Friday, April 30, 2010

Weather radar tower in Labasa

from w
We have followed this story with interest over several months after it was decided that a site near the airport was unsuitable because of air traffic. The new site is on one of the hills above Nukutatava so we are happy that such a useful project will be going ahead.
from today's Fiji Times
New radar
Friday, April 30, 2010
The Fiji Meteorological Service has bought new radar to be located at Vatu-damu Hill in Macuata to assist in early detection of tropical cyclones affecting Fiji from the north. Meteorology's acting dir-ector Dr Sushil Sharma confirmed the new DWSR-8500S worth $2.5 million will be installed in the district of Wailevu, which is 12 kilometres west of Labasa Town. The radar will be a 480 kilometre long range wea-ther surveillance system.

"This means it can cover a total diameter of 960km from the observation point in all directions, for example east to west or north to south from the radar position.
"It will be able to see weather systems as far nor-th as Wallis and Futuna, and even Rotuma. This ra-dar will complement the Nadi and Nausori radar and will together provide alm-ost an entire Fiji region coverage," Dr Sharma said.

The radar is expected to withstand 200km per hour gusts to 300km per hour.

"Despite winds of 300 ki-lometres per hour over it in real time, it will continue to work during severe systems. The radar will also assist in the detection of severe squall lines similar to the one that passed over Fiji on late Sunday night and early Monday morning. The radar project is expected to be completed by October 2010.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Making cumquat jam

from w
My relatives in Fiji make cumquat jam and I am going to have a go at it after two bags of the fruit were given to us yesterday by a friend of Peceli. It looks like a lot of trouble and needs a lot of sugar! Before I cut up the fruit I took a photo of some of the cumquats, lemons and a pumpkin to make some digital images - something I do for the geelong visual diary. This is the recipe I will use, though it's a very strong tasting jam that visitors mightn't like!
1kg cumquats
1¾ litres (7 cups) water
1¾ kg (7 cups) sugar
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
Slice cumquats thinly. Collect seeds, place in small bowl with 1 cup of the water, stand overnight. Combine cumquats in large bowl with remaining water, cover, stand overnight.
Next day, strain seeds, reserve liquid (this now contains pectin, which contributes to the setting of the jam); discard seeds.
Place cumquat mixture into large saucepan or boiler with reserved liquid. Bring to the boil, reduce heat, simmer, covered, for 30 minutes or until cumquats are tender.
Add sugar, stir constantly over heat, without boiling, until sugar is dissolved (mixture should not be more than 5cm deep). Bring to the boil, boil rapidly for about 15 minutes without stirring or until a teaspoon of mixture will jell when tested on a cold saucer remove pan from heat while testing.
Stir in ginger, stand 10 minutes before pouring into hot, sterilised jars seal when cold.
Makes about 7 cups.

Free health checkups in Labasa

from w
Pro-active health care is a very good thing in Fiji where many sick people suffer in silence and only go near a hospital when they are extremely ill. Checking high blood pressure, sugar levels, weight, etc. by the nurses in visits to work places is very good. One of our friends, Joy, who is a retired nurse, often goes with Fiji nurses to villages in Vanua Levu to do these kinds of check-ups. Way to go! Here is an example from Labasa as reported in the Fiji Sun.
Free clinic for workers
Labasa Mill workers made the most of the free medical services at the World Day for Occupational Health and Safety in Labasa yesterday. Three Labasa Hospital staff nurses and two nursing students from the Then India Sanmarga Ikya Sangam Institute of Technology, Sangam School of Nursing in Labasa carried out free medical checks. Ministry of Health media liaison officer, Ilisea Tora said this was part of an outreach programme. “Such free medical services is part of the ministry’s outreach programme working with corporate organisations and the community,” Mr Tora said. He said the ministry wanted to provide primary health care services to all people. “It was a very good opportunity for the employees of Fiji Sugar Corporation at Labasa to have their blood pressure, sugar level and weights checked,” he said. Mr Tora said nurses were able to provide first-hand medical advice.

Labasa Mill general manager, Karia Christopher said it was a good opportunity for his employees to have a medical check-up without having to wait in long queues. “I am grateful to the Ministry of Health for taking part in the event and reaching out with medical help for my workers,” he said.

Mr Christopher said his employees were happy with the services provided directly to them as many did not have time to visit the hospital because of work commitments. Mr Tora said the medical outreach was a success as hundreds.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Where do they get these speakers?

from w
On Fiji TV online this evening I watched briefly a lecturer who is a former politician from South Australia talking about a topic I'm sure he knows little about. He's a maverick kind of fellow they say. Hmmm. This occasion, he read his notes, his hair was indescribable and he had a kind of cap on. Not very professional. A poet could have delivered a better paper. Fijiradio wrote it up as:
Lewis questions Aussie and NZ stance on Fiji
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
A former member of the South Australian Parliament has questioned the on going sour relationship between Fiji and its Trans-Tasman neighbors.

In a public lecture today on Coups and Constructive Commitment, at the Fiji National University, Peter Lewis challenged those present to decide whether or not Fiji needed the 2006 coup. However, Lewis says it is up to the people of Fiji to decide if the coup has made things better or worse for Fiji. He says he does not understand why the relationship between Fiji and Australia and New Zealand differ when compared to other countries that are worse off.

Lewis highlighted that there is no bloodshed happening in Fiji compared to other countries and yet Australia and New Zealand has better relationships with these other countries and not Fiji. He says Fiji seems to be doing well under the leadership of someone who gained absolute power without elections, and the best way forward is to take the current Prime Minister at his word and remind him of it at regular intervals, through objective remarks.

Fiji Broadcasting Corporation

Monday, April 26, 2010

Students - theory and practicals

from w
In Saturday's Age newspaper I was intrigued by a graphic image by Judy Green - and wondered what the article was about. It was the need for a national internship in Australia, about theory with a practical component - university studies and the link with the workplace. Students are often not at all prepared for a situation of working with colleagues and the practical day to day functioning of an office or work environment. I know that when some members of our family did their hospitality or other courses in Fiji, they also did practical placements in the industry, I guess not for money but for the experience. Another family member here in Australia did practical at a wild-life sanctuary and had a great time feeding native birds and animals. When I trained to be a teacher - a long, long, time go, we had to go out into the schools one day a week in our final year of study.

I know that F.I.T. in Suva (now part of another university in Fiji) do send students on practical placement but I wonder if this is always the case in the three Fiji universities. The young men and women (and older ones too) need much more than theory and book and internet learning. They need hands on experience in how to get along with the boso and other workers, which can be a shock to the system. Judy Green's graphic is about this - a young woman at her book study, and then in an office. Judy's pictures in the Age are often quirky and interesting. Of course... she is my cousin's daughter!

University studies can often be so other-worldly - on the radio this afternoon was some anthropologist carrying on about dawn and dusk and thresholds and art, and honestly I just fell off to sleep for an hour! Theory, words, workplaces and action need to go together, eh?

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Poverty or subsistence

picture: children in Suva of children waiting for the water truck because the taps have gone dry....again.
from w
There's not much in the Fiji on-line news this week, the usual spin from one paper heaping a bit of praise, and the usual silences on some issues. However there has been talk about 'poverty' using graphs and charts which are not realistic when you consider that there's a difference between 'rural' and 'urban' and also going by an amount of dollars doesn't figure when you also consider other factors.

There is abject poverty where there is a desperation in living that a family cannot send their children to school, cannot drink clean water, perhaps live in a lean-to house that is intolerably hot. Then there is a moderate kind - subsistence living - where you do not use much cash in hand, but live off the land, sea and river. Peceli hs told me of his childhood in Naseakula where there was often an exchange of things - coconuts given to the Chinese baker for bread, etc. Subsistence living can be quite healthy. Also to me, poverty is not just about physical things, but there can be a poverty of spirit and a sense of hopelessness that has little to do with money or even owning physical objects.

45% of people in povertyFrom Fiji Times
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
Forty-five per cent of people in Fiji are living in poverty, this was revealed at a workshop on poverty alleviation impact assessment. The figures, derived from the yet to be released Household and Income and Expenditure Survey (HIES 2008/2009), was presented to the workshop by the Poverty Eradication Unit of the Office of the Prime Minister. This would mean that 360,000 people in Fiji are living in poverty.

Also revealed at the workshop was the fact that the Government, between 2000 and 2008 had spent $1.5 billion on poverty eradication programmes but the figures from the survey had shown that instead of eradicating poverty, levels had grown since 2000.
The $1.5billion were budgetary allocation provided by the taxpayers.

Latest economic statistics provided by the Poverty Eradication Unit indicated that income inequalities as well as the percentage of the population living below the poverty line may have worsened. Workshop facilitator Dr Howard White of the International Initiative for Impact Evaluation told the workshop that the level of poverty has increased from the last survey done in 2007 which showed that poverty was around 32 per cent. He said Fiji suffered from the twin-paradoxes of poverty in the midst of plenty and rising poverty accompanying rising spending on poverty alleviation programmes. He said the wealth of the nation was not trickling down to the grassroots but was shared among a few. Dr White said that there was a need to promote programmes which would allow people living in poverty to have equal opportunities to goods and services enjoyed by those in the high income brackets.

Permanent secretary in the Office of the Prime Minister, Lieutenant-Colonel Pio Tikoduadua said White was brought in to assess the impact of poverty in Fiji. He said Government wanted to see the proportion of Fiji's population living below the poverty line drop from 35 per cent to less than 15 per cent by 2020.

Dr White, who has previously led the impact evaluation program of the World Bank, will also be looking at ways in which he will be able to assist Government in reviewing its pro-poor programmes so as to reduce poverty to a negligible level by 2015 as mandated by the Peoples Charter for Change, Peace and Progress.

Fiji’s Council of Social Services says poverty numbers are confusing
Posted at 23:14 on 21 April, 2010 UTC
Fiji’s Council of Social Services says there’s confusion over poverty numbers in the country, following a workshop placing the level at 45 percent. The Household and Income and Expenditure Survey 2008/2009 is yet to be released, but the Fiji Times reports the data was presented to a poverty alleviation workshop this week. The executive director of the Fiji Council of Social Services, Hassan Khan, believes the new numbers to be correct or in fact even closer to 60 percent. Mr Khan says there should be a more uniform measuring system.“Whenever we talk about poverty people immediately think of a money line. If you do not earn up to 15,000 dollars or less you’re below the poverty line. But when we define poverty we also look at how are health services, water supply, electricity, roads [etc]. In the absence of an elected parliament one is not able to really to have a more comprehensive picture.”Hassan Khan says money spent on poverty alleviation is not trickling down to the grassroots level.
News Content © Radio New Zealand International
PO Box 123, Wellington, New Zealand

From Fiji Village

Fijian communities debts a concern
Publish date/time: 25/04/2010 [12:01]
Store credit, hire purchase and personal loans are the most common forms of credit used by rural Fijian communities and 50 percent of income is being used to pay off such debts. In their financial capability, financial competence and well being in Rural Fijian Households report, UNDP Chief Analyst Jeff Liew revealed on average a rural Fijian household has an average of a monthly debt of $150 to $200. The report stated that this sees nearly half of income being used to pay off this debt and as a result this means lesser money for the household everyday use. The report went on to highlight that this would mean that the families go back to shops and take food and household items on loan and the cycle continues. Liew also mentioned that as a result, nearly 80 percent of rural communities in the country are somehow in debt and the only way to tackle this problem would be to have more financial literacy programs. Following the release of the UNDP report, the government agreed to financial literacy being taught to primary school students.
Now I think the third article gets somewhere because 'rural' and 'urban' indebtedness is something that needs to be considered carefully as so many people seem to be living on credit, one year to the next. Several years ago, when I was considering writing a thesis focussed on some aspect of life in Fiji, I was told that the topic of 'rural indebtedness' could be a good topic for me to investigate, but I wasn't going to intrude there as it was too sensitive a topic. I opted for ethnomusicology, a much safer topic! Another topic briefly touched upon this week in the Fiji media, probably in some speech or other, was about kerekere with the speaker saying, it ought to go. The kerekere network of obligation to help and to receive can be an excellent backup system, though of course it can be abused and the hard workers in Suva give up their gold watches, and empty their pockets when they visit the village! But...should our model for Fiji society have to be the Western financial one which is mainly everyone for themselves eh?

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Waterlilies in Fiji

from w
The first time I noticed a pond of waterlilies was outside Adi Cakobau school and they were so beautiful. More recently I noticed waterlilies at Pacific Harbour and also inside the University of the South Pacific compound where I sketched some. Though they are lovely and spiritually uplifting they only grow because their roots are touching oozing mud, grounded in the ordinary and unbeautiful. This metaphor can be seen to be about those who seek an uplifting life because the deeply spiritual person does not just concern himself or herself about 'unworldly matters', but touches very ordinary mundane life. We pray that leaders in the churches and religious institutions in Fiji will always be in touch with both 'heaven' and 'earth'. Those God-moments that are experienced only happen because we have known difficulties, overcome our fears, and show compassion for the suffering of many people in our society.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Another backyard lovo

from w
Yesterday the guys spent the afternoon making a lovo for a Fijian visitor from Sydney. Firstly inform the fire brigade. Secondly find some firewood from a Rotary friend who's a farmer. Thirdly buy pork, chickens, taro (from Werribee the other day), kumala from Not Quite Right at $2 each very large kumala, and lots of aluminium foil. Pick leafy greens from the garden and cook with coconut cream. Other women brought lots of fruit and icecream, etc. Okay, the men did a great job with the lovo in the middle of the back yard and when it was time to open up, showed it to some Geelong people who were guests. It was a lovely party with a little bit of yaqona then a huge meal as different Tongan and Maori friends drifted in and out of the party. We call this 'Kava Ministry' - hospitality and some Christian input. Here are a few photos.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Travel insurance and 'an act of God'

from w
Now that thousands of people are stranded at airports and in strange situations, the travel insurers are discussion the repercussions of the Icland volcano ash clouds that have disrupted air traffic all over Europe. They are saying the situation is 'an act of God' which could get them out of paying insurance claims. Do you think volcanoes, earthquakes, tsunamis, cyclones are really God's intention? I rather think that the geology, weather, geography, as well as some choices of people to live in vulnerable places is factored in rather than 'an act of God'. Yet many people maintain that God is teaching us something in these tremendous upheavals of nature. Yes, we can learn from them, but I think they have 'natural' causes, in that our earth is not always stable and predictable.
What do you think?

from today's Age newspaper
Travel claims hazy as insurers declare eruption act of God
April 20, 2010
ABOUT 20,000 Australians, whose travel plans have been thrown into chaos by the Iceland volcanic eruption, face confusion over their travel insurance.

The director of the multi-insurer travel insurance website Travel Insurance Australia, Walter De Angeli, said the big insurance providers such as QBE and Alliance were offering to cover all reasonable expenses such as accommodation, meals and cancellation fees incurred after European flights bans last week. But some companies were deeming the event an ''unforseen act of God'' and refusing to cover some expenses. ''There's a nebulous dividing line and no one knows where it is marked,'' he said. ''For this [event], had they wanted to, the insurance companies could have pulled the ''act of God'' defence out of their bag of tricks but most have said they won't.''

A spokeswoman for the Insurance Council of Australia said insurance providers could use their discretion when determining claims from disasters such as the volcano and that ''no two policies are the same''.

The managing director of 1cover travel insurance, Eddie Feltham, said any claims on policies issued by 1cover before April 16 when the volcano erupted would be fully covered. Covermore said customers had to ''take all reasonable steps'' to minimise their claim.

Travel Insurance Direct promised to cover all expenses and the company's general manager, Ian Jackson, said there should be no distinction with regards to flights delayed ''due to these sort of natural disasters''.

The Travelscene American Express general manager, Jacqui Timmins, said many travellers had not fully acquainted themselves with their insurance policy and were now finding themselves without sufficient cover.

Despite 7 million travellers being stranded worldwide, airlines stood to lose more than insurers, Mr De Angeli predicted. Further confusion had arisen because most airlines were also offering to compensate stranded passengers.

Qantas is urging Australian passengers stranded in Asian transit hubs of Singapore, Bangkok and Hong Kong to accept the airline's offer of a free flight back to Australia, so they can restart their journey once European airspaces reopen.

About 800 Australians remain stuck mid-journey in Asia, most in Singapore. Initially, more than 1000 people were stuck in Singapore, but about half have returned home. Most of the 350 Australians in Bangkok and Hong Kong have flown back to Australia.

But Europeans stuck in Asian airports are being told it could be two weeks before they are able to fly home. At Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok yesterday, thousands of stranded passengers were trying to rebook on the first available flight to Europe.
Granville and Angela Harris from Birmingham were told yesterday the first Thai Airways flight to Britain they could take was on May 4.

''I passed out, just fainted, from the sheer shock,'' Mrs Harris said.
For some answers to the question posed go to Yahoo Answers - United Kingdom
Is a volcano an act of God? How can insurance companies prove God ...15 Apr 2010 ... The volcanic ash spewed etc.
from Yorkshire Post:
.....All this is as a result of a relatively small eruption compared to the powerful Mount St Helens event in Washington State in1980 or the Mount Pinatubo eruption in the Phillipines in 1991. The difference here is an unlucky and unpredictable set of circumstances that means our science and technology-driven world is held to ransom by Mother Nature.

The eruption is causing such spectacular problems because it is taking place beneath an ice cap. This means the molten magma hits ice and water, causing it to cool very quickly – a process which means it is pounded into tiny fragments. The ash is then blown up into the sky by steam fountains created by evaporating ice. Larger lumps of ash fall in the local area, and the clouds of finer ash are lifted high into the sky and carried away by air currents. This "ash" is actually made up of tiny glass particles that cause a threat to aircraft.....

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Do you remember Dr Sorokin?

from w
Early this morning (before 6 a.m.) I turned on the ABC Radio National and Verbatum was on instead of Asia Pacific. However I was interested to listen to an interview with Dr Michael Sorokin who used to be a doctor at Lautoka Hospital - way back in the 70s and 80s I think it was. He now works in Adelaide in a position related to travel. Anyway he told his story of being about the last of the colonial administrators in Fiji - even if as a medical officer - and he described his time in the Solomons and then in Fiji. If you want to listen to it, it's online.
Verbatim - 19 April 2010
Michael Sorokin was born and raised in a small gold-mining town near Johannesburg. ... he joined the British Overseas Civil Service in the early 1960s. ... From his first posting to the Solomon Islands to long years in Fiji, ... - Cached Verbatim on ABC radio

Friday, April 16, 2010

A gift to charity

from Peceli
There's a good story today about Oxfam charity being given a book of photographs of Fiji in 1881 and being sold for about $100,000. What a gold mine for the charity which does such good works. Gerard Andsell went to Fiji in search of his brother and went up the Wainibuka River. The photographs are wonderful in showing the appearance of the highland villages those days, the people and the early Fijian Christians and the change in their costume. You can see the photographs for yourself on a website from a New Zealand library. I think it is here.

from Fiji Radio
Fiji book fetches $100,000 for charity
Friday, April 16, 2010
Taken from / By: FBC News
A book detailing the journey taken by two British scientists through Viti Levu in the late 1800s has fetched more than 100,000 Fiji dollars (37,000 pounds) for British charity organization OXFAM.

This is the highest amount Oxfam in England has earned from the auctioning of books from its bookstore. The book stunned Oxfam and auctioneers Bonhams by fetching such a high price.

Titled “A Trip to the Highlands of Viti Levu” the book consist of 44 photos of Fijians and was written by Gerard Ansdell, one of the scientists who made the trip to Fiji in 1881 to find their long lost brother.

The book was donated to Oxfam last Christmas by a man whose identity still remains a mystery to the charity organization. The only other known record of the book being sold at an auction is in 1977 in Australia where the book fetched a mere 190 Australian dollars.
Fiji Broadcasting Corporation
PS from W.
I tracked this down so thought readers in New Zealand might like to know that the book is in a library there in the Alexander Turnbull collection.

Record Title : Highlands of Fiji
Copy Negatives from photographs by Gerrard Ansdell
Reference Number : PAColl-5530
Display Dates : 1881
Quantity : 43 b&w copy negative(s)
Scope & Contents : Photographic essay of a journey up the Rewa River and one of its tributaries into the interior of eastern central Viti Levu, Fiji. The record includes Fijian artifacts, places and people as well as European plantation enterprises
Historical Notes : In 1881 Gerrard Ansdell and a younger brother left Melbourne for Fiji to "look up" an elder brother whom they had not seen for years. They knew he was coffee planting somewhere in Fiji. Their quest eventually led them into the central highlands of eastern Viti Levu. To illustrate his lively and very readable account of their journey, Gerrard took photographs, from which albuman prints were made which were tipped into the book. The copy negatives in this collection have been made from the original albumen prints illustrating the copy held in the Alexander Turnbull Library.
Gerrard Ansdell's "The Highlands of Viti Levu" can be found in the Printed Pacific collections of the Alexander Turnbull Library at -- q 919.61 P ANS
Restrictions : Unrestricted
Child Record : Go to Child Records
Collection Status : COLLECTION
Issue Status : GROUP of Issuable Items
Collection Arrangement : Negs at 1/2-C-022864 to 1/2-C-022915
Names : Ansdell, Gerrard, fl 1881 (as the photographer)
Place : Viti Levu

Happy birthday Ateca

from Wendy and Peceli
Have a lovely day and all days, Ateca, but especially for your birthday today. Time certainly flies by. Loloma.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Do Australians know much about the Pacific?

from w
Isa lei, we can learn so much from history besides asking the question - Why? We cannot turn back the clock, but we can surely learn. Remember May 14 1987?

Pacnews provides us with an interview where it is claimed that Australians do almost nil in school and university studies about the Pacific Islands. Most Australians would only know stuff like coups and cyclones and tourist stories, but the context of what happens in Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Fiji isn't part of course material. Some University courses probably include May 14 1987 as a pivotal point in Fiji history but not much else!

Australia ignores Pacific history studies
By Online Editor
10:00 am GMT+12, 13/04/2010, Australia

A leading regional historian has says Australia's national school curriculum needs to address Australia's relations with its neighbours. Clive Moore, professor of Pacific and Australian history with the University of Queensland says Australians need more consciousness about their neighbourhood. He says Pacific island studies should be incorporated in teaching history, culture and geography in Australian schools from primary level.

Professor Moore who is President of the Australian Association for the Advancement of Pacific Studies, spoke on this at the “'Oceanic Transformation conference in Melbourne last week. Professor Moore spoke to Firmin Nanol later and said that it's sad when Australians know very little about their Pacific islands neighbours - and even its closest neighbour, Papua New Guinea.

Radio Australia’s Presenter Firmin Nanol speaks with Professor Clive Moore, President of the Australian Association for the Advancement of Pacific Studies.

MOORE: It's not a deliberate thing, but it's a thoughtless thing that has occurred, when it would be so easy to include material coming out of Papua New Guinea, coming out of the Solomons, coming out of the various Polynesian or Micronesian nations and make Australian students familiar with their own regional neighbourhood.

NANOL: Professor Clive Moore, do you think Australians, generally students, know much about Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and the Pacific Island nations?

MOORE: Sadly I think they know very little and considering we share a close boundary at Torres Strait with Papua New Guinea, one of the worst lacking is in that it's a huge neighbour of ours and yet Australian kids at school don't learn anything about Papua New Guinea. The only way that they know about the Pacific I think is if they go to the Pacific as tourists or through the media if there is a natural disaster or some sort of catastrophe there and Australia helps out in the Pacific. But the Pacific is not part of Australia's consciousness, whether that's for all Australians or particularly we are talking here about school students, even though it is a neighbouring geographic area and that we are part of that Pacific area, they don't think about it at all and it's a matter of education. It's very difficult, it's easy over a generation of students to slowly incorporate Pacific thinking and understanding about Pacific cultures, but it is not being done.

NANOL: Do you think this omission affects one way or another the relationship between Australia, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu and other Pacific Island nations?

MOORE: I am certain that it does, because Australians understand that large amounts of aid money and we know it's over a billion dollars a year heads into the Pacific and they are often quite resentful I think about money that they see is being sent offshore that is not being used satisfactorily in the way that they consider aid should be being expended. So they need more education about their own neighbourhood and the way to do that is by making the media more conscious of the Pacific Islands, but also that the way to start is in primary school and secondary school.

NANOL: Professor Clive Moore, now the Australian Association for the Advancement of Pacific Studies. If you were to recommend some sort of curriculum or things to be included, what would be your recommendation?

MOORE: In the national report that we have just published late in 2009, there is an entire chapter there about the school system, although most of the report relates to tertiary university education levels. What we have recommended, well there are a series of recommendations and there are ten major recommendations. Two of those are that there needs to be a centre for Pacific studies in Australia and there needs to be either a centre or you might call it an institute of Australia-Papua New Guinea relations in Australia. Then flowing out of that, the curriculum work that would join into the university curriculum, but also flow through into the school curriculum, so you get a continuous run from knowledge at a primary school levels through secondary and through the tertiary systems in Australia...


Monday, April 12, 2010

Geelong Golf Veterans

from Peceli
The Championship was played yesterday of the Geelong District Golf Veterans at Torquay and our team from Barwon Valley nearly won. In the photo from the left: Bruce Hill, Bobby McFarlane, Captain - Robin Ellis, Peceli Ratawa, Ross McFarlane. Surprisingly I won my game yesterday. Eleven clubs of the Geelong District compete in the Veterans on Mondays and the winning team for the whole season was Portarlington. We came second in the final. Last night we had the dinner for the prize-giving at East Geelong Golf Club, which was my old club. Barwon Valley is a very friendly club and accessible to the community, not as expensive as many others. On Thursdays we have a Golden Oldies Day for Seniors. Friday is a Chicken Run and dinner at the clubhouse. Saturday and Sunday there are competitions. I can't go Sundays as I'm busy with church work. I've been playing golf since I came to Ausralia and when I go over to Fiji I play occasionally. It's the best game in the world.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Our tauvu friends from Lomaiviti

from w
Many of the Fijians in Melbourne have come from Lomaiviti, the islands in the middle of Fiji and they meet together every three months for church worship, a meeting and a fine meal together. Yesterday Peceli and I joined them at Coburg Uniting Church (which is rented to a Fiji church group linked with Wesleyan) and it was lovely to catch up with many friends. It's a very old church, in fact, it's where my father lived near as a child and he went to the school next door, (okay - not Pentridge Gaol, though my grandfather worked there!) so I took some photos and posted them on Geelong Visual Diary. Here are some pictures though of some of the people at afternoon tea time. There is always plenty of joking between Labasa Fijians and people from the islands of Gau, Nairai, Koro, Levuka and other islands in between Viti Levu and Vanua Levu.

Way to go for the whales

from w
A heartwarming story from Bua is in the Fiji news today - Radio Fiji - after several whales were beached on the shores of Bua, Vanua Levu. The Methodists cancelled church and ran to the beach to help push the whales back into the sea. Way to go!
12 Whales beached in Fiji
Monday, April 12, 2010

Villagers of Nasavu in Bua were surprised when they woke up Sunday morning to find 12 whales beached on their shores. Spokesman Sunia Waqainabete says villagers and settlers nearby canceled their church service yesterday to help push the whales back into the sea. 8 of the big whales were successfully pushed back into sea while 3 of the smaller whales unfortunately died.

The last whale had to wait for high tide as she was stuck near mangroves.

Waqainabete told FBC News the small whales were huge and very heavy and they really struggled to move them back to sea and ensure their survival. He is thankful to those who pitched in to help. "A token of thanks is given to the people of Nasavu village especially to the Buli Narere and the Methodist church Minister who had to help so much in the salvage operation of those whales."

Friday, April 09, 2010

Labasa - no place like home

from w
A young couple went back to Labasa for their wedding ceremony. Good luck to them both.from Fiji Sun
Couple return home for wedding
Molleen Preeti Verma and Kamlesh Chand returned home to Labasa this week to get married. They reside in different countries; Miss Verma in Australia and Mr Chand in New Zealand. They returned to their birthplace, Labasa, this week to get married. The couple was married in a traditional ceremony after they first met through ‘arranged marriage’ between their parents.

Molleen, now Mrs Chand, works at the Commonwealth Bank in Melbourne, Australia, while her husband is an automotive mechanic in New Zealand.

Originally of Nabekavu, Waiqele, Labasa, Mr Chand always dreamt of returning home to Labasa to marry his true love. His dream came true this week. The couple were both born and raised in Labasa before moving abroad with their families. Their wedding was at the Kshatriya Hall at Labasa Town, where they exchanged vows in front of 600 people.

“We are both happy and overwhelmed by the support of our friends and family members who attended our wedding,” said Mrs Chand.

The 24-year-old said she always looked upon her mother, Mrs Lata, for advice and support.

Mrs Lata said she advised her daughter to look for the best man to become her husband. “It was a perfect wedding and it was a joyous and memorable occasion,” she added.“We are from Labasa and it was only right that they get married at home in front of our families and friends,” she said. The couple was engaged in Melbourne and visited each other occasionally where their love developed.

“We both wanted to have a traditional wedding ceremony and now that it is over, we are very proud of our inheritance,” said Mr Chand.

The bride’s mother, Mrs Lata, said as a parent, it was a proud moment for her to see her daughter happy. She said the wedding was the best send-off for her daughter. “We are happy to see our children get married before their families. It was a wedding to remember and we are proud that they have opted to seal their vows traditionally,” she said.

The couple leaves for Australia tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

The Hunt translation

from w
Good to see that John Hunt's translation of parts of the Bible will be available soon as it apparently has much to commend it, compared with the translation from a later time. Vinaka vakalevu Dr Andrew Thornley.

from Fiji Village
Fijian translation of New Testament nears completion
Publish date/time: 07/04/2010 [11:56]
The compilation of the original Fijian translation of the New Testament by missionary, Reverend John Hunt is nearing completion. Two years from the bi-centennial of the famous Methodist missionary's birth, the Methodist Church in Fiji and Rotuma will launch the second in the series of the Hunt New Testament which contains the gospels of Luke, John and the Acts of the Apostles this Friday.

Renown (ed) Pacific Church Historian Dr Andrew Thornley who had a part in editing the second book, said this is part of the original Fijian translation of the New Testament completed by Hunt in 1847 while he was on Viwa.

Thornley said since 1847, the first Fijian New Testament has been considerably revised, with many textual changes adding that as a result of these extensive revisions, Hunt's original Fijian translation, made directly from Greek into Fijian, has been lost to the Fiji people.

Thornley believes that Hunt's translation is important because some of his Fijian informants were among the outstanding first generation of Christian converts Ratu Ravisa, Noa Koroivugona and Adi Litia Vatea adding that the 1847 translation is more faithful to the original Greek.
And from the Fiji Times Friday, and I do like the use of hyphens to make it more interesting!
Bible translation takes shape
Harold Koi
Friday, April 09, 2010

RESTORATION of a lost translation of the Fijian Bible from the original Greek text was now into its second phase.

Davuilevu Methodist Th-eological College's Rever-end James Bhagwan said after years of painstaking work, the compilation of the original Fijian translation of the New Testament by missionary Reverend John Hunt was nearing completion.

Rev Bhagwan said the Methodist Church in Fiji and Rotuma would launch the second in the series of the Hunt New Testament which contains the gospels of Luke, John and the Acts of the Apostles at the Davu-ilevu Theological College today.

He said renowned Pacific Church Historian, Dr Andr-ew Thornley and Tauga Vulaono -- who in 2007 rele-ased the first book of the series containing the gos-pels of Matthew and Mark have also edited the second book.

Rev Bhagwan said accor-ding to Dr Thornley, the bo-ok was part of the original Fijian translation of the New Testament completed by the Methodist missionary Rev John Hunt in 1847.

"Since 1847, the first Fiji-an New Testament has been considerably revised, with many textual changes. As a result of these extensive re-visions, Hunt's original Fij-ian translation, made dire-ctly from Greek into Fijian, has been lost to the Fijian people," he said.

He said Rev John Hunt was better known as a pioneer amongst Wesleyan missionaries introducing Chris-tianity to Fiji.

Media decree up for discussion today

from w
item of news from NZ - as Fiji newsmen and women are rather busy today.
Fiji regime releases draft Media Decree
Posted at 01:41 on 07 April, 2010 UTC

A draft Media Decree released in Fiji this morning is proposing a raft of provisions the current administration says is aimed at emphasising fair, accurate and responsible reporting. It proposes a Media Industry Development Authority to ensure media services maintain a high standard in all respects and monitor compliance.

It will also have among its functions a provision to ensure that nothing is included in any media service which is against public interest or order.

Content regulations would require all printed material to name the author and similar provisions would apply to broadcast material where possible.

The breaching of proposed content regulations could lead to organisations being fined up to half a million Fiji dollars or a fine of up to 100,000 Fiji dollars and up to five years in jail for publishers, editors or journalists.

There would also be a tribunal set up to hear complaints brought by the public, public officers or Cabinet Ministers.

Powers are introduced under the draft paper for the tribunal to be able to demand documents or information.

Media organisations would also have to be registered and a provision is also created, requiring 90 percent ownership by a Fiji citizen. That provision would affect the Fiji Times, which is owned by the Australian group, News Limited.

The draft decree also outlines restrictions on cross media ownership. A person or his or her associates would only be allowed a five-percent non-voting interest in any other media organisation.

Interested parties are currently discussing the draft at a meeting in Suva. Those taking part have been given two and a half hours to read the draft before the meeting.

News Content © Radio New Zealand International
PO Box 123, Wellington, New Zealand
And from Australia:
Fiji plans to limit foreign media ownership
Campbell Cooney, Pacific correspondent

Last Updated: 24 minutes ago

Fiji's military backed regime says it wants to limit foreign ownership of its local media. The measure is proposed in a draft media industry decree, for which consultations are underway.

The decree will govern how the media operates, replacing 12 months of censorship with strict new laws.. The draft Decree puts a limit on foreign ownership of Fiji's media at just 10 per cent, which if adopted will affect the Fiji Times newspaper, which is owned by News Limited, and has been repeatedly attacked by the military backed regime for its criticism of its activties.

The draft also allows legislation for the formation of a media development authority and tribunal which will be authorised to enter media businesses at any time, seize any document, and enforce censorship of any story.

All media operations will have to register with the interim government, with online services forced to give details of protocols and service providers.
From Fiji Radio and comments by Stan Simpson. Words in bold are to point out controversial bits:

Mixed reactions to Fiji Media Decree
Wednesday, April 07, 2010 Fiji Broadcasting Corporation
The draft of one of the most significant set of laws to govern media operations in Fiji was released and discussed today, receiving mixed reactions from media organizations and civil society groups.

Attorney General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum introduced the Media Industry Development Decree 2010 which sets out the establishment of a Media Industry Development Authority, A Media Tribunal, a Media Code of Ethics, penalties and fines for breach of the decree, and laws governing cross-media ownership and foreign media ownership in Fiji.

Sayed-Khaiyum says the decree will be introduced “as soon as possible” and that the Public Emergency Regulations will be lifted once it is in place.

He also confirmed that the media will be able to report comments from Unionists and Politicians who have been banned from speaking out since the enforcement of the PER, as long as the reports are accurate and balanced.

FBC News Director Stanley Simpson was at the Consultations today and filed this report:

“Among the major sticking points during today’s discussions was the make up and independence of the Media Development Authority, the imposition of fines for breaching certain provisions under the decree, and the ability of the media to appeal or seek redress from the Courts if the Media Tribunal ruled and imposed fines against them.Limits on foreign ownership of media organizations in Fiji also featured, with the proposed decree set to take out Australia’s News Ltd’s ownership of the Fiji Times.

Media organizations and civil society groups opposed the proposal in the decree that the Media Development Authority be led by a Director appointed by the Minister, pushing instead that it be governed by a board with representatives from across the community.

The media were also unanimous that the fines currently being proposed in the media decree were too draconian and could easily take most media organizations in Fiji out of business. Breaches of the proposed decree could incur fines of as much $100,000 or a maximum of $500,000 for certain offences. Media organizations requested that this be significantly reduced.

There was also agreement that the fines should be directed at the media organizations and not at individual journalists. The Media Tribunal which would hear and determine complaints made against media organizations also generated much discussion, particularly the fines it could impose and the lack of ability in the current draft for the media to appeal or seek redress against the Tribunal’s decisions.

Media organizations asked that they be given an avenue through the courts to appeal the Tribunal decisions should they choose to.

The Media Code of Ethics in the Decree was lifted word for word from the current code of ethics put in place by the Fiji Media Council but discussions ranged on how this could be legislated given differences in society on what is considered in good taste or decent.
The Fiji Times asked the government if they could provide written submissions and proposed changes to the foreign ownership section, a request which was denied outright in the morning. The new law states that foreigners can only own 10 per cent of a local media organization.
At the end of the session, Attorney General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum said they would take the suggestions and feedback on board, but launched an attack on the Fiji Times for not acting in Fiji’s interests.

Consultations will be held in Lautoka tomorrow but the Consultation in Labasa has been cancelled."

Fiji Broadcasting Corporation
For a carefully worded response by the Citizen's Constitutional Forum, go to this website: then to the Media link and to Press Release. Rev Akuila Yabaki has laid out point by point the concerns of this organization.
Added later - April 13. After reading an article in today's Age about blogs and anonymity I was wondering if web logs are included in the media decree. Are they? Of course many are anonymous as people hide behind nick-names. I discovered that a list of so-called 'subversive' blogs has been sent to Fiji government departments even though some of those on the list, such as this one, are not provocative. Even the occasional comments can hardly be considered problematic as I delete anything offensive, or advertising, or in an unreadable language. I don't really care for anonymity but for some people I suppose it is a safety issue.

Monday, April 05, 2010

How does your garden grow

from Peceli,
Bula sia. For the past few months our back garden in Geelong has flourished and for nearly three months of summer we did not have to buy any vegetables at all as everything we needed was ready to pick. Even now as we head towards winter there are still many pumpkins growing, beetroot, silver beet, chillies and other products. The soil here is quite good but needs a bit of extras. So I recommend everyone to grow their own vegetables in their backyards or even in pots on a verandah. Certainly in Fiji the soil is excellent and tropical and sub-tropical vegetables can grow easily. Now that the hurricane Tomas has come and gone, it will be time to plant once again. Good luck with your planting. Vinaka vakalevu.

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Sunrise for Easter Day

from w and p
We wish you a very blessed and reflective Easter Day as we started our day with a sunrise service overlooking the sea as the sun rose to a new day. Loloma vakalevu yani to our friends and readers of the babasiga blog.

A barbecue in Geelong

from W
Today Peceli invited a Fijian family from Wyndam Vale to share in a barbecue in our back yard. Peceli was the chief cook and he marinaded pork, chicken, sausages, prawns and cooked on the gas barbecue. We sat on mats out in the sunshine until it got a bit cool and we adjourned inside. It was lovely to have some of the Vakaloloma family with us for a few hours, enjoying playing with the delightful baby boys and the talanoa and laughter. Yaqona as usual also. I had been busy in the morning up at the church where there was a car boot sale but I had to work in the office and also play piano music in the chapel for those who wanted a quiet space for the day in between Good Friday and Easter Day.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

An After Easter Devotional

from w
Though it's still only Good Friday, this afternoon, as it's a quiet day, I've been preparing an After Easter Devotional for the fellowship group of our local church. It's partly bits from the internet re-arranged to suit the group of women who will be there on Wednesday. My music colleague will be leading a program on church music as well, mainly about contemporary writers such as Shirley Murray and Colin Gibson from New Zealand and Robin Mann from Adelaide.

After the hubbub and splendor of Easter, it's time to be reminded that Jesus lives in the everyday and to invite other people into a quiet recognition of Jesus' ongoing presence in their lives.

A somber meal on Maundy Thursday, tears on Good Friday, triumphant majesty on Easter-now what do we do? That's probably what the disciples were thinking. Quiet, a little lonely, a little apprehensive, a little determined.

But Jesus says, "I am with you always."

That means alongside us when we face the dentist, when we are apprehensive about medical tests, when we lose our life partner, when we have fears for our security, when we lose our temper, when we are cut up by regrets, when we are tactless and say the wrong thing, when our little dog dies, when we feel other people look past us and don’t even see us, when someone we love snaps at us…

Jesus did say “I am with you always.’ Alongside.

Two men walking to Emmaus were kept from recognizing Jesus. The Bible doesn't say if this was some supernatural thing or whether Jesus simply covered his head with his cloak. They certainly wouldn't have been expecting him to show up and walk with them. Jesus was right there next to them and they didn't see him. Sometimes we do the same thing.

When the blind were made to see... Jesus was there. When the broken stood and walked... Jesus was there. When the wandering found a path to follow.. Jesus was there. When Mary and the women went to the tomb... Jesus was there. When the apostles gathered in the room... Jesus was there. When the disciples walked along the road... Jesus was there. When the disciples tried to return to their jobs... Jesus was there. When Thomas doubted... Jesus was there. When Paul was knocked off his horse... Jesus was there.

You see the Easter message was never intended to be a one Sunday a year event ! Rather we are to live out the message of the good news that Jesus was indeed crucified, buried and He rose again on the third day with all power and glory.

We are called:
1. To Live out the messages we hear.
2. We are to Share stories and listen to other people’s stories.
3. We are to Practice what we are hearing.
4. We are to Invite our friends and loved ones back - as if we were having Easter every Sunday!
5. We are to Speak up for those who are treated unfairly.
6. We are to Work for a just society where there is respect, honesty, nurturing and compassion.

So this week and the next and the next continue living out every week as if it were Easter.