Sunday, August 29, 2010

Lelean Choir in Melbourne

from w
Go to Facebook - Bulou Rusila Jiajia and find a video and many photographs of the Lelean Chapel Choir visit to Melbourne this last weekend. Vinaka vakalevu Bulou for your kindness in putting these up for us all to view. The choir members stayed at a backpacker's hotel in Elizabeth Street, right in the heart of the city of Melbourne, performed a concert at Coburg Town Hall on Saturday night, and then on Sunday there was a worship service at Trinity Dandenong Uniting Church. Vinaka vakalevu to the choir leaders, musicians, singers and helpers. A wonderful occasion by all accounts.Here are four of Bulou's photos at the farewell of the visiting choir.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Reform for Fiji police

from w
It's interesting times, but without the comedy of dancing on the stage. A new leader, a reform to rethink whether religion should be imposed or each person has their own views. Good move.
from Fijilive:
Police religious activities suspended
August 27, 2010 05:17:28 PM

The new man at the helm of Fiji’s police force has suspended all religious activities within the force, the police website reports. The website said that Deputy Commissioner Joeli Baleilevuka who was appointed acting Commissioner of Police after Commodore Esala Teleni resigned on Wednesday, has suspended all church parades and other religious activities in the force.

Teleni introduced the ‘Jesus Strategy’ which involved an emphasis on Christian preaching and ‘crusades’ as part of a community policing initiative to reduce crime by reaching crime prone areas and people with spiritual content.

The police website said religion was an important part of Teleni’s life.“A lay preacher, he preached regularly at Nasova (police barracks) and also brought in a full-time padre for the Police Force.”

The website article also said that all community policing crime prevention programs had been suspended in order for Baleilevuka to review the programs. “It is a normal procedure that all commissioners follow while taking up this post,” he said. Baleilevuka said at a press conference today that there would not be any changes to the hierarchy of the police force.“To me it’s like now I am wearing two hands as deputy commissioner and acting commissioner so I find that it is not high priority to change the hierarchy of the force.”

“I’m only acting on this post,” he said.

A career policeman who was recruited to the force in the 70s, Baleilevuka was appointed deputy commissioner when his predecessors retired last year.

By Richard Naidu
and from Fiji fbc on Monday. A new broom sweeps clean. Sounds like the way to go. The police must be both efficient and have integrity.
Fiji Police to review new posts
Monday, August 30, 2010

Acting Police Commissioner Joeli Baleilevuka Taken from / By: FBC News
All new posts within the Fiji Police Force created by former Police Commissioner Commodore Esala Teleni will be reviewed says Acting Police Commissioner Joeli Baleilevuka. Baleilevuka told FBC News he will need to evaluate the new positions with the manpower in the Force to see if the posts are really needed. He says the posts that are not needed will be removed. The posts that will also be under scrutiny will include those that Teleni announced prior to his resignation last Wednesday.
And - later from Fiji FBC:
Police stops crusade, kava decision soon
Monday, August 30, 2010

Taken from / By: Fiji Police
The Fiji Police Force is an arm of government providing law and order services to the people, not a worshiping group says Acting Police Commissioner Joeli Baleilevuka. He made the comments as he announced the total removal of the Police Christian crusade programme as well as tours by the Police worship group. Baleilevuka also told FBC News he will soon be making a decision on the directive by his predecessor banning the drinking of Kava in Police quarters. Baleilevuka told FBC News the only directive put through by government is there will be no drinking of Kava in the work place. They will decide soon if the quarters housing Police officers should be treated differently.

later: Friday September 17th
A new Commissioner appointed: Prison's Commissioner, Brigadier General Iowane Naivalurua has been appointed the new Police Commissioner. Naivalurua is also be the Prison's Commissioner until such time government finds a suitable replacement. Joeli Baleilevuka will be the Deputy Commissioner of Police.

Cikobia Islanders in Labasa

from w
It's good to see the people from Cikobia Island entertaining the people of Labasa with their special skills and interests, including the delicacy of the coconut crab. Fiji Sun tell the story of the program at St Mary's School compound.
Ugavule draws crowd on Cikobia Day
A number of villagers from Cikobia gathered at Saint Mary's Primary School in Labasa for the Cikobia Development Fundraising day. The day was set aside by village leaders to fundraise for development work on the island. Cikobia is one of the islands that were affected by Cyclone Tomas earlier this year.

A common sight during the fundraising was the preparation of a delicacy Cikobia Island was well known for - the ugavule (coconut crab). The size of an ugavule is usually the size of an unshelled coconut.The crab can pick a coconut from the ground and cut it to a husk the nut, take it with its claw, climb up a tree 10 metres high and dropping the husked nut to break the shell and eat the meat.They cut holes into the coconut with their strong pincers and eat the meat.

Siliva Rato from Cikobia said the ugavule is what Cikobia is well known for and is usually cooked by families during special occasions.“It’s very hard to catch ugavule, but it is very tasty," Ms Rato said. “They usually live in rocks, known to us as cule, this describes the sharp type of rocks that Cikobia has.” She said villages have to wear specially woven shoes in order to catch the crab. “It’s called ‘dabala ni paka’ and are made especially for women to stand on the sharp edges of rocks where the crabs usually hide. We usually catch the crabs at night because this is when they come out from their hiding places to feed. “A factory made shoe will tear after a few minutes, that’s why we have to wear the traditional shoes.”Ms Rato said the ugavule is usually boiled before its meat is served or used with other dishes. “Those who haven’t tasted ugavule will never know what it tastes like. It is beautiful and when it is served with fresh coconut milk, it is even better.”

It was cooked and served to guests during the event while some were sold in various stalls. Live ugavule by yesterday were sold out. It costs $25 for one. The fundraiser will end today.
And also from the Fiji Sun:
Takalautawas donate $15,000 to Cikobia
The Takalautawa family yesterday opened the Cikobia Development Fundraising day with a $15,000 cheque. The fundraising is aimed to raise funds for the management of the island church and its minister.

The Takalautawas are renowned rugby league player Jarryd Hayne's paternal family. Manoa Takalautawa is Mr Hayne's father and is originally from Cikobia. His uncle Apisai Takalautawa was the chief guest at the event. Grandmother Elenoa Takalautawa said her grandson Jarryd Hayne was unable to attend the event because of games commitments.

“I am very proud of him,” she said.“We know that he is very proud to be from Cikobia.
Even though he is not here, he contributed to the soli, which we came to donate to the people from the island. Ms Takalautawa is originally from Oneata, Lau, and was married to the late Manoa Takalautawa senior. Manoa Takalautawa was a warrant officer for the Fiji Military Forces and they have six sons and two daughters.“It's the people that I hold close to my heart," she said.“Without my support, my children would not have been actively involved in the development activities of the island. So today, our family had come together to contribute and give back to Cikobia because this is where they belong and it's their identity."

Ms Takalautawa is a businesswoman in Suva.

She owns the Tokman's Catering business.

She said funds raised from this event will help to pay the village church reverend's salary. “The church can't fully pay our Talatala's salary, so the family and the island is working together to support the church. We hold the Vanua and the church close to us because Cikobia is a very challenging place to live and we value God dearly. Also, Oneata is the first island in Lau that had received the church when the London Missionary Society visited the island and this is the message we like to carry with us.” Ms Takalautawa told the people of Cikobia that it is through hard work and reverence to God that will make everything possible for them.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The saga of the baka tree

from w
Now this is a turnaround. The Dudley School baka tree will not be cut down! There is more sentiment about a tree than about certain other things in Fiji eh!
From Fiji Village today:
Baka tree will not be removed
Publish date/time: 25/08/2010 [11:08]

The famous 113 year old baka tree at Dudley High School will not be cut down as concerns have been raised that if the tree is cut it will have some impact and implication on the foundation of the school building. President of the Dudley Parents and Teachers Association Inia Vukialau said works are currently underway to assess the roots of the tree. Vukialau said works are also being carried out at the senior girl’s rest room which is badly damaged by the roots of the baka tree. The work is expected to be completed within the two weeks break.
Story by: Watisoni Butabua

So what is cement made from?

from w
Okay, it's alright to create employment by building a cement factory - with a bit of Chinese help it seems - but what ingredients are required to make it? Is sand a component, and where will they get the sand from? Not our beaches I hope. Not our sandbars I hope. It really is troubling when we hear about or see boats or trucks in the areas where there once was a nice beach or a substantial sandbar. The natural environment must be kept secure surely.

from Fiji Village:
Two cement factories to be established
Tuesday, August 24, 2010

A cement factory company will be established in Labasa next year to promote infrastructure, create employment and upgrade buildings says Prime Minster Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama.

The other cement factory will be established in Suva.

Speaking to the people of Macuata, Bainimarama says he held consultations with the only local cement factory about lifting the standard of their services as they were not meeting the local demand.

He says the decision to invite the two Chinese cement companies to set up operations in Fiji was merely to meet the growing demand of cement in Fiji.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Democracy at work and play

from w,
What an interesting outcome (though not yet determined) in Fiji's neighbouring country, Australia. A democratic election means the people have spoken, but with what strange results. No clear winner, except that Labour got a buffering, and the Independents and the Green winners have power to move in with whoever they please. The independents are rural seats - hoorah - and a little to the right leaning, so it could be a Liberal leadership. The Greens winner for Melbourne is to be congratulated. There also may be a good win for a former CIA (I think) gentleman, Wilkie, which is interesting. I wasn't impressed with the personality spin on just two people and the emphasis on promises and money, money, money, as it's really seat by seat, and local, that really counts.
By about 2 a.m. this is how it sits with some seats still to be finalised with postal and early voting.

Seats won:
Labor: 70
Coalition: 72
Greens: 1
Other parties: 4
Total seats: 150, target to win: 76

2:55am: With 77.7% of the vote counted and neither party able to claim a majority, Australia is left in political limbo. It now seems certain Australia will have its first hung parliament since World War II. Caretaker conventions will be in play until the final results are known, which could take a number of days. Up to four independents and the Australian Greens' Adam Bandt look likely to hold the balance of power in the House of Representatives.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Be wise as an owl

from w
A warning about going into negotiations about your land comes from an expert, Paula Raqeilai, and is addressed to the people of Kia Island who recently declared they are willing to lease part of their island.
from Fiji Times Features:

'Wise' land reforms

Paula Raqeukai
Thursday, August 19, 2010

While I commended the initiative by the mataqali Burewaqa of Kia Island to give their land to the Land Bank of Fiji I strongly advise the landowners and their local consultants or representative (including NLTB) to seek an independent professional advice on the development feasibility of this multi-million proposed land project.

My humble advice to the landowners to seek address on the following areas before surrendering their land interest to the Land Bank of Fiji for an uncertain period of time:

(i) What is the estimate residual land value for acquisition or disposal purposes based on the hypothetical development (proposed 12 allotments of 4.16 acres each on the 50 acres site development)?;

(ii) What is the estimate financially appraised of this property development and at the same time test its viability or feasibility against the value of the total land resources and the people of Kia Island (tangible and intangible values)?

(iii) What is the best model of joint venture debt/equity arrangements to adopt for the landowners (sideline head lessor) or in this case the government (head lessor) on the proposed development;

(iv) Has the Fiji land reform unit or it reps evaluate multiple development options on the proposed site to determine its highest and best use?

(v) Has the Fiji land reform unit or its reps analyze the possible risks involved in such high magnitude land development using sensitivity testing and probability analysis via the usage of any aided computer software available to land professionals?

The above are some of my concerns that any prudent landowners should be aware of when seeking to invest in land for an optimum return during an unspecific period of investment.

Land reform elsewhere in the world has both its positive and negative effects and in certain countries like Somalia and Thailand the very people who were supposed to be benefitted from the land reforms become much worse off today.

In my opinion land reforms are not bad if the full consultancy of all stakeholders (including the native land resource owners) are involved and arrive at a consensus.

As a landowner I would not like to see what happened in Somalia (land grabs as a result of non-consultation of the landowners/breakdown of structured government) and Thailand (the priority shift of land reforms from landowners to tenants; land reform controversy; the distribution issue; the implementation problems) to happen in Fiji in the next 30 years. Remember a wise land reform decision made today will certainly have an everlasting effect on the generations to come until the return of the Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ whom all land reforms on this earth are vested.

* Paula Raqeukai is the president of the Pacific Islands Landowners Consultancy Group, an organisation set up in 2005 by some of the region's land management graduates for the purpose of offering advice and awareness programs to the Pacific Islands land and resource owners on how best to use their tangible assets to realise maximum returns and sustainability.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Tadra Kahani on again

Pacific Harbour International School children at 2010 Tadra Kahani. Added on Friday 20th August. Many pictures are on a website: Tadra Kahani 2010 Photos - - Fiji's home on the ...
Fiji Time: 17:48, Thursday 19th of August 2010 ... Tadra Kahani 2010 ... 2010 | All rights reserved, Terms and conditions | Privacy policy ... - Cached

(first post) from w
Good luck to the Primary children who are participating tonight in the Tadra Kahani concert. Last year's winner was the little school in Pacific Harbour, but as their teacher says, all of the dancers/singers/performers are winners. Way to go!
From Fiji Village:
Primary Schools to take center stage tonight
Publish date/time: 18/08/2010 [07:36]
It’s D-day for the 10 schools participating in the Junior Division finals of the FM96 Tadra Kahani with TFL and Fijivillage as they will take center stage tonight to highlight to the nation issues affecting various sectors of our society. The 10 schools will portray themes such as the Gift of Motherhood, Our Culture and Heritage-Our future, Protect Fiji to Protect Me and Throwing Daylight on Tomorrow's Darkness, amongst others.

This year the 10 schools get only one shot to get their message across before the winner is crowned and defending champions in the Junior division, Pacific Harbour Multi cultural school, with their theme "We are all winners" is expected to put up stiff competition for the other schools.

However, liaison teacher Lutua Dominika said they strongly believe that the essence of Tadra kahani clearly reflects their theme.Dominika said the Deuba based school is fortunate to have supportive parents who are talented and helped out in their backdrop and painting and music.

Pacific Harbour Multi Cultural School will be defending its Junior Division title tonight against, International Primary School, Rishikul Primary School, Bainivalu Primary School, St Agnes Primary School, St Joseph the Worker, Drasa Avenue School, Nakelo District School, Ratu Ravuama Memorial School and Nadi Airport School.

The senior division finals will be held tomorrow night with 14 schools battling it out for top honours.

Tickets are being sold at the home of Fijivillage at 231 Waimanu Road, Village Six Cinemas Suva and Sugar Cane Growers Council Building in Lautoka.
Later; And the winners are:

From Fiji Village
International Primary School wins Tadra Kahani Junior Division
Publish date/time: 19/08/2010 [07:41]

That was the cheer from the crowd after International Primary School Suva was crowned the new Junior Division Title winner of the FM 96 Tadra Kahani with TFL and Legend FM last night with the theme "Stop Typhoid". One of the students Juliet Evers said she stayed behind while other students had gone home to wait for the announcement. Producer and Liason Teacher, Angela Mahone said she was excited after they were crowned the new Junior Division winner for this year’s Tadra Kahani.

Meanwhile some special awards were also awarded last night. As well as walking away with the Junior Division Title, International Primary School won the award for Best Concept, and Best Soundtrack.

Nakelo District School took home the Best Choreography, Best Back stage crew and the most entertaining performance awards.

All the way from the West, Nadi Airport School bagged two awards, claiming the Best Costume Design and Best Lighting Design.

Rishikul Primary won Best Hair and Makeup award, while Pacific Harbour Multi Cultural School was awarded the prize for the Best Set Design and Lighting.

Story by: Tokasa Rainima

Back to the Future

from w
What an interesting idea - the middle-aged women going to study computers in the Labasa area. Namuka is east of Labasa and good things are happening there. It is important that parents keep up the knowledge of new technology that their children are learning, otherwise they are left behind. Studies are not just for children. One man in our family is back to study - horticulture - and is loving the studies.

from today's Fiji Times:

Back to the classroom

Serafina Qalo
Wednesday, August 18, 2010

EVEN though they last sat in classrooms almost 30 years ago, a women's group in the Northern Division remains adamant of returning to school to take up computer lessons.

The Visoqo Village Women's Club in Namuka, Macuata, has already made arrangements with tertiary institutions in Labasa to register five women as students for the computer classes.

Club president Ana Vika said the women, between the ages of 35 to 40, would start their classes as soon as the fees arrived. "We are liaising with some foreign aid agencies and as soon as we finalise arrangements for the women's fees, we will confirm our places with the tertiary institution and get the women started. "The purpose of sending them back to school is to help them understand and know how to use a computer," Ms Vika said. "We had arranged for two computers for the Namuka district school library. The women can also use the computers to help teachers at the school teach the primary students," Ms Vika said.

She said the club contacted the Ministry of Education office in Labasa to inform senior education officials about the mother's idea of helping the four teachers who teach composite classes. "I think it will be a lighter load for the teachers and we as mothers', after all, want the best for our children," Ms Vika said. "Wwe are taking up this initiative of computer classes to assist the teachers thus giving our children the very best in education," Ms Vika said. "The women are all keen to return to school. They last held pens about 30 years ago while in primary and secondary school."

Even the women who only completed education at primary level in the 1970s and 1980s would also be given a chance to attend the computer classes.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

A baka tree and Hannah Dudley

Three of the photos are taken from the Dudley High School website showing students and teachers of Dudley. The other photo is of Hannah Dudley and three girls.
from w
It's getting to be quite a saga with yet another reference to that enormous baka (banyan) tree (which could tell you some great stories if it could talk!) This time, Netani Rika from the Fiji Times writes about Hannah Dudley whose name graces the school. Vinaka Netani.

Thank you Hannah Dudley
Monday, August 16, 2010
WHEN the baka tree at Dudley High School is removed, an important part of Fiji's history will be no more. Under that tree in Toorak, Suva, the Methodist missionary Hannah Dudley conducted classes in Hindi and Urdu for the poor and neglected members of the Indian community.

She arrived in Fiji from Australia on August 24, 1897 and began a mission which would last 13 years, most in what was regarded at the time as the Indian quarter of Suva.

From Toorak, Miss Dudley's work reached out towards Nausori as she taught the young and ministered to the sick.

Her love for and dedication towards this community stemmed perhaps from the fact that she was forced to quit India after six years of mission work due to ill health.

Despite several attempts to return to the mission field on the sub-continent Miss Dudley was refused permission by the British Methodist Missionary Society. Upon hearing that there was a need for missionaries to the Indian community in Fiji she leapt at the opportunity.

This missionary had few educational qualifications but what Miss Dudley lacked in knowledge she made up for in kind-heartedness and self-sacrifice.

In such high regard was she held that the Indian community in Suva — including non-Methodists — referred to her as Hamari Mataji (Our Honoured Mother).

Her work with the Indian community did not end with education and preaching the Gospel. Miss Dudley took in five children whom she reared as her own, one of them rising to become president of the New Zealand Methodist Conference in 1956. The Methodist Church named Dudley High School — initially a school for young Indian women — in honour of a dedicated missionary.

Today Dudley is open to boys and girls and the tree under which its founder first taught is about to be torn down because its roots threaten the safety of the institution.

Cuttings from that huge tree will be given to former students who wish to plant trees in memory of the contribution the school and Miss Dudley have made to the community. The school community is also willing to give cuttings to private individuals who wish to keep the memory of Miss Dudley alive.

When the great baka tree finally falls, it will do so close to 113 years from the day Miss Dudley first arrived in Fiji to leave a lasting legacy to this country and her people.Her dedication and sacrifice will last forever.


Seona Smiles makes you smile

from w
Even though her writing is really funny at times, the colummist and activist Seona Smiles who lives in Suva, touches on interesting topics. Seona comes from Australia and has married into a feisty Fiji Indian household. Her short stories are very well written and full of details of everyday life in Suva. Here is her response to some Fiji academic mouthing off about half the population of Fiji being 'lazy', which is of course not true at all.

Seona writes in the Fiji Times today, as follows:

No lazy talk

Seona Smiles
Sunday, August 15, 2010

I can't wait to tell the so-called Head of Household that he is part of the lazy population. According to what the Nadi Chamber of Commerce was told this week, a total of 44% of the population aged 15 years and over is non-economically active.They include 'a lot of lazy people who do not contribute to the economy'. "What kind of attitude is this?" the speaker asked. Our Head of Household is waaaay over 15 years old.

So are our daughters. So are our resident mothers. None of them have paying jobs or produce things for sale. But they would all like to give anyone who calls them lazy a serious smacking. I suppose you could call their attitudes varying from scornful to extremely cross indeed. Even the Dreaded Violet would be miffed if she woke up long enough and got it together enough. At 93 I think we can count her out of the equation, there must be some point at which you can stop work.

Aaji, well into her 80s, has taken on a strictly supervisory role and retired from her fulltime career in household management.

It was work that never earned her a cent except the grateful contributions of her sons and daughters. Her noble occupation was to take care of the home and nurture those who lived in it, including making sure there was enough to eat.

As a widow, this involved stretching the meagre resources, tending a garden, sewing new clothes from old, walking instead of taking transport, knowing about home remedies to avoid doctors visits and medicine, saving, swapping and scrounging things needed for school, and all the other little things that clever, hard-working women without a regular cash income do.

Our daughters have never known that sort of hardship and I consider them grossly over-indulged, although they claim they could probably report me to the Social Welfare for child neglect. The point is, neither of them has a wage-paying job. They study. The older one has been sporadically economically active and certainly knows what the term means. She has given up all that to learn more about very important things. Whatever they are.

I don't know what the other one is studying, nothing that will ever get her a paying position unless it is perhaps as a bank robber or extortionist. This semester she is doing a unit on terrorism, which I fully believe is not 'how to do it'.

Although I sometimes feel an overwhelming sense of responsibility to contact her lecturer and let him know that her stated ambition in kindergarten was to become an assassin.

I didn't even know she knew the word, but she said it paid well, which would certainly take her out of the economically inactive bracket.

Both of them strenuously deny being lazy. What I see during semester breaks is young women taking a well-deserved rest, apparently, and not idle swine who don't get up until dinnertime and certainly never bend as far as the floor to pick up anything. As for them not being economically active, I don't know. It's true they don't go out to work to earn anything, but they certainly contribute to the economy.

I think they probably keep half the coffee shops and bars in Suva in business, on my money. The Fiji Times that reported the statement about 267,162 people being non-economically active also had an article that said about 28,000 people are unemployed.

The Head of Household, who knows a thing or two about statistics, is currently on the high seas in a yacht headed for Thursday Island. At this point he is contributing nothing to anybody's economy, there not being a lot of clubs or pubs in mid-ocean. He is not, however, being lazy, although frankly I've never met anyone more suited to the life of retirement and utter idleness. These days, however, he is standing his watch, knowing his ropes, and keeping things shipshape.

When he is not doing that, he is reading because in retirement he has become an even more serious economic supporter of bookshops, news stands, and any other purveyor of the printed word.

He works hard at it, often late into the night. He could possibly point out that statistically there is a vast difference between the lazy, the unemployed, the economically inactive, and all those people including thousands of women who lead extremely hardworking lives that are essential to the wellbeing of society and, I dare say, the economy.

Most people these days understand that not all work, especially the vast amount of women's work and subsistence work, can be quantified in monetary or economic terms. They may not get paid for it, but they sure aren't lazy. Nor are those poor sods, including so many of our youth, who spend day after dispiriting day trying to find a job.

It's lazy thinking to suggest otherwise.
Seona was responding to this story:
44pc of population lazy
Margaret Wise
Tuesday, August 10, 2010

FIJI has a huge "lazy population"of economically inactive people, says chartered accountant Dr Nur Bano Ali. She said according to the 2007 census statistics provided by the Bureau of Statistics, the country had a 594,150 population aged 15 years and over. The economically active or populace in the workforce numbered 326,988. "The non-economically active was 267,162 or 44 per cent," she said. "There are a lot of lazy people around a whole lot of people who do not contribute to the economy. What kind of attitude is this?"

Dr Ali made the remarks at the annual seminar of the Nadi Chamber of Commerce in Nadi over the weekend. She is the president of the Suva Chamber of Commerce. Her address centred on the perceptions and challenges faced by the private sector where she listed "dealing with the lazy bureaucracy" as one of the challenges for those in business. etc. etc.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Lelean Chapel Choir Tour

from Wendy,
The Australian Fiji community are delighted that the Lelean Chapel Choir will be touring in Australia very soon after they arrive in Sydney later this week. The program covers Sydney, Canberra, Griffith and Melbourne. Welcome.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Final FEYE

from w
Very best wishes to the Fiji students sitting their Class Eight examinations today usually referred to as FEYE. Yesterday they sat for Social Science, English and Fijian/Hindi/Urdu. Today they will do their papers in Mathematics, Basic Science and Health Education. It's tough for 13 year olds to have this stress and the exam is being fazed out so this is the final FEYE. Also the Fiji Junior will be razed out (at Form 4 level), although there needs to be some system of encouraging excellence and comparing school results. What about studies in agriculture, home maintenance, etc.? Is the Fiji school syllabus really suitable for Fiji children? Over fifteen thousand students are sitting for the FEYE today, so good luck boys and girls.

Today, a Fiji Times journalist writes:

A total of eight subjects will be examined and students take a minimum of five and a maximum of six subjects. Marks are aggregated for English plus the best four subjects.The results of this examination are expected to be released sometimes at the end of October. This is the final year in which FEYE will feature as a public examination.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The baka tree in fiction

from w
The banyan or baka tree figures largely in a piece of writing I did a while ago. This is part of it....

Night in Suva

The elderly Fijian woman at ease with the spores lodging in the trees, lichen, fungus, and algae. She knew what held a rainforest together, though the baka tree was an anomaly because it grew downwards, germinated from above, spreading out its network of roots to squeeze the host tree. When leaf litter was broken down and fungi feasted on dead wood, enzymes softened it and became nutrients. The wind carried spores like dust and so the cycle of life went on.

The Fiji vanua, culture, would also change, transform, and regenerate.

The baka tree sheltering Ofa-Atu's small, woven, bamboo hut had been challenged by storms, but it somehow represented survival. Or did it? Its strength was deceptive. The hanging vines were spirits rooted to the ground, baring their legs. The tree was so huge its hair-like roots crossed the fence-line between the Australian, Madeleine's No.42 and Bal Krishna's No. 40. Ofa-Atu's daughter-in-law Ema lived at No. 44, which was part of Madeleine's property, a house-girl's flat that grew.

Ofa-Atu often forgot that she lived in a suburb of Suva city instead of the forests of Taveuni Island. The season of the flowering asparagus was over but living in a city was confusing because there was little reference to the seasons of fruiting and rest.

Grandma Ofa-Atu was the last of the Fijian tattooed women, though not many people knew that. Only the women back on Taveuni who used to bathe with her in the river had seen her intimate body decorations.

Her bones bit so she rubbed a homemade ointment on her knees. She leant against the plaited bamboo wall, stared at her magic river stones and golden cowrie shells, picked up two kura leaves to chew on their bitterness. A leaf basket filled with hard, white kura fruits lay near the wooden door, like small bumpy potatoes patterned with eyes. In two or three days, they would become translucent, smell strongly inside a container covered with plastic. Four weeks in sunlight would turn them brown and the fermented juice would be ready to be squeezed out to make a healing potion.

Ra Qiqi, the small white-eye forest bird, swept across the midnight sky. Also restless, Ofa-Atu was awake because memories of long-past incidents were too strong. She touched objects on her shelves with affection, even the makings of a black hair dye made from bark that she no longer used because nowadays she allowed her wavy hair to remain white. 'Girl with the Uncombed Hair', they used to say to tease her when she was young. Even when her hair was cut short as a child, it sprang out wide, instead of staying in place when combed up. Aged seventy-eight years now, these memories were more vivid than incidents from the previous day.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

An old baka tree

picture from Fiji Times.The girls in purple! Dudley High School students walking near the hundred-year-old baka tree yesterday. Picture: ATU RASEA

from w
I had a laugh about this story in today's Fiji Village about the very old baka tree in the Dudley High School compound. There have been many an intimate conversation under that tree I am sure over the years. I taught there many years ago and remember Dudley very well. When Peceli came visiting, the missionaries frowned and wondered why is this laughing young man having dinner with us!
Baka trees to be cut down
Publish date/time: 09/08/2010 [07:35]

Members of the Indian Division of the Methodist Church of Fiji are saddened with the news that the Baka tree at Dudley High School in Suva will soon be chopped down. The tree holds sentimental values for the members because work on the first mission of the Indian Division of the church began under the Baka tree.

Divisional Superintendent of the Indian Division, Reverend William Lucas said the Baka tree is 100 years old and it has to be removed because the roots of the tree has damaged the school sewer lines. He said it has also forced the closure of six out of eight senior girls restroom facilities.

Rev Lucas said the old Baka tree brings back a lot of memories.

President of the Dudley High school parents and teachers association, Inia Vuakilau said there will be a Baka Tree fundraising drive on the 14th of this month. The money will go to the construction of a multi-purpose court for Dudley High school and a need for proper landscaping.

Wednesday 11 August - how the Fiji Times ran the story.

Baka tree to come down
By Geraldine Panapasa
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
THE landmark baka tree towering over Dudley High School in Toorak, Suva will be removed during the second school term holidays because the century-old roots have damaged the school's sewer line and building foundation. To cover the cost of cutting down the tree, the school's Parents, Teachers and Friends Association (PTFA) is organising a Baka Tree Day on Saturday to raise funds for this project.

PTFA president Inia Vukialau said the target was to raise $1000 per form. "Phase one is the removal of the baka tree due to the damage the roots have caused to the school sewer line and foundations," he said. "The costs will cover the cutting down, carting of the debris and proper landscaping. We have 26 streams (forms) altogether. The baka tree is very sentimental to many. It was the place where the pioneer missionary Hannah Dudley began her missionary work." Ms Dudley was a Methodist missionary who ministered mainly to the Indian community.

"For those who attended Dudley, the baka tree is synonym with the school," Mr Vukialau said. "Therefore, the decision to cut down the tree was very difficult to make. We will try to find ways of continuing the legacy of the trees, perhaps nurture some cuttings and sell it off to old scholars to plant in their own yards."

Mr Vukialau said phase two was planning, approval and building of a multi-purpose court to accommodate assemblies, sports and other extra-curricular activities. He said the PTFA committee was told that old scholars were planning a reunion next year and the Baka Tree Day would kick-start the hype and build-up to the reunion.

Would you like to be an attachee?

from w
This sounds like an interesting scheme to give young people a chance to have a go in an occupation - six months of training on the job for a small remuneration. But, how much is that remuneration as it would need to cover out of pocket expenses like suitable clothes for the job, perhaps lunch, and fares? Do they sign a bond not to break the commitment if they are unhappy or find work? Already, students at TAFE colleges do an attachment but I don't think there is a commitment on the part of the company to give them a job at the end of it. Do they get a certificate at the end of the six months?

Would you like to be an Attachee?

From Fiji Village Sunday 8th August
Employers need to take on attachees Publish date/time: 08/08/2010 [17:08]

All employers in the country and Government Ministries included will start to take on a certain percentage of attachees as part of the National Employment Center Decree.

Following talks which ended on Thursday this week, the Fiji Employers Federation has revealed that the Decree covers all industries and companies in the country adding that the compulsory attachment scheme is for those companies or employers that have more than 50 workers.

Federation General Secretary, Nesbitt Hazellman said that Government as the biggest employer in the country will also have to abide by the Decree.

Also under the Decree is a subsection which said that the company will have to cover 50 percent of a weekly allowance with Hazellman revealing that a set weekly allowance has been determined following these talks.

Under Section 44 of the National Employment Centre Decree 2009, which came into effect on the 1st of January 2010, it stated that an employer who employed more than 50 workers must engage suitably qualified unemployed persons as attachees or volunteers on a ratio of at least 5 percent of the total number of workers employed by the employer.

Director of NEC, Viliame Baledrokadroka said these people who come in for attachment will only act as attachees and once their 6 months is up then it is up to the company to take them in as full time workers, or to take them on as part-time workers, trainees or to be placed as a reserve in the company’s data base for any future employment.

So far 5,300 people above the age of 15 years have signed up with NEC and training is expected to start next week.

added on Tuesday 10th August:
from Fiji Times

$4m to train 5000 jobless
Theresa Ralogaivau
Tuesday, August 10, 2010

THE National Employment Centre will spend about $4 million to train more than 5000 unemployed people. The $4m comprises a $3m grant from the Training and Productivity Authority of Fiji and $800,000 which is announced in the 2010 revised budget.

CEO Vilimone Baledrokadroka said clients were paid a transportation allowance and while on work attachment paid a $60 weekly allowance, half of which is borne by the employer. The NEC has calculated $1750 as cost of preparing each participant for the job market. "When the client secures some employment we expect 50 per cent of the $1750 to be paid back to NEC to keep the program rolling," he said. "There are a lot of costs involved in upskilling a client so we are urging for a level of commitment from individuals that participate."

About 8.4 per cent of the working population or 28,000 persons are unemployed and NEC aims to reduce unemployment to 4.2 per cent by 2012.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Kia Island and land

From Peceli,
This sounds like a good idea because the income can be used for development as the people here are gone dau and they rely upon selling fish for their income. Most of the Kia people are already living away from the island, such as in Labasa and in Suva. We are closely related to the people as they are kin to Mali Island families. My hope would be to find a suitable development for them, whether it is eco-tourism like Vorovoro or something different. I hope this isn't just words, but that it does happen. The photo is of members of Tribewanted from Vorovoro Island when they visited Kia Island, not far away from Vorovoro. Villagers offer land for hotel project
Maneesha Karan
Friday, August 06, 2010

BOOSTING tourism is first on the State's agenda after a landowning unit in Vanua Levu offered its land for commercial purposes in response to the promulgation of the Land Use Decree 2010. The mataqali Burewaqa of Macuata has given government consent to administrate the subdivision and leasing of land on Kia Island.

Land and Mineral Resources permanent secretary Lt-Col Neumi Leweni, in a statement, said the offer could see a tourism market in an exclusive island for overseas retirees, something that has been on the agenda of some tourism investors in Fiji. "We've identified that it is a very good island for hotels and that's specifically what the owners have mentioned to our officers.

"It's quite a big island and would be a good prospect for tourism," he said.

Lt-Col Leweni said his team would document and finalise all the processes before the project gets off the ground.

Land Reform Unit director Laisa Raratabu said they had completed all the "necessaries", which includes the proposal to subdivide land on the island and to seek the endorsement of the Prime Minister's Office.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Geelong Rotary and Macuata

And a thank you from Dreketi.
A letter to the Editor of the Fiji Times published Thursday.
Vinaka Rotary

A VERY sincere vote of thanks to Rotary Australia. I was pleasantly surprised (10/08) when the Caucasian lady waiting to be seen by the doctor, slowly walked into the room, shook my hand and introduced herself as being a representative of Rotary Australia.

We, the staff of Dreketi Health Centre were overjoyed in receiving the large supply of dressing materials, medical textbooks and healthcare books, surgical instruments, automated blood pressure machines and many more items. The sheer variety of items donated was very impressive.

Thank you Rotary Australia from all the people of Dreketi.

Dr Monish Nandan
Medical officer in-charge
Dreketi Health Centre

Monday, August 02, 2010

Labasa Rotary

from Peceli,
It's good to see news of the Labasa Rotary Club and their changeover. I go to their meetings when I am in Labasa and our Geelong Donation in Kind have been sending containers to Macuata in the past few years. One should be arriving there this week with gifts for hospitals. Also, one of our Geelong Rotary women, Joy, works very hard to help the people in the Dreketi region.

from Fiji Sun
Fiji ‘needs good leaders’
Leaders are agents of change and Fiji needs good leaders, says Commissioner Northern Lieutenant-Colonel Inia Seruiratu. Speaking as a guest at the Labasa Rotary Club annual presidential changeover at the Takia Hotel conference room, in Labasa on Saturday, the Commissioner said Government cannot do everything".

"This is where clubs and organisations are needed the most,” Lieutenant-Colonel Seruiratu said.

2009 Labasa Rotary Club president Dr Liaquat Niazi on Saturday, handed over the presidentship band to his successor Jagat Prasad. Mr Prasad, a Rotarian of more than nine years, is the Telecom Fiji Limited Northern customer care team leader.

"Two major challenging projects I carried out with the club members was reaching out to assist victims of Cyclone Tomas and renovating the Squash Court beside the Holy Family Primary School in Labasa," Dr Niazi said. "The Rotary Club is about community service and I have learnt that there is great blessings." He said that being a doctor and at the same time a Rotarian, his life changed in a way that he never thought it would.

Mr Prasad, as the new president said, he was prepared to work with all his strength.

The father of two aims to focus on health outreach programmes in rural communities.

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Fiji in Shanghai

from w
This week there's a special promo for Fiji at the World Expo in Shanghai and over a million people have walked through the Fiji pod in the Pacific pavilion. Fiji water, jewelry, masi, noni juice, kava, what else? Mekes and ceremonies on August 6th.Notes from a website (with bits deleted)
Fiji’s one month at the world’s biggest trade and investment show has proven to be very successful with visitors completely captivated with our distinctive booth d├ęcor, products, traditional and contemporary artifacts on display, and our friendly Pavilion Attendants ready to share their knowledge on our unique culture and traditions, our popularity as a fantastic holiday destination and the many exciting trade and investment opportunities on offer.

Just outside the Fiji Pod is a drua – the double hulled canoe which is a pride and joy of Fiji, still revered today for its long and sacred history. At the entry to the Pod, visitors are welcomed by two magnificently carved balabala, placed on either side of the entrance, and the smiling, welcoming faces of our Pavilion Attendants.

Upon entering, visitors go on a journey which promotes Fiji’s heritage, culture, people, places and products. The panels backing the Pod represent the 14 provinces of Fiji with an assortment of artifacts complementing the designs which range from magimagi weaves of diverse patterns, to traditional artifacts unique to a particular province, and images and symbols that are both traditional and contemporary.

(On display are) commodities from the Agricultural Marketing Authority, Bio Pasifika Ltd, Fiji Fashion Week, Fiji Niu, Fiji Sugar Corporation, Flour Mills of Fiji, Frezco Beverages, Foods Pacific, Foods Processors, Foster’s Group Pacific Ltd, Golden Ocean Ltd, Mokosoi, Naturally Fiji, Niu Living, Organic Earth Fiji, Origins Pacific Ltd, Portion Pak, Radini Farm Produce & Services, Sino Pacific Trading & Development, Spices of Fiji, University of the South Pacific, Viti Foods Ltd and Walt Smith International Ltd. Also on display are beauty products from the renowned Pure Fiji.

Mandarin-speakers Yolinda Chan and Catherine Zhang have been instrumental in effectively communicating with the large number of visitors to the Pod, the majority of whom have been local Chinese. Fiji’s third Pavilion Attendant Sikeli Nailesu, has also proven to be a big draw card to the Pod, with his big friendly smile which attracts a lot of photo sessions.

Trade and Investment Opportunities
While interest generated in the Fiji Pod has been geared mostly towards tourism, there have been visitors to the Pod who are interested in finding out more about Fiji’s business climate and investment opportunities. During the month, our Pavilion Attendants have also had discussions with potential Chinese investors who identified certain areas in which they were interested in doing business.

According to Fiji’s Commissioner General for the Shanghai Expo, Annie Rogers, who represented Fiji at the May 1st Opening Ceremony and had the opportunity to interact with visitors at the Fiji Pod, “Fiji is very keen to increase the current level of trade and investment with China and this is exactly why we are going all out by participating in the Shanghai World Expo.

While the Expo is a six-month long event, the Fiji Week is scheduled to be from August 2nd -7th, with August 6th being Fiji Day when the spotlight will shine solely on Fiji. Proceedings on National Day will commence with an official opening ceremony coordinated by the Shanghai Expo Organising Committee followed by the traditional Fijian welcome ceremony the Veiqaraqaravi Vakaturaga. There will also be meke performances by the Republic of Fiji Military Forces and Kabu ni Vanua which include the Meke Wesi, Meke I-Wau, and the Vakamalolo, during the day.

Be careful what you say on Facebook

from w
Although Facebook is an excellent tool for getting in touch with relatives and friends and even finding very old friends, we do need to be cautious. The article by Jeffrey Rosen in the New York Times a week ago, and yesterday in Melbourne's Age newspaper under the heading 'The Persistent Memory' is timely reading. The illustration based on a picture by Salvatore Dali was in the Age. Credits - Judy Green. I've noticed people even put their telephone numbers on Facebook, and often silly remarks or pictures of themselves. These might haunt them later on when looking for a job or relationships. In a country like Fiji where there is a strong oversight of print media, things written in blogs and on Facebook type of websites require care. Count to ten before publishing it!

Here's the last two paragraphs as in the New York Times (it's all on-line). It's here referring to a young woman who posted a silly photo of herself.

But a humane society values privacy, because it allows people to cultivate different aspects of their personalities in different contexts; and at the moment, the enforced merging of identities that used to be separate is leaving many casualties in its wake. Stacy Snyder couldn’t reconcile her “aspiring-teacher self” with her “having-a-few-drinks self”: even the impression, correct or not, that she had a drink in a pirate hat at an off-campus party was enough to derail her teaching career.

That doesn’t mean, however, that it had to derail her life. After taking down her MySpace profile, Snyder is understandably trying to maintain her privacy: her lawyer told me in a recent interview that she is now working in human resources; she did not respond to a request for comment. But her success as a human being who can change and evolve, learning from her mistakes and growing in wisdom, has nothing to do with the digital file she can never entirely escape. Our character, ultimately, can’t be judged by strangers on the basis of our Facebook or Google profiles; it can be judged by only those who know us and have time to evaluate our strengths and weaknesses, face to face and in context, with insight and understanding. In the meantime, as all of us stumble over the challenges of living in a world without forgetting, we need to learn new forms of empathy, new ways of defining ourselves without reference to what others say about us and new ways of forgiving one another for the digital trails that will follow us forever.