Sunday, May 31, 2009

A Samoan pastor

from Peceli,
Though the relationship between Tonga and Samoa and Fiji is close, there is very little news in the Fiji papers about them. However here is one story about a Samoan church leader who died recently. Over the years we have had some very special friendships with Samoan and Tongan people, including here in Australia where we now live. During a lifetime there is little praise, but at funerals, the story is told in a nice way.

Tribute to the life of Rev. Siatua Leulua’ialii
Written by Misa Telefoni Retzlaff*
Sunday, 24 May 2009 14:37

Rev. Siatua Leulua’ialii clearly meets the standards required for this honour. He has been a prolific scholar in the area of theology for the last two decades, both as a theological educator and an administrator of the Samoa Methodist Church (SMC).

Indeed, he has been a theological educator since he received his Bachelor of Divinity on Old Testament studies from the Pacific Theological College (Suva) in 1968.

He has written on a wide variety of theological issues including his thesis research on “The Covenant Purpose and its Meaning.” He has also written multiple episodes on contemporary contextual theology especially on church discipline and conduct, with reference to the biblical context.

Rev. Leulua’ialii has established a national reputation for his contribution to the growth of Samoa’s nationwide ecumenical affiliations. He has served in several government committees and civil organisations, in his capacity as President of the SMC and one of the founding members of the Samoan Council of Churches. He has been outspoken on the executive role of that ecumenical body for many years.
Rev. Leulua’ialii has served Samoa in many prestigious positions for many years and he was awarded the Head of State Medal of Tiafau for these services to this country in 1994.

In the international arena, he has represented SMC in the Pacific Co

uncil of Churches (PCC), Methodist Consultation Council in the Pacific (MCCP), World Methodism (WM) as well as the World Council of Churches (WCC) for more than two decades.

Rev. Leulua’ialii was a successful educator and administrator during the fifteen years (1969 – 1984) he served as a lecturer and subsequently principal of Piula Theological College.

He continued his management expertise with agricultural production managing the Methodist Land Development until he was elected as General Secretary for the SMC Conference in 1985. He took over in the helm of the SMC Conference as President in 1989. In 1996, he was elected superintendent for the Salafai Sasa’e Synod and in 2000, he was elected superintendent for the New Zealand South Synod.

In the superintendent capacity, Rev. Leulua’ialii received various invitations to deliver public speeches not only in religious gatherings but also in highly academic communities and universities in New Zealand.

For his role in educational circles and the ecumenical arena, he gained public recognition in Wellington for his effective influence on many Samoan residents, especially with youth. Rev. Leulua’ialii earned membership in several community committees of social welfare in New Zealand.
In 2002, Rev. Leulua’ialii was re-elected to the president’s office. In his tenure as president, he has been invited into the public realm for public lectures and speeches.

Your Highness the Head of State, Your Highness Malietoa Tanumafili II, I have no hesitation in presenting to you Rev. Siatua Leuluaialii, for you to bestow upon him the degree of Doctor of Divinity (Honorary).

*The tribute to Rev. Siatua Leulua’iali’i is taken from Misa Telefoni’s book “To Thine Own Self be True.”

Taking a break from words in blogging

from w.
Time to take a break from using words. Maybe just post innocuous pictures.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Reflections on the legacy of Ratu Sukuna

From Peceli

It is with pleasure to read some of Ratu Sukuna s historical notes as a part of our meditation this morning. Firstly think about yourself and the work you do today and compare this with the stories told about this great man. He is regarded as a father of our nation Fiji, even though he and his wife did not have children of their own. He was a scholarly high chief who took advantage of education. He was a freedom fighter for his Fiji, aware of the cultural need to protest Fijian land. He was the founder of the Native Land Trust Board. There are many young men and women today with the potential to live a useful life in Fiji or as a migrant from Fiji now living overseas.

From 1936 speeches to the Great Council of Chiefs:

• (on the Indian presence in his country): "Let us not ignore the fact that there is another community settled here in our midst. I refer to the Indians. They have increased more rapidly than we. They have become producers on our soil. They are continuously striving to better themselves. Although they are a different race, yet we are each a unit in the British Empire. They have shouldered many burdens that have helped Fiji onward. We have derived much money from them by way of rents.

• on the perceived need for cautious political development): "We are the High Chiefs of these islands. We are the leaders of the people. On us is the duty of pointing out to them the right course. Bear this in mind. We have to lead on two points- hold back those who advocate radical changes (for which we are not sufficiently educated) and enliven the laggards before their ignorance destroys us."

Because this was from 1936 (the year I was born) it is in a historical context, from those early days. Today there are many thousands of well educated Fiji men and women.

My earliest memory of Ratu Sukuna was in Nakama village out of Labasa. They had built a special bure for his visit as in those days it was easy to access building materials, not like today because sugar cane farms took away the traditional reeds and so on. But my father knew Ratu Sukuna well and they used to share stories.

May God Bless Fiji today, especially the young people.
From Wendy
Peceli has now gone to golf (and it’s only sunrise) but we were talking earlier about leadership in Fiji and how history repeats itself.

In the olden days, sometimes the strong warrior and his band of followers removed the traditional leader by force. This was a pattern in old Fiji so perhaps it is not surprising that men from the army repeat this situation. That May 14th 1987 was a shock and a great surprise when Rabuka made his move, but in hindsight, it was one of the Fijian ways of dealing with unhappiness with leadership.

Also there is variety in chiefly headership. Some are good at networking, being pragmatic, in order to obtain grants and development for their community. Some take on a professional role, such as Ratu Sukuna’s brother Ratu Dovi who became a caring doctor. Other chiefs like Ratu Sukuna have vision and inspire by working hard to see a way of solving a problem, such as the relationship between land and the Fijian people. Other chiefs like Ratu Mara are inspirational by their intellect and view of developing a modern society as part of the international scene. So today, as we think about the legacy of Ratu Sukuna, there is much to reflect upon.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Hope after a disaster

from w
There is a season they say for everything, a rhythm of give and take, of troubles and of joys. The bushfires in Victoria several months ago were certainly tragic with many lives lost as people who chose to live in the bush could not escape this terrible fire. But now, the landscape is no longer grey ash and blackened trees but there is a greening as ferns emerge, grass trees, flowers spring up and there are leaves on the trunks of burnt trees. I found these lovely photos in the Royalauto magazine that came yesterday - Lee Mylne wrote an article 'Back in business' urging people to go back to the fire-devastated areas, see the new growth and support the little shops and restaurants. Royalauto is an excellent magazine, though I always skip over the car pages. The photos I 'borrowed' are from Parks Victoria.

Ever since the Ash Wednesday fires in the Geelong region many years ago, I have thought of the recovery after bushfire with the greening and new leaves as a symbol of hope and also of the resurrection. I'll put this post on both our blogs as we have different readership. Okay?

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The church in action

from w
The Fiji Sun certainly has some strange stories but here is one sensible one. This is the church in action - sending eye doctors to Fiji to alleviate the distress of eye disease and cataracts.
60 receive eye treatment

More than 60 people have been treated at the Lautoka Hospital for eye problems by a visiting team of eye specialists from Australia.
The team’s annual visit is sponsored by the Uniting Church whose project director is Dr Christopher David.

Dr Chris is part of the team which consists of five doctors and six theatre nurses. “We have about two and a half more days to go and we hope to have treated about 90 patients during this visit,” he said.

Dr Chris said the most common eye problem they discovered in most of the patients they had treated was the growth of cataracts.

“Cataracts are caused by heat and could also be genetic. Five children between the ages of six and 16 were treated for cataracts and the rest were adults between forty and fifty years of age,” he said.

The team first visited Fiji in 2006 and based their treatment at the Ba Mission Hospital but since 2007, they have based their treatments at the Lautoka Hospital.

Dr Chris said they coordinated with the Ministry of Health every year.

“After our visit each year, the ministry officials visit other centres from Sigatoka to Rakiraki and identify people who come to the clinics that require treatment or surgery for their eyes. A couple of months before we make our visit, the list of names is given to us,” he said.
Compare this with the page one story of the 50 member church in Tamavua where one lady called 'King David' rants against the churches that talk about 'soli' as if.... Her name is Marama Vada but she calls herself King David. Here is part of the article - and keep in mind, this is what the Fiji Sun editors chose to put on the front page!
"I want them to know that churches are not for money-making businesses - people go there to hear the word of God and receive blessings and healing from the Most High."

King David said she believed in purifying her life "every second of the day and every second of the night to glorify God".

"He is pure and clean and if all pastors and believers consider it their divine duty to believe in His healing power, they can pay their hands on the sick and afflicted and everyone shall be healed."

She added it was time all church leaders purify themselves and focus on the power of God.

The One World Healing Church has about 50 members who carry out pastoral duties daily and lay hands on the sick and troubled. They have only one meal a day and place restrictions on outside influences like watching television, reading the newspapers and listening to the radio because "they mess up our lives".

"We believe in the holiness of God and we believe in being pure in the presence of our Holy God," she added.
So do you pray a lot, or do you get going and heal the sick with modern medicine? Or a bit of both? It disturbs me that some of the fringe church people in Fiji carry on a lot without using common sense. This isn't that much different from leading people to rivers with 'healing power' and magic. I like the bit though about not watching TV or listening to the radio as 'they mess up our lives'. How ironic!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Ratu Sukuna remembered

photo from flickr
from w
When tidying up a cupboard full of old books and magazines I came acorss a bundle of Pacific Island Monthly magazines. In one of them from December 1987 I saw this article about Ratu Sir Sukuna. It is obviously dated, as the opening reference is of course to Sitiveni Rabuka. There's a statue of Ratu Sukuna in front of the Suva Law Courts that I noticed when I went to the Hibiscus Festival stalls to buy some lunch one time. What would Ratu Sukuna say today I wonder?

By Stuart Inder in an article entitled 'Leaders and their Legacies'.

Born in 1988 and dead in 1958, Ratu Sukuna's ideals made it possible in 1987 for another Fijian soldier, with less patience and wisdom but certainly no lack of courage, toa try to restore a Fijian ascendancy that he thought was endangered. Ratu Sukuna did more than any other man to safeguard Fijian rights. Without him Fijians would long ago have been overwhelmed by Indians and Europeans, and perhaps, by the rest of the world.

Ratu Sukuna understood his fellow man from early in his career as a Fijian civil servant. He took leave of absence to join the British Army in World War 1, but was unwanted, so he crossed the Channel and joined the French Foreign Legion. In tough campaigns against the Germans he was wounded and won awards for bravery under fire. Before the war ended he was back in France with a Fijian detachment.

During his long rise in the Fiji civil service, becoming Secretary of Fijian Affairs, he was the man to whom the Fijians looked for leadership and guidance. He became the foremost Fijian this century. His greatest achievement was to plant and nourish the seed of the Fiji Native Land Trust Board. Through the Native land Trust Ordinance and the Fijian Affairs Ordinance of 1948, which regularised control of village, district and provincial administration and the law and other aspects of Fijian life, he achieved a unifying effect throughout Fiji. He brought culture and law under a common umbrella. The Native Land Trust Ordinance had the effect of reserving adequate land for the Fijian owners while making other land available for cultivation by tenants, particularly Indians.

Ratu Sukuna made it possible for the Fijians to recover the autonomy they had enjoyed through the Fijian administration after Cession in 1874, and he helped them resist urbanisation and develop their land. But throughout his life and his work for the Fijians, he preached that Fiji was a three-legged stool-dependent for its stability on harmony and tolerance among Fijians, Indians and Europeans. Because of Ratu Sukuna's legacy, tolerance should in time be restored again.

I found this interesting picture after a google search. It's good that the men in the photo are named - maybe your great-grandfather is there! A photo from 1918. In the wikipedia article under the photo is written: Ratu Sukuna Tui Nayau and other chieftains of Lau in Vanuabalavu, 1918 after service in France and before he left again for England. Click on the picture to see larger and to be able to read the writing.

Anglicans and Methodists

From the Fiji Sun today - there's an interesting piece about the Methodist and Anglican people in Vanua Levu. Peceli will write something about this after he gets back from golf! I think it's something to do with John Wesley Day - when 'his heart was strangely warmed' May 24th. John Wesley was an Anglican of course but his innovative ideas to use local preachers extensively and go out into the countryside eventually led to a breakaway church. This of course has nothing to do with Vanua Levu - it was in England hundreds of years ago! There are a few posts about Anglicans in Vanua Levu in our Babasiga blog which can be found easily by typing in 'Anglicans Labasa' when you open this blogsite.

5/26/2009 Fiji Sun

The Anglican Church in Vanua Levu has taken a huge step in reconciling with the Methodist Church. Last Sunday, the Anglican parishes throughout Vanua Levu and the Taveuni Episcopal Unit for the first time allowed pastors and lay preachers from the Methodist Church to preach on their pulpits.

At a church service in Savusavu, members of the two denominations were touched by the service.

St Leonard’s Anglican Church vicar, Father Orisi Vuki said they held the service in support of the Anglican- Methodist Covenant that was signed on May 24 in Auckland, New Zealand.

Fr Vuki said they support the Anglicans and Methodists in NZ who have taken a significant step in the healing of that 250 odd year breach between the two churches.

This is traced back to the history of how the two churches separated following the movement of John Wesley and his brother Charles.

Deaconess Nunia Rabaleinare from the Savusavu Methodist Division said they were overwhelmed at the step taken by the Anglican Church to mend a broken relationship. She said the process of uniting the two Christian denominations were all according to God’s plans. She hopes the two churches become committed to this relationship where they reaffirm their faith and covenant. “The two churches have a lot in common will now reaffirmed the statement, united we stand, divided we fall.”

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Reading between the lines

from w
A song from Fiddler on the Roof is buzzing in my head since I did some sketches a couple of days ago of rooftops and chimneys near where we live. It's a crazy kind of song and here is the chorus:
If I were a rich man,
Ya ha deedle deedle, bubba bubba deedle deedle dum.
All day long I'd biddy biddy bum.
If I were a wealthy man.
I wouldn't have to work hard.
Ya ha deedle deedle, bubba bubba deedle deedle dum.
If I were a biddy biddy rich,
Yidle-diddle-didle-didle man.
Then it got me thinking 'If I were an editor........' so here are a few thoughts about reading between the lines of Fiji news media and some of the blogs.

The newspapers certainly have calmed down in the last few weeks with bland stories, handouts from the powerbrokers, dreams and visions for the future without much substance, cold stories instead of hot, lots of spin in a positive light for the ministries and departments, so what is the truth 'between the lines'? The reader has to make up their own 'truth' from the downright spinning, facts, biases, prejudices, hints and lies.

Firstly the blogs. Some do provide breaking news that is not allowed into the Fiji newspapers and websites and thank you for that. Some blogs show a compassionate view. However a few posts are not insightful but are inciteful - occasionally promoting violence - which to me is just not on. Also it is really distasteful when people are attacked in such as way as to hurt families. A wife has not much to do with her husband's antics. Children are not to be blamed for parents doing this or that. There is nastiness in some posts. I love cartoons but at the present we can't make too many jokes unfortunately. One blog writer - from New Zealand I think - tries to balance the political news, but then there is a bias emerging as you read between the lines - rationalizing the decisions made. Other writers - some of the overseas journos - come out strongly, but really, they are not on the ground in Suva, where ordinary people say, nothing much is happening, or at least we don't know about it.

As for the Fiji newspapers - I like the journalist from babasiga land as she, and Serafina who used to do this, does tell all kinds of stories about what is happening in Macuata. Vina'a va'alevu Theresa. But we, on the internet, get the short version of stories and not enough pictures. Where are the pictures of the new Navuso bridge? That was an event of interest to many people. I did think it was funny when the Fiji Times had blank spaces - after the censors started overlooking the journos screens, but such humour was not appreciated. The space as silence was news in itself

One thing I have noticed though - in the spins given to the media as handouts - is the influence of China in Fiji. Should we be making a comparision between the Greek myth of the wooden horse? Gifts are not always pure-hearted. There is a catch. Reciprocity in some way is expected. A vote at the United Nations? An averted eye to fishing? An influx of foreigners into Fiji? Hmmmm.

And here's my five bob's worth on censorship. I do not like it but the power of the press means that policians want some commentaries curtailed. Robie wrote in a paper a few years ago: 'Politicians frequently speak out on how the media ought to be “responsible”, i.e. either self-censor to the benefit of the government of the day, or propagandise on its behalf. Normal independent reporting and questioning by the media is often seen by some politicians as tantamount to subversion. Thus politicians are often tempted to impose gagging or licensing laws.' So that is the situation at present. Do the censors actually read every story presented? Are they qualified to be 'editors'?

Be alert. Be alarmed. As someone in Australia once said. Don't believe everything you read in print or on the screen.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Openings and launches

from w
I don't know how many chiefs were there - but the event went ahead with the President of the Methodist Church performing a blessing on the new building which for a starter will house the Ministry of Indigenous Affairs and so on. (The term 'indigenous' is apparently a re-write of the word 'Fijian' as that now apparently refers to all and sundry who reside in Fiji.) Okay with that? The building is called a Complex and I guess that is good enough a title for now as there doesn't seem to be a Council of Chiefs meeting any more. It has been a busy week of launching - this 'complex' and a new magazine for families and the Navuso bridge. Now that's one I like, though it was cool to pole over the Waimanu River to and from the Navuso village, especially by moonlight with my grandkids and relatives.

New GCC Complex blessed
Publish date/time: 22/05/2009 [14:19]

The President of the Methodist Church of Fiji, Reverend Ame Tugawe today officially blessed and prayed for the North Wing of the new Great Council of Chiefs Complex in Nasova. The North Wing building houses the Indigenous Affairs Ministry, Native Lands and Fisheries Commission and Scholarships department.

Reverend Tugawe said on behalf of the Methodist Church of Fiji and Rotuma he thanked the Permanent Secretary of Indigenous Affairs for the invitation. Present today was the Permanent Secretary for the Ministry, Ratu Meli Bainimarama and other officials. The Ministry continues to be connected to the Government's Information Technology and Computing Services network.
Oh ho, it was only a mini opening. There's more to come. From yesterday's Fijilive reporting on the launch! and note the mistake - in this article they still use the term - Minister of Fijian Affairs. Tsk tsk!

Part of chiefs complex to open
May 21, 2009 02:59:37
Fiji’s new multi-million dollar Great Council of Chiefs complex in Suva will be blessed tomorrow morning, paving the way for its occupation. According to State media, the new premises will be consecrated by the President of the Methodist Church in Fiji and Rotuma, Reverend Ame Tugauwe.

Soon after the Ministry of Indigenous Affairs will move its office to the North Wing of the complex and to begin operation from their new location from next Monday. These include the offices of the Native Lands and Fisheries Commission, Institute of Indigenous Language and Culture, the Scholarships Unit and support services (Accounts and Registry).

The formal and traditional ceremonies normally associated with such an event will be reserved for the formal opening of the main meeting chamber and its adjoining facilities and environs, at a time to be decided by Government. Government is keeping mum on who will be chief guest for the grand opening.A member of the British Royal Family had earlier been earmarked for the role by the Laisenia Qarase administration, which was overthrown in the 2006 military takeover.

The complex will be a meeting place for Fiji’s hereditary chiefs.

Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama had announced that the new-look GCC will be composed of three chiefs from each of the 14 provinces, and would be chaired by the Minister for Fijian Affairs.
I wonder who will bless the rest of the 'complex'. Maybe Manasa? Ha ha.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

School curriculum in Fiji

from w
So what's happening to subjects such as Art, Music and Phys Ed these days. It seems there's a new curriculum afloat where subjects are going to be lumped together. My comments after the article in today's Fiji Times.

100 schools to pilot new curriculum
Thursday, May 21, 2009

Update: 12:36PM FIJI's secondary school curriculum is expected to undergo a major overhaul if the trial of the new curriculum, which aims to be broader, proves successful. The piloting of the new curriculum will be undertaken by 100 schools once teachers are trained on its delivery, said the Education Ministry in a statement.

One distinctive feature would be the merger of several similar subjects into one comprehensive field of study.

For instance, woodwork, metalwork, graphic arts and technical drawing will be merged to as the subject of Industrial Arts, just as Advanced Home Economics would be a combination of food, nutrition, clothing and textile.

The merging of subjects will reduce the number of subjects taught in schools, and consequently the number of teachers required per school.
Now my question is will the Industrial Arts be for boys AND girls and will the Advanced Home Economics be for girls AND boys? It looks likely that they are separating the subjects according to gender. Will some girls want to do metalwork as well as graphic arts, and will some boys want to cook as well as sew? It will be interesting to see what happens. I think that it's good for boys to learn to cook at least because it's a life skill, and for girls to be able to fix a light bulb too! Our boys went to a high school where they had to do cooking and that didn't hurt them, though one of our sons did drip the custard out of the window and down the wall one time.

I taught art in Fiji and screen printing was one of the most popular and successful components. There was no set curriculum in those days and not all schools had art.

There are some brilliant artworks created by Fiji artists. Check out this website for some pictures and also the website Colour me Fiji.

Age article on Talanoa exhibition

from w
I read the Age newspaper article )from a week ago) about the current Fiji exhibition at the Immigration Museum in Melbourne and it is rather lacking in details. I really don't think the out-migration from Fiji is overwhelmingly because of the various coups since 1987. Some took the opportunity to move away then but most of the Fiji people I know came to Melbourne for a host of reasons, perhaps mainly through marriage to an Australian person. Anyway this is the article and I would challenge the stats a bit. I'm not having a problem with the exhibition which was very interesting and the launch was great but there is an over-emphasis on the coup stories I think.

Exhibition unites Fiji's diaspora• Jewel Topsfield
• May 13, 2009

UNTIL the 1987 military coup in Fiji, Richmond Uniting Church was a focal point for Fijians living in Victoria. Indigenous Fijians, Fiji Indians and Rotumans would come together to celebrate Christmas, the Hindu celebration of Diwali and the Muslim fast of Ramadan.

But when 80,000 Fiji Indians fled discrimination and violence after the coup, racial tensions reverberated 4000 kilometres away in Victoria.

"After 1987, there was a slow pulling away from some communities, and it ended up with Richmond becoming only a church for (indigenous) Fijians - we lost all the others," Reverend Eseta Waqabaca-Meneilly said. "Because of the political upheaval in Fiji, fragmentation applied in Victoria and has been there for at least 20 years."

Ms Waqabaca-Meneilly said it was Talanoa, the Fijian word for storytelling and the name of a new exhibition at the Immigration Museum, that has finally brought the disparate ethnicities back together. The exhibition explores the lives of the 10,000 Fijian people in Victoria, most of whom migrated following the civil unrest that followed the coups of 1987, 2000 and 2006. The community includes Hindus, Christians and Muslims and shares its traditions through dance, art, and, of course, rugby, virtually a religion in itself. Ms Waqabaca-Meneilly said working together on the exhibition had inspired future collaborations. "That's why we are so much on a high - it has reminded us of pre-1987 days and how much we used to do together."

Ironically, Talanoa has opened at the Immigration Museum as Fiji's military strongman Frank Bainimarama, the self-appointed prime minister following the 2006 coup, has tightened his grip on power, sacking the judiciary and cracking down on the media.

Ms Waqabaca-Meneilly believes the exhibition has come at an opportune time, as new waves of Fijians are likely to come to Victoria. "I think we know more than we knew before. We can receive them and keep them together as a Fijian community … and continue the trust and way of life we had in Fiji."

Hindu Foundation executive director Pandit Abhay Awasthi says Talanoa explores the paradox of why 10,000 Fijians left a Pacific island nation which evokes a paradise in the minds of many Australians.

Talanoa: Stories of the Fiji Community will show at the Immigration Museum until July 19.

Monday, May 18, 2009

'Hello this is Bob from Brisbane!'

from w
The call centre employees in Australia are paid about $15 an hour and I have heard the girls and boys in Fiji are paid $2 an hour so obviously that's why they are moving business across the sea. Usually it is India that raises our ire at evening meal time with their 'Hello, this is Bob from Brisbane' and I answer 'Kaise hai bhaiya' etc. These kind of calls are very very annoying to receive.
From a Fiji paper today:
ATH to set up major call centre
Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Update: 5:34PM CALL centres of Amalgamated Telecom Holdings companies will be consolidated to form a $2.5million entity that will employ 400 people when it is fully operational. Chief executive Tomasi vakatora said the investment, which will be located in Suva, was a strategic move to expand the group's business in ICT and related areas in Business Processing Outsourcing by using subsidiary companies' telecommunications and broadband network. The ATH group includes Vodafone, FINTEL, Connect and TelecomFiji.

etc. etc. etc. yadayadayada.

Dreams and visions

from w
What happened to the dream and vision of cassava for bio-fuel, or jatropha or one of a dozen plants that can produce the wonder-alternative to petrol and coal? Now here is another one - proposed for Vanua Levu. Their website doesn't tell much though, only dreams and visions I think. No hard data. No experiements cited. Half the stories in the Fiji media is nostalgia, the other half dreams and visions of far-away! This is a new species of plants to me but I think it has other names such as Pongi.

Bio Fuel industry in Vanua Levu
Monday, May 18, 2009

A foreign Company intends to set up a bio fuel Industry in Vanulevu - that can save this country $1.2 billion dollars in fuel prices.

Chief Executive Officer of Bio Fuel International Jim Gibbons says – they intend to invest in this project - the most dynamic introduced in the South Pacific since the Southern Cross - $174m of direct investment over the first three years.

Gibbons says - it only needs to work with landowners who will give their land to plant the raw material for the bio fuel – a plant called Pongamis the fruit of which is required for making bio fuel.

Gibbons says - all that the company requires from the land owners is their land which they will still own - to plant the Pongamis.

“I propose this council that my company pays with its own foreign invested dollars all the costs to plant the trees on your lands. I propose my company educate and train your people to oversea this crop on their land and I propose that we become life partners in the harvesting of this seed for the refinery that will stop the flow of $1.2 billion of annual dollars out of this country and invest it instead on Fiji farmers, Fiji Land, Fiji people and the country of Fiji.”

Fiji Broadcasting Corporation LTD

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Fiji Times running soft stories

A picture of longevity ... 109-year-old Stella Tinaibolaimacuata outside her home at Viriqilai Village, Macuata.

from w
Even though the Fiji newspapers are now running soft stories, some of them are interesting. (The journalist got into trouble with the military censors last week for running a story about violence in Labasa so I guess now Theresa is being cautious.) One article today is about an elderly lady with a heart that does not wear out. She lives in Macuata in the Sasa district west of Labasa (in the hills near Seaqaqa). A few days ago there was another story about a woman in Macuata who was 105. Is there a competition going on? I asked Peceli why some women from the Seaqaqa area live so long and he said - they don't have stress, they have a loving family, they eat very basic meals of fresh vegetables and fish and keep away from city lights. Okay, fair enough.

Here is the story by Theresa:
Monday, May 18, 2009

AT 109, Stella Lewaca Tinaibolaimacuata has a great sense of humour, a lively attitude towards life and is an inspiration to the young and old in her village. Mrs Tinaibolaimacuata of Viriqilai Village in Sasa district, Macuata, was not surprised when the Fiji Times visited her secluded village outside Labasa on Saturday.

Her crinkly eyes lit up when the team arrived and she sat up from where she lay singing a lullaby to her great, great granddaughter.

She then walked outside with the aid of a walking stick, picked some bele for the evening meal and laughed at the repeated clicks of the camera. "Sa se'a tina a heku i aba (plenty pictures of me)," she said.

The centenarian remembers she was born the same year the Nabala Catholic School in Macuata was established. The school held its centennial celebrations in 2001, which also marked her 100th birthday.

She may be the oldest person in Fiji and one of the oldest in the Pacific region, but that carries little weight for the cheerful grandmother, who still goes out fishing for malea (tilapia) from the river that runs by the village. She said she still wants to contribute to the family's daily meals and help with the chores.

On any given day, according to the villagers, Mrs Tinaibolaimacuata can be seen with a knife in hand weeding around the compound or washing at the river. Every now and then she cooks a meal and babysits her great grandchildren's kids. She finds it very hard to just lie down and wait for the hours to go by. Aside from a slight hearing impediment, she still reads without the aid of glasses and has an unfaltering memory.

This is evident by the ease with which she remembers the names of great grandchildren, relatives and friends. Mrs Tinaibolaimacuata, the fourth eldest in a family of 10 siblings, has survived two husbands, bore seven children, two of whom have died, and has about 100 grandchildren, great grandchildren and great, great grandchildren in all.

She stated her secret to longevity is simply putting God first in everything she does. That and a heavy reliance on local fresh food like bele and less of the processed variety, drinking lots of water, laughing often, forgiving others, having a good heart, brushing aside anger and praying often. She said she tries to emulate her favourite person Mother Mary who stood by the cross and watched her son die.

Her grandson Lino Seru, 65, said his grandmother, a Catholic, can be heard reciting the rosary from when the cock crows until sunrise. And many times late at night a rustling sound in the dark and the smell of tobacco lets everyone know their favourite granny is enjoying one of her suki (Fijian tobacco) sessions. "She just loves her suki and this is a habit she has not been able to leave since she was a young woman," Mr Seru said. "When we go to town she'll remind us to buy some suki and because we know this is something she loves, we always do."

At one of these sessions, suki in hand, she regaled everyone with a funny memory from the past when she was out to catch prawns and slipped down a slope. At her age, Mrs Tinaibolaimacuata said she has a lot to be thankful for, for being allowed to live a long life to see many of her generations grow up, for not suffering from any sickness and being allowed more time to prepare for the afterlife.

I also notice that the Fiji Daily Post are running soft stories, including some nostalgia. (A brief article about the recent arrest of Lasaru and the caution to the Methodist Church looked like a handout.) Three interesting posts in the Fiji Daily Post are about Nausori town in the old days when there was a CSR mill there and barracks. Frank Shaw wrote the articles. They can be found by doing a google search for 'Nausori mon amour'.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Nadi people know how to party

from w
Last night we went to a 60th birthday party for Andrew Muscat in Melbourne, organised by the Nadi Fiji people, relatives of Andrew's beloved wife, Lo, who died about two years ago. Andrew is an amazing man, humble and kind and a kind of grandpa to Pau and Sefa. The respect the Fijians in Melbourne have for Andrew is truly great and the party was splendid so here are a few photos. Andrew and Lo were there right in the beginning when the former Fijian Methodists got together to start a congregation in Melbourne. There was an empty seat next to Andrew during the dinner in memory of Lo, but then the party got going with dancing to Inoki's and another guy singing Fijian and Hindi songs.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Lotu, vanua, matanitu

from w
I have been thinking of the three-pillar view of the integrated lotu(Christian church), vanua (Fijian culture) and matanitu (government) which seems to put a traditionally accepted view at odds with a different view of society. The author wrote an article in a Fiji Times newspaper some time ago that provides some background on the topic.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The Charter will dismantle the Wesleyan missionary inspired Trinitarian "Matanitu, Lotu, Vanua" design of the indigenous Fijian polity. This model of governance is attributed to the smooth transition of the socio-political landscape from warfare and cannibalism to peaceful co-existence within the unitary state of Fiji.

The 1880's saw the first steps in the re-imagined social restructure with the forced resettlement of communities from ancient sites to the present day legally confined space called a 'village'. This enabled a paradigm shift to the introduced communal lifestyle with the culture of the ancient community condemned to the prohibited 'daku ni kuila'.

That is, Fijians are not allowed to revisit or attempt to resurrect the traditions and culture of the pre-colonial era. Then began a mass indoctrination program of Wesleyan Christian catechism and education to create the Trinitarian 'Matanitu, Lotu, Vanua' design of the re-imagined Fijian polity. Each village was modeled into a miniaturised "Kingdom of God" with a dual segregation of occupants into Christians (lotu) and non-Christians (tawalotu). The lotu were villagers who had readily accepted Wesleyan Methodism and their families were deemed inside the 'Kingdom of God'.

They received specialised education in institutions like the Navuloa Methodist College and armed with reading and writing skills, carpentry and plumbing were absorbed into the Church and colonial administration. Also these families became the new middleclass and first locals to reside in urban centers. On the other hand, the tawa lotu denied of education became the "forced labour" crews of the crop tax economy, to be paid by villagers to the colonial government. Being tawa lotu the fiery wrath of God was on them for all eternity. And to substantiate the inferior status, their ancestors (vu) were vilified as re-imagined biblical villains. The ancestral cogent vu, Rokobatidua is an example of this castigation process and all progenitors have endured untold misery from this missionary curse.

All due to their ancestors' refusal to convert to Wesleyan Methodist Christianity. After the two segregated major divisions, each depending on the number of sub units called tokatoka was further compartmentalised into mataqali, a grouping of tokatoka. The mataqali became the state sanctioned landowning entity with the head or turaga ni mataqali appointed with the colonial backed title of Ratu. And due to their special status, the Ratu was the link to the state apparatus with membership in various committees and quasi-councils that led to the Great Council of Chiefs. The role of Ratu elevated to divine status by the missionary translated Bible verse, Na Turaga sa mai vua na Kalou ("the powers that be are ordained of God"). All these Navuloa missionary imaginations were codified and conveniently made legal through state sanctioned instruments like the Tukutuku Raraba and Vola ni Kawa Bula. There is no doubt that collusion between the colonial officials and Wesleyan missionaries of Navuloa resulted in the pacifying and restructure of the vanua. This Trinitarian model is the cornerstone of the communal lifestyle with families interconnected by an intricate system of traditional ties and obligations. Turbulently, the rebellious elements against this Leviathanian monolith like Navosavakadua and Apolosi Ranawai were categorised as demonic cultists suffering banishment and incarceration for their treasonous actions. Eventually, the 1948 UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights and International Labour Organisation Conventions caught up with the inhumanity perpetrated by the Wesleyan backed colonials in 1965 and resulted in the end of 'forced labour' work groups and eventual freedom of movement and association of Fijians in all the colony.

The original trinitarian design still exists today, but has undergone changes in the Ratu Sukuna mode of "slow evolution from within". All Fijian political parties from the Alliance, SVT to the SDL have taken advantage of the model to control government through the vanua and Wesleyan Methodist Church. Today, a direct threat to the continued existence of the trinitarian model is the Charter 'Pillar':

Enhance a separation between religion and state.

The 'Pillar' is one of the 13 principles to end the coup culture. This statement is contextually relevant only to western models of a dualistic society whose citizens have been socialized into the habits of individualism and the economic benefits of private property.

Meanwhile, rural Fijians operate in the opposite spectrum of a communal family oriented traditional lifestyle. Herein is the beginning of a crisis of insurmountable proportions as the two contrasting ideologies collide. Furthermore, as Christianity without the Trinity is not mainline Christianity, any attempt to "separate" any part of the model will result in the collapse of the whole structure. And that is exactly what the Charter proposes to do by separating lotu (religion) and matanitu (state). Since the trinitarian model operates in the communal values of veiwekani (strong family ties), veirokorokovi (honour) and veirogorogoci (listening), any separation will eventuate in the vanua spiral into anomic decadence. The lotu or Wesleyan Methodism is important to the vanua for moral guidance and her absentia opens the door to witchcraft and the occult as alternative sources of spiritual guidance.

In fact, the idea of daku ni kuila is a protective mechanism for the vanua to be shielded from the debauchery and wickedness associated with the dark arts of the past cannibalistic religion. And the Wesleyan Methodist missionaries envisioned that the only avenue to protect the Fijian from that inhumane lifestyle was for nurturing within the trinitarian model to ensure proper guidance for the body, soul and spirit. Moreover, the state sanctioned role of Ratu or head of the mataqali was by convention expected to seat at the apex of all Fijian institutions be it Matanitu, Lotu or Vanua.

Hence, for Fijian based political parties like the Alliance, SVT and SDL, it is traditional protocol for a Ratu to be at the helm. Whilst the Charter proponents may have specifically targeted the stronghold of religious fundamentalists and ethno-nationalists in the SDL/Methodist camp in the Charter 'Pillar' statement, other side effects may have not been foreseen.

What might happen next is exemplified in the effects of New Church Groups (NCG) in Fijian villages. Most villages ban American based charismatic and Pentecostal churches for their non-observance of traditional protocols. These NCG teach an American brand of Christianity incorporating ideas of separation of church and state; separation of church and community; belief in private property and preach a purely American "Prosperity Gospel" which is irrelevant in Fiji due to the underdeveloped nature of the share market economy. That is, Americans can readily access the stock exchange market from their homes for capital gains, a system not accessible to ordinary Fijians. In fact, the number of pyramid schemes that NCG members have succumbed to over the years is a testimony to the irreverent preaching of the "Prosperity Gospel". As evidenced in Fijian villages, these church followers create a 'private property' mentality for their homes and distance themselves from the traditional communal living.

These are the hallmarks of a foreign ideology being implanted into native soil. In fact, these NCG will inadvertently become pro-Charter apologists due to their similarity in ideology.

If that scenario is used, once the Charter is implemented the vanua is dislodged from the trinitarian model and villagers are no longer bound to the communal lifestyle. Like the NCG they may opt to reside on customary land, albeit private property, away from the village for security purposes.

The situation deteriorated due to the severance from the Methodist Church, as villagers are free to experience the occult or anarchy as alternative sources of morality. With the demise of the village social setting and communal lifestyle, the "de-reserving" of all native land will be hastened to enable individual families access to financial assistance via mortgages.

Alarmingly, traditional symbols like the lali and tanoa will lose their role to engage the communal spirit as the village polity has succumbed to self-ishness of individualism. Alas, Fijians are now at the mercy of the 'root of all evil'. And once all indigenous Fijians reside on private property, a culture becomes extinct.

Mesmerisingly, this is not new as the colonial government embarked on a similar path in the 1880s with the resettlement of Fijians from ancient sites to present day villages. Aided by the Wesleyan Methodist Christians that ancient culture was mortified with the term daku ni kuila. Today, the scenario is the same with different actors taking the lead role. The interim Government has replaced the colonial government and the Catholic Church has replaced Wesleyan Methodism. And the religious fundamentalist, ethno-nationalist and past colonial government policies have replaced daku ni kuila as the culture of mortification. The fourth estate is the replica Navosavakadua and Apolosi Ranawai neo-tribal cultists destined to enjoy the comforts of Nukulau.

As such, any state sanctioned enforced transition from communalism to individualism will undoubtedly continue the "cycle of dehumanization" of the Fijian personhood.

The only question left is, will this Charter 'Pillar' achieve its goal of ending the coup culture. Coups are like a flu endemic, it only disappears when the host dies.

Therefore, the only solution to the coup culture is either the dismantling of the 'host' state of Fiji or the military. Then what of the Fijian people? Their culture and traditions are about to undergo a metamorphosis; their last sojourn was the state sanctioned christo-centric trinitarian model of communalism.

Their future is a spectrum of antiquarian alternatives, definitively an imposed decentralized anti-Christian, pluralist model of society with polytheism the state encouraged religion of choice. In conclusion, since ending the coup culture is obviously an illusion, the Charter is simply yet again another depraved narcissistic attempt at neo-colonial imagination for cultural ethnocide.

a new Labasa website

from w
The Labasa Soccer - called Babasiga, like our website, has now got their own website so check it out if you are interested.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Roasting plump chickens with artichokes

from w
Okay, the Jerusalem artichokes are not artichokes at all nor do they come from Jerusalem. They are closely related to sunflower and they are gorgeous to eat. I bought plenty today at the trading table of the UCAF Morning Coffee with a guest speaker from Mission Aviation Fellowship. My Mum used to grow these little artichokes next to our tennis court and if I remember rightly she baked them, so I hope they will cook okay with the two plump chickens!

from a google search:
Jerusalem artichokes originated in North America and the part we eat is an edible tuber. They can be eaten raw or cooked, and many people believe strongly in their health benefits. Vegetarians should note that Jerusalem artichokes contain large quantities of iron. Jerusalem artichokes are sometimes recommended for diabetics too, as they contain inulin, a starch that is not utilised by the body for energy, as opposed to sugar. The vegetable is therefore filling like a potato, but should not affect blood sugar levels. (Nb: Despite the similarity of its name to insulin, inulin has no connection with that hormone either chemically or through physiological activity)

Fresh vegetables appear plump and healthy. Avoid Jerusalem artichokes that have a greenish tinge, those that are sprouting, or ones that are shrivelled or mouldy. They're at their best from autumn through winter.

One final word on Jerusalem artichokes, a delicate matter regarding health which is perhaps best summed up by the 17th Century Botanist John Goodyer:
"But in my judgement, which way soever they be drest and eaten they stir up and cause a filthie loathesome stinking winde with the bodie, thereby causing the belly to bee much pained and tormented, and are a meat more fit for swine, than men."
Okay I'll watch out for the after effects tonight!

Monday, May 11, 2009

The bridge at Vatuadova

from Talei
It's me Talei about the bridge in Vatudova. Yes its not completed yet coz the government had some economic problems so there was less money to pay the PWD workers. Uncle Boso, Waisake, Etika, Eroni are working there too. Today their work started. We're enjoying our holiday and it's not raining. Everyone in Vatudova are well and healthy.

We went to Naduri for the Bose Vakayabaki and its was the first time for the Tuatua church for the singing competition. We left Tuatua at 6.00pm and somewhere near Tabia the bus caught fire. Lucky the driver stopped the bus and no one was injured then they tried to put the fire out. Then we have to wait for a long time for another bus to come. We reached Naduri at 10.00pm.The koro was so big and was overcrowded and the water was so dirty and brown that was unsafe to drink. The Soqo ni marama came 2nd and the Turaga came 3rd. We came back at 4.00am in the morning. The Bose Vakayabaki will be held in Namuka next year. So that's about Labasa.
from w
Vina'a va'alevu Talei. A good story.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Roy Whitton remembered

from w
I read this in Saturday's Age, written by Rhonda Whitton, a travel writer and teacher of professional writing. I am sure you have all heard of Rosie's tours in Fiji - well that was founded by Roy and his wife Rosie many years ago.
Pioneer played key role in 'bula bula' islands
Date: May 09 2009
9-3-1918 — 1-3-2009

ROY Whitton, a visionary expatriate who played a leading role in the development of tourism in Fiji and community health, has died at his home at Vuda, on the main island of Viti Levu. He was almost 91. Roy, who moved to Fiji from Australia in 1965, was honoured by the governments of both countries for his efforts in community health and international relations, particularly as chairman of the Fiji orthopedic training program now known as the Orthopaedic Outreach Fund.

Such was the esteem in which he was held that his funeral service was attended by the paramount chief of the Burebasaga Confederacy, Na Marama Roko Tui Dreketi, Ro Temumu Kepa, as well as the country's former vice-president, Ratu Jone Madraiwiwi.

The Australian government awarded Roy the Order of Australia in 1996 for his work at Lautoka Hospital.

Roy was born at Williamstown in Melbourne, one of six children. He left school early to help on the family farm near Geelong, but it was soon apparent that he was ambitious and had other plans for his life. He joined the Royal Australian Navy in 1939 and served throughout World War II.

After the war he joined Qantas in Sydney as a traffic officer for flying boats; later he was traffic manager at Sydney airport and was involved with the introduction of the airline's worldwide central reservations system. In 1965 he was part of the Qantas team that took delivery of the airline's first Boeing 707 aircraft.

Roy's Qantas career culminated that year with his appointment as airport manager, Fiji. Soon after relocating to Nadi, Roy met and married Rose (Leikin Gock).

With Rose already working in the tourism industry, he saw the untapped potential for Fiji, and the dynamic husband-and-wife team set about offering tourists complete packages of accommodation, facilities, activities and entertainment.

Their vision for Fiji changed the face of that country's tourism industry.

The Whittons introduced many firsts for Fiji: in 1967, they opened Fiji's first restaurant/nightclub; three years later, he joined a partnership that developed the first international hotel. He also established the first drive-through bottle shop and free hotel shuttle bus from the airport.

Sightseeing tours, organised activities, road tours and rental cars all fuelled Whitton's booming tourism empire. However, his biggest venture was supporting the company's expansion into resort ownership and development. Roy was fond of saying, "Not bad for a lad who left school at 13".

Roy died just eight days short of his 91st birthday. Coincidentally, his 92-year-old sister, Hazel Priestley, died 20 hours after her brother and they were buried on the same day — one in Fiji, one in Melbourne.

Whitton's funeral service was traditionally Fijian, as was his burial at the nearby Balawa Cemetery. The local church choir as well as a full gospel choir joined hundreds of mourners at the Lautoka Wesley Church and at the graveside.

From his first marriage, Roy is survived by his children Yvonne, Dianne, Rodney and Mark; he was also father to Tony and Rose.

Rhonda Whitton is Roy Whitton's niece
Hi Rhonda, I hope you don't mind me reposting this article but I thought this might be of interest to readers of this blog who live in Fiji.

Mother's Day at Altona Meadows

from Peceli
This morning I attended Altona Meadows/Laverton Uniting Church for the Mother's Day service so here are some pictures of the congregation and car park. Rev Leonie Purcival is the minister there. A Fijian congregation usually meets at 1 p.m. but today we joined the English language worship. I am a Minister-in-Association at this church in the south-west part of Melbourne.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Fiji kids in Geelong

from w
Instead of having a great lunch today - as Peceli went up to Altona Meadows and will have lunch in a Chinese restaurant in Footscray with his congregation, there's just me and Junior here, eating leftovers from a little party last night with Siteri's family - two daughters, little kids, Musu (who is from Kuku, Tailevu, and lives with us here) and his son Noa, and other guys. Curry and rice, pickled pork, cassava pie, and so on. Nice to have small children in the house. Mother's Day gets complicated of course when families are separated by work, or all kinds of other reasons, and parenting is by single men or women, or aunts or grandparents. May God bless motherless children today and also mothers who grieve over separation from their children because of mental illness, legal proceedings, and so on.

And here's a picture from the archives - our three boys when they were quite young - up a tree when we lived in Hopetoun.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Vorovoro open for another three years!

Making pawpaw jam from the Vorovoro kitchen.
from w
There is good news from the tribewanted website that the eco-tourism/workcamp project on Vorovoro Island will continue for a further three years. Yes, the way to go! This project by young people and attracting adventurous kind of young people from many countries has proved to be a valuable innovative kind of eco-tourism where there is respect for the local community, plenty of interaction and employment for our relatives, the Mali island men and women and the children paricularly of the District School. This is quite dofferent from the experience of many tourists who just have a holiday and the local people serve their needs for luxury. Okay, okay Meg and others, some resorts are excellent in tourist-local relationships!

Post from Bengazi, Vorovoro, Fiji
Posted 3 days ago
Good news tribe, island and Fiji lovers – thanks to all your hard work and support since 2006, Vorovoro is now formally open for another three years!

What have you achieved so far?

Collectively invested approaching $2,000,000 into the local economy in Northern Fiji.
Generated 20 full-time jobs and fundraising for four villages
Supported the development of the local school and communities
Built an island village!
Raised awareness about and made changes towards more sustainable living
Won posh digital media awards, recorded an album, been on the telly and in magazines
Made friends, connections and memories for life.

A report of the first three years of Tribewanted: Vorovoro will be available later in the year and there will be discussions between now and then as to future plans for the project.

You can now book your stay on Vorovoro any time between September 2009 and August 2012.

A bridge too far away

from w
Our village of Vatuadova doesn't make the news very often so I was surprised to read about the bridge being built right in front of Vatuadova village. Of course the family have been talking about it for a year and the bridge is still not finished! Vatuadova is a few k west of Labasa town and is on the main highway (if you can call it that) to Seaqaqa and even across the island to Savusavu, so I'm not sure how buses and trucks can move at present! Well, at least it is school holidays and the kids from Vatuadova and surrounding areas and even further afield don't have to catch buses to school next week! And as the cane season starts trucks will need to move along that road very soon.

Here is the small item from today's Fiji Sun. Certainly the Fiji media is running many very soft stories these days, nothing with any bite, criticism, or dissent. I presume the hard stories are censored by the watchers.

Construction works disrupt traffic


Road users on the Labasa, Savusavu and Nabouwalu highway have been advised that there will be some disruptions to traffic next week. This is because the Vatudova Bridge outside Labasa will be temporarily closed for construction works. Department of Works senior engineer George Tavo confirmed that operation would take place next week following the launching of the beams. He said this was scheduled for Monday and Tuesday but was cancelled due to shipping problems.

The new bridge which is expected to be completed in 18 weeks time will ease the traffic flow for the area. Mr Tavo said the bridge would be a two-lane one compared to the current single lane. He added there are seven beams to be launched and they hope to complete it in two days if the weather clears. “We are not going to close off the road completely but on intervals as we launch the beams with the aid of a crane from Suva.

“There will only be disruptions to the road users but we are now advising them to reschedule their trips to and out of Labasa during these two days.” Mr Tavo added the bridge which is partly constructed once completed would benefit all road users because of the two lanes.
And here's a story from the Labasa journalist of the Fiji Times that I missed - about a month ago a police vehicle ended up in a ditch outside our village as the driver fell asleep and knocked the PWD sign about the bridge-building ahead and then fell into a ditch!

Senior cop tumbles in his four-wheel
Friday, April 03, 2009

A SENIOR police officer in the Northern Division is reportedly under investigation after he allegedly fell asleep at the wheel causing his vehicle to veer off the road and tumble into a ditch outside Labasa town. Regional police commander northern Superintendent Isikeli Ligairi was returning from Savusavu late Wednesday when his Pajero registration FH 737 went off the road.

At the accident site it was clear the van hit and destroyed a PWD billboard announcing bridge works 500 metres ahead, before tumbling into a ditch.

Eyewitness Intiaz Abbas, who lives near the accident site, said the police vehicle was upside down. "I was asleep about midnight when a neighbour came and said they wanted to use my excavator to pull the van out but on the way police told me they didn't need it any more as Western Wreckers would pull it out," Mr Abbas said.

Mr Ligairi's deputy ASP Bola Tamanisau said he knew of the accident and that Mr Ligairi was not injured. "Damage to the vehicle is minimal, only dents on the body and we are investigating," Mr Tamanisau said. The vehicle has been covered with a tarpaulin at the station.

Thursday, May 07, 2009


(not my pic, but 'borrowed' from the internet and of Mt Tam)
from w
One of my favourite songs was on the early TV this morning, this time by a young singer with the violinist Andre Rieu, and the same song has been sung by countless singers such as Nina Simone Johnny Cash Gordon MacRae Frank Sinatra Judy Garland Mario Lanza Roy Hamilton Doris Day Gerry & The Pacemakers Patti LaBelle and the BlueBelles Elvis Presley The Blind Boys Of Alabama Bryn Terfel.
It's 'You'll never walk alone' and it's from Roger and Hammestein's musical Carousel which I saw as a film many years ago. It's a golden oldie but for ever new with words of encouragement and hope. My thoughts are with lots of friends and sons and daughters of friends who are having a tough time these days, particularly the courageous men and women who speak the truth.

Here are the words:

You'll Never Walk Alone

When you walk through a storm
hold your head up high
And don't be afraid of the dark.
At the end of a storm is a golden sky
And the sweet silver song of a lark.
Walk on through the wind,
Walk on through the rain,
Tho' your dreams be tossed and blown.
Walk on, walk on with hope in your heart
And you'll never walk alone,
You'll never, ever walk alone.
Walk on, walk on with hope in your heart
And you'll never walk alone,
You'll never, ever walk alone.

One version is

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Less staff for Fiji schools

from w
From 787 experienced teachers to 434 young graduate teachers. Now that means a loss of about 350 staff in the Fiji schools. Many classrooms already have large numbers of children, up to 50 in one class so really they should be adding to, not subtracting. I was saddened to hear that the principals of both Jasper Williams High School and Dudley High School had to leave last week because of this over-55 retirement decree.

Anyway; here's a thought for the people of Fiji -
Life Isn't About Waiting For The Storm To Pass~It's About Learning To Dance In The Rain.... if you can!

No re-employment for teachers: BoleThursday, May 07, 2009

Bole says they have to comply with the 10% eduction in the size of the civil service.

The Education Ministry will not re-employ those 787 teachers who have retired last month. Education Minister Filipe Bole says they have acquired the number of teachers to fill the vacant positions left by the retirees and there is no need for the re-engagement of any of them since they are reducing the number of its human resource. He says this is to comply with the 10% reduction in the size of the civil service without compromising the quality of education.

The Ministry has a total of 439 unemployed graduates who are ready to be recruited into the teaching force. These new recruits will continue the effective operation of all schools and allow for the delivery of quality education to the children of Fiji. Meanwhile all new teachers recruited for maritime schools will be transported to their respective schools by the government boat.

Fiji Broadcasting Corporation LTD

Ethics and tourism

from w
There are plenty of things to comment on regarding Fiji today, but caution is necessary because of the irrational situation in Fiji so I will stick to a safe topic - tourism. Several people ask me if it is safe to visit Fiji as a tourist these days, and I respond by telling them that tourist resorts are still pleasant places for a holiday and the workers need their jobs. However also keep in mind that there is great suffering as well. Patrick Wong and others in Fiji's tourism industry persist in being optimistic but truly, numbers are down in the resorts, partly because of travel warnings and some of the media stories in recent weeks. But I still say to those who ask me, 'Go over and see, observe, and listen. Before you go read Fiji news on the web, including some of the burgeoning blogs so that you will not be naive.'
Here is a very good paper on tourism generally which is worth a read (if the link won't open directly, here it is: ) - and I am quoting here just an excerpt from it.

[Article 5] Tourism, a beneficial activity for host countries and communities

1. Local populations should be associated with tourism activities and share equitably in the economic, social and cultural benefits they generate, and particularly in the creation of direct and indirect jobs resulting from them;

2. Tourism policies should be applied in such a way as to help to raise the standard of living of the populations of the regions visited and meet their needs; the planning and architectural approach to and operation of tourism resorts and accommodation should aim to integrate them, to the extent possible, in the local economic and social fabric; where skills are equal, priority should be given to local manpower;

3. Special attention should be paid to the specific problems of coastal areas and island territories and to vulnerable rural or mountain regions, for which tourism often represents a rare opportunity for development in the face of the decline of traditional economic activities;

4. Tourism professionals, particularly investors, governed by the regulations laid down by the public authorities, should carry out studies of the impact of their development projects on the environment and natural surroundings; they should also deliver, with the greatest transparency and objectivity, information on their future programmes and their foreseeable repercussions and foster dialogue on their contents with the populations concerned.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Two girls from Babasiga land

from w
At the weekend two Labasa girls came down to Geelong to visit us - Lucy from Melbourne and her sister Miri down from Queensland. Both are bright cheery girls and we had a good time catching up on family news. The Caniogo family are one of the nicest families we know - some in Fiji and some migrated over to Australia.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Lomaiviti friends

from Peceli
Yesterday men, women, and children who come from the Lomaiviti Islands of Gau, Koro, Nairai, Levuka and other small islands in between Vanua Levu and Viti Levu joined together with us at Altona Meadows/Laverton Uniting Church Fijian congregation. It was a good occasion to meet together to plan future worship and functions for the Fijian migrants who come from Lomaiviti so there will be a picnic coming up soon.

Friday, May 01, 2009

One little piggy went to market, one little piggy stayed home

from w
What an over-reaction there has been to the transmission of a new type of influenze, properly named as Influenza A HINI, but the nickname 'Swine Flu' has meant the total slaughter of pigs in one country, and the banning of pork etc. etc. It is NOT transmitted from eating puaka!

Okay, of course influenza has to be taken seriously and families monitor the health of their loved ones. Influenze A HINI is a bad influenza as it seems to cause pneumonia in some patients and it is right and proper to be cautious in travelling - from Mexico especially. But the news items on TV, radio, newspapers, etc. about the 'pandemic' forgets that there are other terrible diseases such as cancer, AIDS, alcohol-related deaths etc. that have deaths in the thousands. So it is good to see an article in today's Fiji media explaining it properly.

Pigs not source of H1N1 virus: Dr CokanasigaSaturday, May 02, 2009

Cokanasiga says there has been no scientific evidence to suggest that the current strain of the virus (H1N1) came from pigs.
Taken from / By: AFP
Pigs are not the source of infection of the Influenza A H1N1, formerly known as the “swine flu” that is sweeping across the globe, says Secretariat of the Pacific Community’s Animal Health Advisor Dr. Ken Cokanasiga. He says so far there has been no scientific evidence to suggest that the current strain of the virus (H1N1) came from pigs, or that it infects pigs. Dr Cokanasiga says it is important to emphasize that the current strain of Influenza A (H1N1) virus that is causing wide spread concern and infection in humans, has never been detected in pigs.

He adds there is no danger of pigs being a source of infection for this particular strain for humans and there “is also no evidence currently, to indicate that importing pork products or live pigs poses a risk in the introduction of this strain of virus.

He says the fear that people can catch infections of this influenza A (H1N1) strain by consuming pork products has no scientific basis. The Influenza A Virus (H1N1) that is causing this disease is made up of genetic materials derived from Influenza viruses found in birds, humans and pigs.

A Greenpeace video

from w
This little four minute video from Greenpeace puts things into perspective I think. Thanks Meg for posting it. Our whole world is sick and what are we doing about it?