Friday, June 29, 2012

Printmaking in Fiji

from w
When I read this piece in today's Fiji Times it reminded me of my teaching years when I introduced many students to printmaking especially screen prints using a dye made from cassava. Some of the students from Labasa won prizes, a plane trip to Suva and it was a good experience.  Printmaking is not new in Fiji and is of course related to the original crafts of painting on masi using leaf or plastic stencils, and the T shirt industry took off with printing at least forty years ago. Woodcuts, linocuts, screen prints, etchings etc. are excellent for making artworks and there is much talent out there in Fiji.

Delight for lovers of art

Ronish Kumar
Saturday, June 30, 2012
THE first print exhibition held at the University of the South Pacific has attracted many painting lovers.
The exhibition was a result of collaboration between the Australian Print Workshop and artists from the Oceania Centre.
About 10 artists participated in the first print edition which visual co-ordinator Johanna Beasley described as "great".
"It is the first time we have used the press to do printing and people couldn't believe the talent our artists have," Ms Beasley said.
She said the press has enabled artists to print many copies of a particular art which they could sell.
Artist Ben Fong said he wanted to try his hand at printing and enjoyed the experience.
He has used his creativity with metal to build sculptures.
"I wanted to explore my creativity further and this is something that I love to do," he said.
Fellow artist Paula Liga loves carving and the print edition was helping him with his work.
"A lot of people have shown great interest. This is part of my job," he said.
Kristel Whippy admired the exhibition, saying the art portrayed important messages.
"I find this exhibition interesting and I love the black and white section of the display," Ms Whippy said, adding the Oceania Centre displayed pleasing and meaningful paintings. I am really impressed and proud of the fact that we have artists that can produce this quality of art."

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Krishna Datt

from w
Interesting that Krishna Datt is coming out of the woodworks to offer to take his place in the new government - a while way of course. He's a babasiga kid I believe!

 I will be available for 2014 elections: Datt

June 29, 2012 11:23:53 AM
Former Fiji Labour Party stalwart Krishna Datt will be available for the 2014 elections. Photo: Avikash Chand.
Former Fiji Labour Party stalwart Krishna Datt will be available for the 2014 elections. Photo: Avikash Chand.
Former Fiji Labour Party member and former Minister for Labour and Industrial Relations Krishna Datt will be available for the 2014 elections.
Datt sees his role as a herald facilitating the entry of a new generation of leaders in a democracy, the hallmarks of which will be partnership and participation.
“I want to be part of the leadership to welcome a democratic government in 2014 and I believe I have the skills, acumen, experience and support to be able to bring all the voices together in a national partnership,” he said.
“If need be, I will lead the group and if the people want to see me back in parliament, I will stand for election if the system allows.”
He said he believes he has the sufficient support base to announce such an initiative for an inclusive, multiracial partnership of a generation of new leaders in a political structure to be announced at the appropriate time.
He also said at this stage he is looking at two options and that is to launch a political party or to persuade his support base to move to an existing party which is able to restructure itself and adopt policies and visions which are reasonably compatible with their own.
By Mereani Gonedua

Krishna Datt
Member of House of Representatives (Fiji)
In office
Minister for Foreign Affairs and Civil Aviation (Fiji)
In office
Member of House of Representatives (Fiji)
In office
Minister for Labour and Employment Opportunities
In office
Personal details
BornLabasa, Fiji
Political partyFiji Labour Party
ProfessionTeacher, Trade Unionist

Would you work for less than $2F an hour?

from w
Disturbing as it always is, the wages in Fiji for garment factory workers - and those in the tourist resorts, is still very very low. It's actually appalling.

Garment workers live in poverty: FTUC
June 13, 2012 09:29:21 AM

Fiji garment workers today earn and live below the poverty line, says Fiji Trade Union Congress national secretary Felix Anthony.

Anthony said this is nothing that Fiji ought to be proud of.

His comment comes after the announcement by the president of the Fiji Textile, Clothing and Footwear Council, Kalpesh Solanki last month that the garment industry is poised for a $100 million boom.

Anthony said this is definitely derived from the blood and sweat of the garment industry workers where 70 per cent are women who are forced to work on low and demeaning wages.

“Their current rate of wages per Wages Council Order is a measly $1.65 per hour for learners and $1.96 for others that are all other class of workers in the garment industry. It is no secret that this was arrived at after a long battle," Anthony said in a statement.

The Garment Industry Wages Council had agreed some time ago that the new and revised rates for the workers should be $1.80 and $2.15 respectively.

However, Anthony said this recommendation has been mysteriously lost somewhere in the system.

“The chairman of the Wages Councils (Fr K. Barr) has openly declared that the TCF has always opposed such necessary changes and then gone via the back door to frustrate the implementation of the agreed increases. The same applies right now so their boast today for improved future is same old rhetoric and sounds as hollow as ever.”

The 2012 UNDP Survey for Vanua Levu shows that over 48 per cent of population there is living below the poverty line.

Anthony said it has been determined time and again that one of the basic reasons for poverty in this country is due to the low level of wages paid to the employees.

This is reflected starkly by the wages paid to the workers in the garment industry.

Solanki said in his speech at the Fiji/China bilateral technical assistance workshop last month that the Garment Wages Council was the very first wages council to agree to the increase in the minimum wages in April this year.

He said through consensus it was agreed to increase minimum wages by nine per cent. “This recommendation is before the Ministry of Labour at the moment.”

By Ropate Valemei

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Tarte's book 'Fiji'

from w
I bought this book some time ago but only browsed through it as it's chockablock with a view of Fiji history over two hundred years and using historical characters often thinly disguised. The main story is of the 'European' planters in Taveuni and often there's an interesting glimpse of life of the earlier times. The writer used historical research to fill out his novel which bogs down the story of the main family. There's not much from the point of view of women and the writing is rather explicit about the treatment of men over women which really puts off female readers I am sure.  It's not a stunning book but a useful book to see points of view e.g. the writer doesn't paint the Fiji Indian community in a very good light which is a pity because there are numerous wonderful people who ought to be included in the story. It was written in 1988, published by a small press in Victoria Australia, and the story goes as far as the 1987 Rabuka coup.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Laughing all the way to the bank

from w
Money from China, experts, workers, all coming to fix up one of the main roads in Vanua Levu.  Who is laughing all the way to the bank though?  How is the money going to be paid back?
From today's Fiji Times:

Govt inks $220m deal

Serafina Silaitoga
Wednesday, June 20, 2012
THE much-awaited road development in Bua Province is taking shape following a loan agreement between the government and Exim Bank of China. The $220 million loan will result in the tarsealing of the Dreketi-Nabouwalu road to be done in a period of two and a half years. Business community and stakeholders have applauded the move by the government, labelling it an opportunity for growth.
The Prime Minister's permanent secretary Pio Tikoduadua signed the agreement on behalf of the government.
"The signing of the agreement between the government and the China Railway First Group marks a significant milestone for Fiji. And the government is very proud to be able to provide this as an impetus for growth in the province," said Mr Tikoduadua.
He said the government was committed to putting in critical infrastructure in rural areas that would boost economic activities in the region.
"This is a very important for us primarily as it is the main route connecting Labasa to Viti Levu through Nabouwalu which provides the shortest ferry route," Mr Tikoduadua said.
"We are thankful to the government of the Peoples Republic of China as the Chinese Exim Bank has agreed to fund this project, which will benefit thousands of people of the three provinces of Vanua Levu."
Labasa Chamber of Commerce president Ashok Karan said the tarsealing of Dreketi-Nabouwalu road would boost business growth along the corridor.
"We are very happy about the news as it will bring growth to the business community.
"Now that the electricity supply is being extended to Dreketi, this road development will greatly boost development in the area," he said.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Bees and what next?

from w
Cikobia is a small island, isolated, very distant from Labasa. Peceli's grandmother was a child there so it's a special place for us. However, I just wonder how the people there are going to manage to look after this bee-keeping project.  I can see cartoons of bees chasing people all around the village if they are not careful. And will the people know how to turn to bee-hives into honey, put it in jars to market?  Can't see much value is hiring boats to take honeycomb all the way to Labasa. And why ask women to do the task, and not men?  Let the guys get stung!

from today's Fiji Times.

10K to help villagers with first project

Salaseini Vosamana
Tuesday, June 19, 2012
VILLAGERS of Cikobia Island in Macuata will start their inaugural $10,000 bee farming project this year.
The initiative will generate income for more than 100 islanders.
Vuninuku Village headman Apaitia Cagituevei said government had offered 16 beehive boxes to them early this year.
"The boxes will be equally distributed to the four villages on the island where women will be encouraged to monitor the farming situation," Mr Cagituevei said.
"While this is the first-ever project for us, we are hoping it will be successful for the purpose of uplifting the standard of living on the island," he said.
"The villagers will soon undergo bee farming training so they can have a better idea of how to operate such businesses."
Mr Cagituevei said government had greatly assisted them.
"We will market our products to Labasa and other parts of the country depending on the arrangements made with our buyers," he said.
"We thank the government for their assistance and we know this will benefit the younger generation."
District officer Macuata Peni Tora said the $10,000 project was aimed at improving the living standard of islanders.
"We will send the boxes to the island in August where it will be disseminated to the villages," Mr Tora said.
"This is part of our integral approach as we work towards eradicating poverty in Fiji," he said.

This is not a new idea.  It was tried in the Seaqaqa area a couple of years ago and I wonder how successful that was.

Beehives for rural women

Maneesha Karan
Friday, September 17, 2010
NINETEEN double beehives were handed over to the women of Seaqaqa tikina yesterday by the Department of Women and District office at Naravuka Village.
DO Seaqaqa Asesela Biutiviti said the joint project was undertaken to empower women in rural communities.
"The government is focusing on projects that help empower women, and this is one such project whereby women can help generate income for their families," he said.
Of the 19 beehives, the Seaqaqa District Office handed 12 double beehives including farming material such as honey extractor and smoker, which cost about $8000.
Seaqaqa tikina consists of seven villages Naravuka, Nacereyaga, Lomaloma, Saivou, Batiri, Nanenivuda and Natua and each will receive two beehives.
The remaining hives will be owned by the tikina and kept at Naravuka Village.
Seaqaqa Tikina Soqosoqovakamarama spokeswoman Arieta Samosi said they were happy to receive the beehives.
"The village women feel they have no constructive work to do except farming for household consumption and household chores," she said.
"This project will help the women earn extra income through selling honey."
She said some women had plans to start bee farming but lacked resources.
"Now that we have the required hives and the materials for beehiving, there is no stopping for us now."
Mrs Samosi said there was a potential market in Labasa for honey.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

romancing the pacific

from w

Some sketches I've made from observations in Fiji - the usual coconut trees, a tree near Cuvu, gifts from people in Cuvu, a rest bure near Sigatoka, and three views from the Holiday Inn, Suva..

From China to Vanua Levu

from w
Browsing the internet this afternoon (because I didn't go up to Melbourne to church with Peceli for a change) I've been reading all kinds of pieces on Pacific writing, particularly fiction. I found a story about a man who came from China and settled in Vanua Levu. Here is the story by Taina Hazleman, the daughter.

Torn Between Two Worlds by Taina Hazleman

Torn Between Two Worlds
Taina Hazleman
        Growing up on a Pacific island paradise could be everyone’s dream of an ideal life with all the luxuries of fresh air, tropical sunshine, breathtaking landscapes, luscious forests, chirping birds and friendly people. Ironically, for my siblings and I, enduring the pains of being torn between two worlds left emotional scars that shaped our destiny.
      With only a suitcase of clothes and a few yuan in his pocket, Pa, twenty then, escaped the Japanese invasion of his southern province of Guang Dong, China, in the early 1930’s. A sudden state of panic set in with the enemies approaching as he hurriedly bade his family goodbye, not knowing if they would ever meet again. It was a quick farewell but a heart breaking one for his mum and dad who were deeply grieved for their son’s departure to an unknown land. They knew he had joined up with the rest of the young men in his town to sail the high seas to wherever the cargo ship was destined. The very thought of their son escaping from the enemy was consolation enough for his parents but by the same token - they were anxious for his safety.
          The cargo ship berthed at many ports and these young men who had been employed as ship’s crew, laboured hard by offloading and reloading cargo on the way. As it berthed in Sydney, Australia, many of Pa’s friends disembarked. The alluring sight of the magnificent Sydney Harbour proved too tempting for these young men. They had decided to try out a new life in this vast continent. At that time, you did not need a visa to live in Australia.
          Pa stayed put on the ship and decided to work his way through to a little known island, Fiji. What stopped him from not getting off in Sydney is still a mystery to us today. Many of his friends became successful businessmen in the ‘land down under’ and contributed significantly to the country’s economy.
        A few months on and finally the ship arrived in Suva. The town was very small with just a few people milling around the few shops. A Chinese businessman who had established himself well in Suva met up with Pa. He told him about his many grocery stores around Fiji, and coaxed him into working for him by managing one of his shops in the north eastern portion of Vanua Levu, in a village called Visoqo. The idea of managing a shop seemed exciting for him and so he agreed.
          After a few weeks in Suva, a small inter-island boat set sail for Vanua Levu. With his suitcase, a few pounds and no words of English or Fijian, he headed for Labasa, the northern town. It took some weeks for the boat to reach its destination, and a further two weeks to wait for a boat that would transport him to Visoqo. This was a seaside village blessed with abundant seafood. It was often said that the women of the village would put a pot of yam on the fire, and go down to the sea shore to catch crabs in time to return when the yams were done, and the crabs cooked in coconut milk for a mouth watering lunch. Such was the abundance of seafood that you could plan your exotic menu well before you made your catch, and you could eat sea food whenever you wished.
          After a few days in Visoqo, he felt like a prisoner, as homesickness and loneliness got the better of Pa. Perhaps for any young person from a foreign land without the knowledge of the local dialect, and with no one to speak with, life can be trying. So he closed the store and returned to Suva. He had had enough of this remote village.
          His employer was not surprised to see him back, because he had felt the same way when he first arrived in Fiji. He missed his family, as well as the hustle and bustle of his home town. But he told Pa that life is not always a bed of roses, and sacrifices need to be made on the journey of life. Pa visualized his father advising him on what to do, and where to go from there. In the meantime, he spent time contemplating his next move. Many thoughts crossed his mind. Should he go back home to China? Should he just work in Suva, or should he give Visoqo another try? A month had now passed and he stayed idle. He felt useless, for he was not used to wasting his time.
            The odd newspapers brought in by cargo ships reported of war raging on in China and that many were killed. The only long distance communication at that time was by mail sent on ships. A letter to China would take several months. Pa had not communicated with his people back home, he knew they were anxious to know of his whereabouts. But he often thought that he needed to settle in first, before he could write home. What was there to write about anyway? He had nothing to be proud of at this time.
        With no job and no money, he was not making headway. His dreams of sending money back home to his parents seemed far from reality. The thought of living off someone did not make him feel any better. And just like a Chinese junk tossed at sea, steering his boat in the right direction was what he needed to do without delay.
          Finally he decided to give Visoqo another try. Off he went with some cargo supplied by the owner of the store. He reminded himself to stay positive and face the challenges on the way. The villagers were glad to see him back, for the shop eased their burden of sailing to Labasa. The shop sold everything they needed; from groceries, clothes, fuel and dress materials for the ‘kala vata’ on Xmas.
The ‘kala vata’ concept in the Fijian context visibly confirms their solidarity or ‘yalo vata’ of sharing the same spirit of community. This is a popular practice during festivals and celebrations. It somehow added magic to the occasion. And the concept is still alive today.
            Not very far from this store, was the house of the talatala qase or the reverend in charge of the greater Rauriko area. The talatala and his wife had a daughter, Mereani, who was about to travel to Suva to join the Nursing School. Pa had made friends with the people and was cared for by the talatala and his family. He had begun to learn the local dialect and a few young men would take him out fishing in a little boat. Life became more adventurous for this young foreign man. He had many interesting experiences of fishing, hiking in the mountains, trekking the bushes and watching turtles come ashore to lay eggs. These were magical sights and sounds never experienced in his life before.
          A few years passed, and during one of his long boat trips to Labasa town to buy goods for the store, he was shockingly told by a Chinese store keeper that his photograph was in the missing people column of a Chinese newspaper. His parents had put in an advertisement asking for his whereabouts. This prompted him to write back instantly, telling them he was alive and well and that he was sorry for not writing earlier, as his life was now stable and things were working out well for him. It took him a few days to recover from the shock. The thought of how much anxiety he had caused on his parents worried him, and he hoped that they would receive the letter sooner rather than later.
                Before young Mereani could go off to the Nursing School, Pa had grown quite close to her. Being far away from his homeland, he had found a faithful friend and a caring family. This relationship was not entertained by her parents, as well as the people of the greater Rauriko area. There were many conflicts that made this relationship complicated. It seemed as if a time bomb was about to explode, and it needed to be diffused urgently for the sake of the church, its culture, traditions and protocol.
          Serious questions by many concerned began to be asked. How can a talatala’s daughter marry an atheist who does not even know about God? How is it possible for a daughter of a talatala to defy the laws of the church and continue to meet with this foreigner? And worse still, how can a young Fijian maiden even think about marrying a Chinese man who belongs to a different culture that no one knew about? The hatred in the village intensified. But Mereani’s parents prayed for peace amidst the storm. After all, she was their only daughter.
            Mereani’s strong-headedness was something they knew well, and they had to tread wisely with patience and love. And like every caring parent, they wanted the best for their daughter. She on the other hand, would not budge. Come what may, she was ready to face the consequences. Unlike many young Fijian girls at the time, when male dominance prevailed, Mereani stood her ground and spoke out strongly against anyone who opposed her decision. She was one of those that belonged to the category of ‘dau vosa’ or ‘a talker’ - which is a negative connotation given to females in the Fijian context - because women are expected to remain silent at any price. Women’s rights were never heard of then. The women of Sautiki in Naduri are well known in Macuata for speaking their minds, and often dominated their male counterparts. It was obvious that our mother inherited most of their genes.
            She highlighted the irony of their belief, hammered out from the pulpit, of loving everyone without condition and yet failing in their actions to really love and accept the differences in people.  The situation was tense in the area and the common feeling at the time was likened to Ruth and Boaz’s relationship in the bible with this famous quote: “His ways are not our ways and his God not our God.”
              However bad the scenario became, Mereani knew what she wanted and nothing would change that. She put up a sterling fight and decided to marry Pa in the Labasa Registry Office. She informed her parents of her decision and although they disagreed strongly, nothing or nobody could stop them. The pressure from the church, the people and close relatives was too much for my grandparents to handle. Their faith in the Almighty sustained them throughout their time of heartache. My grandfather felt obliged to bless their marriage in the church to seal their union.
              Not long after, to the delight of our grand parents, Lavinia was born. She was a brain box, and in no time picked up the Visoqo dialect - and miraculously today, we all still speak the dialect of this northern coastal village, or as they say in Vanua Levu, ‘na vosa va’a ca’e’, the dialect of the upper coast people.
        Some time later, Pa, our mother Mereani and Lavinia moved down the coast to Wailevu, home of our grandmother or Radi ni Talatala, Masilina Ragodrogodro. Vasemaca and Tomasi were born here. Pa had his own shop now and money was plentiful, with rising copra prices and the abundance of sea and land resources.
        It was not long before a request came from one of Pa’s uncles in Naduri that he needed help to run his very thriving business. Like most stores in Fiji, it had everything a shop could sell. The copra industry was at its peak and money was coming in rapidly.
                Pa’s uncle had brought his wife down from China and she too could not speak a word of English. But for some unknown reason, she disliked ‘black’ people and that was the reason our Nana had to make herself scarce each time she was around.
Perhaps China was a closed country then, with only one race of people, and seeing Fijians for the first time was a scary encounter. But the unusual relationship baffled me. Even now, I have often wondered how Nana accepted their discriminatory attitudes, and bowed down to their demands even though they were visitors from a far away land.
The latter echoes my Fijian upbringing, which reflects the mentality that visitors are honoured, and showered with love and hospitality, and the feeling is expected to be mutual between the host and the guest. Thus to any Fijian, the hostility displayed was disrespectful and downright rude.
              “Perhaps she did not deserve our Fijian hospitality”, I have often thought. Her dislike for my seven siblings was obvious, because they were children of a mixed marriage, and were not pure ‘breeds’ so to speak. She was against the idea of their presence anywhere near the store premises. Somehow she felt she could neither trust them nor our mother. Her perception of black people could have been that of them being too poor to respect, without the luxuries that most rich Chinese value.
After all, this was a clash of two cultures, one that values money and material richness and the other that values God and family.
      Perhaps our Nana tried to show respect to her because that was Pa’s uncle’s wife. And with her strong blood ties to the chiefly family of Naduri, she could have easily rocked the boat, but her decision to love and honour the older couple saw her through the stormy in-law relationship.
                Nana’s clan from her Dad’s mother’s side lived in Naduri in a place called Sautiki. Relatives came to visit frequently bringing root crops, fish, mats and oil. Nana was always happy to see them. And in the true Fijian spirit, she never ever wanted to see them return empty handed. She would ask Pa for groceries for their ‘ti’, metres of dress materials,  kerosene fuel for their lamps and whatever gifts she could get hold of from the store which were a luxury to our people. The situation at home was often unpleasant, because Pa would often argue that we could not run a business if we kept giving away goods. Nana, strong headed as she was, would be in a rage, telling Pa what a miser he was.
            “You Chinese are all mamaqi!” she would often say.
            We were caught in the ‘cross fire’ as the long argument dragged on, even after the relatives had gone. But somehow, Nana often got her way, and reminded Pa in her own words - “This is not China, this is Fiji…..we do it the Fijian way!”
But Pa often shouted back -  “You’re a whole lot of empty heads, you think money falls from trees?  I have to sweat to feed you lot and you’re just giving away everything free!”
          On these occasions, the household was tense and everyone was silent because we sympathized with our Pa; working hard to give us the best education, but by the same token, we felt for Nana and our maternal relatives. My older siblings often wished they had enough money to give both parties, and keep the peace at any cost. It was an embarrassing time for all of us, because our visiting relatives were humble people and they loved us dearly. The often loud and ugly confrontations stabbed our spirits because it was in stark contrast with the quiet disposition of our people. It was in these moments that we realized how poles apart our two worlds were. One party worried about budgeting and economizing while the other didn’t bother much about money matters, nor was ever anxious about tomorrow. There was a constant psychological dilemma each time our maternal connections visited our home. Most times, at the end of the day, we were emotionally drained to the core.
                  After some years in Naduri, my parents decided to move to my mother’s village in Korotubu about 8 kilometers away. Pa established a shop there, and like Naduri, it had easy access to the inter-island cargo ships that brought goods from Suva. There were two additions to the family, with the birth of our youngest sister and I. In fact we were all delivered safely at home. For the two of us born in Korotubu, my mother relied solely on the expert hands of our late and dear grand aunt who was the province’s senior midwife; Taufa Dimo Tuidravu. She was everyone’s Florence Nightingale when it came to baby deliveries and because of her, many children of the province were safely given home deliveries. And until the day she passed on, she could remember all those she had helped bring safely into the world. May God bless her soul!
            Pa worked hard on his new property and we also began cattle rearing and poultry farming that included turkeys, ducks and chickens. The copra price was also at its peak and mother of pearls with trocus shells fetched good prices. Nana brought home many of her cousins to weave mats, baskets and harvest voivoi leaves. The women earned money to send their children to school. On good days, life was easy going for us.
Pa also rented a house in town for our schooling and our older sisters, Lavinia and Vasemaca, who had found employment in the Post and Telecommunication department. We attended the Anglican mission school in Labasa as it was seen to be the best educational institute then.
Funerals and weddings incur huge expenses on any household, and our maternal relatives often came to Pa to help them out with their burdens like buying a cow or taking groceries. Sometimes the goods were taken on credit, and never paid for afterwards. Pa could not understand why people hesitated in paying up for what they owed. After all, copra prices were high, food was plentiful and the land was fertile and never in short supply.
            The conflict between the ‘kerekere’ system or borrowing and running a business continued to cause disharmony in our family. Most times Pa says that our relatives were too lazy to work for their living and resorted to borrowing everything. He often had to draw the line and say, “No”.
            Some time later, one of our brothers began to indulge in kava drinking and smoking, but he did not earn enough to afford this indulgence. And during one of those dark moments when he was caught by Pa trying to ‘choke’ someone for a roll, he was thrown a barrage of insults.
            “If you can’t afford it, go without! People like you are like leeches, living off others for their own selfish life style.” It was obvious that our brother didn’t think like a Chinese, although his physical stature is totally Asian. He was the butt of our family jokes, because we compared him to a wolf in sheep’s clothing. The lessons of life we had learnt from Pa were to work for our living and not ask others for our needs. Our brother’s action was not the norm of our household. He seemed to be out of line and we often felt ashamed for him. Fortunately, our growing up helped us cope with the conflicts that we faced and turning our depressed emotions into humour made our life more livable.
        Being torn between two worlds is draining because your love and loyalty is divided between the two. The Chinese mentality is based on independent living, and having full responsibility of your immediate family, whereas the Fijian mentality is more about communal living, based on the concept of ‘what’s mine is yours.’  Each concept has its advantages and disadvantages. We have tried to adopt the best of both worlds and live by their principles. Our contributions for the church, or for the deaths, weddings or birthdays of relatives are our obligations. However, deep down in our hearts, our will to be self sufficient and independent will never fade, for that is how we watched Pa work tirelessly on his business, manage his farm and toil the land to send us to school and provide for our livelihood, as well as support our maternal grandparents who had become blind from cataract which was untreatable then.
              Our parents have passed on, but they have left us a legacy to uphold and this we have passed down to our children. We can only hope they will appreciate the differences of the two worlds and embrace the best of both.
Taina Hazelman is from Fiji and this is her first published piece.
Filed under : EDITION : Saraga! 

When foreigners write about the South Pacific

from w
I've been reading a few books lately about the South Pacific but by expatriates/foreigners/Aussies. One was 'No kava for Johnny' by the chap who wrote 'They're a weird mob'.  It's very funny, about a small-build Samoan boy/young man who just wants respect but he causes chaos wherever he goes or whatever he does. Naive and honest. The writer spent three years in Samoa and says it's basically a true story and how 'Johnny' told him about his life. Okay, then I wonder what Samoans think of books like this. I know what they thought of Margaret Mead's writing about 'Coming of Age in Samoa' - they didn't like it!  Perhaps Robert Louis Stevenson - well, okay. A romantic view perhaps and he's a hero, and that was also way in the past.

And I also read this week 'By Reef and Palm' by Louis Becke, one of my Dad's old books. It's a collection of short stories about beachcombers, traders, and Islanders - set it seems in the 1880s.  Seems to be rather honest and barely romanticised.  So what do Islanders think of these interpretations, I wonder.

 I enjoy the short stories and some of the articles in the Fiji Times written by Seona Smiles, once again an expat. person who observes life around her, mainly from her Fiji Indian networks and family.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Happy birthday Sailosi

Sailosi Koto is a true gentleman, and he had a birthday yesterday.  We had lunch with Sailosi yesterday after church at Altona Meadows/Laverton. A generous family, so best wishes to Sailosi.

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Regarding a church conference

from w
Though permission has been given for the Methodist Church in Fiji  Conference  to convene, there are numerous rules and expectations listed by the Police who give the permit.  These kind of conditions have not been set out for the other churches in Fiji, so it's specifically to the Methodists..  The prejudice displayed by making a rule that there cannot be a bazaar, choir competition or soli limits the conference from the celebration style of past years.  Here are two media comments about this: one from Fiji Village, the other from Fiji Times. I like the bit that says 'Tudravu said other churches should not be concerned about similar actions!'  Seems they can fundraise like crazy - expecting tithes of 10% without any remark from the police!

Church told to focus on spiritual growth, not fundraising
Publish date/time: 07/06/2012 [13:13]
Focus on the spiritual growth of the members, not on fundraising.

Police Director of Operations SSP Rusiate Tudravu said this is the decision after careful consideration on the permit approval of the Methodist Church Annual Conference in August.
There is an audio file attached to this story. Please loginto listen.
The permit approval given to the church to hold their Annual Conference is subject to the conditions that they do not hold their bazaar and choir competition.
It has been stated that this would put a financial burden on the members.
Tudravu said other churches should not be concerned about similar actions.

Story by: Gwen McGoon

 From Fiji Village

Methodists prepare
Torika Tokalau
Thursday, June 07, 2012
THE Methodist Church in Fiji received good news yesterday after Commissioner of Police Brigadier General Ioane Naivalurua granted a permit for its annual conference.
The permit for the conference and the Standing Committee meetings, however came with strict conditions.
This approval is issued with conditions that need to be observed prior and throughout the meeting, the permit signed by Brig-Gen Naivalurua said.
These conditions are to be acknowledged as serious actions will be instituted if violated or contravened hence, demands your strict observance and adherence.
The permit had six conditions to the Standing Committee meetings and eight conditions to the conference.
It stated that the holding of the conference will be determined on the strict observance of the Standard Committee meetings.
The eight conditions for the conference which were told to be stringently observed were:
* meeting should not coincide with the Hibiscus Festival which will be held from August 17-25:
* meeting is for three days only;
* meeting to be conducted on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday respectively;
* meeting to be held from 8am to 8pm;
* meeting to be confined to the Centenary Church premises;
* church matters only to be discussed;
* no political issues be discussed; and
* no request of extension of time frame be made during the meeting proper.
The permit also stated that no other activities are to be entertained such as the choir competition, erecting of stalls/bazaar or any form.
This is a positive letter from the Police Commissioner and the Methodist Church of Fiji is very appreciative of the permit granted for Standing Committee meetings and especially the conference, church general secretary Reverend Tuikilakila Waqairatu said.
Reverend Waqairatu said they were happy the permit was received early, giving them time to prepare for the conference.
Last year we were disappointed that the conference was called off an hour before it was supposed to have begun.
This permit gives ample time to prepare and get things properly organised before the conference.
For the six conditions to the Standing Committee meetings, the permit stated:
* meeting shall be for one day commencing from 8am-6pm;
* place of the meeting to be confined to Centenary Church premises;
* date to be confirmed by the assistant general secretary Reverend Tevita Nawadra;
* no political issues to be discussed;
* a minute of the meeting to be provided to the Police; and
* the permit of the Standing Committee meetings in July will be determined on the strict observance of the above conditions.

Sunday, June 03, 2012

Birthday for a babasiga kid

from w,
A long time ago, a babasiga kid was born at Ba Mission Hospital - that time we were living in Rakiraki and Peceli was the talatala/padre in the Indian Division of the Methodist Church.  Those days in Ra were beautiful times, visiting families in the canefields or around the sugar mill. June 4th, a special day.  Best wishes George.

Saturday, June 02, 2012

On the way to Vanua Levu

from w
Travelling by boat to Vanua Levu can be a frightening experience if it's bad weather, but usually it's about a good time of talanoa, telling stories and enjoying friendships old and new. Here's one story. from the Features of Fiji Times.

Laughs on a ship

Solomoni Biumaiono
Sunday, June 03, 2012
We had just left Suva Harbour and cruising parallel to the reef when I got a tap from my fellow travelling companion Doctor Sakiusa Mainawalala, a man from Buca Bay and my tovatas O via grog?(Do you want to grog)? I noticed another gentleman standing immediately behind him as he started up from the floor of the lounge of the cabin class. I later got to know that his name is Ratu Orisi Seruitanoa or Tu O as he is called. Tu O immediately walked past us and beckoned us to follow him. Eitou lao ena olo (we go to the hall), he said the Taveuni dialect. I thought this is a good diversion from the drama earlier where I was just being told via the cell phone that one of my close friends Samu had just been admitted to CWM Hospital. Frantic calls to Tama and Shane revealed they were aware and were going to visit him that night along with Teddy, Dave and Stan.
That brought some relief. So off we trooped to the hall, which is basically the mess hall for the crew of the MV SOFI.
The was already well underway when we entered and the gentleman who was leading us, immediately took charge and worked to break the ice.
Well, he actually vaporised it, if there is a term to describe how he put everyone at ease with his witty one liners. We introduced ourselves, our names, village and which company we work for.
Tu O is from Somosomo, Taveuni and he is the principal of Savusavu Secondary and Doctor Saki, both my tovatas. My kai and our driver Joe Finau from Vanuabalavu, Jack Swann of Levuka and Ledua Takayawa of Matuku from Radial Drilling, Sunia Niurua from Navosa who is a security detail with the bank and Junior Cawaru from Qamea who is a delivery driver. We were joined later by the captain Sireli Vana.
Tu O immediately livened up the session by picking on his tauvu Jack Swann who gave as good as he got. All of a sudden our attention turned to the new and nice looking mat we are sitting on.
The old women would call it a vakabati because it is adorned in layers of coloured wool (kula) and would only be used for special occasions like weddings, birthdays and funerals. But here we are, sitting on a vakabati. One of the crew members present said the mat came all the way from New Zealand.
Tu O was startled, sarcastically asking if New Zealand is now producing traditional Fijian mats. What is so special about this New Zealand mat? We all come from a place where mats are in abundant but you have to go all the way to New Zealand to change the met for the mess hall?, Tu O asked. Everyone laughed.
The banter swung back and fourth during the night as the ship gathered pace through the Lomaiviti Group and so too was the pace of the takis, with Junior now firmly in charge as the taki master.
Topics ranged from witchcraft to Vunilagi in Savusavu, which according to Tu O is the origin of all Fijians of Indian decent in Savusavu.
As usual, all talanoa around the grog basin is always added with baking powder before it is thrown in. Well, according to legends Vunilagi too holds a significant part if the itaukei folklore.
Then there is the story about Kuku(grandfather in the Vanua Levu dialect) Lu and the treatment of the disorder of the testes. In between we would get free clinical advice from Doctor Saki, who proves to be a hit amongst the crowd with his dietary and healthy living advice.
But Tu O saved his best for last when he told of the story about a grandfather regaling his grandchildren with his antics as a young man. In his area there is a well known man called Ja
whom many used to be afraid of because he is physically big and tall. Ja is taller than the grand
father too. In this area too, anyone who shouts at the top of his voice is considered a man. His story is roughly translated below:
Grandfather: Mudou sa rogoca na noqu vucui Ja? (O dou sa rogoca noqu vaculakini Ja?)
Grandchildren: A maqa kuku Sega Tutu (Sega Tutu)
Grandfather: Au ma sobu mai i na wavu levu i Malau. Au ma qai dana e dua na qolou. Au qai idacala ni sa rogo viro mai e dua na qolou mai mada. Arai ma o Ja. (Au sobu yani ena wavu levu mai Malau. Au qai biuta e dua na kaila. Au kidacala ni sa rogo tale mai e dua na kaila mai liu. Qo o Ja!)
Grandchildren: Ma qai vaacava kuku? (Qai cava Tutu?)
Grandfather: Au ma qai dana viro e dua na qolou! Qolou viro mai o Ja! Eru sa qai mai veiraici tu yani... eru ma qai veisisivi qolou. Au ma qai idacala ni sa ukutaina na noqu kola ni sote o Ja!! Au qai sorova tale e dua na kaila! Kaila tale mai o Ja! (Keirau sa mai veiyadravi tu yani...keirau qai veisivisivi kaila. Au kidacala ni hang-taka noqu collar ni sote o Ja!!)
Grandchildren: Ma qai vaacava kuku? (Qai cava Tutu?)
Grandfather: Au ma qai rubica viro e dua na qolou ni ma sa laveti au cae. Au rubica e dua a kaila ena nona sa laveti au cake...Lili na yavaqu.
Grandchildren: Ma qai vaacava kuku? (Qai cava Tutu?)
Grandfather: Au ma qai ukutaina viro ga na kola ni nona sote (Au qai hang-taka tale ga na nona collar ni sote o Ja) .
Grandchildren: Ma qai vaacava kuku? (Qai vaca Tutu?)
Grandfather: Au ma qai laveti oya cae ni sota sara tu ga na mataieirua (Au qai laveti koya cake me yacova ni keirau sa veirai mata sara tu ga.)
Grandchildren: Maqa, mudru sa lili ruarua i macawa ina (Wara drau sa lili ruarua imacawa).
The room erupted into laughter and kept on going until it was interrupted only by the bridge which rang the stand by alarm for the crew as the ship pulled into Koro Island.
Tu O and Doctor Saki volunteered to buy our chasers and we went down with Junior to get four parcels of fried wish and from the women selling on the wharf at Koro Island.
As we left Koro behind and entered the main passage between Vanua Levu and Viti Levu the grog was taking effect.
Just when we were doped and we starting to feel the rocking the boat, Master Orisi Seruitanoa just looked up and blurted out the party pooper question of all time, who the hell introduced this thing to us? Of all the plants to pick the roots of...they decided to pick this root! he says pointing to the dari of grog in the middle of the room.
I guess everybody just felt the same thing...our dope level increased twice fold. I guess some of those sitting in the room would have wished he was a small child but then again, everyone was too doped to answer the wise cracking comments.
The room fell silent. The grog session was over even though the grog was still flowing. But the early breakfast of fish and dalo made up for it.