Tuesday, May 31, 2011

A prolific letter writer

from w
From Lautoka an enthusiastic writer of often engaging and funny letters comes this one about bus travellers. Great ideas for a pleasant bus journey. I would add one more - don't show the movie 'Speed' on a journey from Nadi to Suva which was slightly strange as the travellers forgot the erratic driving skills of the bus driver and watched Keanna Reeves in action. Thank you Allen Lockington for your stories about everyday life in Fiji.

From the Fiji Times which is now on-line again after a rest.
Passenger behaviour

I often travel by bus and there have been times when I would have gotten off half way to my destination because of loud music played by the driver, school kids behaving like thugs, people talking to each other like there was no one else around them and bus drivers who talk on mobile phones or are having a running conversation with a passenger friend or bus checker.

I have also encountered men who were drunk and were swearing and harassing people, especially women. People get on a bus to travel from one place to another in comfort.

In the afternoons working people just want to get on the bus and go home without having to endure loud music and unruly children, many of them will have had a tough day at work.

I would like to suggest to the bus companies and the Land Transport Authority to also put up signs in the bus about passenger behaviour.

And to include that the driver can put a passenger off the bus if the passenger was annoying.

I was reading on the Internet about how to behave on the bus, here are some tips:

* Don't eat messy food on the bus. No smelly food as well รน tuna, eggs, etc.

* Move in when you are sitting in the aisle seat of a three-row seat.

* If you are not travelling for two or more hours, just do it. Also, you shouldn't have to be told to move for pregnant women and the elderly.

* No loud cell phone talking!

* Step out of the way of people leaving the bus. If you are at the door then step out and allow the people to enter. Likewise, they should be stepping aside at the bus stand or bus stop for you to get off.

* Don't sing. Don't hum. Don't whistle. Don't yodel.

* Deodorant is always a good idea and so is gargling some mouthwash.

* If you missed your grooming opportunity at home, your commute is not the time for nail clipping, hair spraying, or any form of gargling.

* Cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze. If you feel ill wait for the feeling to pass before boarding a bus filled with passengers with open-toed shoes.

* Schoolchildren should behave on the bus and not talk loudly or swear and call out to friends on the bus.

* And if you had a few beers after work, keep to yourself.

Allen Lockington
PS In Australia there's a new law about swearing - it can incur a penalty of over $200.What is the world coming to! Big Brother is watching you, indeed.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Fiji Customs stalls donated goods in containers

students watching a container being unloaded in Vanua Levu. Now this one did get through!
from w
From February onwards containers sent to Fiji of donated goods have been stalled in Lautoka by Customs wanting duty to be paid on gifts for schools, hospitals, and communities. They were sent from Geelong Donation in Kind where Peceli and I and dozens of friends spent one or two mornings a week packing excellent goods. The list of goods given are always in response to a 'wish list' and not just ad hoc. I emailed the Fiji PM about it but received no reply.

Anyway another person has tried the same, disillusioned because their container of gifts are stuck at the wharf. Well, they went to the Fiji media who picked up the story so we'll wait and see what happens next.

It seems like the policy has changed and they don't want anymore second-hand goods, even in excellent condition. We have been informed that there are now new rules that require a specific 'wish list' from the intended recipient of donated goods that has to be screened by someone from the Fiji government even before the donors in Australia or New Zealand even start packing! How long would that take I wonder?

Or, are they just trying to make some money out of the donated goods? These are the kind of items that now are problematic - even when gifts for schools etc and certainly not for re-sale.
ZHere is a list of items detained from one shipment.
- computers
- metal cabinets & shelving’s
- television sets
- Student chairs &desks.
- sewing machines
- scanners
- books & children’s clothing
- house hold items
- Medical supplies.

It costs about $6000F to send a container from Geelong to Fiji, then the wharf fees in Suva or Lautoka are added and transport to the schools etc. may be paid for by Australians or by the recipient. If there's a problem in customs then there may be extra charges for keeping the goods in the sheds at the wharf, making a huge bill. Is it all worthwhile I wonder when it's not a smooth process?

In the Fiji Sun:

Donors Bill and Margaret Hamilton are asking for Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama’s support in their project. This is in clearing items to be shipped to Fiji free of duty especially items to be donated to children living in the interior of Nadarivatu. Mr Hamilton said many people and groups from around the world wanted to donate items for children in Fiji, especially students who were finding in hard to cope with the highland terrains. He said they had shipped a lot of items such as basic necessities that children needed in schools but they were not able to get it through customs.He said they were told to inform the Prime Minister of the matter and they hoped to get the message across by going to the media.

He said they were doing everything for the children; they had donated items such as televisions, exercise books, clothing, library books, computers and also medical equipment that were going to help the people in the highlands get regular checkups at the medical clinic. ‘Some of the really important things that the children in Nadarivatu need, since the area is always cold are warm gloves which they need when going to school in the early morning and that is also being charged duty by the customs,’ he said. “It’s not that we’re saying it’s bad but we are basically giving this as a donation and not something that we bring here to sell. We are only concerned for the children and we want to express our love by providing them with the necessities that they will use in their everyday lives. Exercise books have always been something parents struggled to get during the start of the school year and we are giving that for free,” Mr Hamilton said.

The Hamiltons have been around for some time and understand the basic needs that the children lacked especially in education. Mr Hamilton said they just wanted to give something to the community and they needed the support from the Government in getting these necessary items to the people living in the interior of Fiji. “We have been able to do this with the help of the Nadi Rotary Club who have supported us throughout and we are indeed grateful to them,” Mrs Hamilton said.

Mr Hamilton said they had also brought in a wheelchair for a lady who, they read in the papers, had carried his physically-disabled son on her back for years and thought to provide a wheelchair especially for them.

“We have also donated sewing machines and curtain materials for the schools which are Nabobuco Primary School, Nadrau Primary School, Lewa Seventh Day Adventist School, and Savatu Primary School,” he said.

“The sewing machines are going to help in the sewing of curtains which are to be put up in the various classrooms, because we have noticed the children’s studies are being affected by the heat from the sun streaming in through the windows. This is so that students can concentrate on their classes and not be disturbed by other things.” He said they wanted to get approval from the Prime Minister’s office on the matter and they needed the help so they could help the children more.

Bill and Margaret Hamilton of Victoria, Australia, one of the most dedicated and committed couples to visit our shores, are focusing their attention in helping the people of Nadarivatu.

The couple, who had helped various communities in Fiji, visited Fiji as part of their voluntary work as members of Docklands Melbourne Rotary Club in Australia. Mr Hamilton, with the help of his lovely wife, rendered assistance to schools and medical clinics by donating basic necessities which would help students in their educational studies.

The Hamiltons, who have a grandson of Fijian origin, fell in love with the country and have provided assistance to various schools and communities in the highlands. Mr Hamilton said they were always happy to give something to children who need their help.

He said donating a 40-foot container containing basic necessities for school children and the medical clinic was one of the ways in which they expressed their love for the people and for Fiji.

"It is not about gaining something in return; it is purely just love and nothing more for us and we are always here to help those who need it the most," he said.

"The authorities were there to help us on Tuesday; Customs, Health, Police and Quarantine Department officers were all there to help us transport and unload the container. The villagers from Nadarivatu and the nearby areas also helped.

"It took us about two to three days to unload the container and it was all thanks to the villagers who were present there.

Minister for Social Welfare, Women and Poverty Alleviation Doctor Jiko Luveni said the assorted items donated through the Docklands Melbourne Rotary Club and distributed in conjunction with the Nadi Rotary Club, included computers, library books, sewing machines, clothing, and medical equipment, etc.

The couple also donated 15 cartons of clothing to Navala Village in Ba following the tragic fire in 2010.

Dr Luveni said the couple's enthusiasm and commitment to continue their generous and most worthwhile projects for the people of Fiji was most appreciated.

She said the time, resources and effort they contributed to the various projects here were greatly appreciated by the Ministry of Social Welfare, Women and Poverty Alleviation.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

More yachts for Vanua Levu

from w
Palmlea is doing some good work of hospitality for visiting yachties. In the Fiji Sun today:

The north shores of Vanua Levu reportedly received an increase in number of yacht arrivals over the last three years. The shores of Macuata have recently been identified as a new destination for yachts.

Macuata resort owners, Joe and Julie Smelser believe there is potential to develop the yachting industry along the north shores of Vanua Levu. They operate an anchorage for yachts from their eco-agritourism resort, called Palmlea Lodge and Bures (villas) along the Tabia-Naduri Road.

Since the establishment of the Palmlea anchorage in 2008, Mrs Smelser said they had witnessed an increase in the number of yacht arrivals. "The north shore of Vanua Levu is now becoming more popular for sailing because our winds are lighter and our seas are calmer," Mrs Smelser said. "Everywhere else on the other shores, they get more trade winds blowing in, so seas get quite rough over there." With the start of a new yacht season this month, the anchorage received its first yacht a fortnight ago, a 36 metre long sailing vessel Infinity.

Mr Smelser said the north shores of Vanua Levu was pristine, untouched and a beautiful area to cruise - an attraction for yachtsmen from around the globe. With Savusavu and Taveuni predominantly known as destinations for yachts, Mrs Smelser said the northern bay also had the potential. "Our anchorage is a new destination for yachts on the north shore and Vanua Levu is starting to become more of a destination for the yachts. At our anchorage, we would receive up to 12 a season and who come to stay for days and even a couple of weeks."

Being expert sailors themselves, Mrs Smelser said the season for yachts was between May and October. "We started off three years ago with just a few yachts and now it's become quite a destination for yachts in the north shore. "

"They come to our place because the anchorage is intact and protective and offer quality service where we look after the sailors." In the last three years, the anchorage has received guests from 34 foreign states. "There is development on this part of the northern island with the fact that we're the first resort to be built on the northern shore of Vanua Levu in 18 years."

Monday, May 23, 2011

Wasavulu Stones

from w
I found this poem in a file while cleaning up the computer. It was published a while back in a local anthology.

Wasavulu Stones

Goddesses hauled stones overland,
.the men’s temple was built,
tabu to women, a secret place.
A priest's falsetto prepared for war,
ritual blood smeared the grass,
the shark-god was feared.
as mana leapt over stones.

Near our grandfather's garden
knee-deep in uncut grass
we leap barefoot over flat stones,
duck around grey pillars,
target trees with coconuts,
make leaf spinning windmills.
Mere calls out for lunch
'Come and eat shellfish and yam.'

Grandfather, after a Christian grace,
says, 'The gods are friends;
they organize, sustain us.
In return we host others,
bhaini and bhaiya, who then
plough valleys and hillsides,
and lease money becomes
our new tradition.'

Men no longer dance in moonlight
but glance sidelong at neighbours
as school buses stall on rough roads.
Sandals slap bitumen in political marches
and hymns are sung at a road-block.

But now, men dream over kava bowls,
cannot speak of islands
burnt by the sun, but strum guitars
and sing in falsetto
of silver seas and lost love..

Near Labasa in Fiji there is a historical site called Wasavulu. Mana is the Polynesian word for spiritual power. Bhaini and bhaiya – Hindi words for sister, brother - refer to the presence of Indian cane farmers. After the first coup of 1987 Fijians in Labasa protested against the disregard of the Sabbath. Today, people seem passive even with tight emergency laws.

Responsibility of each person

from w
I had this poster on my kitchen wall for many years until it fell apart and then I saw it again on the internet yesterday so copied it. I like the words because it's about potential of each person as well as taking responsibility for your own decisions. When we read of the heroes and others in the Fiji story it is quite pertinent I think. Don't blame others. Take responsibility for yourself.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Vulnerable to live beside the sea

from w
Along the Coral Coast of Viti Levu this week, huge tidal surges inundated some of the tourist resorts. Nothing to do with the shenanigans from the Nagigia Resort in Kadavu of course.
Huge waves cause damage but no casualties, police say
by Mai Life Magazine on Thursday, 19 May 2011 at 21:30
The Fiji Police Force has confirmed there were no casualties or injuries reported when huge waves hit the Coral Coast areas on Thursday and Friday. Police spokesman Inspector Atunaisa Sokomuri said while they’ve yet to ascertain the cost of damage, a warning remains to motorists on the Coral Coast to be cautious whilst driving. “We are awaiting further reports from the weather station and our man on the ground,” he said.
The following areas and resorts were affected:
• Shangri La's Fijian Resort
Water went into 30 rooms of which 10 rooms were occupied by tourists. Seawalls have been damaged.
• Intercontinental Resort and Spa, Natadola
Nil damage reported but water went into lower areas of resort ground
• Outrigger on the Lagoon Resort in Korotogo, Sigatoka
Lights on beach front umbrella, path lights damaged.
• Naviti Resort and Spa
Activities gym window glass damaged, 3 beachside villas went under water due to waves; water went into Nukunuku Restaurant.
• Warwick Fiji Resort and Spa, Korolevu
Wicked Walu Bridge still under water
• Fiji Hideaway Resort in Tagaqe
Seawalls damaged and wooden ladder leading to beach damaged. Water entered some rooms
• Tambua Sands in Namada, Sigatoka
Water entered 4 beach bure, 8 guests moved to other bure on higher ground.
• Mango Bay Resort, Namatakula
Water reached the railings of resort but no major damage reported; Queens Rd at Vatukarasa was covered with debris and logs due to high waves.
(Statement from the Fiji Police Force)
Meanwhile as all the Sherlock Holmes pry around a Kadavu resort looking for footprints in the sand, stray flip flops and surf-boards, the journalists are spouting opinions right left and centre such as Graham Davis in his Grubsheet blog - picked up by Stuff in New Zealand. His views of course are his own and he sometimes makes mistakes but everyone is of course entitled to their own opinion. A name has come up by now of the 'European' who went 'fishing' - a New Zealander who happens to be married into an elite Fiji family. Hmmm.

Vinaka Samoa

from w
Some serious political stuff has been happening in Fiji during the past week but rather than get all serious about the troubles, at least one person has a different take on it. A Samoan. So as we drink kava in our lounge room this evening with some Tongan friends and tell them one version of the story, here is another that is going around.

Friday, May 20, 2011
Samoan PM blames global warming for Fiji-Tonga storm
from Tuilaepa, Samoa's prime minister.

Tuilaepa has had a lively relationship with Frank Bainimarama but he delivers here what is probably his most amusing observation yet of the woes of his sparring partner. Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi who just returned from Turkey today blames the current storm-in-a-teacup between Fiji and Tonga on Global Warming.

Asked for comment, the Prime Minister in the best of the Samoan tradition of fagogo (spinning a yarn) said;

“After reading the reported facts, I am super clear that the Fiji colonel went out fishing and got into problems with the current that sucks every debris into the Tongan Trench.

“That the Tongan boat - basking in the sunny ocean - spotted the lone colonel and went in to help. That the fisherman was none other than King George’s relation is of pure coincidence.

“Only in the Pacific do coincidences of this nature are aplenty.

“So in essence, Commodore Bainimarama should be thanking the Tongan government for rescuing Mara.

“He should be telling off his own navy for not helping.

“Perhaps that’s what happens when their admiral spends all his time in politics leaving the navy headless.

“You see, if it wasn’t for the Tongan boat and its alert crew, Mara would probably be in South America by now. Bainimarama then should thank the Tongan king and apologize for all the trouble this incident had caused.”

The only complication these days, said Tuilaepa, are when one introduces un-Polynesian concepts such as sovereignty and territorial waters.

“Those are imported concepts. Back in the olden days, you are free to roam the oceans and feast on its bounties. It belonged to nobody but to everybody.

“It’s a way of life that is above and beyond the purview of modern-day international maritime law.”

“And drifting fishermen are not new in this part of the world especially as hundreds of fishing canoes leave the villages to go out to fish and joyride every day. Some fishermen occasionally get swept off to the open sea and get picked up by other fishermen in nearby islands. For Samoa, Tonga and Fiji, it is tradition that you go out and rescue strayed fishermen in distress then offer them your best hospitality.

“But these incidents are happening all too often these days. Climate change and global warming has meant stronger currents and more fishermen getting cast adrift.

“If anything then is to be blamed for the current Fiji-Tonga hair-pulling, it is climate change.

“Australia therefore should provide us with more naval boats and high-tech oceanic tracking equipment so we can quickly go out and rescue our castaway fishermen.

(Shaking head) “With the way they (fishermen) are getting carried out to sea at the moment, we might not have any more fishermen left by 2012.

“And if more colonels in Fiji go fishing – eventually – there will be no more army to prop up Bani.”
Samoa, the Prime Minister said, does not have a navy except for its lone Police patrol boat.

“In the villages, search and rescue is carried out by a flotilla of fishing canoes. So if one canoe is swept out, you can lose another 20 looking for it.”

The media, said Tuilaepa, are making too big a fuss of what is really a matter in the fale (house).

“It’s really a storm in a teacup. Fiji and Tonga are very close. We have a concept that best describes these two. The Samoan word togafiti aptly describes the warm relations that exists between Fijians and Tongans, the mutual backs-scratching in times of itchiness and the occasional brotherly squabble that occurs between these two.

Togafiti therefore in English, simply means, the Pacific Way.

His advice to Commodore Bainimarama?

“Go fishing. Likely you’ll be picked up by the same Tongan phantom boat that will take you to Nukualofa. After a long tit-for-tat there with Mara and the King, no doubt Bainimarama will come back ready to put Fiji back to the road to democracy and a better understanding of the rule of law and, of course, the law of the sea.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

a new news magazine

from w
Yesterday we were at a function with our tauvu Lomaiviti friends and were given a couple of shiny bright news magazines called the Australian Fiji Times - April and May. Well, it's a nice magazine with typical variety of stories and photos, colourful and shiny paper, but it's not 'hot' news as you might get from some of the blogs. By the way, malo aupito Tonga, for one bright story in the blogs way ahead of the Fiji media.

Australian Fiji Times has Oz writers and Fiji writers and is dominated by large advertisements to pay for the costs. Nice but not as good as the magazines that come out of Suva. The news group have a facebook page, a blog site but not much is happening there. They say this about themselves:

Political Views http://australianfijitimes.blogspot.com
Favorite Quotations The Australian Fiji Times
Sydney, NSW, Australia
The News, Community Events, Political News, Sports News, Social Meetings, Bollywood, Hollywood, Church, Temples, Mazid, Soccer, Rugby, Weddings, Engagements, Marriage, Birthday Parties, Fiji News, Australia News, Weather News, Currency News, Financial News, TV & Radio Guide, Local Hero'sFashion & Modelling, Opinion, Sanatan News, Hindi Language News, Fijian Language News,Australian Fiji Teen News, Teen Profile,Immigration News, Travel News, Markets, Real Estate, Death & Funerals, Public Notice, Personals, Jobs, Restaurants & Eatry,Food Receipe, Classifieds, Sports. All News and Stories covered by real journalist and news reporters and non-of the story taken for the internet sources. All storties as and when it happens and from the horse's mouth
Meanwhile the story a few days ago that started as a little tinny putiputi gir jao and a fisherman tossed into the waters of Tonga (or off Tonga) has grown full-blown into a frenzy of news stories about a bit more than a leaky boat and an asylum seeker!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Remembering Rev John Garrett

from w
Rev Dr Meo from Sydney alerted us to this news and an internet search came up with two tributes as follows:

Rev Dr John Garrett

The NCCA notes with sadness the death of Rev Dr John Garrett on 29 April 2011 aged 90 years. John served both the Congregational Union of Australia and the Uniting Church in Australia. He made a tremendous contribution to ecumenism representing the Congregational Union at the 1948 World Council of Churches (WCC) Assembly in Amsterdam.

John served as the first full time General Secretary of the Australian Council of Churches (1948 - 1954). John then served the WCC as Director of Communications based in Geneva (1954-60). Upon returning to Australia he was appointed Principal of Camden Theological College.

John served in the Pacific and particularly in Fiji his writings offer great insight into the tensions and mission of the church.

John was much loved and will be greatly missed by his family and friends. We give thanks to God for his life and ministry. May he rest in God's grace and peace.

GARRETT, Rev. Dr John Allen.
July 15, 1920 -April 29, 2011

Died peacefully, after a final illness surrounded by family and loved ones, in his ninety-first year - the completion of a rich earthly life of ministry, scholarship, teaching and dedication to Christian unity, in the worldwide mission of the Church.
Widower of Dorothy and Roberta. Loving and greatly-loved father, father-in-law, grandfather, great-grandfather and uncle. Missed and remembered by a host of friends throughout the world and especially in Fiji and the Pacific Islands.

Privately cremated.

A service of Thanksgiving was held at Mosman Uniting Church on Saturday May 7th.
No flowers. Donations in lieu to The Garrett Riggleman Trust (P.O. Box 665, Haberfield, NSW 2045, www.grtrust.org.au).
And, also.
Rev. Dr. John Garrett was a Uniting Church minister, historian, teacher, and author. Born in 1920, he was ordained in 1946 and lived a rich life of ministry, scholarship, teaching, and dedication to Christian unity, in the worldwide mission of the Church. He served the ecumenical movement as the first General Secretary of the Australian Council of Churches (now the National Council of Churches) and later as the Communications Director of the World Council of Churches in Geneva. He was principal of Camden College, a theological seminary in Sydney, and taught church history at the Pacific Theological College in Suva, Fiji, where he lived from 1968 until his return to Australia in the 1990s. He died in April, 2011 after a short illness surrounded by family and loved ones.

John Garrett was the author of several books and numerous articles. He demonstrated the vital role of Pacific Islanders in the spread of Christianity throughout the Pacific in a work in three volumes beginning with To Live Among the Stars, a book which was described as a “standard for a generation”.

Monday, May 09, 2011

Mothers Day in Melbourne

from w
The ladies from Chadstone Uniting Church - Fijian congregation - look lovely in their pink and white - far nicer than just plain ordinary white. This photo was taken at Mothers Day, one of the Fijian congregations in Melbourne. Thank you Va and Bulou for the photo.

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Sunday School and a Farewell

from w
At Altona Meadows/Laverton Uniting Church we have a Fijian service most Sundays at 1 p.m. followed by a shared meal. It's a friendly place, a small group, with a busy Sunday School. Yesterday we farewelled a family of seven who are moving to Queensland. Best wishes Jone, Mereani and children.