Sunday, June 23, 2013

Levuka a heritage site

from w
Good news for Levuka one of my favourite places in Fiji, much more interesting for tourists than a resort, with its history and unusual line of buildings hugging the shoreline.  I'm not sure though about the reference to the 'supreme naval power' in the article.  Who are they talking about?  Not the rum bottles floating with the tide in the days of the beachcombers and hanger-on around Levuka!

And the wonderful song 'Sai Levuka ga'  which featured in a film about a grandmother from Levuka living in New Zealand. Number Two.

Sai Levuka ga, au nanuma tu
Na kena vei lasa kece
Dau vovotu mai, e na veivei gauna
Vei siga kei Levuka
Vei vatu loa, ka koro makawa
Seva na vei biau, kei Viti-e-Loma
Dau vadugu tu, na kena cakau
Lali ni neirau vakamau

E makare tu, vei au oqo
Na noqu gauna e Levuka
E na noqu tu, kau raica lesu
Rui kamica dina vei au

Vei vatu loa, ka koro makawa
Seva na vei biau, kei Viti-e-Loma
Dau vadugu tu, na kena cakau
Lali ni neirau vakamau

from Fiji Village:

Levuka now listed as World Heritage site
Publish date/time: 24/06/2013 [07:17]
History has been created today as the old capital Levuka is now listed as a World Heritage site.

The message was relayed to the Minister for Education and National Heritage Filipe Bole after the World Heritage Committee meeting in Cambodia.

Bole said this will see developments for Levuka and will also attract tourists.

He said the application was made to UNESCO in 2011 to make Levuka as a heritage site for Fiji.

Attorney General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum said the listing was bound to generate more international interest for the town.

The Committee described Levuka - with “its low line of buildings set among coconut and mango trees along the beach front” - as a “rare” and “outstanding example of late 19th century Pacific port settlements”.

It said the combination of “development by the indigenous community” and “integration of local building traditions by a supreme naval power” - Britain - had led to ‘the emergence of a unique landscape’.

Story by: Watisoni Butabua

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Birthday of the Uniting Church

from w
It is 36 years on since the formation of the Uniting Church of Australia - linking Presbyterian, Methodist and Congregational churches. It has been an imaginative brave move and it's a church that is not static but ever learning how to be creative as Christians with a firm social justice component.Today we celebrated at East Geelong with four congregations coming together at East Geelong. It was lovely. Our band comprised a piano, organ, (my turn) drums (Jordan) and a trumpet and we had a visiting choir. Three ministers, Ikani, Sani, and Dr Darcy Wood. Then we had a shared lunch. It was a noisy friendly kind of day and we should do this more often.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Farewell to Jese in Melbourne

from w
The Fijian community in Melbourne gathered for the funeral of a beloved friend, Jese, who died on Monday morning after a long illness.  The Naitisiri people particularly came together to host the reguregu ceremony, the funeral and burial,  and burua ceremonies. Reguregu - gathering before the funeral. Burua - the gathering after the funeral. We were at Coburg Uniting Church last night for the burua and reaffirmed the relationships we have with one another, remember previous times we had met with many different people. The Fijian way is so good for finding our place in the community, acceptance, and reiterating what we mean to one another, remembering earlier stories, and being grateful that God has been alongside in our various journeys. The Fijian migrant community know how to deal with rites of passage such as a bereavement. (One photo is from Netani's photo collection - Makelesi, Carol, Anne.) Our condolences to Anne and her family especially.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Sunday for a retired talatala

from w
Yesterday was full on for two old-timers over seventy. Before six I had to wake up George to zap Jordan's leg with the magnet - a routine every six hours. Then at 8.30 went to the local East Geelong  Uniting church and played the music - organ and piano - but not at the same time -  morning tea, and later lunch at church followed by a lively meeting about a congregational review. We left half-way through though. I said something silly like - the world must come into the 'church', the 'church' must go into the world. Then Peceli and I went to Altona Meadows/Laverton church where we had a Bible study instead of formal church. Then Vika, our friend who's a retired teacher, and us went to Chadstone to visit the Fijians there -  for a meeting. There the hospitable Fijians put on a lovely late lunch for the three of us - prawns, Singapore noodles, lote (tapioca, pumpkin, coconut cream) and our meeting to plan a National Conference for 2014 went well. Then we dropped Vika at her home in Altona and went to visit Sailosi, a member of our Altona Meadows/Laverton congregation, in Werribee hospitall. It was good to get home by 8.30 p.m. and just watch a bit of TV then sleep! That's retirement life for a retired talatala and his missus.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Are Fiji people too fat?

from w
The editorial in today's Fiji Times is about obesity in Fiji and suggests that Fijians are the fourth most overweight group of people in the world.  I think Tonga figures higher than that.  Why?  Go into a bush village in Fiji and most of the men and women are moderately built, even very healthy and lean.  Of course the culture of some Pacific Island groups is that you look healthy if you are fat, and sick if you are skinny.  So what is going on?  As the medical people suggest it is the change of diet, junk food, fast meals such as buns and noodles, less fruit as vegetables which would be in the traditional diet and still is in island and inland communities.  The food in Fiji is certainly flavoursome and large feasts figure in many traditional occasions - funerals, weddings, family rites of passage, visiting dignitories, and the talatalas are often fat because they are given the top of the table serve!  And then you get obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure. Cut the salt! Cut the fat!  Go vegetarian six days of the week I reckon. And walk a lot.
And Samoans too of course.
(added on Thursday: The ABC Australian radio news gave this story which was surprising.)

Food challenge

Ruby Taylor-Newton
Sunday, June 16, 2013
It all starts with what foods you put in your mouth.
The comments from our health minister on page 3 that Fiji is ranked fourth most obese nation in the world may come as a shock to some, while for others, hardly surprising.
With this medical revelation, we are again reminded about our eating habits at home, at work, at restaurants and wherever else.
To change our eating habits is to change our mindsets.
And in a multi-cultural society that appreciates rich, flavoursome foods too much, it can be hard to cut back, cut out and force a change in our tastebuds.
But with our lives and health hanging in the balance, we are now forced to make a choice.
For some, giving up a normal diet of rich Pacific food, junk, fizzy drinks, noodles, roti, burgers, etc is a real challenge.
However, when we consider the rising NCD cases in our country, the deaths caused by them, obesity, hypertension, diabetes, stress, all which contribute to NCDs, we know a change in our eating habits is way overdue.
And like everything else that is supposed to be good for human beings, it all starts at home.
The odds are against us in many instances - it may seem. Not only must we summon up the courage to change our choice of foods, but then, we have the food sellers, supermarkets, eateries, restaurants and fast food chains to contend with.
We must conquer our weak desires to give in to eating unhealthy, buying unhealthy food and living unhealthy lifestyles. And its not easy.
A change in foods will require a change in mindset, a change in leisure indulgences perhaps, a change in our shopping lists and most of all, a willingness to want to go all the way to a new and healthy you.
Commitment, dedication, perseverence to this one goal is as challenging as winning a race — except this challenge can be a life and death situation.
Yes, eating healthy is expensive, but getting sick will cost us more.
Better to accept the situation we are in, and take the appropriate course of action that will steer us in a healthy direction.
Instead of waiting around for the health ministry to figure out innovative options to address the problem of obesity, we can start with ourselves. Make small, simple changes to what we eat.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Pocket money for catching the pest American iguanas

from w
Here's a cartoon that tells us about the pocket money to be paid for catching the American iguanas that are spreading around the little islands off Taveuni. They started at Qamea they say when a visitor brought some into Fiji illegally. The darned things can swim too. Main trouble is they eat up the vegetable gardens of the people. They are certainly pests not pets!

Fiji launches bounty program to eradicate pest iguanas

Updated Fri Jun 14, 2013 7:57pm AEST
A bounty program to capture American Iguanas has been launched in Fiji.
American Iguanas, which can grow up to two metres and weigh nine kilograms, aren't native to the region and cause damage to indigenous ecosystems.
Islanders will receive a reward of $US5 dollars for every adult iguana handed in over the next four months.
The Biosecurity Authority of Fiji and Nature Fiji-MareqetiViti are hoping the program will eradicate the pest.
Director of Nature Fiji-MareqetiViti, Dr Richard Watling, has told Radio Australia's Pacific Beat the iguanas are posing a major problem in Fiji.
"This iguana has arrived and become established on one small island in Fiji," he said.
"This is the first island in the Pacific is expanding very rapidly.
"This is the bridgehead to some of the most vulnerable and isolated floras in Oceania."
Dr Watling says the program is a trial and not necessarily the solution.
"Bounty programs in general don't have a very good reputation for being sustainable," he said.
"This is going to be one which is purely for the next four months over the breeding season when these animals are most conspicuous."
Dr Watling says the iguana's breeding season will make them easier to spot as they move around more when looking for a mate and laying eggs.
He says there are limited resources available in Fiji for tackling the issue.
"If this species was gaining a foothold in Australia or New Zealand there would be very major resources immediately but we just don't have those sorts of resources here," he said.
"We would like to see to what degree the villagers and the landowners can get involved and benefit from doing some control work."
First posted Fri Jun 14, 2013 7:30pm AEST

Saturday, June 08, 2013

A village in Bua

from w
Some of the babasiga women went down to an interior vllage Banikea near Lekutu Bua for a funeral and it seems that the children had time to have fun in the river and in riding horses. The funeral was for the father of the Methodist minister of Wailevu, near Labasa. The life of a village away from the coast is not experienced by the tourists yet this is where the heart of Fiji is. The people work well, are fit and healthy and not discontented wanting the bright lights of Suva.

Friday, June 07, 2013

Archbishop Peter Chong

from w
Our best wishes are with our Catholic friends at this time, and our prayers go out to the new Archbishop, Father Peter Loy Chong. 

Peter Chong ordained as Archbishop June 08, 2013 12:10:


Roman Catholic Bishop Father Peter Loy Chong was today ordained as Fiji’s sixth archbishop at the Vodafone Arena in Suva. In his address to the nation Father Chong said today’s event will be remembered in years to come and they should celebrate in diversity and unity as they remember today’s event. Father Chong said his ordination was about God’s calling and commission. Father Chong acknowledged his parents and family for always being a firm rock of support to him. In his message he also urged everyone to be happy and follow God’s path in everything they do. Father Chong is ready to take on his new role as archbishop and says the Catholic Church will do whatever it can to address people related issues even if it means venturing into politics. About 12 priests, 20 bishops and 52 altar boys took part during the ordination ceremony. Father Chong was ordained by three consecrating bishops which included principal consecrating Bishop emeritus Petero Mataca. Amongst invited guests were President of Fiji, Ratu Epeli Nailatikau, Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama, government ministers, church leaders from religious organisations and civil society leaders. The last ordination was held 39 years ago which saw Bishop emeritus Petero Mataca being ordained as the fifth Archbishop. Father Chong is from Korovou, Tailevu and is a lecturer at the Pacific Regional Seminary. He recently graduated in his Doctor in Theology at the St Clare University.Read more at:

Copyright 2013 ©

Thursday, June 06, 2013

Politicians and smiles and hugs

from w
They seem to be the same in each country, politicians and leaders needing hugs and handshakes. Today Kevin Rudd, a former PM of Australia, was in Geelong in support of local Labour members who might lose their seats in an upcoming election.  Peceli did not go but I was curious as a cat so went along to Diversitat - the local migrant resource Hub - and it was a typical optimistic upbeat promotion listing all the good things they've done. Many media people were taking photos. Peceli did not go because he did not want to be hugged by a politician such as the silver-haired one.  But... here's a photo at the front office of Diversitat and guess whose photo is on a billboard on the left?

Monday, June 03, 2013

Old-fashioned almost unreadable version of the Bible

from w
I was disappointed that an important gift to Fiji Schools missed the opportunity to provide readable modern translations of the Bible, even the very interesting paraphrase called 'The Message' would make a lovely gift.  Instead the Baptist International Missions gave copies  the very difficult King James version which even English speaking people do not usually read today.  It is how many years old - four hundred years - the kind Shakespeare wrote in perhaps. A missed opportunity. Also, why not a good Fijian or Hindi translation?
from today's Fiji Times:

Bibles for schools

Ana Madigibuli
Tuesday, June 04, 2013
STUDENTS and teachers will soon have access to the King James version Bible in their schools next month.
This follows a handover of 221,000 Bibles by Alan Brooks, the director of the Baptist International Missions from Chattanooga in Tennessee, to the Education Ministry.
Education Minister Filipe Bole said he was delighted to receive a copy of the Bible.
"The teachings from this Bible should encourage students and teachers to be law-abiding citizens, be respectful in their attitude and show tolerance and humility in their everyday living," said Mr Bole.
Mr Brooks said there were 118,000 New Testament Bibles for primary school students and 103,000 full — inclusion of the Old Testament — Bibles for high school students and teachers. etc. 

Sunday, June 02, 2013

Fijian community in Melbourne welcome Fiji visitors

from w
Today Peceli and I went up to Chadstone Melbourne for the church service to welcome Rev Tuikilakila and Rev Tevita, President and Secretary of the Methodist Church in Fiji. They are both in Australia for a couple of weeks to visit mainly Uniting Church leaders and the Fijian communities.  It was a special time yesterday afternoon meeting up with many friends, a baptism, a fine sermon from Rev Tui based on Acts 2 relating the early church, called the Way, to Christian life today. The children's time about baptism and water was led by  Rev Enright, a representative from Uniting World, Sydney, (swimming in God's love is a new image for me) and of course choir singing. The service went for nearly three hours I think! I took a ten minute break halfway to ease my aching knee. Afterwards we accepted the splendid hospitality of a feast prepared for all of us. Fijian men and women certainly how to do hospitality very well. We did not stay for the farewell ceremonies as we wanted to visit one of our church members at Wyndam Vale on the way home.