survivor host Jeff Probst gave an tour of the mood-altering set exclusively on the TV Guide Channel.

How did Survivor: Fiji create such a tone? About 20 men carried logs up the mountain and subsequently built the building which took about 8 weeks to complete. Rigorous and painstaking, it takes about 200 steps to walk up to the entrance of the Tribal Council, the longest among all the previous Survivor shows.

Overall, the Tribal Council set of Survivor: Fiji is based on local traditions and designs. The eerie atmosphere of cannibalism further sets the mood, with 300 skulls planted all around the Tribal Council. In addition, the roof of the Tribal Council is made up of 3,000 pieces of thatch and 5,000 pieces of timber are scattered throughout the bridges.

As for the voting area, it is situated very close to the other contestants, a feature that will probably make contestants in the voting booth whisper a lot. Of course, there is still the snuffing of the torch, a distinct mark of the show and also a tool which Fijians use when they take out eyeballs.

Check out the video captures of the set at Survivor Fever.
There are several websites now with stuff about episode one, but if you don't live in North America, you may not want to know who loses, etc.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Children from Vatuadova village

from w
In the 1960s there was one household with two children at the Vatuadova reserve land west of Labasa. Ten years later there were four households there, all from the Nadogo mataqali. Today there are eight households, a church, fresh water from a bore, electricity, several sugar cane contracts, extra blocks of land, and scores of children. Here are some of the children - all home this week I guess because of the floods in Labasa disrupting schools in the district.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Cane toads in Fiji and in Queensland

from w

There's one creature in Fiji that I really do not like though perhaps some people might think they have great personalities just like someone in Vanuatu reckons Peter Foster is a charming man!

They are of course in Queensland, Australia also. The first time I saw them was at a Fiji school where the toilets were just cement footprints on a slab and cane toads were hopping about which was very scary. In Australia they are gradually moving from Queensland and even into Northern Territory.

The Cane Toad has large poison glands, and adults and tadpoles are highly toxic to most animals if ingested. Because of its voracious appetite, the Cane Toad has been introduced to many regions of the Pacific and the Caribbean islands as a method of agricultural pest control, notably in the case of Australia in 1935, and derives its common name from its use against sugar cane pests. The Cane Toad itself is now considered a pest in many of its introduced regions, as its toxic skin kills many native predators when ingested.

Perhaps as the Interim government in Fiji is looking for creating wealth if other industries such as sugar and gold collapse, they could set up a factory to make flip-flops out of cane toad skin. Ugh!

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Should the town of Labasa be moved to higher ground?

from w
There's a rhythm of flood and drought in babasiga land and that's taken for granted, but what a nuisance it is every summer or so.

The refrain I used to sing often - 'Don't let the rains come down, my roof's got a hole in it and I might drown!'

Because Labasa grew spasmodically from a few buildings at Malau port then the Mill area with their staff taking up residence in the nice hills east of Labasa River. But the low-lying area - once mangrove and flood-prone land west of the river - grew with with a few Chinese and Indian shops in the 40s, then today it is a commercial town. So flooding of the river always causes damage and dismay.

The Fiji papers are telling the story of the latest flood in Labasa and as usual there is damage to the crops. Isa lei, why don't they move the town to higher ground?

Crops, Homes & Shops Damaged in Labasa Flash Floods
By fijivillage
Feb 5, 2007, 07:35

There has been wide spread damage to crops in the northern division while shops in Labasa town have also suffered major damage as a result of the flash floods last night.

Commissioner Northern Misaele Naivalu speaking to Village News from the middle of Labasa town this morning confirms that the water level is slowly receding. He said that many shops and homes still have water inside while a large amount of crops have also been destroyed. Naivalu said officials are still trying to gather information on the exact number of people still taking shelter at the evacuation centres at Sangam College, Holy Family School and Labasa Civic Centre.

Commissioner Northern Misaele Naivalu said it would be wise for all schools in Labasa to be closed today.

Although the Education Ministry is yet to release a statement on the schools in the northern division, Naivalu said they are currently trying to ensure that all schools in the north remain closed today.
and from Fiji Times
A statement from the Ministry of Provincial Development has cautioned people to stay away from Labasa town as it is still underwater.

Bus operators have been advised that all major roads on Vanua Levu including Navidamu, Coloci, Dradramea roads are still underwater and closed to buses.

The Ministry says Korovuli Bridge in Seaqaqa, the Labasa/Savusavu highway at the Tabia roadn junction, roads along the Qawa and Labasa rivers, Labasa town, Bulileka and Valebasoga roads, Buca and Tukavesi areas are not accessible to buses and other vehicles.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Rocky Balboa

The DVD of Rocky Balboa is not my kind of film as I dislike boxing and violence, but there are some good scenes and script in the film. Junior saw it in Fiji recently and he told me to notice the good script. Instead of watching it all I just looked up stuff about the film on Google such as wikipedia.

I was interested in a scene between Rocky and his son.

Robert (Milo Ventimiglia). Robert is the opposite of Rocky - a buttoned-down, corporate-minded businessman who is trying to carve out his own place in a very different world. Rocky's relationship with Robert is tumultuous because Robert has always had to live under the shadow of his famed father; he even believes that the only reason he was hired for his latest job was because of his last name, Balboa. But it is through the course of the movie that we see the relationship mend itself through Rocky's admonishment to his son that his life is his own and he must be willing to take the chances necessary for an opportunity to succeed.
Rocky’s speech to his son

Here's an example of the script:

Somewhere along the line you changed. You stopped being you. You let people stick a finger in your face and tell you you’re no good and things got hard, you started looking for things to blame. Like a big shadow.

Let me tell you something you already know. The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It’s very mean and nasty place. And I don’t care how tough you are it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me or nobody is going to hit as hard as life.

But it ain’t about how hard you hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep amoving forwards, how much you can take and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done.

Now if you know what you’re worth, you gotta be out there willing to take the hits and not point fingers ‘cos of him or her or anybody if you aint’ where you wanna be. Cowards do that. That ain’t you. You’re better than that.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

'Courage brother do not stumble' a Methodist hymn

The Fiji Methodist Church has come out with a strong statement about the current situation. It seems that this caused some disquiet in the military camp and soldiers went into Centenary Church this afternoon and a Fiji Times photographer was allegedly assaulted in the process.

Resign, Methodist Church tells regime
Friday February 02, 2007
Fiji’s largest Christian denomination, the Methodist Church has issued a strongly worded statement denouncing the December 5 coup by the military.

The church said the actions of the Commander to depose and then reinstate the President, to terminate the Soqosoqo Duavata ni Lewenivanua Government and Multi Party Cabinet and the dissolution of Parliament are questionable in any court of law.

"These actions must be viewed as a dangerous precedent to the governance of this country i.e. the use of military power to usurp the mandate of a democratically elected government.

‘The takeover should be deplored as a treasonous act against the State.

The Methodist Church said the coup in the short term created more poverty and this was evident from the growing number of people seeking assistance through the Church.

On the interim regime, the Church said in principle it agreed to the appointment because it acknowledges that democratic normalcy needs to be restored to the nation with undisturbed speed.

The Church called on the President and the Great Council of Chiefs to "show integrity, compassion and to stand up for the rule of law and Godly principles, including human rights, in this difficult period.

It also called for serious consideration to have the President medically boarded, and if necessary retired with dignity and respect.

"This plea is in the national interest and in the interest of the credibility of the interim regime.

"It is the humble and honest advice of the Church that this matter should be addressed to avoid certain embarrassment," the statement said.

The Methodist Church also called on Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama and his interim ministers to resign and appoint a new government that is politically neutral made up of prominent and respected people in society.

A senior army officer was infuriated when contacted for comments and blamed the president of the Assembly of Christian Churches in Fiji (ACCF) Reverend Tuikilakila Waqairatu for releasing the statement.

Senior Methodist Church ministers were not in a position to comment.

Methodist president Reverend Laisiasa Ratabacaca declined to comment.

Rev Ame Tugaue said he would rather not comment.

"Try the president or somebody else in the Church", he said.

Numerous calls made to the ACCF office were unanswered.