Friday, July 30, 2010

School for some, fishing for others

from w
The small island west of Mali Island, Kia, is home to many traditional fishermen, the gone dau. Here's a story of one lad from Kia who couldn't cope with being away from his island so dropped out of school to become a fisherman. The photo shoes him cleaning beche-de-mer. At the same time, it's a pity that kids like Peni drop out of school because literacy etc. is valuable whether you are a farmer, a fishermen as well as a white collar worker. Does the education system in Fiji prepare young people for a variety of jobs, or just raise their hopes to go to places like Suva to find work?
From Fiji Times this week:

Pita clings to the sea
Theresa Fox
Friday, July 30, 2010

WHILE away from Kia Island, Peni Vaiva feels like a fish out of water - strange and not in sync with life. He said that was probably the reason he suffered academic failure as a Form Three student at Nabala Junior Secondary School on Vanua Levu. He was always homesick, wondering about the next trip home - an island encircled by the contrasting beauty of stark black cliffs with patches of sandy white beaches in between.

Kia is a two-hour boat ride from Labasa, an island renowned for its fishing culture and the bounty from the sea.

"I missed the sea so bad that I was always thinking about it; going out and diving, swimming," he said. Nabala Secondary is situated inland which goes to explain the teenager's pangs of loneliness and loss at not seeing something familiar.

"I went back home for a break and never returned to school," he said. Instead, Peni, who is now 20 years old, joined the fishing ranks just like his five brothers who all make a living from the vast sea that surrounds Kia.

He was deftly cleaning beche-de-mer on the beach in front of Yaro Village on the island when Fiji Times caught up with him at three in the afternoon. He'd been out with a group of fishermen diving for fish and beche-de-mer since 8am.

"I've been out fishing with my father ever since I was just a little boy of five," he said. Navitalai Tuirabe taught him everything he needed to know - from gutting a fish, using the right bait, timing the throw of his spear, to surviving out at sea.

"I just didn't have it in me to live an academic life," he said.

"Schooling is for some, just not for me even though my parents could afford to send me to school. This is what I want to do with the rest of my life. I cannot understand Maths' as much as I do the behaviour of fish, where they can be found, the types and all that. I asked my parents not to force me to go to school because my heart was no longer in it. I'm just happy they understood."

On a great day, Peni makes as much as $100, his average income from a catch is about $60. Life is simple, he said, just fish, make some money and be part of the village life. "I like it that way; go onto the mainland now and then but there is no place that beats the island," he said.

Fiji media organisations registered

from w
The list of media organisations in Fiji that have registered on time have been listed tonight by Fiji radio. The internet site Fijilive is not listed but Fijivillage is there (under Communications Fiji Ltd.) Fiji Times is still hangin' in there. I notice that Subramani is replacing Satendra Nandan as chairman of the committee that has oversight over the Fiji media.

List of registered Fiji media announced
Friday, July 30, 2010

The names of companies that have registered as media organizations to operate under the new Media Decree have been announced by the Attorney General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum.

The list includes Fiji TV, Communications Fiji Ltd, Fiji Times, Fiji Sun, ALSA Ltd as Mai Life Magazine, Mai TV, Active Media, Sporting Pulse, Islands Business, Fiji Broadcasting Corporation, Half Time publications, and Bula Namaste.

Respected online media agency Fiji Live seems to have not registered by the deadline as their name was not announced by the AG.

Sayed-Khaiyum also announced that prominent academic Professor Subramani is now the chairman of the Media Industry Development Authority, replacing Satendra Nandan who withdrew due to health issues.

Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) manager Matai Akauola is also a member of the authority, as well as the Solicitor General Christopher Pryde. The other three members are Aselika Uluilakeba representing the interests of the children, Peni Moore representing womens interests, and Jimaima Schultz representing consumer interests.

Sayed-Khaiyum also confirmed that government will not be giving an expression of interest to buy the Fiji Times. He also relayed that there will be no extensions to any deadline set out in the media decree.
and from ABC Radio Australia - the not so surprising news:
Fiji Times up for sale
Last Updated: 6 hours 5 minutes ago
Fiji's main daily newspaper, the Fiji Times, has been put up for sale, following the military regime's decree earlier this year that required all media outlets to be 90 per cent domestically owned.

An expression of interest has been put out by accounting firm Price Waterhouse Coopers for parties interested in buying the Times, which is wholly owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Limited.

Pacnews reports that anyone submitting an EOI must be able to meet the requirements of the Media Industry Development Decree. The closing date for submissions is August 9.

and from Fiji Times:
Expressions of interest for Fiji Times
Sophie Foster
Friday, July 30, 2010

ACCOUNTING firm PricewaterhouseCoopers has called for expressions of interest from parties wanting to acquire News Limited's interest in the Fiji Times.

The EOI statement issued by PWC said "interested parties must be able to provide evidence of their ability to meet the requirements of the Media Industry Development Decree 2010 and demonstrate financial capacity to make this acquisition".

All EOI must provide name and full contact details of the interested party or consortium, their brief corporate profile including details of directors and shareholders as well as their compliance with the media decree, latest audited financial statements, and acceptable bankers references.

It said after evaluation, shortlisted parties would be selected and required to enter into a Confidentiality Agreement, following which they would be issued with an Information Memorandum.

"Shortlisted parties will then be required to lodge indicative non-binding offers and following an assessment of the indicative offers, a limited number of prospective purchasers will be shortlisted and allowed time to conduct their due diligence."

It said PWC and News Ltd reserved the right to accept, reject or negotiate with any party that made a submission.

PWC partner Jenny Seeto is handling the EOI, which closes on Monday August 9.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

From Fiji to Australia

from w
I read this in the Fiji Business news on-line but it mainly comes from a radio australia program. Are people from Fiji really doing this, or is this a beat-up story? As more boatloads of asylum seekers enter Australian waters from the west, I wonder how many Pacific Islanders are thinking of building a bilibili (bamboo raft) to try and sail into the sunset! Of course probably 95% of asylum seekers come by plane. There's still a fuss about what to do about Afghan and Sri Lankan boat people. With an election being hyped up, the candidates don't want to rock the boat. Ha ha. Playing on people's ignorance and fear of 'strangers'. There's talk of a detention centre in East Timor, or even Nauru (once again, and good for the economy of that scarred island) and even a small Oz country town, Edenhope, has put its hand up, hoping for a boost of a billion dollars into the waning community of farmers.

Claims Fijian tourists are applying for Australian protection visas

Sources in Australia's Fijian and Indo-Fijian communities claim more and more people from Fiji are arriving in Australia as tourists and then applying for protection visas. The department of immigration says actual figures on this are unavailable, but all cases are decided on a case by case basis, and there's no blanket policy covering Fiji citizens.

Tue, 27 Jul 2010
SYDNEY, Australia (RADIO AUSTRALIA) ----- Sources in Australia's Fijian and Indo-Fijian communities claim more and more people from Fiji are arriving in Australia as tourists and then applying for protection visas. The department of immigration says actual figures on this are unavailable, but all cases are decided on a case by case basis, and there's no blanket policy covering Fiji citizens. But leaders in both communities spoken to by Pacific Beat says there is anecdotal evidence that it is occurring. Sanjay Ramesh, political editor of the Fiji Times, an Indo-Fijian community newspaper in Sydney, says the traditional kind of migration from Fiji involving mainly Indo-Fijians seems to be changing as Fiji's economy and political climate deteriorate.

Radio Australia’s Presenter Bruce Hill speaks with Sanjay Ramesh, political editor of the Fiji Times, an Indo-Fijian community newspaper in Sydney.
RAMESH: There has been some shift in the way which ethnic group is coming to Australia. There has been in recent times a more indigenous Fijians are coming to Australia and I believe the Indo-Fijian migration has stayed very much the same. HILL: It's difficult to get actual numbers from the Department of Immigration. Do you have any idea of what size this kind of immigration is from? Are people coming in on tourist visas, and then asking for protection visas, not wanting to go back to Fiji?
RAMESH: Yes, that is pretty much my feeling of what's happening. I believe let's say if indigenous Fijian migration was pretty much steady as well previously and it was pretty low, so you may think there would be a spike of about 20 per cent of that group coming into Australia and probably seeking protection visa because they are not very pleased with what the events that have transpired in Fiji.
HILL: What's happening to people who come to Fiji on tourist visas and then apply for protection visas, are they getting them?
RAMESH: Hmm, I believe there is no general trend that has been established and it has been case by case basis, but there have not been a bulk processing of visas for people seeking protection visa that come from Fiji at this stage, so it is very much a case by case basis at the moment.
HILL: Why are people leaving Fiji, is it because of the politics, is it because of the coup-installed government or is it because the economy is in a bad state in Fiji?
RAMESH; I think Bruce it's a combination of all the factors. I think there are indigenous Fijians that are pretty much concerned about the direction Fiji has taken. There is land reform that is happening at this stage and that has caused quite a number of nervousness among indigenous Fijians. The economy has not been doing very well since the coup and that is another one of the reasons and there is additional reasons like the indigenous Fijians largely had preferential access to public services and various access to loan facilities and these seem to have been curbed under the current regime. So there is a reason as to, there is a very significant concern amongst certain segment of the indigenous Fijian population about this.
HILL: What affect is all this increased immigration having on the Fijian and Indo-Fijian communities here in Australia? Are the two getting much larger and do they cooperate?
RAMESH: There is some cooperation Bruce, but there has not been very much cooperation in this respect, because I mean there is still large segments of the Indo-Fijian population in Australia that still believes that Bainimarama should be given the opportunity to complete his reforms before making any judgement and I think that is still the prevalent mood even until this day, but definitely I do not think the indigenous Fijian community has quite the same outlook.
HILL: Do you have any idea what the numbers involved are? I mean this must be swelling the ranks of the Fijian communities here in Australia?
RAMESH: Yes, I think the numbers would be around hundreds. There would be a large proportion of the community who has decided to move out of Fiji and seek protection in Australia.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Doing it for yourself

from w
It was good to read in one of the Fiji papers on-line about a venture in Savusavu by Mr Irwin. Instead of whinging about what the gove rnment is doing or not doing, the people of Savusavu are doing it for themselves. Way to go!

Irwin opens $m marina
Savusavu Marina Village at the end of Nakama Creek, Vanua Levu opened a marina dock worth a million dollars. The marina with berthage for yachts and boats of up to 20 meters was officially opened last week. Savusavu Marina Village executive chairman Robin Irwin said, like vehicles parked at the car park so do boats and yachts which also need a marina to dock in.

“People coming to Savusavu in boats or yachts can park it at the marina and comfortably travel on land without worrying since their property would be in safe hands,” Mr Irwin said. He said he spent $1 million to build the marina which took more than a month to complete. “Being a sailor myself, I realised that there’s a need for a marina in Savusavu for yachts to moor at.” He added that he chose to build the marina dock at the end of Nakama Creek because it was well protected.He added that he was opening up a marina workshop in September which was still being constructed. “I am doing this entire development project to help in the growth of the tourism industry in Savusavu,” he said.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

While you were sleeping

from w
Sometimes, while you were sleeping, or not paying attention, some small miracles occur, some beautiful thing grows that is not even noticed. The plants in our greenhouse were given no attention for several weeks, as we muddled with life's other possiblities, problems, community needs, family needs. Then Peceli had a look inside the greenhouse, and there were flowers on a rather unimpressive plant. An uncared for orchid. So it's rather a kind of parable, to pay attention, to not ignore someone who may be quietly in the background of our lives.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

A thoughtful article on perception and race

from w
Eureka Street magazine from Melbourne, Australia, usually provides excellent reading and a writer, embedded in a French village, has had several pieces published recently. Bronwyn Lay won the third Reader's Feast/Eureka Street Award for her essay entitled "The Mingled Yarn". At the Crime and Justice weekend at the Convent it was said, 'In answer to the posed question - Is Australia a Racist Country? - her essay was thoughtful, intelligently articulated, and heartfelt. Temporarily living overseas, Bronwyn also brought the perspective of the ex-pat to the subject and the view of Australia in an international context.' The full article was published last week and can be read by going to the following link.

My relatives alerted me to the article via Facebook as Bronwyn is my niece, so I downloaded and printed out the article for the family here to read (and a couple of church friends). It is a timely article, without hammering a case. The writer has teased out the way our imagination can confuse and make judgements about people. She starts in a provocative manner with a reference to my father which gave me a jolt, but then she went on to explain that our views of people are not made fairly because we stereotype and generalise about people of a different generation.

The article is well worth a read for those who are concerned about views of 'others' in the Fiji context.

The title of the article itself is interesting. A yarn can be a long-winded story in the Aussie manner, or lengths of wool. The word 'mingled' could be replaced of 'mangled' or even 'tangled' because we usually do not take time to separate the threads of unspoken racism in us.

The article starts as:
The Mingled Yarn.

We make things up. We’re good at it. We could get better.

My granddad was a fourth generation white Australian who worked with sheep, lived in a flat wheat-belt town by the Murray River, and was embedded in the local chapter of the Freemasons. I used to tell the story that he was a small town racist who disliked Blacks, Catholics and Jews. The punch line was that his daughter married a Fijian, his son married a Jew and my dad married a Catholic. I didn’t know him well so, to suit my story, I made him up from bits and bobs. It wasn’t true. My grandfather wasn’t racist. My white lie commits the identical error as racists – imagining knowing someone based on their demographics. I should watch where my imagination takes me. I might hurt someone.

The nation is an imagined community. It requires imagination to presuppose that one citizen has anything in common with another merely because they share passports. Imagination, however, is not untruth, because fictions are powerfully imbedded into our identity at a corporeal level. Simone Weil said, “Imagination and fiction make up more than three quarters of our real life. Imagination is always the fabric of social life and the dynamic of history.” The imagining of belonging is linked to body, language and thought and informs our interactions.

Living overseas a random Australian accent sends a signal through my body – I hear home – speaking to me about memories, love, and familiarity. Meeting fellow Australians, from whatever background, is easy. Our manners relax, our shoulders slouch and we immediately use first names. We become unselfconscious in body and tongue, the powerful fictions of togetherness at play between us. These fictions are fragile because we’re expats – we’ve a reputation for making up stories about home being better or worse than it is.

The fiction of Australia is inherently fragile because it is a nation of thrown togetherness: from the violent throwing together of the first fleet and the indigenous peoples, to those who were thrown out of their lands, or threw themselves here. For whatever reason, it’s an accidental society and it hasn’t been easy, so many horrific mistakes have been made, but Australia has managed to cobble together something others call a mutt, a fusion, but seems to work for the majority. Other times Australia is blindly muddling its way through an unpicked history, faking comfort, relying on thin nationalism and unable to face the genocidal facts done to indigenous peoples, the real differences between us, and the struggles of immigrants come to seek a new life only to find intolerance and isolation. These issues threaten the tenuous fiction of Australia’s togetherness.

Arufura Sea 2007. We suck molluscs gathered from the shoreline and chew kangaroo tail straight from the fire......

(and a memo to Bron if you read this: Re the pesky Freemasons and my Dad, they were not his priority - but the sea, the land, the community progress were his main loves. Anyway I remember at the funeral after the Masons chucked down some leaves or something, my brother Doug said we'd have the last word, as he threw down a sample of very fine wool, a tribute to Dad's many years in the wool industry. Cheers!)

Friday, July 23, 2010

A strange new custom

from w
I have been catching up after five days without a computer, - answering emails, facebook memos, checking comments on this blog, and one writer pointed me in the direction of an interesting Radio Australia interview about ministers and envelopes of money. This apparently applies to Pacific churches in New Zealand, so I don't think it is customary in Fiji, or is it? The word 'minister' of course does not mean a particular 'status' at all, but means 'to serve', so there is a huge misunderstanding of the call to be a minister if it's about huge gifts of money. Anyway, here is the interview from pacbeat, radio australia. I don't know whether Fiji people can access some of the Australian news these days.

Radio Australia reports…

“A Samoan lawyer in New Zealand says a culture of giving money to church ministers in the Samoan community is getting out of hand. Olinda Woodruffe accuses clergy in some Pacific Island churches of emotionally blackmailing parishioners into handing over envelopes full of cash at funerals, buying property with church funds and then transferring ownership to family trusts, and using money loaned to the church for their own purposes. She says when these issues have been raised at church meetings, the mainly Pakeha or European leadership has not wanted to deal with it for fear of being labelled culturally insensitive. But Ms Woodruffe says, the practice is not part of pacific culture, and has to be stopped.

Presenter: Bruce Hill
Speaker: Samoan lawyer in New Zealand Olinda Woodruffe

* Listen:
* Windows Media

WOODRUFFE: The concern that I’ve raised is the lack of accountability of church ministers and the lack of transparency on what they do resulting in the poorness of many people that I see resulting in people losing their home, resulting the children going hungry and having health issues that are not being attended to.

HILL: For a long time though, a lot of people in the Pacific Island Churches have had a tradition of giving money to the church, quite a bit of money to the church. It has been raised as an issue, but it’s been seen as a cultural practice which church authorities are very reluctant to intervene in?

WOODRUFFE: Absolutely, and that’s a problem that I am trying to curb. There is no culture from Samoa. I can’t speak of other islands. I know that Samoa is actually worse than any other island group in here in New Zealand in fleecing the people of money, especially at the time that people are emotionally upset, in a funeral for instance, I was born and raised in Samoa and I have been in New Zealand since the 1960s, going to school here, but I do have connections and I still have a law office in Samoa. I can tell you now that there was no culture that I was aware of that church ministers when somebody dies, they ring up all their mates to come to the funeral service. They control the funeral service, they read, you can get up to ten minutes just reading bits of the bible, making half a prayer. Then they all line up at the wake, after the burial and each receive an envelope full of money.

Now there are two things here, one is an unethical behaviour that is not culture, because our culture of exchange in Samoa is a nice thing, where the minister will come, officiate, come and sit with the family before the burial and at the end of the burial, the family in their free will give some food for the minister or may give a little gift for his petrol and it’s nothing like the sums of money given in New Zealand.

HILL: When you’ve raised this with church leaders in New Zealand, what’s their response been?

WOODRUFFE: Yeah, unfortunately for me when I raised it in my position sitting on councils of churches in New Zealand, especially mixed churches with Pakeha and Pacific Islanders. The Pakeha people don’t want to know about it, because they said it’s culturally insensitive issue, so no one is curbing the problem and I keep saying, look, you can quote me. It is not a culture from the Pacific culture made up in New Zealand and migrant ministers pick to line their pockets and in effect, this is why everybody is running to be on the Theological College, not because they desire and I am sure there are many who go there with the innocent belief of doing good to community, but many are drawn because it is a very good business.

HILL: Is this just Pacific Island ministers doing this or is this cultural practice spread to Pakeha ministers as well?

WOODRUFFE: It’s now spread, this is why I have spoken out this time, because it’s now spread to Pakeha ministers doing it to Pacific Island congregations and I have discovered it and in the most wealthy part of Auckland. The church despite me raising it with church authorities, it appears that it is ignored and I get excuses. Now I am going to end up in the High Court, because I will not stand injustices like this. I will tell effectively what I am saying is Pakeha ministers are doing it to the Pacific Island people. I also try to curb New Zealand born Pacific Islanders who train as ministers and in a particular incident I had a Pacific Island minister, a woman, was given an envelope when her and I represented a Pacific organisation in a funeral and I told her put it back, because we came to represent the organisation and it’s unethical to do that. It’s not your pay. She said oh no, I have checked with Pacific Island ministers older than you and they told me it is my right to hold onto this money as part of my pay for saying half a prayer.”


Thursday, July 22, 2010

Water tanks for Mali Island

from w,
Good news for the people in the villages and farm settlements of Mali Island with the gift of water tanks. What about Vorovoro - as they sometimes have trouble with water supply?From the Fiji Sun today:

Island gets timely help
The people of Mali Island in Vanua Levu were donated five 1100 litre water tanks by Vodafone ATH Fiji Foundation. Mali Island Primary School teacher and a Peace Corps Volunteer, Christian Delich said the islanders were thankful to the donation.

“The people of Mali Island survive on rain water stored in water tanks for drinking and cooking,” Mr Delich said. He said water from a river on the island is not safe to drink.

“The people use river water for bathing and washing. It is difficult for them when there is no rain.” Filomena Koliniwai, 45, collected the tanks for the islanders at Labasa Town. We want to thank the Lions Club of Labasa for helping us to apply for help from the Vodafone ATH Fiji Foundation.

“Thank you Lions Club for attending to our plight,” Mrs Koliniwai said. She added four villages and three settlements will benefit from the donation.

Club president Rosan Lal said the assistance was made possible through Vodafone’s initiative to raise funds through the Vodafone Red Alert programme. “We work in partnership with Vodafone ATH Foundation to deliver efficient services to people in the North,” Mr Lal said. He said that so far 12 applications have been approved.“Our focus is on sanitation and water to the needy and our club works best to accommodate as many as we can under the Vodafone Red Alert programme. This is to provide assistance to people who urgently need help.”

Foundation director Ateen Kumar said Vodafone strives to attend to the needs of people and provide the best service. “I hope that the people of Mali Island will make the best use of the tanks,” Mr Kumar said

Testing upgrade

from w
For three days the computer was at the 'doctor' with viral infection which was fixed but then there was a major crash of hardware, the only solution to upgrade - a reconditioned hard drive so I'm testing out the various parts so here goes for the blog. Peceli's birthday was a mild day with no party planned this year, not like the 70th huge gig in Labasa four years ago. Anyway some friends called with gifts of wine, old and young, and then three of us just had Kentucky Fried Chicken for dinner. Here are a couple of photos, one with little Nanise, daughter of a young friend, Christine. I noticed that the upgrade has me a bit confused as it works a bit differently - put Picasa pictures somewhere else, etc. One thing left to do is about email as it seems it has to be rejigged somehow. Anyway I can read webmail and facebook.

Hoorah, Wendy Junior has her little baby now, a girl, named after her husband Komai's mother. Lovely news from Lautoka.

Monday, July 19, 2010

The spring in the rock at Nukutatava

from w
The first time I saw the water flowing gently from a cleft in the rock and filling a natural basin under a tree, there were marigolds and a coconut placed there by some people who regarded the place as blessed. Nukutatava is a beach west of Labasa. Yes, it is a special gift of fresh water only about four metres from the edge of the sea. A couple of days ago I found a large acrylic painting I had made of this place - (four feet by three feet) so took a photo of it to re-design in several ways. The spring is still there and once upon a time we piped that water up to tanks. That time we lived in three freshly built bamboo bures. Unfortunately the beach isn't so pretty as those days and a fire about three months ago destroyed the house there. Much of the sand has been taken away in trucks and the men reprimanded and told not to take any more. But it will take time for the beach to recover.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Promises, promises

from w
Surely there needs to be vigilence when farmers are promised an outcome and the deal fails. I feel sorry for the Macuata farmers who have been disappointed that their hard work has come to nothing in the case of a project to sell cassava. Meanwhile there are Agrictultural Shows going on! And it looks like Jo doesn't have much advice either! I presume the AMA is a part of government. The journalist could have gone a bit deepr and checked what the AMA actually do do.
From the Fiji Times today:
$0.1m cassava to waste
Serafina Silaitoga
Monday, July 19, 2010

ABOUT $100,000 worth of cassava had to be dumped in three Macuata districts last year as a result of failed marketing arrangements. Twenty villages in the districts of Macuata, Sasa and Dreketi were affected forcing the authorities to monitor export agents.

Seaqaqa district rep Tiko Yacalevu said $100,000 worth of damaged cassava was a waste of effort. "It hurt many villagers seeing such a huge amount of cassava thrown away, simply because one party did not keep its side of the bargain," he said. "Before Hurricane Tomas, all our cassava plantations were ready and we had contacted the Agricultural Marketing Authority after filling in forms they brought to our villages. But we didn't receive any response. When the hurricane hit, only some crops was damaged. The undamaged crops remained in our farms and efforts to get in touch with marketing agents and AMA didn't turn out as expected."

Mr Yacalevu said the disappointing state of affairs had not disheartened the villagers. "We will continue to plant for Fiji's economic purposes - that's why the villagers, although disappointed with the first farming project, have increased their output," he said.

Mr Yacalevu said village committees had started liaising with other export agents to prevent a repeat of their experience.

AMA managers were unavailable for comment but Agriculture Ministry head Joketani Cokanasiga said he wasn't aware of the situation and advised the villagers to always inform the ministry of deals made with exporter agents.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Dili or Nauru solution

from w,
Hey Julie, don't dilly dally all the way. The revamp of the Pacific Solution isn't a solution at all, me dear. Here are two cartoons from today's Age newspaper, one afer Julie promised to pay school uniforms, and the other related to using Nauru once again. Now wouldn't it be dandy if Fiji put her hand up to help? Billions of dollars would pour in!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Cheerful artists and gloomy prefects

from w
Different photos show different moods of young people from Labasa. The winners of the Kula awards - congratulations, and good on you, prefects, at a seminar learning how to be leaders. But one lot don't look too happy! Next time, Mr/Ms Photographer, please tell them to smile! Both stories were in the Fiji Sun on-line which is very good at picking up stories from Labasa.

Labasa school wins best Films Award
The hard work and dedication by Labasa Sangam SKM College was rewarded when their film Silent Cry was awarded the best film at the Kula Film Awards at the Tattersall’s Entertainment Centre on Saturday. Teacher in charge, Subhash Chandra dedicated the win to the hardworking students and parents who supported them throughout the production of the film. “Being the only school from the North taking part in this award, this achievement is not only for the school but to the people of North as well,” Mr Chandra said. “Our trip was worth it and we were not going home empty handed”, he said. Despite facing time constraints and natural disaster related problems, he said students put in a lot of effort in the film and he was really impressed with the dedication that was showed by the students. “The requirement of Fiji Audio Visual Commission was that the film has to be student input. Shilpa Lal, a Form Six student wrote the script and the lyrics, Ilai Lomaloma, a Form Four student provided the music and song was sung by Eseta Cokanasiga a sixth former, and Aqela Ratumudu who is in Form Seven was the lead actress.” The highlight of the movie was its original music which won the FM96 Best Music award. Mr Chandra said the movie was about having positive approaches to life. Silent Cry as based on student depression and what they go through in exams and other pressures, but do not give up easily.”

Apart from Best Film and Best Music awards, the school was the runner-up in the Hollywood dance competition.

Mr Chandra thanked the administration, teachers, Secretariat of the Pacific Community and the Fiji Audio Visual Commission for making the movie a success. The college has been a regular participant in the competition since 2008 and had previously won Best Actor and Best Movie awards in their first year of participation.

Children’s Fund organises prefects’ seminar
A prefects’ seminar was organised by Save the Children Fiji for Macuata schools heads at Ro Qomate House in Labasa over the weekend. More than 50 prefects from 20 different primary and secondary schools attended this seminar. There were many facilitators who imparted knowledge on roles and responsibilities of prefects in school, rights of children, human values and how to effectively perform a leadership role.

All Saint Secondary School principal Sumiran Pratap was among the facilitators who disseminated information on prefect’s role and responsibilities. “The four main roles of prefects are maintaining discipline, helping staffs, supporting younger students and organizing activities,” said Mr Pratap. He added that leaders must live by example and work as a team not as an individual.

Retired Divisional Education officer Northern Mohammed Rafiq said that the seminar provided lot of information to participants, especially on the leadership qualities they need to acquire. “Prefects need to understand what they are required to do, how they should do it, the responsibilities and the limits of their authority,” said Mr Rafiq. He added that a similar workshop will be conducted for the prefects in Cakaudrove and Bua in a few weeks.

Dreketi High School head girl, Shradha Mala, 18, said that the seminar was educational and she was thankful to organisers for giving an opportunity to prefects of rural schools to participate. “Being a head of the school and having a responsibility to look after more than 300 students is not easy at all,” said Shradha. She that through the workshop, she was challenged by how to overcome difficulties and acquire some skills in building a good prefect system in school.

Hello, goodbye, Ms Roberts

from w
Fijivillage and others report on the expulsion of the Acting High Commissioner for Australia. Why? Did Sarah send just one too many emails, or make one too many phone calls to Vanuatu?
MSG chairmanship unresolved, Roberts told to leave
Publish date/time: 13/07/2010 [11:42]
No date is set for the next Special Melanesian Spearhead Group Plus meeting following issues raised about the Chairmanship of the meeting that was expected to be held in Fiji next week.

Last night the Chair of the MSG and Vanuatu's Prime Minister Edward Natapei announced the deferral of the meeting in Fiji, until further notice. Natapei said this is a collective decision of the leaders of Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, the FLNKS in New Caledonia and Vanuatu in light of the current impasse within the grouping over the Chairmanship of the MSG. According to the rotation cycle of hosting of the MSG, Fiji is the next host and Chair of the Leaders Summit.

The deferment came after Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama's chairmanship of the grouping was questioned last week after intervention from Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare for MSG Leaders to accept Commodore Bainimarama as chair. Natapei said the potential long term ramifications of allowing Fiji to Chair the MSG this time cannot be ignored. He said there are basic fundamental principles, values of democracy and good governance that the organisation is built on and they must to continue to uphold them. Natapei said he has advised Bainimarama on the latest development and he has also invited Fiji's Prime Minister to attend a Special Meeting of the MSG Leaders in Vanuatu to resolve the matter.

However Fiji's Permanent Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Solo Mara said to their knowledge, only Vanuatu has an issue with Fiji hosting the MSG Summit with both the Prime Ministers of PNG and the Solomon Islands writing to Natapei last week seeking his understanding and support for Fiji to host and Chair the MSG Summit.

Mara said the understanding was based on the Melanesian custom of deferring to your host when entering his or her village or bure.

He said Natapei's suggestion for him to chair the meeting hosted by Fiji sought to dispossess Bainimarama of his role and responsibilities of hosting in his own country.

Fiji is calling for a Special meeting of MSG Leaders as early as next week to resolve the Chairmanship issue.

And as the MSG Chairmanship debate continues, the Acting Australian High Commissioner to Fiji, Sarah Roberts is expected to leave the country within 24 hours after she was declared persona non-grata by Fiji.
Fiji Foreign Affairs Minister Ratu Inoke Kubuabola said her expulsion is regrettable and a direct result of recent reports that Roberts has been interfering with the internal affairs of Fiji and conducting unfriendly acts.

Kubuabola said the Australian government has been engaged in strategies to undermine Fiji's sovereignty and weken the economy, and this has been further highlighted by calling on MSG countries, especially Vanuatu, not to attend the MSG Leaders Summit.

According to Kubuabola, most of the non-MSG member countries had already accepted the invitation to attend. He said Australia has no business in the MSG Leaders Summit but has continued to discourage MSG member states.

Kubuabola said this is evident in the increase in aid from Australia in its 2010 and 2011 budget to the Pacific. He said the special aid from Australia will see the Vanuatu government receive 66.4 million dollars, the highest ever in the country's aid from Australia.

The Australian Foreign Minister, Stephen Smith, said Fiji's decision to expel Sarah Roberts is deeply disappointing. Roberts will be served with a notice this morning, giving her 24 hours to leave the country. The Australian High Commission is expected to comment later today. Smith said the reasons of the expulsion are linked to Vanuatu's postponement of the Melanesian Spearhead Group meeting. He said he suspects it also relates to his criticism of the Fiji government. Smith said he would not respond by removing Fiji's only official in Canberra.

Story by: Vijay Narayan

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Everybody hurts...sometmes

from w
The R.E.M. song is sometimes in my head - ever since a time in 2000 at a wedding when we danced to the song, our grief still raw. Anyway, we did have a good day yesterday, remembering, after ten years. The first visitor arrived at 8.30 with a lovely gift of a pink rose to plant in the garden. During the morning many friends called and we shared stories. The men made a lovo and then the kava was flowing. The last visitors left about 10 p.m. after a tiring but rich day in stories. I realize that the song still has relevance as so many people have grief and burdens that are hard to let go, illnesses, quarrels not yet healed, guilt about bad decisions, loneliness, bereavement, and these are only people who have roofs over their head and three meals a day. What about the others - those on leaky boats, those without shelter or clean water!

Friday, July 09, 2010

After ten years: remembering Robin

from Wendy and Peceli,

Robin Iliesa Tupou 11.11.69 – 10.7.2000

Robin was born on 11th November 1969 at the Ba Methodist hospital. The family were living at the time in the sugar-cane area of Rakiraki where Peceli worked as the Methodist padre to the Indian community. The family life revolved around pastoral visits among the cane farms, Robin carried in a basket, George toddling beside.

Then after one year in Dilkusha, the family moved to Labasa on the island of Vanua Levu to live with relatives at Vatuadova cane-farm. It was an idyllic childhood for George, Robin, and Andrew beside the sea, living in newly built bamboo huts at Nukutatava beach.

When the family moved to Australia and Robin started school at Swan Hill Primary and spoke in Fijian to his Australian teacher. Then at Hopetoun, another Mallee wheat town, where Peceli was the Methodist/Uniting Church minister, the three boys drew friends to the house every day, joined tennis, swimming, the Minnies football, cubs and then scouts and went on camps and learnt to cook sausages. Suzie, the kelpie cross dog produced litter after litter and Robin loved the puppies, though he never could abide cats. He followed the Richmond team fanatically and obtained the autographs of all the players because his grandpa George Lay knew one of the players. Robin often wore a Richmond jumper to school. The Ratawa children were able to visit relatives often in nearby Swan Hill and were much loved by Grandma and Grandpa Lay and got to know their Australian cousins in Swan Hill, Ballarat and Sydney. In Sydney, when the family visited Bruce and Sarah, during a performance of Madame Butterfly the Ratawa boys climbed on top of the Opera House.

The Ratawas were invited to Geelong East Parish of the Uniting Church probably because of the three beaut kids. This move coincided with the High School years and the family lived in Shenton Manse near the High School. Robin often brought his friends home at recess or lunch time to eat. Special friends included Tony Malakelos, Ben Reynolds and Christopher Yee. There was more laughter than hard work those days. Tennis was with the Uniting church club and football with Thomson and then Amateurs. Robin was in a Scout group at St Andrews and went on a jamboree to Fiji with Scouter Andy Dickson. Robin was active in the local church, youth group and carpet bowling.

He followed George to Deakin University but his heart was not in the computer course so he started work at Steggles Chicken factory in the Despatch Department, the daily routine to wake up at 4 a.m. prepare a huge lunch, then drive off in the Cortina. Andrew joined him at Steggles.

Every year Robin visited Fiji, usually with his mate Ben and they developed a network of great friends in Nadi, Suva and Labasa. They sometimes arrived back in Melbourne airport with empty cases and shoeless.

Social life was based on the Amateurs Football Club and Robin learnt bar skills, completed a short hospitality course and found his niche. By this time George was working in IT in Fiji so Robin decided to obtain a job in Fiji, firstly at the Regent hotel and then at the newly opened Lakomai Time-share Resort on Malolo Island. Over five years his hard work and charismatic manner raised this little resort to a popular destination. The same families went there year after year. Sala and Robin worked together, then married and their two children are Jordan and Andrew. At small Andrew’s baptism, Robin and Sala re-affirmed their wedding vows at Navuso, Sala’s village.

When Andrew senior visited Fiji for athletic meets in various South Pacfiic countries he visited Robin in Lakomai every time.

As Duty Manager, Robin worked long hours and in the turmoil in Fiji in 2000 he was disturbed by the damage to tourism and that many of his staff and friends lost their jobs. He loved Lakomai with its beautiful environment and was popular with tourists and staff. ‘The Fijian with the Aussie accent!’ ‘The Tom Cruise of the South Pacific’!

We thought Lakomai was a placed of safety and yet an accident happened there on 10th July 2000. Robin was thirty years of age.

Many people have been touched by Robin’s life, his charm, his extrovert personality, his joy in life and his friendly, respectful approach to all kinds of people. He always looked for the good in people and will be remembered with love by us all. Robin is now in God’s safe-keeping but we are so saddened by his absence from us.

Several photos are posted on George Ratawa's facebook. I might post a few here later.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Vinaka Gilbert

from w
One of the best blogs about Fiji is 'Promoting Suva' with updates on what's on in Suva at the present time and to come. There is an amazing variety of events going on that you don't see advertised in the daily papers.

For example, these events are planned for next week:
2010 Fête de la Musique/International Music Festival organised by the Alliance Francaise and its partners - includes daily workshops and nightly performances, from Monday, 12 July, to Saturday, 17 July 2010, at various venues around Suva with the final full day event at Sukuna Park, Suva;

2010 Fête de la Musique/International Music Festival - First Concert (to feature a piano concert by Gulya M Ah Koy, the Davui Ensemble, Fijian Nose flute and Balinese dance), Monday, 12 July, from 6.30pm to 8pm, Alliance Francaise, 92 Ratu Sukuna Road, Nasese, Suva;

2010 Fête de la Musique/International Music Festival - Second Concert (to feature Japanese traditional music (drums and bamboo flutes), Tuesday, 13 July, from 6.30pm to 8pm, Holiday Inn, Suva;

2010 Fête de la Musique/International Music Festival - Third Concert (to feature a Spanish guitar concert), Wednesday, 14 July, from 2pm to 4pm, University of the South Pacific, Laucala Bay, Suva;

2010 Fête de la Musique/International Music Festival - Fourth Concert (to feature a Korean dance performance), Thursday, 15 July, from 6.30pm to 8pm, Suva Civic Centre.

Keep up the good work Gilbert as this website doesn't blab on about politics, just the variety of good experiences, clubs, events, learning opportunities in Suva.

Monday, July 05, 2010

Are you listening?

from w
Register your details if you have a phone in Fiji, your photo too. Cameras will be busy clicking it seems. The main details are already known by the service providers so surely this is a duplication. And what's a face got to do with it? Maybe someone is troubled by crank calls, but this is a bit intrusive. This was in the news last week and again today. Those decrees are keeping someone busy. There are already about 1 and a half million mobile phones in Fiji - that's two to each person, but of course many are broken, lost, given away. Can people register on-line, or by mobile phone with a photo, or wait for someone to door-knock? Who will have access to the complete lists? Will someone be tempted to make some money by selling these lists e.g. to a call centre such as Mindpearl. Will tourists have to register their phones too, or other visitors to Fiji?
From Fiji Village.
All phone users need to fully register
Publish date/time: 06/07/2010 [17:15]
All users of Telecom Fiji phones, Vodafone Fiji, Digicel and INKK mobiles will have to fully register with their service providers within a month to avoid the termination of their phone service.

According to the cabinet decision, the Telephone Services Decree has been approved and the details to be registered are the full name, date of birth, photo identification, home address and parent's signature if the user is below 18 years.

The registration is compulsory under the decree.

Attorney General, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum has confirmed that under the new decree, telephone services will be suspended if people are not registered within the deadline.

Vodafone Fiji's Manager Corporate Affairs Shailendra Prasad said all phone users should now make the necessary arrangements to register as the decree is now being printed.

Prasad said Vodafone Fiji is already making a concerted effort in ensuring that all it's customers register. He stressed that everyone has to register and any previous registration will not be valid due to the new requirements. For Vodafone Fiji users, Prasad said customers can visit any of their outlets including the 118 M-Paisa agents around the country to register. He said they also have 250 field agents who are doing free house to house registration for the M-Paisa service. Prasad said customers can also register with these agents.

He stressed that people should not leave the registration to the last minute as you may have your service terminated due to non registration.

Story by: Vijay Narayan