Monday, March 31, 2008

Solar - way to go

from w
Having trouble with broadband - yesterday our internet provider forgot to tell me they were mucking about with computers in our area and I spent a long time doing what I was told by a techno guy who couldn't find the fault! Meanwhile I touched too many buttons and lost broadband entirely! Anyway I did something right a few minutes ago and it's working (except for emaill!)
And I can read the Fiji news now. One item concerns the people of babasiga land. Way to go, ladies of Namuka! How expensive is solar power in a Fijian village? Can the people pay for the maintenance? Do they require grants to help set up?

Solar system lights up villageTuesday, April 01, 2008

AN initiative of a women's group in the Northern Division saw 15 families receive solar power on Friday last week.

The families of Visoqo Village in the district of Namuka in Macuata could not believe their eyes when their homes were brightened by solar lights on Friday night.

Macuata Soqosoqo ni Marama president Adi Sainimili Dyer said the installation of the solar system in the village was made possible by local and international donors.

"Our major donor was the UNDP and through their donation we managed to put up 15 solar systems for the families," she said.

"We have advised them to look after their solar systems properly and take good care of it because it now belongs to them and for the sake of their children's studies at night, parents should take good care of the system."

Adi Sainimili said the best part of their project was seeing smiles on the villagers' faces.

"It touched our hearts to see the smiles on the villagers' faces and they kept thanking the donors and the group for their help in providing electricity," she said.

"It is a new thing for them because since the time of their forefathers, they have not had electricity in the village."

She said the nearby villages of Cawadevo and Nasovivi were being prepared for solar lighting systems.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

From cassava to ethanol?

from w
I missed this piece in the Fiji Post - an interview with a lot of questionable points. It's too long to post here.

From Cassava to Ethanol15-Mar-2008

Sir James Ah Koy, Fiji’s ambassador to China, speaks about the benefits of establishing a cassava-based ethanol industry in Fiji in a joint-venture partnership between landowners and Chinese investors. etc. etc.

Fiji Daily Post Interview

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Can a woman change her mind?

from w
I was surprised to read the following article in today's Fijiradio news. Why did Tui Labasa change her mind? After a few of the military men visited her and convinced her it would be prudent?
Charter less debatable for Tui LabasaThursday, March 27, 2008

The proposed People’s Charter for Change and Progress has seemingly become a less contentious issue for the district of Labasa after the Marama Na Tui Labasa Adi Salanieta Tuilomaloma changed her mind. Two weeks ago the 77 year old chief refused to support the Charter deciding to back the opposing views of a majority of her clan leaders. But a visit from the military, with the specific purpose of clarifying the charter changed the chief’s perspective.

She also commented on changing views of her clan leaders. “Well I think they have seen the light and they will come in with us. Its so hard to get them to come in but this one case I think, not I think, they are seriously thinking of joining in. Q: So as Tui Labasa you support the proposed Charter? Yes I do very much for Bainimarama and for the good of all.”

Military officers are expected to visit other districts within the province to clarify the charter.
(added later: something also from the Labasa meeting)
Charter won’t replace Fiji’s Constitution
Thursday, March 27, 2008

Taken from / By: Fiji Broadcasting Corporation
The People Charter for Change and Progress will not replace Fiji’s Constitution says the Fiji Military Forces.

Captain Suliasi Gukimaleya of the army’s Civil Affairs Department explained this fact to clan leaders of Labasa who demanded to know if the proposed document would become the country’s supreme law.

Confused clan leaders strongly demanded answers from Captain Suliasi Gukimaleya and his team of soldiers who were part of the Bose Vanua of the district of Labasa on Tuesday.

“The question from district representative Ifereimi Rokomasa Talatu was ‘will the Charter abolish the Constitution?”

The answer from Captain Gukimaleya was ‘No it won’t! It will be inserted into the Constitution.

Captain Gukimaleya settled concerns about the viability of the Constitution when he said the Charter would be inserted in Chapter Two or the Compact Section of the Supreme Law, which will provide a guide for governments to come.

Further questions from the floor were related to the monitoring of the implementation of the charter’s goals.

Captain Gukimaleya explained the Charter was the military’s exit strategy in that after the Charter becomes part of the Constitution, the military will return to camp and won’t monitor the charter any more.

He says monitoring future government’s implementation of the vision of the charter would be the role of the National Council for Building a Better Fiji.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Yachties in Vanua Levu

from Peceli
Boat-building in Cawaro in Udu
I found this website and was surprised to see that there are some things happening in babasiga land that is usually unnoticed by the newspaper journalists (though Fiji Times did run a feature article in the 'people' section about this story). Some yachties have made great contribution to the local people in the Udu district, in the village of Cawaro. Helping out, participating in the community, repairing and building boats which are absolutely necessary to life for the people there. Here is Dave’s story.

This Is Where the Real Story begins.

We went to Cawaro, Udu, a village that had no road, electricity nor phone. Cawaro lies 40 miles by water east of Labasa, the major shopping center for all of Vanua Levu . The village owned a 28-foot plywood Fisheries boat. The boat's engine was broken and had not run for over three years. I decided to I wanted to see the boat working again. Getting an engine and installing it took 4 months. In the meantime I was also repairing outboard motors and built the Chief a punt and Kyoko was doing first aid with the kids and women.

We went to showed up to help as well. Dave and Linda have returned three times. Peter and Min have returned as well. With the help of Baker, one of the regulars on the "Rag of the Air" (the marine sideband radio net that I have been hosting since the! I later found it was almost three years from the day it quit to the day I got it going again. During the big celebration at the village hall, every house gave us presents; there was a big dinner and a kava ceremony. There were speeches and people (including Jim) cried! Within the first year the transmission gave up and we had to buy a new one and after about a year of service the boat needed some major hull repair. It was then we realized we had become part of the village. Some where about this time the whole village got together and us an island (74 acres just off shore from the village), they renamed it Also Island after our yacht. To make it legal to work, even volunteer work, we had to get a company registered and funded, "ALSO Island Limited". The island was the only practical place to get a boat on shore to work on it. We decided to build a boat building and repair facility on the island. This meant we needed a lease. Working with the Chief to complete the lease on the island was a lengthy, involved and rather difficult process. Because it is Î Native Land ', the lease is with Native Lands Trust Board.

Once that was complete we moved our operation from the village hall to the island and began to build as we rebuilt the village boat! Dave and Linda of ÏIrish Melody and two sets of friends from New Zealand Ted and Karen from "Sequester" and Peter and Marilyn from "Tamariki" came to assist with rebuilding the village boat and building the facility. Having heard what was going on, other cruising friends showed up to help as well. Dave and Linda have returned three times. Peter and Min have returned as well. While the rebuild was going on we built a tool storage room and a work shed.

Making a Difference

In the end, we found the only way we could get a long term visa and a waiver on the duty on the "ALSO II was to buy property or to become Investors. We chose the latter as it would give us the opportunity to do more of what we found rewarding: helping the local people. We are seeing that we can make a difference with a very small budget and a dedicated effort.
The effect of our efforts on the local economy is obvious. With the village boat working, the people are fishing and selling their fish in Labasa, they are making money to pay their church assessment, buy schoolbooks, pay school fees and send their kids to Labasa to complete their education. (The local school is only primary and secondary, 8 years) At the same time we were participating in the local community on a daily basis: I was repairing things, building punts, Kyoko was doing first aid, looking after the village boat money, managing the village store and we attended the weekly meetings. We funded the start of the boat program which included the purchase of a drum of pre-mix, this fuel was to be given to those going fishing and was to be paid for from the proceeds of their catch; we also funded the start-up of a small local store.

Both these projects have been a real challenge, largely because of the Îcommunal' culture. Everyone is related in one way or another. Part of the culture is that they do not like to say Îno' to anyone. Indeed there are some people to whom they cannot say Îno'. So, if the Chief comes to the store without money for his purchase and asks for credit, the storekeeper will find it very difficult to refuse, even knowing that the Chief probably will never pay. So we had a difficult time keeping the money to run the store. We lost all the fuel and money three different times until we finally gave up and took the fuel to the island.

We have now become a Shell dealer for a large part of the Udu area. The availability of fuel alone has made a very large difference to all of the villages near by and has sparked significant enterprise for this area. We purchased another Fisheries boat which Kyoko now operates with a Captain, who buys fish from the village, transports it to Labasa and returns with supplies. We are now constructing new buildings to house an island store and a coconut press and plan to make virgin, cold-press coconut oil. Currently if they want to work coconut, the villages have to husk and split it, get the meat out, dry it to form Îcopra', and take it to Labasa to sell. It is a laborious process that pays poorly plus transportation is difficult and expensive. If we can press oil, we will provide a local outlet, create jobs and keep more of the proceeds here. Plus oil is easier to transport.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Va's blog from Vorovoro

from w
Just saw this on the tribewanted site: in Fijian, then English translation.
Na noqu mai cakacaka e Vorovoro vei ira na ‘Tribe Wanted’ e a tekivu mai na dua ga na neitou i lakolako vakagade donuya na gauna ni sereki e n vula ko Okosita. Au a lako vata kei ira na makubuqu baleta na luvequ yalewa ko Adi Savaira Naileqe e vakawati e na matvuvale e Vorovoro. E na i lakolako oqo a donumaka na nodratou a gole ko iratou na lewe ni matavuvale oqo ki na nodra soqoni ni lotu e Viti levu. A vakayacori e dua na kena veivosaki se ko cei e bole me tiko me veiqaravi vei iratou na lewe ni ‘Tribe’ e ra tiko voli oqo e Vorovoro. Au a bole me’u vakasaqa ka veiqaravi vei iratou ko Ben, Sera, Repeka kei Dan. E na macawa ga ko ya a vakayacori kima e dua na vuli ni ‘First Aid’ ka ra sureti mai kina e ya rua na turaga mai na vei koro e Mali me ra mai tiko e na vuli oqo. E va na koro e Mali me ra mai tiko e na vuli oqo. E va na koro e Mali. Nakawaga, Ligaulevu, Vesi kei Matailabasa. A mai vakayacori vakavinaka na vuli. Na dau ni veivakavulici e lako mi Suva. Keitou vakayacora vakvinaka na neitouu i tavi. E ra a gunu ti e na mataka lailai, ti e na tini, vakasigalevu, ti e na va kei na vakayakavi.

E a laurai tale ga e so na dredre. Me baleta ga ni ko i keda na i taukei e da dau loloma, e yaco me toso tiko ga kina na cakacaka. E mai vinaka ni da sota kaya e so na turaga yaloyalo vinaka. E na so na gauna e dau tukuna ko Ratu Poasa ni ko iratou ogo, ko Ben, Sera, Repeka kei Dan e sega ni dua na ka e ratou bau volia mai e na gauna taucoko e ratou kana tiko kina e na vuvale oqo e Vorovoro. E dua tani ko iratu na lewe ni “Shine”. Ko iratou oqo ko John, Koula kei Saimoni. E ratou dau voli kakana mai e na veigauna kece e ratou dau mai cakacaka kina.

E na noqu cakacaka tiko e ke, keitou a cakacaka vata kei Adi Raijieli, Kesaia, Raijieli, Kei Miliakere. E na gauna sa tekiva kina na vuli, a lesu tale ko Adi Raijieli me laki tomana nona cakacaka e Nasekula. E na vula ko Sepiteba e na i matai ni siga e na yabaki ruanaudolu kaono, sa tokatu mai kina na i matai ni i lakolako mai vei ira na lewe ni “TRIBE”. E ra lewe ruasagavulu karua na kedra i wiliwili. E na guana e ra tadu mai kina, sa veitavaki tu yani e matasawa e dua na veleti meleni levu me ra vakaloma vinaka kina na yaco mai. E a vakayacori na veikidavaki vakavanua e na loma ni vakatunuloa. E ra a meke tale ga kina na lewe ni koro mai Nakawaga. Ni oti na veiqaravi vakavanua a vakayacori na vakasiga levu totoka. E na siga ga e tarava keitou sa toki sobu mai e na valenikuro ka sa tawani tiko ni kua. E na neitou mai tekivu oqo, e sa tekivu tara tale ga kina na Vale Vaka-Viti levu ó koya sa tawani tiko e daidai.

E totoka sara tu na draki ni cakacaka e na vanua oqo e Vorovoro. E ra taleitaka dina vakalevu na nodra dau gade mai na lewe ni “Tribe”. Keitou dau veivakamarautaki. Keitou vulica e so na meke ka vulici tale ga na i tovo vakavanua vei ira na lako mai eke. Sa dua na ka nodra taleitaka na totoka ni vanua kei na tolo ni nuku vulavula. E dua ga na ka na levu ni kati ni nana e dua na manumanu lailai bati mosimosi. Ia keitou dau cakava tale ga na kena i lumu. E ra dau mai lumuta ko ira na lako mai. Na gunu yaqona e na vei yakavi kei na laga sere mai vei Ratu Savenaca e na veibogi kece. E ra sa dau nanamaki tu ga kina ko ira na vulagi. Na veilasamaki e ke kei keitou na tiko e valenikuro e dua na ka e ra na dau guiguilecava dredre na lako mai. E levu sara na lewe ni “Tribe” e ra dau mai macawa rua, ia oqo e levu vei ira e ra dau vinakata me ra tosoya tale nodra tiko me vula dua. Ko i keitou ga oqo keitou vakavuna nodra tiko. Na i tovo ni lasa kei na veivosaki e ra sa mai tosotoso dredre kina. Keimami dau veitagicaki e na nodra sa dau lako yani. Yala mada eke. E na gai tomani tale yani.

Vasiti Matanawa.

My Days at Vorovoro with the Tribe
Home → Va Matanawa's blog
By Va Matanawa,
Posted 2 days ago
It has been one and a half years since I have been working with Tribe Wanted. I started working as a cook. I cooked food when the first lot set foot here on 1st September 2006. That time we still had our food at Ratu Poasa’s residence. We later moved down to the kitchen which we are still using now. Later on we extended the building and the table was moved on to this building. A shed was built near the stove so that everyone would have a place to sit and enjoy their food. Another table was built near the beach but without the shed. The members have their choice of where to sit and enjoy their meals.

This year is a wonderful year, 2008. Even though life is difficult because of the high cost of living, we here on Vorovoro enjoy each day to the fullest. I wake up each day to do the cooking. The Tribe have five meals a day. The food that we cook is really enjoyed by the visitors. They only want to eat the food that we Fijians eat. They like our Fish with ‘miti’ which is a coconut sauce mixed with lemon juice, onions, tomatoes, chillies and coriander. They also like fish curry and baked fish with the ‘moca’ as it is green.

The Tribe members also enjoyed food baked in ‘lovo’ earth oven. At the end of each month we have our change over of chief. This is a time we also have a big feast. We prepare many kinds of dishes. We have Chinese dishes, Indian dishes and our own Fijian dishes which everyone enjoys. The Tribe members are so amazed with what they see. They even told me that they had never seen so many cakes in their lives, and also so much food. We have catered for so many people, sometimes more than a hundred. People eat so much and still had leftovers.

At the end of each day I take a quick dive into the sea and enjoy the coolness of the sea water. I change into my evening clothes and get ready for a bowl of grog with the boys. The Tribe members they like to join in our singing and drink a few bowls of the ‘kava’ with us.

Whenever a new member arrives at Vorovoro, they have to present their ‘sevusevu’ to Tui Mali. When Tui Mali comes to the island, someone will beat the ‘lali’ to let everyone know that he is on the island also to warn the members that everyone has to put on a ‘sulu’ and dress in a decent manner. When someone is about to leave this is a good time for them to present the ‘tatau’ so that Tui Mali will give them is blessing for a safe trip back home. Both these occasions are blessed by Tui Mali for each member that comes to the island. This ceremony is very much welcomed and also enjoyed by each member because they get to sit and enjoy a bowl of grog with their chief and meet the workers who are local people from the villages of Mali.

At this time of the year we are also blessed by good weather and the Tribe members enjoy snorkelling around the island. Some of them take a quick dive before breakfast and have another one after breakfast. There are small activities which everyone is briefed about at 9 o’clock and each one is always encouraged to do what they want to develop the place.

Thank you.

To be continued…

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Farewell Sir Ian Thompson

photograph of Thompson family - from Fiji Times.

from w
Peceli told me that he had met Ian Thompson and that in the colonial era he was a very fine man in Fiji. He was a District Officer one time in Labasa.
from a feature article in the Fiji Times:
Moce TuragaSaturday, March 22, 2008

Sir Ian Thomson, who is being buried in Scotland today, was a proud Scot but a large part of his heart belonged to Fiji and especially the Fijian people. He commanded Fijian troops in the Solomons in World War II, was fluent in the Fijian language and would later spend a significant part of his career protecting Fijian interests on the Native Land Trust Board. He was a man who believed firmly in a multi-racial Fiji and dedicated himself to defending the interests of Fiji-Indian cane farmers as independent head of the sugar industry.When the annals of the decades leading to Fiji's independence and subsequently fall to be written, John Sutherland Thomson's contribution to nation building will feature prominently.

It is two decades since Sir Ian (as he was widely known) left these shores, and there is now a generation "which knew not Joseph" in the words of Exodus.

His death, aged 88, in Scotland on March 13, 2008, marks the end of cherished bonds of affection between Sir Ian and his adopted homeland spanning nearly 70 years.

Arriving in Fiji as a 21-year-old year old, Sir Ian was to spend most of the next 45 years in these islands.

Initially serving as aide de camp to the then Governor, Sir Harry Luke, Sir Ian saw action in the Solomon Islands campaign with Fijian soldiers as a commissioned officer. There, he was decorated for bravery. It heralded the beginning of a close and intimate relationship with the Fijian people. One that was reciprocated in full measure.

After World War II, Sir Ian served in parts of Fiji in the District Administration. He had strengthened his ties further to these islands by marrying Nancy Kearsley, a fourth generation member of a prominent local European family. It was a union of kindred spirits and the bedrock of Sir Ian's life, together with a quiet Christian faith. They were to have seven sons and one daughter, now scattered all over the globe who yet carry with them the vexing ambivalence of memories and reminiscences common in Fiji's diaspora.

As a district officer and eventually district commissioner, Sir Ian was closely involved with development in parts of the country. Serving in Kadavu, Lomaiviti and Vanua Levu, Sir Ian had a rapport with the local communities.

His son Peter would follow in his stead. Fluent in Fijian with a smattering of Hindi, Sir Ian personified the best in the British colonial civil servant.

In manner and bearing he was princely, with an approachability that was as reassuring as it was genuine. It was complemented by a voice that evoked dignity and gravitas.

Among Fijians, Sir Ian was said to embody 'nai vakarau vakaturaga', the chiefly manner asserted by so many yet practiced by only a few.

A critical part of Sir Ian's reputation for effectiveness, was the enduring friendships he had with Fijian leaders of the time. Ratu Sir Lala, Ratu George Cokanauto, Ratu Josefa Lalabalavu and Ratu Tevita Uluilakeba, among others, as well as emerging successors like Ratu Mara, Ratu George Cakobau, Ratu Edward Cakobau and Ratu Penaia Ganilau, valued his counsel and companionship. To Ratu Penaia in particular, he was like a brother. Sir Ian was his best man when he married his first wife Laisa in 1947. Many a convivial evening was spent with the Ganilaus at either their home in Suva or in 'Vuniduva' at Somosomo. It would inevitably end with the singing of Scottish folksongs like Early One Morning and Loch Lomond.

Sir Ian's standing in the colonial administration and his Kearsley connections gave him ready entry into local European circles.

Part-Europeans like Fred Archibald counted among his friends. He was respected by the likes of Pandit Vishnu Deo, Pandit Ajodhya Prasad, Swami Rudrananda and Mr A D Patel for his sense of fairness and integrity. It was what struck people most about him.

On the death of Ratu Sir Lala in 1958, Sir Ian succeeded him as chairman of the Native Lands Commission. It was a measure of his familiarity with things Fijian and the confidence reposed in him, both by the colonial administration and the Fijian chiefs, that he acceded to a position Ratu Sir Lala had made his own. In this capacity, he continued and completed much of the records and detailing of boundaries his predecessor had embarked upon. It was all done in the understated style that was his modus operandi.

In the years immediately preceding independence, Sir Ian was Assistant Chief Secretary and acted as Chief Secretary on several occasions. He contributed to the smooth transition to independence by encouraging dialogue, a message reinforced by the confidence he enjoyed among Fiji's political leaders. In this process, he was the perfect foil for the Governor, Sir Derek Jakeway, who had a prickly relationship with Ratu Mara.

The untold story of his role in providing advice to Ratu Mara, Ratu Edward and Ratu Penaia may never be widely known, as the protagonists are no longer with us.

If Sir Ian was concerned about the sudden abolition of the Lawa i Taukei (or Native Regulations) in 1967, which gave Fijians galala or freedom overnight, he was too much of a gentleman to show askance. His innate caution and tutelage under Ratu Sir Lala, would have inclined him to a more gradualist approach. The irony must have struck him when he headed a Bose Levu Vakaturaga inquiry several years after 1987. It considered how chiefs in general, and young chiefs in particular, might be given more training for national leadership. Galala had accelerated the populist nature of the times. It was difficult, if not impossible, to put the genie back in the bottle.

After a short period in the British Virgin Islands, Sir Ian returned to Fiji to be independent chairman of the Sugar industry. He was to occupy the position for nearly a decade and a half. These were the golden years of the sugar industry. Repositioning it in the wake of the departure of the Colonial Sugar Refining Company, the dynamism of Rasheed Ali and his colleagues at the Fiji Sugar Corporation, co-operation of the cane farming organisations, political stability provided by Ratu Mara's leadership and the wise stewardship of Sir Ian was a formula for success.

A critical element was his facility in dealing with all communities and the regard they had for him as an honest broker. In this period, he served on other statutory entities as well. He was knighted for his record of public service in 1984.

In well deserved retirement, Sir Ian was able to spend more time with Lady Thomson.
However, her ill heath and deteriorating condition, obliged them to leave the country that had been his home for nearly half a century. Lady Thomson died two years later in 1988. Sir Ian's grief and loss can only be imagined, for he was a private person despite his public profile. Sir Ian subsequently remarried and the second Lady Thomson survives him.

In a very real sense, Sir Ian left this country at the right time. A year later, the cycle of coups began.

Although he would have understood Fijian insecurities, the British sense of justice and fairplay that was second nature would have caused Sir Ian profound hurt.

Peter, his son, was to become a casualty of the second coup in September, 1987.

Ratu Sir Penaia's poignantly piercing observation to the latter as he took his leave, about the divide between himself as 'an outsider' and the Fijian people, would have cut Sir Ian deeply. It delineated the fault lines at the core of Fiji's ethnic realities, defying the enduring ties between them. But Sir Ian would never have dwelt on it given his generous nature. True friendships bear all things, and the Fijian statesman was reflecting sentiments embedded deep in the Fijian psyche. Sir Ian would have understood that and, recognising the love of one's country encompasses both the good and the difficult, he nevertheless continued to hold Fiji firmly in his heart to the end.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Tui Labasa and land

from w
The Tui Labasa, Adi Salanieta Tuilomaloma, has said that she thinks that unused land should be leased out in her district of Labasa. Of course it is really up to each mataqali to make such a decision - however her initiative is a guideline.

But, why don't the men and women of Labasa lease the land back to themselves? They could start intensive vegetable and fruit farms, grow kura, ginger, cassava, etc. Sugar-cane, well, I don't think that is the way to go as there's very little financial reward for a year's work.
But the people could do very well with local food crops. Piggeries. Cattle - good for a rainy day - meaning the requirements to feed people at a wedding or funeral. Waiting for lease money twice a year isn't as good as being energetic and productive and having a hands-on relationship with the land.

Peceli's family land is in the Wailevu district, west of Labasa, but lots of relatives are in Naseakula and some family units own large tracts of land.

from Fiji Times
A big step on land
Wednesday, March 19, 2008

THE proposal by the Tui Labasa, Adi Salanieta Ritova, to turn over unused Native land for lease is a step in the right direction. This move shows the goodwill of the landowners and is an open invitation to farmers to stay in the Northern Division. With this single step, however, small it may be, relations between the communities can make a massive leap forward.

And not a single interim minister, government official, politician or unionist was involved in this landmark decision. The people of Labasa, through their chief, have decided that this is the way for the landowners and tenants to benefit from land which, until now, had remained idle.

Detractors will say that the vanua of Labasa should have made this move in 1999 when leases on cane fields first started to expire. They will say that seven years have been wasted and countless families have suffered as a consequence. While there may be merit in these arguments, it is important to note that any dealings with land must involve the landowners from the initial stages.

Governments in the past have attempted to force the issue at their peril.

This newspaper, nine years ago, made it quite clear that the way forward would be found when the landowners found the right time. It cannot be denied that every piece of arable land in this country must be put to good use for the benefit of all. For too long the indigenous people thought it was easy for the land to be worked by diligent farmers.

Few landowners realised the tremendous effort, the sacrifice and sheer hard work which went into producing cane or rice from the land. That is why they demanded, with the backing of chiefs and political parties, the return of their land. This was their right ill-advised as they were, to make the demand for the return of the fields handed down through the generations. Now that the land is in their possession, the landowners have three choices: Till the land themselves, lease the fields to tenants or allow the soil to become overgrown.

Some villagers will choose the first option and succeed. These are the people who will foster a new generation of indigenous farmer which makes full use of their birthright and maximises revenue opportunities.

Landowners who choose the option of leasing the land will make money and, at the same time, foster a generation of villagers who are tolerant and willing to help people of all races. Those who choose to let the land lie idle are a disgrace to the country and to themselves. We salute the Marama Tui Labasa and the Yavusa Wasavulu for a brave, bold move. Adi Salanieta and her people have set an example from which we can all learn.

NLTB hails Tui Labasa’s plans (from today's Fijilive news)
19 MAR 2008

Fiji’s Native Land Trust Board has described the move by Tui Labasa, Adi Salanieta Tuilomaloma’s initiative to renew native land leases in her district of Labasa as a noble one.

NLTB spokesman, Ro Alipate Mataitini confirmed that the Tui Labasa has decided to renew leases, which are under her jurisdiction to farmers in Labasa.

He also said that most of the native land in Labasa has been unoccupied since the 2000 coup and it was Adi Salanieta’s wish to lease the land out for agricultural purposes. “Most of the unoccupied land was used for sugarcane planting for so many years until the leases expired and farmers had no choice but to vacate the land. However it was the initiative of the Tui Labasa to see that the land is put to good use once again and we applaud such courage.”

Ro Alipate also said that various clans in the Labasa district will have to be consulted first before any plans take place. “It’s a normal process for Fijians to consult their sub-clans before going ahead with any plans and in this case Labasa is a big district so we have to work our way carefully.”

Monday, March 17, 2008

Induction of minister at Narana

from Peceli
Last Friday night we went to Narana in Geelong for the welcome and induction of Rev Willie Pickett to be a pastor to the Aboriginal people in rural Victoria. What a splendid occasion it was with lots of music, informal speeches, prayers and I met some Aboriginal friends there such as Vince Ross (playing the keyboard in the photo) and had a yarn with a didgeridoo player, Norm whose playing is really terrific. The service opened with the didgeridoo and it was awesome. Willie Pickett comes to Geelong from West Australia and he is a minister in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Congress, a part of the Uniting Church in Australia. I have been associated with people from the indigenous communities ever since coming over to Australia from Fiji. We have a lot in common and have some very good friends from their communities. They are happy about the 'saying sorry' from the new Australian Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd.

Two websites of didgeridoo music are on youtube.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Dudley Church on the go

Alumita Taganesia, Niko Tubukinavere and Reverend William Lucas with the Dudley Methodist Church strategic plan launched yesterday.
from w
Good to see a picture of three people from Dudley church in Suva - my old church, once upon a time, when Rev Fullerton was there. It was 'service' oriented anyway so there's nothing new. My relationship with the people in the Indian Division of the Fiji Methodist Church started when I was 23, a passionate newcomer to Fiji who wanted to change the world. Since that time I have been associated with Dudley, Dilkusha, Wesley in Lautoka, Rakiraki and Labasa Indian Division church communities. Peceli was a padre in Lautoka, Rakiraki and Dilkusha many years ago as he speaks Labasa kind of Hindi. Good luck Dudley with your project and may God's peace give you courage in these very trying times.

in the Fiji papers today:
Church now 'service-oriented'Monday, March 17, 2008

THE Dudley Methodist Memorial Church hopes to be more service-oriented to its members and the community at large after the launch of its five-year strategic plan yesterday. The 54-page document which would be printed into small booklets contains different issues on which the church would work on such as its vision, positioning, church-growth and opportunities and relevance.

Divisional superintendent Reverend William Lucas said the plan which is based on the theme "building a better Fiji" was compiled after a analysis of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats - typical business analysis - was done within the church.

Mr Lucas said one of the main priority of the church is "evangelising" the Indian communities which he admits they have lost focus on. "Dudley Church is now being re-organised towards its original purpose with refocused vision and mission under our new strategic plan," said Mr Lucas. "With much prayers and agonising for seven years, our God, forever faithful, finally responded at the beginning of 2007. He provided the labourers and the stage for introducing this vision work and the plan began to emerge and take concrete shape."

He said the plan articulates the vision, mission and strategic actions that members of the church will take to build a "progressive church blessed by God"
The plan states that their long-term vision is to make it the "number one" church in Fiji and be the choice for anyone who wishes to worship God and deepen his or her faith in Christ. It says Fiji can no longer rely on national policies to creating jobs, security and growth but on God.

Taking the present situation into account, the Plan has also made some observations into Fiji's present situation. It said that "news headlines today still reported our nation at the brink of bankruptcy, people losing their jobs, incomes losses, rising prices on imported goods, industrial unrests, people without water and essential commodities, poor services, life threatening robberies, famine and sufferings from drought, flooding and other natural and made-made disasters."

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Water in Suva?

from w
Here we go again, and again, and again!

from Fijiradio:
Water disruption intended for SuvaSaturday, March 15, 2008
The Public Works Department is advising consumers that water disruptions will worsen from tomorrow. Divisional Engineer Central Eastern Serei Cokocoko Yanuyanurua says areas in and around Suva will be affected and he’s urging residents to start storing water.
etc etc. etc. ad nauseum!
Sobosobo! Are they joking? Every day for months and months the people of most parts of Suva have experienced taps that are dry because of so many problems with the access to the water supply, the pumps, the aged infrastructures.

It is absolutely shameful that this should be so bad in a country like Fiji.

Instead of diverting much needed funds to fix the problems about water, precious dollars are spent on stupid court cases and consultants and committees and promises to overseas 'experts' for large amounts of money for their 'expertise'. For heaven's sake, fix the water before you all start yacking about an ideal society. Everyone knows an ideal society functions well when the people are fed, watered, and housed and given useful occupations, not dreams and visions and talkfests at hundreds of dollars or more a day!

Friday, March 14, 2008

The cost of living in Fiji

from w.
Anecdotal evidence is that the cost of living for locals in Fiji is getting really difficult for families. I was told that bananas in the market are 3 for $2,
and tapioca is $6 a kilo!
What are the costs in the market these days then? How do people manage who are on low incomes? Even middle-income Fiji people have told me how hard it is becoming.

These are statistics (what date?) from Rob Kaye's Fiji website and biased towards what a tourist/visitor to Fiji might require.

The Cost of Living
Inevitably one will ask how expensive Fiji is relative to other destinations or even to your home town. We have compiled a list of everyday purchases to give you an idea of how much things cost. All prices will be denominated in Fiji dollars.

Taxi ride from Nadi Airport to Nadi Town $12
Car Rental per day ( unlimited mileage) $100
Bottle of (Fiji Bitter) Beer in hotel $3
Draft beer in local bar $2
Cocktail $8-12
Small bottle of coca cola $1
Loaf of whole meal bread from bakery 1.19 cents
Bottle of decent Australian or $25
Dinner for two at Chinese Restaurant $F18 - 30
Dinner for two at curry house $15 - 20
Dinner for two public market stall $F6 - 10
Roti Snack at Bus Stop (pumpkin curry ) $1
Taxi ride from Nadi Airport to Nadi Town $12
Bus Fare to go 10 km F$1.00
Admission Price for Movie $2.00- 4.00
Long distance call to North America $2.57/per minute
Internet ISP cost $9/ per hour
1 bunch of bananas $2-3
1 pile of mangoes (6) $1.00
Fruit Loaf purchased at Hot Bread Shop $1.30 cents
Locally made Bula Shirt $30-40
Sulu (sarong) $10 - $20

I would welcome comments from readers of this blog from people who live in Suva, Labasa, Lautoka and other places in Fiji.

Don't fence me in

pic by Ray Crooke

from w
One thing I like about Fijian villages is the fact that there are no fences between houses or around the whole village. There is a trust between people perhaps. Although chooks may sometimes roam freely and scratch around, this is not enough reason to put up fences. In Suva though there are certainly fences around many houses. I notice in Namadi Heights how many security alarms there are, guard dogs, and lock-up gates. Not very nice. I guess it is the fear of burglars mainly that makes people put up boundaries like this.

Well, back in our compound in Australia we've just had our side fence pulled down 220 feet of it because the neighbour bulldozed down grandpa's house to flatten the compound to put up four units. Hmmm. Our fence was untidy and covered with ivy and had to go. They've half pulled down the other side fence and now I can shout out 'hello' to a near neighbour!

The weather is terrible today - about 45 degrees centigrade in the sun and the hot north wind is blowing up dust from the vacant block.

And, our neighbour says he will put up a seven-foot fence. Seven-foot. I can't see over that one. All I can do, perhaps is make a hand gesture to say hello! My ideal community would have houses surrounding a small park that is used by everyone - without fences, but of course little children have to be protected from wandering so there is a problem. But marking boundaries as 'this is mine' - well, I don't like that.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

An apology the Fijian way

The unhappiness caused by the dispute about the chiefly title was resolved in the traditional Fiji way of offering an apology. Adi Salanieta will be formally installed in October this year. From the Fiji Times today:
Chiefly subjects seek pardon
Thursday, March 13, 2008

THE people of Labasa yesterday shed communal tears when they sought the forgiveness of their high chief, Adi Salanieta Tuilomaloma, for hurting her through words and acts over past months. At the bose vanua in Naseakula Village, in the North, the turaga ni mataqali Tuatua, Nemani Tomasi could not hold back his tears as he led the people to the forgiveness ceremony.

Speaking in Fijian, he asked Adi Salanieta to forgive them for the hurt her people had caused. Mr Tomasi offered a tabua (whale's tooth) and a feast as a token of atonement and requested.

He also promised the day would be the beginning of a new relationship between the people and their chief.

Adi Salanieta was formally recognised by the Native Lands Commission two weeks ago.

Although the Drauna family, the faction that challenged the chiefly title did not attend the ceremony, Mr Tomasi said the ceremony was being done for the vanua of Labasa.

Adi Salanieta accepted the apology and encouraged the vanua to work together and acknowledge God in everything they did.

With tears streaming down her cheeks, Adi Salanieta said she was humbled by the ceremony.

She said that the ceremony meant unity and brought about oneness to the vanua. Adi Salanieta encouraged her people to work together as a family and in unity. Silence prevailed as people shook her hand and made peace with each another.

District reps and chiefs of the vanua were glad that such a reconciliation ceremony amongst the vanua was held, saying this would help in achieving goals set for the district of Labasa. The meeting was its first ever since the ruling of the Native Lands Tribunal Appeals last month. It ruled Adi Salanieta as rightful holder of the chiefly title of Tui Labasa.

A meeting of the tikina held at Naseakula Village decided that Adi Salanieta would be installed on October 31.

The meeting agreed it needed to fulfil its traditional obligation as Adi Salanieta's name had been gazetted as the Tui Labasa, following the tribunal's ruling. Labasa district rep Paula Maleau said the vanua would approach the kingship of Caumatalevu at Naduri Village and inform them about the decision.

"It is part of Fijian protocol because by right, the Tui Macuata always serves the grog of bowl to the Tui Labasa and that is why we have to approach him and ask him to perform this highly respected duty in installing our chief."

and also the following is interesting as Tui Macuata thinks differently.
Tui Labasa doesn’t support Charter
Thursday, March 13, 2008

The Tui Labasa Adi Salanieta Tuilomaloma says she does not support the proposed People’s Charter. Adi Salanieta’s stand is contrary to that of Macuata’s paramount chief Ratu Aisea Katonivere who says the province fully supports the proposal. The Labasa district chief says members of her district do not support the charter and as their chief she stands by their decision.

“Disciples coming around bringing pamphlets and all that but I stand by my tikina. If they don’t work in with the people that are bringing in the proposal, I don’t think I’ll be able to stand on my feet. I have to stand by them”.

Adi Salanieta’s statement follows on the heels of a comment by a young chief from the district Ratu Jone Matove who says the nation must not be blackmailed by the Charter. The tikina meeting yesterday did not discuss the proposed charter.
This morning an NCCBF media official said the charter is the exit strategy for the Interim Government.

Monday, March 10, 2008

The young women of Fiji

from w
I feel proud of many young women (and men) of Fiji who are doing their darndest for a good life for the ordinary people, speaking up for truth and justice. One such young woman is Virisila Buadromo.

from Fiji Times today:
Buadromo receives courage award from RiceTuesday, March 11, 2008

Update: 10:50AM ONE of the more vocal human rights activists in Fiji during the 2006 coup was awarded one of the United States Governments most prestigious awards for courage. The Executive Director of the Fiji Womens Rights Movement (FWRM), Ms. Virisila Buadromo, was today awarded for courage the Secretary of States International Women of Courage Award for 2008.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice herself presented the award to Ms. Buadromo in a special ceremony at the State Department in Washington, D.C., for showing exceptional courage and leadership in advocating for womens rights and advancement in Fiji. Later in the day, Ms. Buadromo was saluted in a White House ceremony, hosted by President Bush, in honor of International Womens Day.

Ms. Buadromo is the sole awardee from the East Asia/Pacific region.

The award notes that Ms. Buadromo has continued to advocate for gender equality, legal and political reform, and democracy despite the challenges and threats resulting from Fijis 2006 military coup. It notes too that despite the political climate, Ms. Buadromo and her team continue to help women and children access justice and defend their rights.

Ms. Buadromo and the other awardees are now participating in a high-profile program of events in Washington and New York in celebration of International Womens Day.

Just another day at the office

from w
Whatever newspaper journalists write, whatever committees decide, whatever tribunals come up with as the truth, well, God only knows. Someone will be singing:
Oh happy day, oh happy day,
when Jesus washed my sins away,
He taught me how to watch and pray
and be careful every day,
Happy day, happy day,
when Jesus washed my sins away.

from Fiji Times
Tax team clears Chaudhry
Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Update: 10:32AM The committee looking into the tax affairs of interim Finance Minister Mahendra Chaudhry has cleared him of any tax anomalies.

In its conclusion of its report which they worked on since Friday last week the team says the tax assessments of the Fiji Islands Revenue Customs Authority in respect of Mr Chaudhry between 2000 and 2006 were carried out in accordance with the Tax Act and other relevant laws in Fiji.

We have not identified any breaches of the ECA by Mr Chaudhry between 2000 and 2006, they said.

The teams comprised Bruce Cowley, lawyer with Minter Ellison in Brisbane, Russell Postle and executive with BDO Kendalls of Brisbane and former Deputy Prime Minister Taufa Vakatale.

It took the committee three days (March 7 10) to come to their conclusion and compile the report.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Oh happy day!

from w
Well, well, I eat my words. Here they are, happily watching rugby. Well, it is a safer subject than politics!

Friday, March 07, 2008

I cannot come to the meeting, don't trouble me now

from w
This reminds me of an old youth church song
I cannot come to the banquet, don't trouble me now,
I have married a wife, I have bought me a cow,
I have fields and commitments that cost a pretty sum,
pray hold me excused I cannot come.

About refusing an invitation to a wedding banquet.

Well, Sir Paul Reeves in Fiji wanted to meet some esteemed dignitories and a meeting was arranged in a Catholic church in Lami and the certain persons of high status were invited. No-one came to the meeting!
Excuses: I'm in a court case so don't trouble me now.
I'm watching Marist Rugby, don't trouble me now. etc. etc.

Oh dear Sir Reeves, a former governor of New Zealand did not have enough clout to make people forget their other priorities. Does this mean that the persons of status just won't talk or was the timing of the visit a problem. Yes, I think it was badly timed, but there's an element of rudeness in hospitality as well these days, and ignoring the vavalagi who might think he has the answers. Sobosobo Sir Reeves, and he a party to the Fiji Constitution and all that. Anyway, he did meet with Akuila and I hope they had a nice conversation.

Return to polls, Sir Paul urges
Saturday, March 08, 2008

Former New Zealand Governor-General Sir Paul Reeves has urged Fiji to go back to general elections as soon as possible. Sir Paul is visiting Fiji in his capacity as the Commonwealth's envoy, at the invitation of coup leader and Interim Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama.

The envoy - who headed Fiji's 1997 Constitutional Review Commission after an earlier coup - met Citizens Constitutional Forum's chief executive Reverend Akuila Yabaki.

The New Zealand Herald reports Sir Paul was supposed to meet ousted Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase, who led Fiji for six years until he was ousted in a bloodless coup in 2006.

Qarase, however, was busy in court.

He has denied charges of corruption between 1992 and 1995 - before he assumed power after a failed coup in 2000. Sir Paul's nine-day visit is his second round of talks with the interim Government. He is scheduled to return to Auckland tomorrow.

New Zealand Herald

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Yes, the church should be involved in politics

from w
I don't mean to promote one particular political party, but members of the church and leaders need to look at issues in society if they are serious about 'the Kingdom of God' here as a place of justice and equity for the people. I saw this article in today's Fiji Times.

Methodist 'Think Tank' talks about Fiji
Wednesday, March 05, 2008

THE Methodist Church in Fiji 'Think Tank' discussed Fiji's present status and its impact on the work of the Church and the livelihood of the people at the Epworth Hall in Suva.

A statement from Reverend Tuikilakila Waqairatu the church's assistant general secretary said the discussions were part of the church's "Christianity and Democracy" program.

"After the decision of the Church annual conference last August not to participate in the interim Government's charter process, the Methodist Church had decided to set up a think tank of professional lay members to offer advice and assist the Church elders and members over national social and economic issues," said Mr Waqairatu.

Concerns raised at the meeting included the poor state of government services, high inflation rate and the high rate of unemployment, the pursuit of fiscal policies which exacerbated poverty, the absence of good governance and lack of transparency on the part of some leaders in the interim government.

"Serious concern was also expressed at the weakening of some Fijian institutions and the interim government's attempt to politicise appointments to the Great Council of Chiefs and other Fijian Institutions," he said.

Also the meeting abhorred the erosion of basic freedoms, especially the right to express dissenting opinion, the curbing of the freedom of the press and the forced expulsion of the publisher of the Fiji Sun, Russell Hunter.

The media was barred from sitting in at the meeting which included divisional superintendents, circuit ministers and senior church officials.

There are 20 members of the 'Think Tank' made up of some former politicians in the deposed government like Adi Samanunu Talakuli, Asesela Sadole, Ratu Meli Saukuru, Ratu Jone Kubuabola, Doctor Tupeni Baba, Solomone Naivalu, Apisalome Tudreu and Pita Tagicakiverata.

Presentations yesterday was led by Ratu Jone and Dr Baba.

The next meeting of the 'Think Tank' with ministers of the Church will be held next month where they will be discussing good governance.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Dear Mr Browne

Oops! The British Prime Minister caught with a hibiscus in his ear plugging a rather lost cause for poor Fiji's tourism industry. They've been running stories in the Independent and the Times in London about the kerfuffle - should he or shouldn't he. By the way, a flower over which ear means that you are available?

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Letting the vonu swim free

from w
Okay, okay, too much copy and paste... but it is after all a story about babasiga people, the Mali islanders and one of my obsessive topics - freeing the turtles. And this time, turtles were not eaten at a wedding! When Peceli and I were married in Lautoka, many, many years ago, we did have turtle meat - a gift from a friend in the Mamanucas. Nowadays I would not touch turtle meat.

Tagging turtles for a weddingKESAIA TABUNAKAWAI
Monday, March 03, 2008

On the dusky evening of Thursday December 27, to the whooshing sounds of many pairs of legs wading through knee high waters, two tagged 75kg green turtles were released into the incoming tide of the mangrove lined bay of Ligaulevu Village on Mali.

With cries of 'go turtle go','la'o vonu la'o' and 'moce' we watched the pair flap their flippers free as the hands pulling them along let go. My gaze followed their underwater path through the ripples on the water surface, and once, their pointed heads bobbed out of the water, for a moment, to take in air before going forward.

The tag and release of turtles was a wedding day wish for Leone Vokai of Ligaulevu Village on Mali and Sally Bailey of Saint Brides Major of Wales. This was a show of the continuing passion the couple have to the protection of biodiversity, and turtles in particular. In my mind, it is a mark of young people taking action in what they believe in.

"Young Fijians are travelling and learning new things, gaining more appreciation of the beautiful environment of our country. Some like Leone are taking action personally and encouraging his community to do the same," observed a cousin of Leone's.

To an uncle, a sister's son's wish, especially for his wedding is a mission to be accomplished. Forty-two-year-old Ifereimi Daumaka, Leone's uncle, went turtle fishing for a day and caught the turtles on the wide reef flats of Cakaulevu, opposite Mali Island.

It is suspected that this time is the first time in the history of Mali Island, that turtles caught did not end up in the pot.

"The turtles were caught the old fashioned way," remarked a proud Ifereimi.

"The fishermen cruise the reef tops looking. Once spotted, the boat follows the turtle until it is alongside it, then the fishermen dive in to catch the turtle," Ifereimi added. As I watched the wedding preparation unfold, it became obvious to me that this was also a celebration of the connectivity between the people of Mali and their biological resource. The wedding garments came from the bark of the masi tree, of which a plantation grew nearby; the salusalus, from the inner bark of the vau tree, and the many aromatic flowers, fruits and leaves that abound on the island; the mirror like sheen on the bare shoulders of members of the wedding party was scented coconut oil; the layers of finely woven mats in the wedding house and in the church were from kuta (a wetland grass) and voivoi (pandanus leaves), large plantations of which surround the village. The black design on the mats were of pandanus leaves soaked and cooked in black mud with branches of a local swamp plant.

The wedding feast, a variety of fish and shellfish (some of which came all the way from Wales, pickled) was a display of the bounty of the sea around Mali. I did wonder how many of the big fishes on the table grew in the safety of the marine protected areas within the Mali qoliqoli. It is over three years since the elders of the iqoliqoli declared nine sections of the iqoliqoli as marine protected areas, where no fishing is allowed. I am certain that the rules of use of the iqoliqoli set in place in 2004 had something to do with the sizes and volume of sea food enjoyed during the wedding celebration.

The people of the district or tikina Mali along with people of tikina Dreketi, Macuata and Sasa share a common traditional fishing ground. This stretches from Nakalou Village by the mouth of the Dreketi River to Korotubu Village near Labasa and over the waters to Kia and Mali islands.

On neighbouring Kia Island, a female turtle came ashore in 2006 to nest on the beach in front of the school in Ligau, after a long time with no nesting turtles recorded for this beach. In 2007 a second female came onto a beach on the other side of the island.

In June 2007, Ligau villagers committed Ligau beach as a monitoring site. Additionally, Mokanivonu, a sunken patch reef near Nakalou Village is a resting and sleeping area for turtles, according to the villagers.

I saw what I think was disbelief on the faces of some of the villagers when they realised the landed turtles under the mango trees were to be let go back into the sea.

This is understandable, with the time it took to catch and the cost of the fuel used in catching the turtles.

This act and the questions arising in the minds of the Mali islanders, provided the opportunity to talk about the fragility of the lifecycle of the turtle.

A number of Ligaulevu villagers are now wiser to the choice made by the couple to tag and release the turtles.

The number on the tag is given to the Ministry of Fisheries where a database of all turtles tagged in Fiji is kept.

Our Ministry of Fisheries work with SPREP ( South Pacific Environment Program) on tagging turtles. Fishermen catching tagged turtles are asked to inform the Ministry of the tag number and where the turtle was seen or caught. Today, very little is known about the movement of 'Fiji turtles' in Fiji waters.

Collecting information on the sightings of turtles will tell us how far turtles travel around Fiji and even in and around the Pacific. We know from satellite tagging and titanium flipper tagging, that turtles from Samoa, the Cook Islands and even Hawaii travel to Fiji to feed in extensive seagrass fields within inshore waters. The seagrass beds in the fishing areas along the Macuata coast in particular is a popular feeding ground for green and hawksbill turtles.

The endangered Pacific Leatherback turtle, known to nest only in the 'Coral Triangle' countries of PNG, Solomon Islands and in West Papua, was reported to nest on Vatulele, a couple of years ago. In the past 2 years, there have been sightings of this giant of a turtle in Kubulau.

These magnificent turtles are moving into Fiji may be because they have strayed from their normal route.

I would like to think they are moving to Fiji waters because the conditions here are getting more conducive to their cycle of life.

The 'Coral Triangle' is the world's epicenter of marine life abundance and diversity.

The richness of coral, fish and other species is so high that the region is sometimes referred to as the "Amazon of the Seas".

This triangular shaped region covers all or part of the seas of six countries: Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Solomon Islands, and Timor-Leste.

Fiji is part of 'WWFs Coral Triangle Initiative' which also includes the neighboring countries of Australia and Fiji, which contains rich coral biodiversity as well, but with somewhat lower numbers known to science.

Sally is a Marine Program manager with the WWF office in the United Kingdom and Leone is a diver. With both their lives rotating around the ocean they believe in protecting the marine life.

Kesaia Tabunakawai, WWF Fiji country manager was a guest at the wedding.

Vinaka Makelesi

A Fijian girl has done very well at the Australian Athletics Championship meet in Brisbane and won a goldmedal in the 200. Vinaka Makelesi. We saw it on SBS TV yesterday.

Sprint queen creates history
Monday, March 03, 2008

MAKELESI Bulikiobo Batimala became the first Fiji athlete to win an Australian Athletics Championship title after clinching the 200 metres in Brisbane at the weekend. The South Pacific Games champion clocked 23.76 seconds against a head wind of -0.4 to edge out Monique Williams of New Zealand (23.79s) and Olivia Tauro of Australia (23.86s).

Earlier in the week, the former Natabua High School student came second in the 400m in 52.76 seconds. She was beaten by Victoria's Tamsyn Lewis who won the race in a time of 51.44s.

FASANOC vice president Atma Maharaj said the achievement was a milestone in the history of Fiji athletics. "This is the first time ever a Fijian athlete has won an Australian championship dating back to 1950 when the original Flying Fijian Josefa Levula came second to Hector Hogan," Maharaj said. "We have had several athletes like Jone Delai, Sireli Naikelekelevesi, Rachael Rogers and many more get placing at Australian championships but this is the first time we have won an event."

The win ends Batimala's phase one preparations for the 2008 Beijing Olympics on a high and adds to her numerous wins in Queensland where she is based.

Athletics Fiji secretary Albert Miller said Batimala had shown a lot of improvement over the past few months.

"To be Australian champion is a great achievement and not most South Pacific athletes have achieved that goal," Miller said.

"Makelesi is the second athlete from the South Pacific behind Ana Pohila who won the women's shot put at the championship last year.

"Things are looking positive for her and hopefully she improves as she heads into the Olympics."

Batimala will now travel to Europe where she competes in the World Indoor Athletics Championship in Spain next week. Maharaj said the Suva Grammar School teacher will be the second Fijian athlete to compete at a World Indoor Athletics Championship since Saimoni Tamani in 1970-1971.

Miller said Batimala had laid a good foundation heading into the Palau Veldromo Luis Puig."This will be her first indoor competition and a new experience for her. Hopefully she does well."

Batimala will return to Fiji on March 13 for a two week break before returning to Australia on March 30 to begin phase two of her preparations. In July, she will head to Europe to compete before going to the Beijing Olympic which will be held from August 8 to 24.