Saturday, March 31, 2007

Vorovoro Island in the Sun and Rain

from w
A glowing report comes from one of the tribewanted adventurers:

Expectations smashed. Walt reports from Vorovoro...
29 March 2007

Any expectations I have before going were just dead wrong and totally undershot. The island is about 20x more beautiful than I ever expected. The people are just infinitely more friendly and fun to talk to and hang out with than I ever expected. The food is delicious. The smells are amzing - the sea, the dampness of the near-constant rain (until today), the pine that I was chiseling to build shelves, the palm leaves coating the ground in the bure... And the sounds are just as good. The rain bouncing on the tin roofs and hitting the roof of the bures, the rhythmic lull of the sea, the roosters trying to out perform each other, the people laughing - always laughing - the sound of axes and hammers on rock, and behind it all, just audible, the sea pounding into the reef just at the edge of sight on the horizon and adding a deep and constant bass to the whole thing.

Kalavata - colour-vata - same colour/pattern

from w
In Fiji it is popular to dress in identical colours/patterns such as matching men's shirts and women's dresses or sulu (wrap-around skirt)and jiaba (top, especially for a party or celebration. Yesterday many of us dressed in the same colour for a welcome ceremony for the Moderator of the Uniting Church in Victoria, Rev. Jason Kioa, who is originally from Tonga. Peceli had a bright shirt, I had a bright dress and many others from our church community wore clothes made from the same cloth. Thank you to Rev Eseta Meneilly for sewing ours even though she has had a very busy week which included her graduation with a Master of Divinity Award! I have a second-hand Janome lent to me but so far I don't know how to thread the cotton!

Here are some pictures showing the love of kalavata which is rather different from the vavalagi/European view that a woman just does not wear an identical dress to another woman! One is from California, another from Nauru taken at the South Pacific Forum a few years ago. Of course uniformity is the customary dress in Fijian choirs.

I don't know how happy George Bush and John Howard were to wear identical shirts at some gig in South East Asia one time!

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Ceremony in Naduri village - from the archives

from w
When the Great Sea Reef was studied and a tabu placed upon it, the World Wildlife organization honoured Fiji with a visit and were special guests at Naduri village in Macuata where the chief, Tui Macuata, has been active in conservation. I found some photos of that occasion on the internet. In my previous post I posted three sketches that I made at Naduri some time go at a cultural day to fund raise for the province.

Vakamamaca - Fijian women in procession

from w
Peceli said, 'Let's go shopping' and I said Okay because we need some food for the weekend. 'You have to buy ten yards of coloured cloth for the vakamamaca tomorrow.'
What? 'For the welcome to the Moderator at the church.' Okay, so we go to Spotlight, which is heaven to many of the women of Geelong, a super, super store for those who love to sew - which is not me at the present. Hundreds and hundreds of rolls of beautiful cloth! Well, I found one bolt of coloured cloth I liked - with a patchwork look about it - and bought six metres - the last of the roll.

Vakamamaca is an old Fijian custom for greeting a visitor which has been adapted and is still maintained today. It's part of the Fijian formal welcoming ceremony. The women in procession carry rolled pandanus mats to present to the main guest and also lengths of cloth. (The same things occurs sometimes in concerts and the dancers are wrapped around with the lengths of cloth.) The reason behind it is based on the arrival of guests by sea and they will probably be wet and need new dry clothing.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Tonga and Fiji and obesity, part 2

from w
I found a list of countries with the problem of obesity. Look how many in the top ten come from the South Pacific? Is it body shape that has biased the study? Would stats collected forty years ago be quite different?
Fiji is well down in the list, but perhaps that is because some thin people cut the statistics down from the fatties!

World's Fattest Countries

Lauren Streib 02.08.07, 12:01 AM ET

There are currently 1.6 billion overweight adults in the world, according to the World Health Organization. That number is projected to grow by 40% over the next 10 years. The following list reflects the percentage of overweight adults aged 15 and over. These are individuals who have individual body mass indexes, which measures weight relative to height, greater than or equal to 25. Obese is defined as having a BMI greater than or equal to 30.
Rank Country %
1. Nauru 94.5
2. Micronesia, Federated States of 91.1
3. Cook Islands 90.9
4. Tonga 90.8
5. Niue 81.7
6. Samoa 80.4
7. Palau 78.4
8. Kuwait 74.2
9. United States 74.1
10. Kiribati 73.6
11. Dominica 71.0
12. Barbados 69.7
13. Argentina 69.4
14. Egypt 69.4
15. Malta 68.7
16. Greece 68.5
17. New Zealand 68.4
18. United Arab Emirates 68.3
19. Mexico 68.1
20. Trinidad and Tobago 67.9
21. Australia 67.4
22. Belarus 66.8
23. Chile 65.3
24. Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of) 65.2
25. Seychelles 64.6
26. Bahrain 64.1
27. Andorra 63.8
28. United Kingdom 63.8
29. Saudi Arabia 63.5
30. Monaco 62.4
31. Bolivia 62.2
32. San Marino 62.1
33. Guatemala 61.2
34. Mongolia 61.2
35. Canada 61.1
36. Qatar 61.0
37. Uruguay 60.9
38. Jordan 60.5
39. Bahamas 60.4
40. Iceland 60.4
41. Nicaragua 60.4
42. Cuba 60.1
43. Germany 60.1
44. Brunei Darussalam 59.8
45. Slovenia 59.8
46. Peru 59.6
47. Vanuatu 59.6
48. Finland 58.7
49. Jamaica 57.4
50. Israel 57.3
51. Saint Lucia 57.3
52. Austria 57.1
53. Azerbaijan 57.1
54. Turkey 56.8
55. Tuvalu 56.6
56. Dominican Republic 56.5
57. Slovakia 56.3
58. Cyprus 56.2
59. Saint Kitts and Nevis 56.1
60. Costa Rica 55.8
61. Colombia 55.6
62. Antigua and Barbuda 55.5
63. Switzerland 55.4
64. Montenegro 54.9
65. Serbia 54.9
66. Serbia and Montenegro (The former state union of) 54.9
67. Albania 54.8
68. Fiji 54.8
69. Bulgaria 54.2
70. Luxembourg 54.2
71. Croatia 53.9
72. Bosnia and Herzegovina 53.8
73. Portugal 53.8
74. Armenia 53.3
75. Grenada 53.3
76. South Africa 53.3
77. Iran (Islamic Republic of) 53.2
78. Libyan Arab Jamahiriya 53.2
79. Lithuania 53.1
80. Lebanon 53.0
81. Czech Republic 52.9
82. Syrian Arab Republic 52.8
83. Spain 51.8
84. Hungary 51.6
85. Panama 51.4
86. Tunisia 51.0
87. Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 50.6
88. Brazil 50.5
89. Belize 49.8
90. Sweden 49.7
91. Norway 49.1
92. Russian Federation 49.1
93. El Salvador 48.7
94. Lesotho 48.5
95. Suriname 47.8
96. Paraguay 47.7
97. Guyana 47.5
98. Poland 47.5
99. Latvia 47.3
100. The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia 47.2

Tonga and Fiji and obesity

from w
We watched a program on SBS TV this evening entitled Cooking in the Danger Zone Part 4 which was about Tonga and Fiji. It’s a cooking series with a difference, this time looking at obesity and the fattest people on earth – well, not quite. I think the Nauruans beat everyone on that one. It’s a program first shown in the UK. The journalist looked at coconut cream, tinned mutton, taro, a piglet or two, mutton flaps in Tonga, and in Fiji the use of taro, coconut cream, fish, another piglet. A point made was that there are less fish for the local people because of overfishing and the best fish go to Japan and Hong Kong. In Tonga to counterbalance the fat bodies, there’s a gym and they certainly have started to move their bodies! The fit Tongans were the family members still living on the land, eating natural food and working and walking.

07:30 pm COOKING IN THE DANGER ZONE Tonga And Fiji - In this five-part series, food writer Stefan Gates explores some of the most controversial food issues in the world. In tonight's episode Stefan finds some of the fattest people on Earth. In Tonga he discovers an alarmingly large percentage of Tongans are obese - literally eating themselves to death. In Fiji, he tries the local narcotic - cava (spelling?)- and slaughters a piglet for lunch. (From the UK, in English) (Food Series) (Part 4) PG CC WS

A good article from 2002 on the dumping of inappropriate food into the Pacific Islands is found here.
The article starts off as: Killing Me Softly: why is it that whenever I think of the Pacific, the word 'dumping' comes to mind?

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Toatagane, a pet rooster

from w
Many years ago when the children were little and we lived at Vatuadova village, there were a few roosters and hens, even bantam chooks. One rooster we named Toatagane because he was so beautiful with lots of coloured feathers. Alas, one day there were visitors and someone decided that a good dinner was required. Bad decision. The same thing happened to my pet pig, Kanakana, who gave birth to huge litters of about twelve piglets each time. Then there was an important occasion with hundreds of visitors arriving, so they slaughtered this lovely large pig. I refused to eat that day.

Anyway, in memory of Toatagane I stitched a picture one time, perhaps related to the story 'The House that Jack Built,' and included colourful Toatagane.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Farewell Rev Peter Davis

from w
I was saddened to read the news today that Rev Peter Davis has passed away in Sydney. Such a nice man and he really loved the people of Fiji. The two photos here were taken at his 80th birthday party and I found them on matavuvale website.

Former Methodist Church president passes away
1437 FJT
Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Update: 2.37pm FORMER President of the Methodist Church of Fiji, Reverend Peter Davies has died in Sydney at the age of 81. Reverend Davies first came to Fiji with his wife, Betty in 1952 as missionaries in Lakeba, Lau. In 1955, Reverend Davies moved to Savusavu before being transferred to Lautoka as the churchs head of the Ba-Nadroga Division.

In 1964, when the Methodist Church of Fiji became independent from New South Wales, Reverend Davies stayed back in Fiji assuming several senior roles within the church before being inducted as President in 1969. He returned to Australia in 1972 but maintained strong ties with Fiji. He returned in the late 1980s and was Minister of the Butt Street Church in Suva and played a significant role in reconciling various communities after the 1987 coups.

Funeral arrangements are yet to be finalized. He is survived by three sons and five grandchildren.
updated April 3 - article from 'Insight' - an Australian publication
Churches mourn death of Peter Davis, held in deep affection by congregations

The Rev. Peter Davis, who served as Deputy Superintendent of Wesley Mission from 1980-84 (the only time the post was in operation) died on Monday, March 26 at the age of 81.

Mr Davis was widely loved and respected throughout the Uniting Church in New South Wales and beyond and through the churches of the Pacific.

His funeral service, to be led by the Rev. Ken Cornwall, will be held in Wesley Church, Wesley Mission, Pitt Street, Sydney on Tuesday, April 3 at 11am.

Peter Keith Davis was a former Moderator of the Uniting Church NSW.

He is particularly beloved among Fijians, who remember him as a former President of the Methodist Church in Fiji, the position crowning many years of devoted missionary service in that country.

His late wife, Betty, worked hard at his side during all those years.

A friend of long standing, Bryce Bridges (Wesley Mission’s Corporate Solicitor) notes that in the 1960s, when the Davises worked in Fiji, there were quite a few Fijian babies who were named Peter or Betty in honour of the couple!

Mr Bridges also remembers that Peter Davis was a gentle, avuncular presence at Wesley Mission, where he was held in great affection by staff and congregations.

After leaving Wesley Mission in 1984, Mr Davis served as Superintendent of Leichhardt Mission.

The Rev. Keith V Garner, Superintendent of Wesley Mission, said, “The Rev. Peter Davis will sorely missed, especially by the Fijian Methodist community who held him in the highest regard because of his work in Fiji. I would want to pay tribute to his valuable work at Wesley Mission and throughout Sydney. Our thoughts are with his family at this time.”

Peter Davis is survived by his sons, Graham, John and Andrew.

A breadfruit tree in Vunivutu village

from w
There's a story to go with these paintings I made yesterday to illustrate an anecdote Peceli told while we were drinking kava a couple of nights ago.

As the twilight changes into night the roosters and hens settle into their resting places on the breadfruit tree. The village quietens down apart from a small group of men drinking kava. There are two visitors in the village, an Australian older couple of Russian descent, the in-laws of one of the men who married a vavalagi girl from Sydney and they live there. Pita was proud to take his in-laws to see Fiji, and especially to experience life in the village. They are taken to the chief’s house and given the best bed in the village out of respect for visitors.

But the birds don’t know that. All is well for several hours until one of the hens falls from her perch on a branch to land on top of another hen. They start squawking and cackling. One rooster, Toatagane, opens an eye and notices a light. Oh, it’s morning already? He doesn’t know it’s just a kerosene lantern with the kava drinkers still going. He decides to clear his throat to start his morning song. It’s about 3 am. The second rooster wakes up, joins in, then the third. There is a cacophony of sound now.

Did I tell you where the breadfruit tree is situated? Well, it’s just outside the window of the chief’s bure, right near the big double-bed. The Russian-Australian visitors jump up, wondering what’s going on, look out the window and see all the birds wide awake and singing their songs joyfully. The man gets out his torch and looks at his watch. Only 3 am!

In the morning a breakfast of pancakes and tea and coconut cake is spread out on a nice tablecloth on the pandanus mats for the two special visitors, who rub their eyes sleepily. The man says to his son-in-law, ‘I’ll give you two hundred dollars if you’ll do something for me.’ Pita doesn’t know what he’s talking about. ‘If you can catch all those noisy chooks and kill them, the money is yours!’

This is a slightly embellished but true story from Vunivutu village, Macuata, Fiji. Peceli told us this story as we drank kava a couple of nights ago. Vunivutu is where the last series of ‘Survivor’ was filmed.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Fiji is looking for a saint

from w
An article in a Fiji newspaper spells out the saintly qualities of the Vice President position. I don't think even the likes of Mahatma Gandhi ji, Mandela, a Cardinal, or St Peter the Apostle would even be able to do all of these things!
Who is writing these press releases?

Vice-President must follow mandate: Army
Sunday March 25, 2007

The Fiji military has indicated that the Vice-President must follow guidelines set by President Ratu Josefa Iloilo.

"The President has already set a mandate and that mandate guides the interim government and the RFMF (Republic of Fiji Military Forces)," said deputy military commander Captain Esala Teleni..

"Whoever goes in as a VP makes sure that the President's mandate is the guideline. The military is not setting any guidelines.

"The police, military and the whole people of Fiji should be supporting that mandate."
Certain names have been touted to replace former High Court judge Ratu Joni Madraiwiwi who resigned as the Vice-President after the December 5 coup last year. Amongst them an army officer and a former army commander, sympathizers of the army's clean-up campaign.

However, Teleni said that it is President Ratu Josefa Iloilo and the Great Council of Chiefs who will ultimately decide on April 11.

"The military has no say in the nomination and selection of the Vice-President. We will support any VP."

Speaking at a press conference soon after his swearing in as Interim Prime Minister by Ratu Iloilo on January 5, Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama said the mandate is to:

"- continue to uphold the Constitution;

- where necessary facilitate legal protection and immunity, criminal and civil, to the commander, officers and soldiers;

- Give effect to the actions of the RFMF, including the respective suspensions, dismissals and temporary removal from office of civil servants, CEOs, those appointed by the judicial services and constitutional services commissions, the judiciary and government appointed board members;

- Steady our economy through sustained economic growth and correct the economic mismanagement of the past six years;

- Lift the living standards of the growing poor and underprivileged of our country;

- Restructure the Native Land Trust Board to ensure more benefits flow to the ordinary indigenous Fijians;

- Eradicate systematic corruption by including the setting up of an anti-corruption unit through the Attorney-General's Office and set new corruption standards of governmental and institutional transparency;

- Improve relations with neighbours and the international community;

- Take the country to democratic elections after an advanced electoral office and systems are in place and the political and economic conditions are conducive to the holding of such elections;

- Immediately as practicable introduce a Code of Conduct and Freedom of Information provisions and;

- Give paramountcy to national security and territorial integrity of Fiji."


Friday, March 23, 2007

Ah Koy and Ayn Rand

from w
Today's Fiji Post informs us that Ah Koy will head the Fiji Trade and Investment Bureau. Surely there is a conflict of interest here - or perhaps not a conflict but an opportunity! I think the journalist got some of Ayn Rand's words a bit twisted - read line in italics. Another article in today's Fiji Post is headed with the word 'curruption' so needs a spell-checker.

Businessman and former politician, Sir James Ah Koy.
Sir James to head FTIB
23-Mar-2007 04:36 PM

FIJI business tycoon and former politician, Sir James Ah Koy is likely to head up the Fiji Trade and Investment Bureau from today.

Commenting on his imminent appointment to the important government instrumentality, Sir James said his acceptance of the invitation was based on "selfish motives" and "an interest in national preservation".

He said that his renewed role at the FTIB was primarily to maintain and protect the future of his own investment in Fiji.

He called on other investors with much at stake to similarly "pitch in" out of "self-interest" if they "want to protect their investments in the country".

"The economy is going bad for the present - there is no doubt about it," said the 70-year-old patriot, "but this is not the time for Atlas to Shrug".

Referring to the libertarian objectivist philosopher, Ayn Rand's classic 'Atlas Shrugged', Sir James said, "those with talent and know-how must not evade their responsibilities and leave the nation to those who don't know what they are doing. Now is the time to desert out investments and head for the hills-as Ayn Rand depicted in her classic (novel)".

"No, this is the time to get involved," he said.

Sir James warned that unless those with skil and resources act to prevent their investments, "they shouldn't complain if they lose out".

FTIB is a statutory body formed by Government to promote investment opportunities and facilitate development of industries, ventures or enterprises that create employment opportunities, increase exports, reduce imports, or are otherwise beneficial to the economy of Fiji.

The FTIB Board is appointed by the Minister for Commerce, Business Development and Investment. The Board’s role is to set directions that FTIB needs to take to increase investment in Fiji and exports and to ensure that FTIB is meeting the objectives outlined in the FTIB Act. The FTIB Board consists of experienced representatives from the private sector covering the key sectors and the representatives from various parts of Fiji. The current Board members are as follows:
Joseph Singh (Chairman); Taito Waradi (Deputy Chairman); David Aidney; Dinesh Patel; Isireli Koyamaibole; Joseph Rodan; Viliame Gavoka; Kemueli Qoro; Tula Ram Jaduram; Ulaiasi Taoi; and Malakai Tadulala.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Vijay Singh and Natadola

from w
This world champion golfer has his say about the Natadola development. Does he want to hit a hole in one, hit a birdie, an eagle, or an albatross?

It's hard to know the real situation of this huge investment project and to know if a few people are playing with 'real' money, as if it is monopoly money. And it seems that Peter Foster has many 'kith and kin' in Fiji. More or less.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Tagimoucia and serendipity

from Peceli
My friend the Tui Vuna from Taveuni is holidaying in Australia and came down to Geelong one day to help with the music in our dance presentation at Pako Festa. He went up to Sydney yesterday but we had a farewell party for him on Tuesday night in Melbourne. I was there, but Wendy has been unwell so didn't go. Anyway we were talking about the tagimoucia flower from Taveuni and the lake is part of land belonging to a clan from Vuna. Tui Vuna then gave me a gift for Wendy, a sulu with the special flower on it and also something about the International Date Line going through Taveuni. The people of Taveuni are close to me for various reasons, one being that many are related to my relatives in Vesi village, Mali Island.
Wendy said, 'This is serendipity.' Yes, we had been thinking a bit lately about the tagimoucia flower.

The song 'Amazing Grace'

from w
Perhaps the hymn 'Amazing Grace' is in the top ten favourites of Christian people, yet it was written in very unusual circumstances. The words are by John Newtown, (1725-1807) a former slave-trader. The song is often chosen to play at funerals because it is familiar and singable. To me the words are mainly very good, though I'm not too sure about 'a wretch like me'! The music usually associated with it is an American folk hymn melody.

Slave Ship Captain, Hymn Writer, and Abolitionist

Article by William E. Phipps

The man behind the hymn
In "Amazing Grace," the best-loved of all hymns, John Newton's allusions to the drama of his life tell the story of a youth who was a virtual slave in Sierra Leone before ironically becoming a slave trader himself. Liverpool, his home port, was the center of the most colossal, lucrative, and inhumane slave trade the world has ever known. A gradual spiritual awakening transformed Newton into an ardent evangelist and anti-slavery activist.

Influenced by Methodists George Whitefield and John Wesley, Newton became prominent among those favoring a Methodist-style revival in the Church of England. This movement stressed personal conversion, simple worship, emotional enthusiasm, and social justice. While pastoring a poor flock in Olney, he and poet William Cowper produced a hymnal containing such perennial favorites as "Glorious Things of Thee Are Spoken" and "God Moves in a Mysterious Way." Later, while serving a church in London, Newton raised British consciousness on the immorality of the slave trade. The account he gave to Parliament on the atrocities he had witnessed helped William Wilberforce obtain legislation to abolish the slave trade in England.

Newton's life story convinced many who are "found" after being "lost" to sing Gospel hymns as they lobbied for civil rights legislation. His close involvement with both capitalism and evangelicalism, the main economic and religious forces of his era, provide a fascinating case study of the relationship of Christians to their social environment.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Next Saturday, the bi-centenary of abolition of slavery

from w
Next Saturday will be two hundred years on since England's Parliament passed a resolution to abolish slavery. An official policy shifted away from the degradation of the slavery trade between Africa and USA. William Wilberforce was the driving force in England for this shift in viewpoint, and a film 'Amazing Grace' has been made about his life. It won't be in the Australian cinemas until June.

But today there are still many people, including children who are living in conditions akin to slavery. The terms may be different, but I wonder if 'indenture' and 'blackbirding' which relate very much with the story of Fiji's history are so very different.

Monday, March 19, 2007

The world is more than just Fiji

from w
It's four years on since the invasion of Iraq by the USA and what a terrible tragedy it has become. I remember that day four years ago. I was in Melbourne at a meeting and many groups of people were streaming up Swanston Street for a protest outside the Melbourne Library. Despite all the protests since that time, the terrible situation is worsening. To be against the violence is not to side with terrorists, but to side with the ordinary people of Iraq who themselves are part of the chaos with their differences also. It's certainly a long, long road to freedom in the world these days. It will soon be Holy Week and Easter for some of us and that is a reminder that the ordinary, the weak, the betrayed are God's children, not the greedy and powerful.

The banner in this post belongs to a church in USA that is appropriate for the Lenten season before Easter.

Pictures from Labasa and Vorovoro

from w
I don't know the rules about copyright but I did find lots of photos about Labasa and Vorovoro Island, mainly from tribewanted visitors. Now that their blogsite won't allow me to peek into their info about current happenings as I'm not a paid up member, there are other ways to sneak a look at their pictures! Flickr!
Here are some of the kids at Mali District School which is in Ligaulevu village, Mali and there's some pics of Tui Mali, the guys from Matailabasa, the floods and so on. Go Babasiga! Despite floods and cyclones!

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Pure spring water at Nukutatava

from w
Going through various transformations is a natural spring a few feet away from the beach at Nukutatava. From a cliff face clean spring water drips down into a cavity in the rocks. At one time some Indian neighbours used to pray there and leave marigold leaves. When we lived there this was our source of clean water and we put in pipes and a tank, taps, showers and flush toilets. Alas, they have gone with hurricanes and time. But the spring is still there and the family has made a shower and they wash clothes there as well.

Help is on its way to Labasa flood victims

from w
Red Cross have been active in handing out emergency supplies to many families stricken in the two or more recent floods in the Labasa area.

Secondly farmers have been given seeds from the Agriculture Department which is absolutely necessary to get the gardens going again, for subsistence and for the market - though seven kilograms doesn't sound very much!

from Fiji Times
Seedlings to boost produce
Saturday, March 17, 2007

Farmers affected by the three floods that hit the Northern Division within one month are asked to take advantage of seedlings being distributed by the Agriculture Ministry. Seven kilograms of assorted vegetable seedlings are being distributed by the Ministry of Agriculture in the Northern Division and farmers are asked to take advantage of this.

This measure, supported by the Secretariat of the Pacific Community which supplied the seedlings, is targeted at crop farmers affected by the recent floods.
"The estimated production of the distributed seedlings will contribute to an average of 65 metric tonnes generating around $65,000-$70,000 for the farmers," said senior agriculture officer, Macuata, Sugrim Chand.

The seeds include radish, Chinese cabbage, bitter gourd, French bean, long bean, amaranthus, cabbage, hybrid onion, okra, tomato, carrot, cucumber, and watermelon.
The heavy rain and floods early this year caused vast damage and loss to farmers which resulted in a short supply of vegetables, root crops and fruits at the local markets in the division.

Mr Chand had advised farmers to plant short term crops because it would bring about quicker income and farmers should be ready to harvest their crops in a few weeks' time.

He said farmers should be careful while rebuilding their nurseries and to ensure that they have proper drainage system.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Shalini's article on Bollywood exhibition

from w
It was good to read an article by Shalini Akhil in today’s Age newspaper. It’s about the Bollywood exhibition at the Melbourne National Gallery. I really like some Bollywood movies and we occasionally catch them on TV. Peceli understands quite a bit of the language and I follow the subtitles but can still remember lots of Hindi words anyway.
Shalini’s site will give you a link to the whole article from the Melbourne Age.

Here is an excerpt from her article.

The all-singing, all-dancing film genre has shimmied its way into the NGV... Bollywood isn't just coming to the NGV - it's taken up residence in all kinds of places all over the nation.

Bollywood is the term used to describe the Indian mega-movie industry - I've oftensaid that it starts with a "B" because it's based in (the former) Bombay and ends with an "ollywood" because it's not too original. So, why the obsession on my part? I was brought up in Fiji in an age before television, and Indian cinema was popular, not just with the then-Indian majority but with the whole country (as it is to this day). The fuel of my imagination came in the form of videotapes layered thick with Bollywood stories - but, like any teen approaching adulthood, the obsessions of my childhood became the embarrassments of my youth. After a period of denial, I'm allowing myself to rediscover and re-examine the genre, and it seems my timing could not have been better.

Bollywood, when combined with other regional industries (namely Tamil, Telugu, Bengali, Malayalam and Kannada), makes India the largest film producer in the world. Bollywood itself releases about a thousand movies a year; 14 million Indians go to the cinema every day, be it in the air-conditioned comfort of their local multiplex or in the travelling theatre tents set up near their villages. While there is a strong tradition of Indian new-wave or "art" cinema, the most enduring product of Bollywood is the "masala film" - so called because, like the mix of spices, it contains a bit of everything. Bollywood films are generally about 21/2 to three hours long, contain about six songs and combine elements of romance, action, drama and suspense. Most still contain characters recognisable from early filmic adaptations of the original epics, the Mahabharata and the Ramayana - the big-moustachioed villain, the chaste and loyal wife, the ever-suffering mother and the triumphant husband/son.

The ever-expanding Indian diaspora has helped the Bollywood phenomenon span oceans and borders, and all this travel through time and space has seen Bollywood morph and meld accordingly. Productions nowadays are more sophisticated and have a more international flavour - overseas locations are not just for song sequences any more. The Indian migrant experience dominates storylines, with the physical and metaphorical journey "home" a common theme - woven in with, of course, healthy doses of romance, action, drama and suspense.

(paras left out here)

The art on display at the NGV, a selection of more than 100 posters, costumes, and clips from key films, is an evocative audio-visual catalogue of India's shifting consciousness over the years and offers an intriguing insight into the Bollywood juggernaut from a different perspective - behind the glitz and glamour, the spontaneously appearing troupes of synchronised dancers, and the almost-kisses between bouffy-haired heroes and doe-eyed heroines.

Though you have to admit those bits can be quite fun, too.

Shalini Akhil's first novel, The Bollywood Beauty, was published by Penguin. She is currently working on a second.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Fiji and the future of sugar?

from w
There seems to be too many problems in the sugar industry that even Mahend cannot solve!

Will The Europeans give a grant or loan to help?

Will the Indian specialists help fix the mills?

Are the farmers sufficiently rewarded for their hard work as it seems to me to be little money for their effort.

If the sugar industry cannot survive, what crops can take its place? The soil is so rich in Fiji that so many things can grow and both Viti Levu and Vanua Levu could become the foodbasket for some of the needs of the world. Intensive vegetable and fruit farms, timber, kura, even sandalwood are possibilities. In my opinion Fiji does not need to import so much food when the land resources are so rich. Instead of importing flour, there must be substitute crops to make your roti and bread.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Tagimaucia painting

from peceli,
Last week I made an acrylic painting on canvas of tagimaucia flowers. It is too large to show you all of it but here is one part. When I get a friend to make some digital photos of paintings I can post them better. The tagimaucia is a creeper that grows near a lake on Taveuni Island. There is a legend about it.

Monday, March 12, 2007

A second flood for Labasa

from w
The term babasiga is used to describe a sunburnt land, the drought-stricken land of Macuata, but certainly this summer it is the wrong word. Now, a second flood has caused havoc in the Labasa area. There needs to be short term and long term plans obviously - dredge the rivers, stop the logging, rebuilt schools and housing on higher ground, but the priority at present is to save the people, make temporary provision for food and needs. All the Fiji papers have been running stories about this second flood. Here is an example - this one about All Saints Secondary School which is on the Qawa River in Vulovi, not far from the Labasa mill.

Perhaps some supersitious people will say that it is the wrath of God when nature is violent, but I see it as just part of the geography and weather patterns of a tropical island. In the tropics it rains. However man has contributed to the chaos will unscrupulous logging and living just for the day.

From the Fiji Times
School loses stationery, furniture in flood
Tuesday, March 13, 2007

TEACHERS and students of a secondary school are in urgent need of assistance after losing $60,000 worth of stationery and furniture to the flood over the weekend in the Northern Division. For the second time within a month, the All Saints Secondary school, which is currently closed, has been hit by flood waters that damaged school desks, offices, technical machineries, stationery and laboratories.

School principal Kaliote McKenzie said being hit for the second time by flood waters within a month was not an easy experience for her and the teachers as they were still trying to recover from last month's flood. "We have just received stationery assistance, replaced new machines and furniture in the school when this second flood hit again over the weekend. And that has resulted in more damage to the school compared to the last flood in February," Mrs McKenzie said. She said at this stage, the teachers don't know where else to get help from especially when they were just assisted and have lost almost all stationery again.

Yesterday, the students and teachers were at the school to clean up the premises.
Classrooms were filled with thick silt, machines and equipment on lower shelves in laboratories were on the floor and covered with silt.

Mrs McKenzie said although the teachers had put books on higher shelves, after seeing the rainy weather on Friday night, the strong currents shook the shelves which dropped the books to the floor. "The current was so strong on Saturday night after it entered the classrooms and that's how the books stacked on high shelves fell to the floor.

"The water also entered through the windows as the level continued to rise in the compound. This time the water level was more then that of last month and there is more cleaning up to do," Mrs McKenzie said.

Eat baigani when there's nothing else

From w
The most common food on the farm in Labasa is eggplant or baigani, mostly the long purple kind. The picture here shows a whole variety of baigans. I believe it’s a vegetable that originated in India. If there’s nothing else to eat, there’s still always a few baigan plants nearby. Some people hate them – such as one of our sons – but I reckon there are at least ten ways to cook them, some more tastier than others. I’ve seen them used in cafes here in Geelong, just blanched or sort of barbecued and there isn’t much taste at all - the chef ought to use garlic or herbs. It’s a poor man’s food I reckon, not gourmet.

Here’s my list:
1. fried as fritters in rounds – very good with lots of salt and pepper
2. fried in pieces dipped in a batter made with flour and egg – okay
3. barbecued with a few spices – okay
4. curried with potatoes - okay
5. with tomatoes as a chutney - okay
6. with meat as a curry – it really is an extender to feed more people
7. part of a fried rice dish – well, if there’s nothing else
8. sliced and cooked in coconut cream – not for me
9. with tinned fish - as an extender to feed more
10. stuffed with other things – too much work

Of course when the floods damage the food gardens in Labasa, once, and even twice, there isn't even baigan to eat. Sobosobo, how those people suffer in these times.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Fijian church groups in Melbourne

from peceli,
Several Fijian church congregations are part of the Uniting Church in Australia, such as those who meet at Chadstone, Dandenong and Altona Meadows. One group meets in a Uniting Church building at Coburg but are affiliated with an American Methodist Church. Other groups are penticostal or Christian Mission. Our group meets at Altona Meadows, a multipurpose building with flexible moveable furniture. We can have worship, meals, and singing practice there. This group includes many Fiji families from the western suburbs of Melbourne. The shape is based on an aeroplane hangar because the building is not far from Laverton air base.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Is it the right time to launch a Fiji $100 bill?

from w
There was an official launch by the Fiji President for a new banknote at the Reserve Bank tower, this time for $100. Well, what about the timing? On Wednesday all the civil servants 5% pay cut started so are they going to ever see these bills? And so many people are suffering from the floods, will they ever ever see a $100 bill?

Another grouch: why do they put the picture of Elizabeth 11 on it? Fiji is a republic and the royal family aren't even coming for the (sometime) opening of the new Council of Chiefs building!
notes adapted from Fiji papers:
RBF Governor Savenaca Narube said the introduction of the $100 note came after ten years since the launch of the $50 note. "Raising the denomination of the highest currency reflects a combination of basically three things - the growth in the economy, the change in spending habits and the advance in technology," he said. The current bank notes have also been changed with extra security features and compatibility for the visual impaired. "For the first time, Fiji's banknotes will vary in length to help the visually impaired," Narube said.

He said the RBF decided to stay with paper rather then plastic due to public survey and "improvements made over the years by printers to make paper money last longer".

Narube said the new notes will come into circulation from April 10 and the RBF will begin with an awareness campaign to make people aware of the new notes and its features.

Will the Fiji interim govt delegation watch some lakalaka?

from w
Apparently there's a plan for some of the Interim Govt people to do a trip eastwards to Lau.... but they DO NOT plan to visit Vanua Balavu. I wonder why not. Perhaps it's the beautiful lakalaka dancers that would detract them from Sadie's cleaning ladies task! Of course a real lakalaka requires a hundred or more graceful dancers.

Anyway, here is a pic of two Fiji girls dancing in the Lauan style at an ethnic festival in Australia. Sega ni lega. No worries, mate.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Reminds me of the Blues Brothers

from w
An unhappy chappie it seems who does not like the job, but is committed to see it through.
from a Fiji paper today:
In an interview in the latest Time Magazine, Commodore Bainimarama said he didn’t want to be Prime Minister, and accepted the position only at the urging of his military council. "I hate this job," he says, "but it has to be done. And we are going to stay until we complete this business."
The photo was taken at the International Women's Day event in Fiji. No doubt the photographer waited for an off moment and snapped. He/she could have waited for a smiling moment surely!

Great Fiji photos on flickr

Here is a great site with over four hundred photos from Fiji from Adi Nacola - and the collection is called grasskirt.
Thanks to Gilbert at Promoting Suva for the link.
Great photos including lots of Suva market, the Melanesian Arts Festival, a Hindu wedding, shoe-shine boys, even a woman selling bila!

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

International Women's Day in Fiji

from w
Bits and pieces from the Fiji papers today:

The proposed civil service pay cuts by Fiji's interim government came into effect today following cabinet's decision to implement the plan.

Nice present for International Women’s Day , I must say!

Today is International Women’s Day and the colours green, white, and purple are worn by many women. The theme this year is "Ending Impunity for Violence against Women." In Fiji, the Fiji Women’s Crisis Centre coordinator Shamima Ali said the centre has been consistently raising this issue over the past 22 years and will continue to do so. "Our experience as well as global experience has shown that whenever there is a conflict or political instability such as what we are currently experiencing in Fiji, violence against women is exacerbated and it is not considered an issue of concern thus many perpetrators are excused for their behaviour."

However many women in Fiji do not know anything about having a special day.
A random survey of vendors in the Suva Market reflected this. Most of the women interviewed were ignorant that International Women's Day would be celebrated today. Most did not know that such a day was recognised in their honour.

Is (the day) going to help us sell our produce at the market or help solve our problems?"asked Alena Rabukawaqa, a market vendor.

Some Anglican history in Labasa from the 40s

from w
Today I have delved into Google to see if there are archival stories of the Anglican church in Labasa and I found this one. I'm interested because at present we are concerned that St Mary's Hostel has been condemned by the Labasa Council though of course it is important to keep the hostel - which houses sixty girls - going. Also, the area on which some of the Anglicans now have a school, housing etc. is where Peceli lived as a small child, low-lying land not far from the Labasa river, and flood-prone.

15 Tufton Street, Westminster, S.W.1 1948
Transcribed by the Right Reverend Dr. Terry Brown
Bishop of Malaita, Church of the Province of Melanesia, 2006

From website on Anglican history.

GETTING about in the Islands can sometimes be very pleasant; a little 200-ton motor vessel can take one the 200-odd miles from Suva to Labasa (pronounced Lambasa), calling at Levuka and smaller ports on the way. Sometimes one travels in a cutter or even an 80-ton ketch, returning to Suva with an assorted cargo of evil-smelling copra, goats, and a mixed bag of passengers. After leaving Levuka and crossing the Koro Sea, the ship reaches the second largest island of the Fiji group, Vanua Levu. Passing through the waters of the fish god, Daku Waga, the ship threads her way through the coral reefs to the Yanawai River. Yanawai goldmine crowned the 1,000-feet hilltop there. From here to Labasa is to be seen some of the finest river scenery in the Islands, as the ship calls in estuary after estuary, landing stores on the river bank. Europeans have settled on the banks of some of these rivers. Bonar Law once had a plantation on the Lekutu, and many experiments in agriculture have been made on the banks of the Dreketi. At last the ship enters the Labasa River, bordered by mangrove swamps, and goes upstream for seven miles to Labasa Mill. Here a great stretch of flat country holds several thousands of [55/56] acres of sugar-cane land, with the houses of mill officers on a hill nearby, the Government officers have three houses on a further hill, and the hosts of Indian workers occupy other sites. The main shopping centre is Nasea, but most of the Indians work as tenant farmers under the oversight of Europeans.

Labasa is so far removed from other cane-growing areas that the people seem to be an entity on their own. Sir Arthur Gordon, the first Governor of Fiji, was concerned about their spiritual welfare and drew Floyd's attention to it. He went to England to ask for assistance, returning with enough money to enable him to start work in Labasa, and with guarantees for the future. An agreement was entered into with the Methodists, leaving work among Indians in the Eastern Islands to the Anglicans. In 1904 the S.P.G. sent the Rev. H. E. T. Lateward as the first missionary. He had already done good service in India, and his weariness is indicated in some of his reports. Of the Indians he wrote "Primarily the pride of caste is gone. Poor fellows! They quite recognise their position, and it is at times pathetic to listen to the tone of sadness in which they admit their fallen state--what Christianity would call 'a broken and contrite heart': character (of caste) gone, religion abandoned, country, friends and relations, all left." (Occasional Paper No. 287.)
Such was his rather gloomy view of the Indian, but today the Indian has never seen his father's land, and [56/57] his religion is much more a national trait than a supernatural guide. To embrace Christianity is looked upon as a departure from national heritage, a betrayal of race, making the lot of the convert anything but easy. Lateward found a certain loneliness, due to the fact that many Europeans did not fulfil their Christian obligations.

"On Christmas Day not one person came to Communion, the first Christmas Day on which I have been unable to communicate since my Confirmation forty-one years ago."
Lateward's best work was in the preparation of his successor, Mr. A. T. Milgrew, who was ordained and took over after the departure of Lateward in 1908. Milgrew did not spare himself, travelling constantly and winning his people's affection. Often he would stay in Indian homes, and this was to prove his downfall, for the Europeans thought that he was lowering the prestige of the white man. Living under unhealthy conditions in dirty huts led to sickness, and he had to retire after working there for eight years. Until 1923 the work languished, save for occasional visits by the Bishop or the Vicar of Suva. Possibilities of revival seemed bright when the Rev. Maitland Woods, a scholar and keen archeologist, arrived. Owing to domestic difficulties, he was not able to stay. But Milgrew's influence still remained, and when in 1924 the Rev. H. A. Favell was appointed he found that an Indian Christian woman, known as Mrs. John, was [57/58] doing valuable work with the school. He was soon joined by Miss Cobb, who had already served in India, and by Sister Offe, a trained nurse.

Miss Cobb's first desire was to see the school chapel restored. It was found that the altar had been removed to a local store and that it was being used as a pot cupboard. Miss Offe, with generous help from the Sugar Company, did great work, once confidence was established.

The site was a bad one, for it was often completely flooded, but the work went on. The boys' school was a great success, and the need for a girls' school was felt. To the Indian the girl is considered a family responsibility until she is married off, and therefore the Indian normally felt that the education of girls was a waste of time. Miss James arrived and began to battle nobly, having only the back room of an Indian shop as a schoolroom. From such a humble beginning in 1928 has grown the present St. Mary's School, known as the Nigel Lyson Memorial. In 1929 the Rev. E. R. Elder exchanged with Mr. Favell, who went to Tonga; Miss Rowe joined Miss James, and they were afterwards joined by Miss Debbage. A carpenter's shop under a competent instructor was added, and a hostel was built to house the boarders at All Saints Boys' School. In 1934 Miss Cobb and Sister Offe moved out to Vunimoli, some seven miles away and opened a mixed school. Three years later St. Augustine's Mixed School was opened at Wailevu, but the crowning event [58/59] of that year was the return to Fiji of the Rev. Durgha Prasad Misra, a Fiji-born Indian who had been trained and made deacon in India. He was later ordained priest in the province of his Indian compatriots in Labasa.

Much patience is required in the evangelisation of Indians, and as a result the supply of Indian teachers is limited. The necessity of employing non-Christian trained teachers in some instances places a far greater responsibility on the missionary and his staff, for the first work of a Christian mission is to preach Christ. Later, however, Indian Christian teachers took sole charge of both Vunimoli and St. Augustine's.

The arrival of the Rev. R. L. Crampton in 1938 found a depleted staff of Europeans. Both Miss Cobb and Sister Offe had returned to Australia, while Mrs. Elder (née Miss James) had handed over to Miss Rowe. She decided to carry matters still further by adding a hostel to St. Mary's Girls' School and, aided by Miss Debbage, started with five Indian girls. This delegation of responsibility by the Indian parents was of real significance. Alas! all their labour seemed to have been in vain when they returned from church one Sunday morning to find their hostel a smoking ruin and all their personal possessions gone. Insurance did not cover the rebuilding, but an American Army hospital building was soon erected over the charred remains, and from the Indians came financial help, which was a fine tribute to the work that was being done. Storekeepers gave dresses and dress materials, food flowed [59/60] in, and offers of temporary accommodation were numerous.

By 1947 the Indians were clamouring for education, and in that year teachers had to be withdrawn from the country in order to concentrate on the main work at Labasa. This has meant a loss of Government grants, but an increase in spiritual strength. The church has been rebuilt on a better site. It is now more accessible for both Europeans and Indians, the services being better attended in consequence.

An interlude that can be most refreshing is a visit to the small Melanesian settlement a few miles from Labasa, where the old Solomons and their descendants worship in a pretty church they have built. It is kept very clean, the floor being covered with native mats, and for services the building is adorned with bowls of bright hibiscus. The services are taken in Fijian, into which language much of the Prayer Book and many of the hymns have been translated. In an island such as this the leading of worship, the giving of the Sacraments, and schoolmastering are not the only jobs of the priest, who has to give serious study to the problems brought about by superstitions attached to ancient religions. He must be ready to face the most acute disappointments, for the lot of the Indian Christian is not easy, and when lapses occur it is easy to despair. It is a testing-ground of a man's own faith, for those whom God has chosen to give His grace to the Islanders are but human.

[61] When opportunity offers, the priest is able to trek over the mountain ridge and reach the other side of the island at Natewa Bay and Savu Savu. It is not easy walking, for the soapstone is often slippery and always hard on the feet. Once over the ridge, the steep descent brings one to a place of hospitality and work. Here the people live in the banana and coconut groves which provide their living, or near the boat slips where smaller ships are built for the inter-island trade. Labasa has had its many vicissitudes, but the foundations have been well laid. In this post-war transition period much depends on a young and vigorous priest, the Rev. G. H. Strickland, in whose hands is the next stage of development.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Does this mean I can use internet easily from Labasa now?

from w.
I read this in the Fiji Post today and it looks good for the people of Vanua Levu who crave the use of the internet every day! Does this mean I can lie on the beach at Nukutatava or sit under a mango tree at Vatuadova and be connected? Aha, though, what is the cost? If so, then schools can connect also and not require all of those encyclopaedias! We have scores of computers ready to send to Labasa on a container with books etc. but first of all we need to know if the schools have electricity for a start. That's the first step.
North resort owners linked to the world
4-Mar-2007 11:27 AM

HOTEL owners in the North now have a better link to the outside world thanks to a new Vodafone Fiji base station on Maravu Island Resort on Taveuni. Managing Director of Lomalagi Resort in Savusavu Terry Durbin said now they were getting a good mobile phone signal all over their property and looked forward to getting more services like Broadband Internet. A large area between Savusavu and Udu Point, the northern most tip of Vanua Levu, now has access to Vodafone Fiji’s network.

Durbin said the new network would improve his business.“It’s just like we finally came into the 21st century,” Durbin said.

Vodafone Fiji Chief Executive Aslam Khan said the new site would help resort owners in Savusavu and Taveuni areas communicate with their customers and potential tourists anywhere in the world.

“The feedback from resort owners and businesses in the area has been extremely positive because access to mobile communications and data will save them time and money.”

The important Savusavu Airport now has data coverage, which is very good news for tourism in the area. The network will allow tourists and others to access the Internet and other services through Vodafone’s Mobile Connect Card.

“With the Internet a must for anyone in the tourism business today, mobile Internet coverage using GPRS Mobile Connect Cards is an additional bonus and the resorts will have the advantage of connecting and marketing their products and services to the world at little additional cost,” Khan said.

He said Vodafone Fiji has 111 base stations, providing mobile coverage for over 65 per cent of the Fiji population.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Tribewanted on Vorovoro is now six months old

from w
from the Chief's blog on tribewanted website:

Six month celebrations as internet arrives on Vorovoro2 March 2007

For immediate release:
Online and island tribal community connect on Fijian island on sixth month anniversary., a unique online and real world experiment taking place on Vorovoro island in Fiji, celebrates its first six months as a community with a GPRS internet connection linking members on the island with those around the world.

Some would say it was just another sunny day on Vorovoro Island, Fiji. But for this growing online and island community it was much more significant because on March 1st the tribe were connected. Vodafone Fiji arrived to deliver a lap-top and GPRS card so that from the top of the rock behind the Great Bure tribe members were able to log-on.

Ben Keene, Tribewanted founder said: “Before we arrived on Vorovoro we said there were three things we needed to make this work: Water, shelter, and broadband. Its not quite broadband speed but with a mobile internet connection, [a solar panel will power all communications] rainwater collection tanks, fresh fish from the worlds third largest barrier reef, basic village infrastructure and a Fijian community full of smiles and kava, this twenty first century tribe has everything it needs.”

He continued: “Its been a crazy few months – a fire on the island in week one, a military coup before Christmas, and a cyclone last week – have all threatened to stop us in our tracks. But thanks to the support of the local people and determination of the online and visiting tribe members, it hasn’t. This tribe is very much alive and kicking!”

Tui Mali, chief of Vorovoro island and landowner said during a speech at a traditional kava ceremony to celebrate the six-month anniversary: “The tribes have come from around the world and we are all very happy that they are here as we learn from each other.”
etc. etc.