Saturday, June 30, 2007

Wallabies win over the All Blacks

from Peceli
Last night I watched on TV the match between the Wallabies and All Blacks but many friends went to the stadium in Melbourne to really be there at the MCG.

Wallabies stun All Blacks in Melbourne
By MICHAEL DONALDSON - Fairfax Media | Sunday, 1 July 2007

AGAINST THE ODDS: A superb defensive effort in the second half has lead the Australian rugby team to a 20-15 victory over the All Blacks in Melbourne.
Australia 20 All Blacks 15. Astralia raised questions over the All Blacks' World Cup hopes and brought the Tri Nations alive by winning a match riddled with New Zealand handling errors in Melbourne.

Scoring two tries in the final quarter and keeping the All Blacks scoreless in the second half to come from 6-15 behind, the Wallabies finished over the top of an All Blacks outfit that seemed fixated on playing the game as fast as possible without necessarily being in total control.

The fact the All Blacks had travelled from South Africa and the added fact that the past two world cup winners have lost lead-up matches will be a small consolation to Kiwi fans, including many in the 80,000-strong crowd who saw their team waste numerous chances to close out the game before being shutdown in the final five minutes.

Captain Richie McCaw's "oh well" afterwards suggested major panic is not required but with Daniel Carter still well off his best and Aaron Mauger having a disappointing game, the All Blacks couldn't turn a wealth of possession into anymore than two tries and the Wallabies have also shown how to nullify this often electrifying team.

Australia 20: (Scott Staniforth, Adam Ashley-Cooper tries; Mortlock two penalties, Matt Giteau two conversions).
New Zealand 15: (Tony Woodcock, Rico Gear tries; Daniel Carter pen, con).

Friday, June 29, 2007

Making a lovo - underground oven

from w
This is how we make a lovo in our backyard to cook pork, fish, taro, palusami. No banana leaves. Foil to wrap the food items. We use a crate so this makes it easy to lift everything out quickly once the lovo is opened up and the food is well cooked.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

St Mary's Primary School

from Peceli
The day I visited St Mary's Primary School in Labasa town there was a group of young people from overseas who came to teach First Aid to the students. They were teaching the boys and girls about bones and muscles. They visited several schools in the Labasa area. They came a year ago also. A nice morning tea was prepared for the visiting team. The Principal is in the blue shirt in the photo of the morning tea and Father Petueli on the right.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

All Saints Secondary School

From Peceli

All Saints High School Labasa

This school is still going strong with a long history of developing education for multiracial students in the Northern Division. It started off as a boys school, but then became co-educational.

Because it is next to the Qawa River east of Labasa on the road to Vaturekuka where the government headquarters used to be. Floods happen quite often in Labasa and All Saints School gets flooded. We call this area Vulovi, the low hying part of the Qawa river. It is not far from the Labasa Sugar Mill.

There’s a song called ‘Vulovi na vanua ni vanua ni salusalu.’

When I was in Labasa a week ago I visited All Saints School with Father Emosi Petueli, an Anglican priest. The lady principal showed us around and told us about how far the flood reached. It was the worst flood damage in the history of Vulovi she said.

We were there to give them books and computers and teaching material from the Donation in Kind Geelong. The container we sent included gifts for about twenty schools in the Labasa area.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Visit to St Mary's Hostel Labasa

from Peceli
The Labasa weather was hot and humid when I was in Labasa. I went to see St Mary's Hostel and the Donation in Kind gifts given from Geelong for the students boarding there. Though this hostel in in need of repairs it is important for the students who come from different parts of Vanua Levu. The hostel can cater for more then 100 students but so far they had about sixty students who go to various secondary schools such as Labasa College, All Saints and Sangam or FIT extension.

Villagers from Vuo raise funds for the church

from w
Peceli was at Vuo village last week staying with the Tui Mali. This is a village next to Malau Timber Mill which is opposite Mali Island. The people who live in this village are part of the vanua of Labasa though 80% of the people there have Mali connections. A hundred years ago the Tui Labasa lived there - before the town of Labasa existed and the Tui Labasa moved to Naseakula village.

There's a song 'Vorovoro, Malau kei Vuo'.

. So I was surprised to read an article in one of the Fiji papers today about Vuo fundraising for the church.

Okay, for those who don't agree with the way Methodists collect money, just calm down. It's a customary way of having a party/get-together for a day and giving your soli is part of it. It is also a reinforcement of identity, of who you belong to.

Villagers raise $2339 for church work
Tuesday, June 26, 2007

VILLAGERS of Vuo, in Macuata, put aside all their worries to raise more than $2000 to fund church activities. With eight stalls in the middle of the village ground, members of the Methodist Church sold food and handicraft, making $2339.73.
Set a target of $1500, the members vowed to raise more.

Committee chairman Lepani Sogovale said it was the first time for the Malau sector to host such a funadraising activity. "This is to help finance church activities not only in Malau but the Labasa church in general because we come under the tikina of Labasa. "We have eight stalls for the eight sectors and each sector has to raise $1500. "But almost every sector exceeded that amount because we wanted to do the best and help finance church activities because it is our duty," Mr Sogovale said.
He said besides selling food, members had to give their soli, which was presented to the committee through the eight contestants. Mr Sogovale said the eight sectors had their own queens or contestants for the soli day simply to increase competition among members. Every sector gives in whatever they have or whatever they can give and it is their queen who brings the money to the committee. The involvement of queens is to add colour to the event instead of just having a normal soli where people walk and give their money. Having queens for each sector makes the day exciting, with people wanting to give the best dress for their queen."

He said although the Malau sector had other commitments, members wanted to give first to the parent body of the church in Labasa.

Members of Tribe Wanted were at the bazaar to help. Tribe member Raina Jensen said the people in the area had helped them greatly since they arrived on Vorovoro Island last year. "So whenever they need our help we are always around."

Saturday, June 23, 2007

A visit to Mali by Alumeci Nakeke

from w
Bula si'a! I laughed when I read this story from today's Fiji Sun about so much fish for meals in Mali Island because I remember one time when we gave the Mali people three aluminium punts to go fishing and they sold what they caught and bought boxes of tinned fish to take back home! The second thing I thought about was the idea of conservation of the reef because there has been a tabu on the Great Sea Reef of Macuata but I guess subsistence fishing to feed the kids is okay. The third thing I thought about was that over a year ago Lusiana Speight wrote an article about Mali and Vorovoro and said she had never heard of the place! Well, Mali and Vorovoro are well and truly on the map these days mainly because of the tribewanted project and the relationship between the visitors and the local people. Vina'a va'alevu Alumeci for writing up this 'alanoa about Labasa and our relatives in Mali Island.

Fish for breakfast,
Last updated 6/24/2007 10:37:26 AM

Memories of a first time visit to any place will always linger on for many years.
Last week FijiSUN feature writer Alumeci Nakeke visited Mali Island.Mali Island is in the province of Macuata and is close to the port of Malau where the sugar boats come and go. This is an island that is known for its rich seafood resources.

My trip to Mali Island begins with a 45-minute flight from Nausori to Waiqele Airport in Labasa. This was followed by a 10-minute taxi ride to Labasa and a 30-minute boat ride to the lovely island.

I was not a stranger to Vanua Levu as I was born and brought up at Natewa village.
However, I was a stranger to Nakawaga village one of the three villages on Mali Island. I went to Mali Island on the invitation of World Wide Fund (WWF) for nature. All that I know of Mali Island is that it has an abundant supply of fish. I met with Vasemaca Rarabici who was a former workmate.

We arrived at Labasa town and went straight to a tearoom and tasted the babasiga buns. We had to wait for the WWF team that was arriving on the next plane so I roamed around town while my friend had a rest at one of our friend’s house in town. At the market, what caught my eye was an unfamiliar sight because just beside it clothes were hung neatly from lines and they included children and adults’ clothes as if they were hung at home - and very colourful! Upon my own inquiry I found out these clothes belonged to some of the market vendors who were living in the market in the weekdays and went home on the weekends. Children also live there and they sleep, shower and went to the schools in town from the market and if one was to come to the market at night they would see mosquito nets being hung as if they were sleeping in their own homes. So the market was their home during week days. These vendors had to ask permission from the market master.

When the WWF team finally arrived we boarded two boats from the small jetty just beside the market to Mali. It was raining and we had to duck under the tarpaulin for cover and took more than 30 minutes to arrive on Mali Island. We got off at Nakawaga village and had to get off about 100 metres from the seashore, as it was low tide.
We were greeted by a few villagers as the women were preparing the food and some of the men were still fishing.

Soon lunch was served and it was boiled fish, which had just been caught - very fresh (it was what most people from the islands who now live in urban areas dream of and I was one of them) and served with cassava with lemons. Supper it was fish again and cassava and tea and bread to top it off. Breakfast it was fish again and this time it was curried with rice, which our Indian sister who we went with commented on its taste with all the spices added. Having fish in all the three meals proves that Mali Island has an abundant supply of fish.

Left over fish was fed to the pigs - which is a real waste but what could they do - it is fish galore!

For the people Nakawaga fish for breakfast, lunch and dinner was a daily routine. When you question the children as to what they eat everyday it is - “ ‘eimami ‘ana qoli veisiga” (we eat fish everyday). And I have never seen in my life such an abundance of fish only in Mali Island. I would not mind getting another invite to go back to Mali Island.

A thoughtful editorial from Fiji Post

from w
Church and politics in Fiji has been a topic of conversation, discourse, debate for many years. A couple of days ago, a thoughtful editorial in the Fiji Post again raised this topic for discussion. The author of the article is not given. Three things though to consider when the Methodist Church of the present day is discussed - I. don't forget the minority Indian Division of the Methodist Church in Fiji.
2. There may be diverse views within that church also.
3. It is probable that many/most of the military men and women belong to the Methodist Church in Fiji so what do they think about their church deciding not to participate in the proposed National Council?

Churches also represent class interests

The difficult relationship between church and state in Fiji continues. The influential Methodist Church and Assembly of Christian Churches in Fiji have joined together to withhold participation in the consultation and submission processes for formulating the interim regime’s proposed People’s Charter and for establishing its National Council for Building a Better Fiji, to meet this goal. Between them - the Methodist Church and the ACCF - Fiji’s predominantly indigenous Christian majority are represented. The churches’ views of the coup and the interim regime are well known and have been circulated since the tumultuous events of last December. Their stand against the present invitation to participate is, therefore, consistent and principled this time around.

It is clear that the churches are more than expressions of personal faith. They represent a clarified perspective on many public, social issues, not the least of which is the merit and priority of parliamentary representative democracy. While this view was not as clearly put, or evident, in the earlier coups of 1987 and 2000, the churches now more clearly represent the social and political, as well as spiritual, aspirations of Fiji indigenous and blooming middle-class. In this regard, the ACCF is especially interesting as its churches have worked to translate their religious beliefs into an upward mobility-success ethic on one hand and a social conscience ethic on the other.

The voice of protest by these combined churches therefore should not be under-rated. It would be an over-simplification to imagine that they only speak for an otherwise silent majority of politically passive, self-absorbed church-goers. They don’t. These Christian churches have metamorphosed into powerful reflections of increasing indigenous middle-class affluence and political ambition. In this respect, the SDL Party is not merely a party of Fijians, but it is ‘their’ party – the vehicle for projecting the class discourse and religious vision of Fiji’s dominant Christian congregations onto the national stage.

Therein lies the difficulty for a regime that seeks to overturn the privileges that these church members feel they have won fairly by following their religious ethic. For both Methodists and ACCF members, hard work, self-discipline, frugality, and credentials, bring material and professional rewards as well as a sense of individual satisfaction that was unknown to their ancestors. These rewards have been especially forthcoming over the past two decades (of pro-indigenous governments) and these Christians feel understandably miffed by any impediment – such as a coup and its consequences – which not only overturns the fruits of their labour, but which denigrates their effort as cronyism, or worse, corruption, and which demotes them or excludes them from further participation in public life.

It is important therefore that a conversation is constructed between any political charter-makers and these churches. A people’s charter without their input and stamp of approval may be turn out to be an empty, self-defeating enterprise. Christians must stand for justice, but they must also be open to talk to each other through their differences. When one broad congregation feels it has been routed by another, and its political representatives, dialogue is the only way forward.

Another kind of tourism to Savusavu

from w
There are more kinds of tourism than laze in the sun and stay in the resorts. Here is one that is a great idea and brings groups of writers to Savusavu to Daku Resort for a week. It is for budding writers with workshops, lectures, as well as the experience of holidaying in the midst of another culture. I reckon that similar tour groups focussing on painting might be the way to go as well.

For 2007 there are four tour groups from Australia to Savusavu for writing - the most recent in early June on Romance Writing. The cost is about $3000 - one week's accommodation and includes fares.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

FICAC raids Old People's Home in Labasa

from w
What a strange story the Fiji Sun ran today. The FICAC lads from Suva have been in Labasa lately and have discovered (or perhaps not) that lots of goodies left behind by the Survivor Fiji team have been moved hither and thither around the place.
Okay, it's not funny. This is part of the story:

Homes raided for donations
Anti-rot unit retrieves gifts for the elderly
Household furniture, including 39 beds and 17 fridges donated to an old people's home, was seized from the houses of its superintendent and staff yesterday. The items, which were donated by a group filming in Taganikula in Labasa, included 39 single beds, 39 mattresses and 17 small fridges. "The items were meant for the elderly in the Old People's Home and were seized from the home of the superintendent, hospital maids and other staff of the home," said Anti-Corruption Unit North lead investig.....

From what I heard lots of the left-over items were actually sold to the people of Vunivutu because some Fijians in Melbourne got phone calls asking for money to help their relativesin Vunivutu purchase them. Anyway I wonder if the Survivor participants (actors) actually slept in those nice beds rather than on coconut leaves near a cave! Hmmm. Or they just for the crew of the film unit? What is real and what is not real?

tribewanted visit Kia Island

from w
There's an island west of Mali and Vorovoro Islands called Kia, not to be confused with Kioa which is near Rabi, north of Taveuni, and a home for migrant Tuvalu people.

I noticed in the tribewanted site that some of the guests on Vorovoro went to Kia and had a good time there. the people of Kia are experts in catching fish and turtles - not that the latter are on the menu much these days. Peceli has been in the Labasa area for two weeks but I don't think he had time to visit Vorovoro this time because he had so much to do about distribution of goods from the Geelong Rotary Donation in Kind container that we sent months ago to Labasa.

from the chief's blog:

The hill on the horizon. The island of fish. The place where Api comes from. Kia.

Last time we made the cross-channel trip to Kia Island was with Chief Wildgeeza back in Janaury and Api and his family have been asking the tribe to return ever since.

Departing at dawn from Vorovoro we sped across the flat ocean in two fibre punts, landing on the white flour sandy beach of Ligau on the Western side of KIa an hour and a quarter later.

A morning session at the village primary school, was followed by a steep climb to Kia's rocky ridge. Steep, slippery scree and grass, the climb was a good physcial challenge for the tribe and built and appetite for the four meals we managed to eat during the day.

Tui Wasi (Ryan) and the Kia boys dived for our lunch and dinner; meals of fresh curried fish and soup was interspersed with games of rugby, playing with the children on the beach and a long night of kava and meke-ing before all passing out on one mat together.

As more members visit Vorovoro we hope to visit this stunning island and friendly people more, and start to support the school as we do in Mali. And everyone should climb that mountain.
from Peceli
Yes, I did visit Vorovoro.
I met Ben the main man and he is the Tribe founder in Vorovoro. Vorovoro looks a million dollars in the moonlight. I was with 15 tribe members and more then 40 people welcoming and farewelling people in the traditional manner outside the front or the Fijian Bure. I visited my favourite spot where the turtles laid eggs more than fifty years ago as in Timaima's song. And they told me on Vorovoro that the turtles still lay eggs there, even just last two months ago. I later spent a night with Tui Mali in his house in Vuo village.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

thorntree discussion on - is it okay to go to Fiji

from w
A good site for reading ordinary postings about travelling in the South Pacific is at the Lonely Planet's thorntree site. Here's a sample of what's been said this week about Fiji.
Posted: 15 Jun 2007

Is New Zealand ever going to give up? Nothing will deteriorate here. It's absolutely unfair to scare your own citizens! How many New Zealanders and Australians did I talk to who were completely "pi.... off " with their country to publish those stupid travel warnings. Those travellers find more peace here than in their own country. But you will probably have to fly over to be convinced. Tourism and politics are 2 pair of shoes here, Come as a guest, you are more than welcome, try to tell them what to do? you have bad luck.
I' m writing this as someone who has spent almost 2 decades in Fiji and after all this time still does not understand or comprehend ALL Fijian etiquette - because it is so diverse.
As a European you will never be able to completely understand the way of thinking of the Fijian people, no matter how long you have lived here and how much you did get involved in their culture and customs. But I'm sure it would help already if Helen Clark only lived here for one year! Maybe she would at least understand that not the Fijian government ( whichever it might be!) is being hurt by New Zealand's actions but mainly Indian and European (a lot of them from her own country) businesses.

You also forgot to add this article

Levuka & Ovalau Information

Posted: 15 Jun 2007

I don't think anybody here is scared, bulabear.
I'm sure if I did visit Fiji, as actually was my intention in the near future, it is likely I would be welcomed, and fairly unlikely that I would be caught up in significant trouble. Still, I think the Government is correct to post that advisory.
It is no longer my intention to visit, as I don't want to appear to support the regime currently holding power. The page you linked to looks mighty like a front for that regime, BTW.

We demand rigidly defined and clearly marked areas of doubt and uncertainty

Posted: 15 Jun 2007

As some one that has been bitten very much by Fijian so called nobility I back NZ totally.
I think that these people will get what they can out of the system and to hell with the man on the str4et.
Ratu is another name for ripoff. Fiji to me is a majic place with Majic people screwed by those who think they are god

and you can read Mugabe into that.
I trained in the services with fijians who I still talk to and they will have nothing to do with this lot.
My advice is do not invest in Fiji they will take the lot and smile while they do. Visit but dont buy
I may sound bitter but I still love the place and the prople not the Idiots that want wreck it


Posted: 15 Jun 2007

The article that Bulabear links to is the press statement issued by the interim prime minister, which just shows he doesn't understand the ramifications of his actions.

However, most of the newspapers speak against the action in their commentaries. In fact the Fiji Times is absolutely scathing of the government's action in its editorial.

In addition, of course, one of NZ's more experienced journalists was refused entry to Fiji and deported. And, in addition, Fiji has refused to grant visas for 2 NZ police to travel to Fiji to protect the NZ Ambassador.

Posted: 15 Jun 2007

History has shown---at least to date---that the political problems in Fiji rarely impact on tourists. The main disruption in past coups has been the closing of the airport for a few days at the height of a crisis. IMHO, I don't think people planning to visit fiji should be put off by an NZ govt advisory.

Posted: 15 Jun 2007

by the way op, new zealanders are just that, 'new zealanders'...............not 'europeans'!

and why should'nt helen clark condem the actions of a non elected government in the interest of indigenous fijians and the indian community?

if you read the original post #5, the nz govt advises that the current situation could escalate, it doesn't advise travellers not to holiday on the island resorts or in the north west, which is where most people visit.

Posted: 15 Jun 2007

my first comment was actually for #1, 'bulabear'..........!!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

A quiet beach

from w
I remember a quiet beach in Malolo where the wind and waves shaped an old tree stump. It was such a peaceful place then.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Learning how to be diplomatic

from w
The University of the South Pacific started a course in Diplomacy late last year. It all seems rather ironic these days. I wonder how many people did this course and is it still available?

From the archives – October last year.
Monday 30 October 2006, 10:00am…..
4. Further, it is our hope that you will be able to apply what you learn here to every aspect of your job, from the development of national policies and strategies in foreign relations that will best advance your country's key interests, to negotiating the achievement of those interests through trade and other international agreements, negotiating peaceful solutions to conflict situations, or liaising with external parties on behalf of your respective governments on a range of issues.

5. It is not easy being a diplomat in a globalised world, even less so for Pacific Island diplomats. International agreements, mechanisms and organisations are having increasing impact on national policies. Small countries often have limited resources to work with and infrequent opportunities for influence in the international arena. It is essential that country delegates and representatives have the ability to effectively advance their national objectives in international fora. You need to be as skilled and as strategic as you can be, as those with whom you will be working and competing, making the most of all resources available and every opportunity to promote and protect your national interests.

6. Of course there are many areas in which Pacific Island States share common interests, and working together is an effective way to promote shared goals. The 2004 Eminent Persons Group review of the Forum recommended that stronger and deeper links be created between the countries of the region. A regional representation of common interests will give us a stronger and if necessary, a louder voice in international fora, as well as enhance our changes of success. Examples of where this has worked well include the PIF group of Ambassadors at the UN in New York and the Economic Partnership Agreement negotiations with the European Union, and the role played in that by the group of Ambassadors in Brussels.
8. The content of this diplomacy training programme has been developed by USP in consultation with the Forum Secretariat. In designing it we had a common objective of providing a quality programme that is specifically tailored to the Pacific context, and which will enable you to develop and enhance your negotiating and diplomacy skills.
9. The course is structured to build on your ability to engage in constructive dialogue and open, respectful discussion , values the Forum believes to be central to achieving and maintaining harmonious relations within the region as well as within individual countries, and which are reflective of the Pacific Way at its best.
11. As you move through the programme, we would also welcome your ideas as the inaugural participants on how we can improve on the course content. It is our hope that today's launch will lead to the establishment of a permanent diplomacy training programme for Pacific Islanders here at USP. etc. etc.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

NZ Journalist Field deported from Fiji

from w

from a New Zealand website:
'Put him in the black room' - Fiji detention
Fairfax Media | Saturday, 16 June 2007

NOT WELCOME: Fairfax Media Pacific affairs journalist Michael Field arrives at Auckland Airport after being deported from Fiji.
Veteran Pacific affairs reporter Michael Field has been locked up and banned before, but this was one of the scariest times, he writes.
It came laden with menace and I could sense real anger.
I got into Nadi late on Thursday night with several reporters all heading to cover the expulsion of the New Zealand high commissioner.
The rest of them got through but as I stepped up, the familiar dread was quickly confirmed with a couple of flicks over the computer keyboard.
"Sorry, you are on the blacklist," the official said.

(Read the rest on the website given)

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Neighbours, everybody needs good neighbours, or so the song goes

from w
Numerous news items in Fiji today and in the New Zealand and Australian news announce that the New Zealand Ambassador in Fiji, Mr Green, has been told to leave Fiji within four days. What has happened to the neighbourhood?

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Is the Kingdom of God the here and now or later?

from w
Once again the Methodist Church in Fiji leaders in Suva have made a statement that has upset the military interim government, this time in response to the plan to set up an action group/committee/forum/NCBBF (Fiji loves acronyms) to 'go forward'. Once again Rev Tui has led the church in a forthright statement. Last time this happened, the hierarchy backed down and dithered a bit.

So should the church be on about private spirituality or public life? Is the Kingdom of God about the here and now, or just about an imaginary future/Heaven? I like Tui and I find it offensive when writers in the 'comments' in the Fiji Times are mainly telling him and his like to get back to their soapbox preaching instead of being involved with politics. To me, to sit on the fence is wrong. Jesus was a political person too.

So will the military take offence now and say, hey you, we will send our 'watchers' to your conference in Macuata to make sure you don't incite people! Insight or incite - whatever.

from today's Fiji Times.

Churches oppose national council initiative
Thursday, June 14, 2007

TWO Christian church groups have opposed the setting up of a National Council for Building a Better Fiji.

The Methodist Church in Fiji which enjoys the biggest membership among the Christian churches claims it has the support of its 200,000-plus members. It released a joint statement with the Association of Christian Churches yesterday. The submission is one of the 50 received by the interim administration so far.

They had sought submissions from 150 organisations and individuals. Permanent secretary in the Prime Minister's Office Parmesh Chand said the submissions were being analysed before being taken to the cabinet sub-committee formed to look into them. The Methodist Church submission calls on the interim Government to immediately stop the council's formation.

This it says is because:

The interim Government has no popular mandate and should restrict itself to taking the nation back to civilian rule through a general election and the restoration of full democracy within the earliest possible timeframe.

After the 1987 coup, a similar operation named "Veivueti" was set up for the same purpose, which led to the politicisation and weakening of some institutions of State and the collapse of the National Bank of Fiji.

Policy initiatives should be left to the elected representatives of the people.

The charter specifies that to achieve its objectives, a 40-member council is to be set up by the President. The church says this is unconstitutional and illegal.

With the suspension of the members of the Great Council of Chiefs, the churches are concerned about the legality of any policy measures affecting Fijian land and administration.

Speaking on behalf of the churches, Reverend Tuikilakila Waqairatu stressed the concern over the exclusion of key people in the ousted government.

"The churches are concerned that in promoting unity, the interim Government has excluded a major political grouping and elected representatives of a large part of our community," he said.

"It is of serious concern that the nation's elected Prime Minister and the leader of the elected majority government ousted by the military coup in 2006 have been excluded from participating in the discussions on this charter." The churches also condemned the appointment of senior military officers to key government positions.

They specifically referred to the appointment of deputy military commander Captain Esala Teleni as Police Commissioner.

"The churches strongly condemn the politicisation of appointments, and say that it is the worst form of corruption,'' he said.

"The appointment of the deputy military commander to the position of Police Commissioner is illegal and morally wrong in view of pending cases against the military over the December takeover of the elected government."

The submission was sent to interim Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama on Tuesday and copied to the President, US ambassador, High Commissioners of Australia, United Kingdom, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea, and the secretary general of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat.

Mr Chand said he respected the views of the churches.

"If they feel this way about these matters then it is well within their rights and we respect that,'' he said.

"This is the whole purpose of seeking submissions on the proposed set-up of the national charter, to get people's view on it."

He also clarified that the NCBBF has not been formed yet so people should not feel they were being left out.

The closing date for the submissions has been extended to Tuesday.

Submissions have also been received from the Fiji Muslim League, the Arya Pratinidhi Sabha of Fiji, the Fiji Islands Hotels and Tourism Association, Fijian Holdings Limited, University of the South Pacific, Fiji Disabled Peoples' Association, University of Fiji, Fiji Chamber of Commerce, the Catholic Church, the Rotuma Council, the Rabi Council and Tailevu Provincial Council.

An Anglican perspective on the situation in Fiji can be found in a publication from New Zealand.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Are there many Buddhists in Fiji?

from w
The Dalai Lama is visiting Australia at present and was in our city yesterday speaking at two meetings - one in the Arena, the other at the Buddhist temple not far from town. He put on a sun viser when the sun got in his eyes at one of the meetings. I didn't go this time, but last time he came to Geelong I joined the thousands who saw the Dalai Lama when the ceremony was held at the Geelong Football Stadium. A very simple but impressive experience.

Some of the things he said this trip certainly sounded like universal principles that could well apply to a small nation like Fiji. Are there Buddhists in Fiji?

The above photo is of the Dalai Lama blessing a little girl who is the daughter of one of my writing friends.

Some excerpts from the local paper:

The Dalai Lama told people that inner values counted most for humans.
``Inner values, sense of community, sense of responsibility, sense of affection, sense of concern for the rest of society,'' His Holiness said.
``Human compassion brings us together.''
Compassionate minds were more balanced minds and helped people live healthier lives with stronger immune systems.
``Some scientists even say hatred is eating our immune systems,'' the Dalai Lama said.
``Wherever I go I'm always telling people that in order to be happy _ happy person, happy family, peaceful society _ that they should pay more attention to inner values.''
His Holiness endorsed religious harmony through understanding.
``All of the major traditions have some potential to help humanity become more compassionate, with more loving kindness, so there is common ground,'' he said.
``Therefore it is very important to think of differences in the philosophical field.''
Many faiths were different but with the same aim. Like medicine they suited different purposes for different people and during his journey of the past few decades he had acknowledged and embraced them.
``Some Christians consider me a good Christian,'' he said.
``Some Muslims consider me a good Muslim.''

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Andrew Hughes honoured

from w
At least someone appreciates the work of Andrew Hughes who last year was Fiji's Police Commissioner. He was awarded an Australian Police Medal at today's Queen's Birthday honours list.

from Fiji live today:
Hughes CP role in Fiji recognised
Monday June 11, 2007

Australia has recognised Andrew Hughes for his service to the Australian Federal Police in particular his role as Commissioner of Police (CP) to Fiji. The Daily Telegraph reports Hughes is one of three Australian police officers recognised in the latest Queen's Birthday honours list.

Assistant Commissioner Hughes has been awarded the Australian Police Medal for distinguished service. "The Australian Police Medal recognises the important contributions to policing made by these three talented and dedicated individuals," AFP Commissioner Mick Keelty said. "They are worthy recipients of the Australian Police Medal, which is one of the highest honours that can be bestowed on members of the Australian policing community."

Assistant Commissioner Hughes has served in the police force for 30 years.

He was today recognised particularly for distinguished service as the AFP Commissioner of Police to the Fijian government from 2003 to 2006.

Hughes fled the country with his family after the December 2006 coup by Fiji’s military saying he feared for their safety.

A romantic poet flies to Vanua Levu

from w
I found this interesting take on a trip to Vanua Levu - it's part of a writer's travel diary - mainly a list of observations - it goes onto a trip around Lau later on. I left out his/her initial descriptions of Nadi and nearby also. The whole web entry is at fencemag and entitled Septembre.

Jump another carrier back to the airport and then off again, up near the cockpit bulkhead, on an old patched-up Twin-Otter for Vanua Levu, the other big island

Across the Ba River high country at eleven thousand feet

Peaks to thirteen hundred meters, cane field slopes, the single roads in toward isolated farms are the only roads out

Off the coat cross Viti Levu's encircling barrier reef and then over Bligh Water

After the mutiny, the Bounty skipper and eighteen of his crew came through here in their open boat on the way to Timor in 1789

Rightly terrified by the well-deserved reputation of being the Cannibal Isles, they were chased through Bligh Water by Fijian war canoes

Tip down over Vanua Levu's reefs and islet coral heads through scattered rain clouds and slant a tight turn to the strip at Savusavu

A narrow belt in the clouded-in rainforest green

The town is one street along the water, the stores and offices up against the slope, the market and open greens on the inlet side

The market is exotic, provincial

The boat tied up stern-to in the old copra shed marina in water clean enough for swimming

Fecund green mountains like Tahiti or Morea high across the water

Frigatebirds above the bay

Pacific swallows and a spectrum of small tropical doves

With a rented Suzuki, the road to Labasa in the morning

Ravaged by a cyclone in January 2003

The sugar side of Vanua Levu

And locale of the short-lived sandalwood trade

Joss sticks burn on shelves beside cane knives and gauntleted cane cutters' gloves in the only duka open in downtown Labasa on Sunday morning

A narrow, dark and deep emporium whose inventory comes from the ends of the earth

Clerked by wary young Indo-Fijian women

Skinny sullenness in their pistachio and raspberry colored saris Stares as dark as the peregrine on perch in the mountains on the way from Savusavu

Nearly black, a Falco peregrinus neiotes, the Fijian variation

Peregrine falcons are called shaheen in Hindi, have the widest natural range of any bird, 78ºN to 56ºS, and breed on every continent but Antarctica

In the Labasa region, four out of five cane-worker families are Hindu

There are mosques in the cane-field villages where the Muslims live

Ragged, even nearly derelict, sugar villages with cane sugar a glut on the world market

Fiji is half Fijian, half Indo-Fijian, nearly three out of four around Labasa are Indo-Fijian

UN statistics declare that spousal abuse and female suicides in and around Labasa is at seven times the world average

An extremely rural place, a twenty-first century My Antonia locale with Islam, bride price and purdah piled on

All over Fiji, kinetic Pacific swallows, spotted doves, shy ground-doves, Layard's white-eyes, silvereyes

The white-eyes and silvereyes like sunny motes

The absolute antithesis of the peregrine in the mountain clouds, that dark, careful, imposing falcon, flying slowly off its perch

Its wing beat away is like any raptor's but peregrines in their duck-hunting power dives reach stoop speeds of 250 kph or more

Leave Labasa eastward via Cobra Rock, toward the eastern end of Vanua Levu

Fiji is cobraless except in the bright imaginations of Indo-Fijians

Out on the empty Nubu-Vitina Road past the point of no return of being able to get back to Savusavu before dark on partial pavement

Sense of the complex immensity of the world vivid as the afternoon itself

Deep into the unpopulated backcountry of one South Pacific island of which there are tens of thousands

But manifestation of the world's abiding stability in a serene and motionless sacred kingfisher, Halcyon sancta, vivid blue and gold on a ragged lightning-struck stub of a big Fijian kauri tree off the treacherous road

Eternity could be following out bad roads in far corners of the world like this one, and that wouldn't be a bad eternity at all

Comfortable like the lowering of the halcyon afternoon

Down the long, long Bay Road past downslope coastal villages, a Christian revival meeting in one, talk with the ministers there, each wearing a sulu and sandals, with jackets, shirts and ties

Curious, extremely polite, intelligent and sane

Religion in extremely isolated places like backcountry Fiji perhaps the only path to any offshore universals

The missionaries always were the first to arrive, and then with progression to zenophobic nationalism, Christianity is the last to succumb

Off with the boat to Taveuni next morning, a light half day's sail

Friday, June 08, 2007

Tourism in Fiji and a code of ethics

from w
Life is a book and those who do not travel read only one page. (Augustine)

Code of ethics for tourism

There are a few websites with a code of ethics for tourists and here is one from Vanuatu which I think applies very well to Fiji. There is a responsibility of the host country to provide for opportunities for a good holiday for guests and that includes honest advertising. There is also a responsibility by visitors as well.

below – from

Learn about the country
 learn key words in the local language
 be aware of religious and social customs
 visit the visitors centre on arrival for local information
Know the appropriate cultural behaviour
 respect the dignity and privacy of others – ask before taking photos
 dress and behave respectfully especially in villages, religious and cultural areas
 be careful giving gifts or money to children and beggars
Protect the coral
 do not buy products made from coral, endangered plants or animals
 do not stand on, touch or remove any items from the reef, including coral
Support local initiatives
 purchase local products, arts, crafts
 eat local rather than imported food
 support local tour operators and stay in locally owned accommodation
Pay a fair price
 50 cents may not mean much to you, but it may be a meal for the vendor
 pay a price that reflects what something is worth to you
Minimise environmental impact
 dispose of rubbish carefully, recycle where possible, reuse your drink bottles, and say "No" to plastic bags
 minimise water and power use
 choose environmentally responsible tour operators
Think about your impact
 remember you are a guest – don't do anything you wouldn't do at home
 practise safe and responsible sex
 make your trip a positive experience for both you and the people in the country you visit

A website about eco-tourism is here. Another website of interest is here. Some travel guides are useful, such as Stanley's South Pacific.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Tribewanted and a photo competition

from w
In the update on the tribewanted website there's information about a photo competition on flickr and this is one of the examples showing just how beautiful the island of Vorovoro is. Now, that is a place for peace of mind, away from the urban shenanigans of politics.

St Mary's Hostel, Labasa

from w

I was interested to read about fund-raising for the girls' hostel in Labasa town. This was built on land given to the Anglican Church by Peceli's father - way back in the 1940s. The hostel was severely damaged during the floods earlier this year and the local council were trying to close it down, but it serves an important fucntion to provide accommodation for students from other parts of Vanua Levu. The picture is of Father Api, the Anglican Archbishop in Labasa. The journalist made one mistake - it was not built in 1940 but more likely 1945.

from the Fiji Times today:

Boarders raise repair fundsFriday, June 08, 2007

BOARDERS at an Anglican Church-run hostel in Labasa have organised a fundraising drive this weekend to finance renovation work to the hostel.The Anglican Church's divisional head, Archbishop Apimeleki Qiliho said the mini-bazaar and soli would be held tomorrow and was being organised by the 40 female boarders.

"The church and its members are assisting the girls and their parents but everything is being organised by the girls," Archbishop Qiliho said."The members will bring in handicraft work to sell, to assist the girls with the fundraising." Archbishop Qiliho said although no target had been set for the soli, the renovation was expected to cost $100,000. "The whole building needs renovation and that is why we will need such an amount to completely cover the hostel that has an accommodation capacity of 120 people," he said.

"But at the moment there are 40 students and once renovation work is completed, we can increase the number of boarders."

Archbishop Qiliho appealed to former hostel residents to lend a helping hand in renovating the building that has stood in the heart of Labasa Town since 1940.

Are you going to the Turtle Ball in Suva?

from W
To celebrate World Oceans Day they are having a Turtle Ball in Suva, at $100 a head. I don’t think Peceli is going, even though he’s there in Suva and supports the turtles … I hope. It’s a black tie affair, and I can just see all those turtles dressed in their best finery! Sounds a bit like Alice and Wonderland and the lobsters’ quadrille!
From today’s newspaper in Fiji;
Ms Prabha said everyone was connected to the ocean somehow whether they lived along the coast or inland. "The theme for this year's celebration is food Security Beyond Climate Change' with a particular emphasis on protecting our mangroves, which are a nursery for many of our ocean foods." Ms Prabha said the WOD program, which was being supported by Ocean Soaps Limited, included a day's exhibition of marine materials and live display of marine turtles at Suva's lower Civic Centre.

She said as a finale to World Oceans Day activities on Friday, a formal turtle Benefit Ball' was scheduled for the evening. The main focus of the Ball was to raise awareness on sea turtle conservation and funds to support their protection.

"Sea turtles which play an extremely vital role in maintaining the health of our oceans are an irreplaceable part of the natural and cultural heritage of Fiji and the wider Pacific," said Ms Prabha.

"Additionally, a national high school art and poem competition on oceans and protecting our turtles will be launched at the Turtle Ball. This black tie affair also aims at gathering corporate support for environmental issues in Fiji."

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Customs, bottles at airports in Melbourne and Nadi

from w
With one son returning from Fiji on Sunday night, and Peceli off to Fiji last night we've been telling stories about going through customs. Sometimes scissors or knives are taken off us, but this time the emphasis has been on bottles. One time a jar of pickled chillies broke inside my bag and the customs guy had to give me a bandaid after I started to bleed after getting a cut.

At Nadi airport a bottle of Fiji water was confiscated, so Junior just drank the whole bottle first! Peceli was given a pamphlet by the travel agent about the size of eye drops, toothpaste, etc. which seemed rather innocuous compared with his camera, mobile, radio/tape-recorder etc.

I know there are always questions about dirt on your feet after being on a farm. And a body scan at times!

Monday, June 04, 2007

Peter's passionateless poker face

from w
Last night there was an interview on Australian TV with the con-man Peter Foster. The interview was made three years ago, but aired last night as a series on 'interviewing the criminal mind' so it was updated with comments, and pictures which included one of his slip in the waterways of Pacific Harbour, being captured by police. The transcript could not be put on the web for legal reasons. The program could not be aired in Queensland for legal reasons. What a narcissistic guy he is and the fibs he can tell! There is no humour in the tall tales at all. His face was expressionless, a world of his own fantasy. Despite a lifetime of conning people and bouts in prison in various countries he had the audacity to call the interviewer, Andrew Denton, a liar and con-man! It's really fortunate that he is out of Fiji waters these days!

I can overlook a person's bad behaviour if they come to their senses. Also one wrong decision should not affect a person's whole life, but a persistent liar and con-man is the pits!

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Riding the Fiji buses

from w
Perhaps the politics in Fiji is like riding one of the Fiji buses. The old driver of last year had to manoevre over many potholes, put up with overweight luggage, some people who skipped on paying fares, a few chooks, and on some occasions many passengers telling him where to go, where they wanted to go, and advice about taking short cuts or dodgy bridges. Trying to please everyone surely gave that driver a huge headache. Now we have a new driver this year and he of course has the same problem, lots of passengers yelling at him, criticizing him, telling him to go slower, to watch the bends, not to drive on the wrong side, and there are still the passengers who think they know everything.

One trip I made from Nadi to Suva was a bit strange. A video was shown to the docile passengers - that one called Speed with Sandra Bullock in it - about a speeding bus. Well, I hope that the Fiji bus will soon slow down and safely take the passengers to a good destination!