Friday, February 28, 2014

Some interesting facts about yaqona

from w
In a Letter to the Editor of the Fiji Times, Paul Geraghty, Fiji's expert on the Fijian language writes in response to a letter where the writer says that drinking kava was only for chiefs and priests.

Yaqona drinking
YOUR correspondent Korina Waibuta (FT23/2) has revisited the popular myth that yaqona was drunk traditionally only by chiefs and high priests.
This is not true.
There is abundant evidence that yaqona has been a popular social drink among all classes of men (and some women) for as far back as written records and oral traditions go.
For example, the shipwrecked sailor John Twyning reported in 1829: "drinking of kava is the invariable practice of the natives of all the Feejee islands, whenever they assemble together, either for business or pleasure."
In 1870, Australian journalist Henry Britton reported in the Melbourne Argus that Fijians drink yaqona "in large quantities", while white men often become "passionately fond" of it.
Even further off the mark is the extraordinary claim that missionaries introduced the tanoa, bilo and even piala!
The tanoa was introduced by Samoan/Tongan craftsmen in the mid-eighteenth century, probably replacing an earlier ceramic bowl (dari).
The bilo appears to be traditional, and the piala (as a cup for yaqona) was introduced by girmitiya in the late nineteenth century.
Interestingly, the tabili (yaqona pounder) was introduced by Solomon Islanders, also in the late nineteenth century.
So yaqona drinking is a truly multi-ethnic pursuit!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

It's raining it's pouring the old man is snoring

from w
It's raining, it's pouring, the old man is snoring,
Bumped his head and he went to bed
and he couldn't get up in the morning.....
Okay, the announcement has been postponed because it's raining.  Well, pull the other one.  Why?
from ABC news:

Fiji regime postpones handover of military command

Updated at 6:54 pm today

The Fiji military says Friday's scheduled Commander of the Republic of Fiji Military Forces Handover Parade has been postponed, citing adverse weather.
Commodore Frank Bainimarama, who has led the armed forces for 15 years, had said he would step down at the end of this month to launch a political party.
The information ministry has given no new date.
The regime is yet to announce his successor.
Observers say among those being considered is his brother-in-law and former navy commander, Francis Kean, despite him having served a jail sentence for killing a guest at a Bainimarama family wedding in late 2006.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Fiji voter registration in whole of Australia

from w
I noticed the Fiji papers are running stories given by the Fiji Government Information website about the registration in Australia to vote in the forthcoming Fiji election. We did our very best in Geelong to contact nearly all the Fiji-connected people in our region, but it seems that this was not so in some other places. Perhaps the people did not know, or were not interested, or did not have current Fiji passports, or a few were hesitant in case men in suits (from immigration) were at the doorway and the whisper of 'Tevoro, tevoro' came too late  - the fear of being sent to a Detention Centre for those picked up for working illegally.  Anyway, thank you to the team made of very capable and professional young men and women who visited us.
Fiji live:
664 Fijians register in Australia February 25, 2014 03:58:50 
 Fiji's Elections office registered a total of 664 Fijians for the 2014 general election during its recent registration drive in Australia. Over the course of the nine-day campaign, which ran from February 14th to February 22nd, five registration teams travelled to 49 locations around the Australian Capital Territory, New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria, the territories with the highest populations of Fijian citizens. The teams visited Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne and Brisbane, as well as other major towns and cities, such as Adelaide, Liverpool, Penrith, Griffith, Ballarat, Banyo, and Cairns. For the exercise, a total of 13 specialised staff were deployed from the Fijian Elections Office in Suva, supported by officials from the Fijian High Commission in Canberra and Fijian Consulate in Sydney. The total cost of the Australian registration drive was $115,000 FJD. FijiLive

Read more at:
Copyright 2014 ©

And here's a link to a video about it from the ABC.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

'Fiji voter registration in Geelong

from w
Yesterday the Fiji Voter Registration team came down to Geelong led by one of the Secretaries from the Fiji Embassy in Canberra. The teams are going to the various towns and cities in Australia to register Fiji people who may wish to vote in the upcoming September Fiji election.  The visiting staff were very professional and friendly and we had an excellent gathering in the Bay Room of our local Uniting Church. Our Fiji Geelong Friendship Club had networked through a facebook group and word of mouth to alert as many of the Fiji connected famiilies that we knew in Geelong and nearby, We were delighted with the response, even friends from Melbourne came down though they could register closer to their homes. We provided afternoon tea and there was plenty of good chatter as those with Fiji passports waited their turn to register. Afterwards we adjourned to our home and our Fiji Geelong Friendship Club members had brought pots of curry and rice to share. Typical Fiji hospitality even in an Australian city. Another four or five people were still registering - in our kitchen - during our gathering at home!  We now feel that if this is an example of Fiji's preparation for the election, then Fiji society can feel confident for the days ahead.

Tui's journey to Davuilevu

from w
This is how the Fiji Times journalist saw the day:

Last journey

Siteri Sauvakacolo
Friday, February 21, 2014
THE funeral for the late president of the Methodist Church in Fiji, Reverend Dr Tuikilakila Waqairatu, brought together Christians from around the country yesterday.
It wasn't only Methodist church members who crowded Suva but people from all walks of life who gathered near Stewart St and along Victoria Parade in Suva to say their final goodbyes to a man they believed was a great leader.
Government dignitaries including the Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama, First Lady Adi Koila Nailatikau, Bau chief Ratu Epenisa Cakobau and other government ministers attended the funeral.
Students, young children, men and women braved the hot sun to bid farewell to the late president and leader.
It was an emotion-packed occasion as family members, fellow Christians and friends tried to comfort each other when the funeral cortege arrived at the Centenary Church.
A fitting three-hour service and nine eulogies were delivered inside a packed church to honour the life of a leader and mentor.
It didn't end there as the funeral cortege was greeted by many bystanders along the Kings Rd who waited patiently to bid farewell to Mr Waqairatu.
At Baker Hall, members of the Nasinu and Davuilevu circuit with students of Lelean and Dilkusha schools awaited the arrival of the body which was accorded a traditional ivakasobu and was also greeted by the combined choir of Lelean Memorial School and the Young People's Department.
The Davuilevu Theological College principal Reverend Joeli Qionivoka, in his closing prayer at Baker Hall, said the burial of the late president should mark a special occasion where people should also bury all the hatred and negativity they had within them.
The late Mr Waqairatu's wife Joana Waqairatu and daughter Roko Seini Senirewa Waqainabete were joined by women of the vanua o Moala and those from Davuilevu during the burial.
The body of the late president also lay inside Baker Hall for a few minutes marking its significance to him as it was a place he had treasured.
He had hoped that the memorial hall would be fully renovated by October.
Mr Waqairatu, 66, was finally laid to rest beside Baker Hall yesterday.

Remembering Rev Tui, from a distance

from w
Even though we are two thousand miles away, the internet has provided us links with yesterday's funeral of our friend, Rev Dr Tuikilaikila, the scenes at Centenary and Davuilevu which are places so familiar. Thank yo to Fiji Village for good photos, for face-book members, for the video link though it was only good for half an hour, then a radio station in Fiji was very clear. I was impressed with the beautiful words by Senirewa giving a strong articulate tribute to her father. The service at Centenary was going three hours before the sermon started though!  We are grateful that we could participate in a small way through the internet connections.

Peceli was tellling me one story about Tui. After his Form 4 at Sila High School in Nausori he went back to Moala and there went to a Bible school, his young teacher being from Mali Island near Labasa. The teacher encouraged the teenage Tui to go to Davuilevu to the Bible School, and from there on to study to become a talatala.  Many years later Rev Tui was in Labasa and noticed his former teacher in the crowd so called him up to sit at the top table for the special dinner.

And we've known Tui through the years, especially his years studying in Melbourne. We are all connected - through relatives, places, opportunity, chance, through the grace of God.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Melbourne Fijians remember Rev Tuikilakila

from w
Peceli and I drove up to Chadstone (Melbourne) for the Memorial Service for the late Rev Dr Tuikilaikila. Isa we are still in shock over his sudden departure from this world. It was a good service - gorgeous singing, a Tongan preaching and shaking the roof, excellent microphones - take note AML - but not as crowded as it could have been. A nice supper afterwards and the men drank kava sitting on chairs - which is rather different. Are they all getting older perhaps? I enjoyed meeting up with friends and making new friends. Some of the Chadstone folk are going over to Fiji for Tui's funeral and the ceremonies will be full-on in Suva for the next five days.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Julie's 'Atmospherics' in Fiji

from w
Ms Bishop in a jaba, but does she really look relaxed?

And from the Australian newspaper.
FOREIGN Minister Julie Bishop flew to Suva yesterday for a historic come-in-from-the-cold meeting with military ruler Frank Bainimarama that has triggered the repair of relations between Australia and Fiji after seven years of mutual hostility.
In the Coalition’s most decisive step away from the foreign policy position of the Rudd-Gillard years, it is restoring links with Fiji across the whole of government, including, crucially, defence ties.
Ms Bishop’s meeting with Commodore Bainimarama went for an hour, running overtime.
The atmospherics were warm,” she said. “He was engaged. He laughed a lot.”
She presented him with a jersey of the West Coast Eagles AFL team for which she barracks, signed by its ethnic Fijian star ruckman Nic Naitanui.
The Commodore led a military coup that removed Fiji’s elected government on December 5, 2006, later abrogating the constitution and replacing it, and ruling by decree.
He has now pledged to stand down as army commander at the end of the month, and to announce on March 1 details of a new party he will lead into elections in September.
At the meeting late yesterday afternoon, Commodore Bainimarama discussed the election process, and indicated he was prepared for whatever role resulted, even if he were to lose the prime ministership. “He talked about a range of post-election scenarios,” Ms Bishop said.
“I have long wanted to take a different approach to Fiji, and normalise relations,” she said. “We had to take the lead.”
Key among the priorities in normalising relations will be Australian travel sanctions, which ban anyone associated with the military regime from visiting Australia. Ms Bishop said yesterday the bans had been ineffective and the policy was under review.
Australians have been voting with their feet, holidaying in Fiji in greater numbers than ever.
During the meeting in the Prime Minister’s office, Ms Bishop outlined to Commodore Bainimarama Canberra’s extensive new policy program towards Fiji.
When he raised the travel sanctions issue, she said the past 56 requests for exemptions had been granted, with just one rejected, on technical grounds.
Ms Bishop said: “Recently, we have been providing a significant number of exemptions on compassionate, humanitarian and national interest grounds.”
Fiji’s Foreign Minister, Ratu Kubuobola, has come to Australia often, and the government’s second most powerful figure, the Attorney-General, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, was allowed to travel to Australia over Christmas.
Commodore Bainimarama said he was gratified his son had been allowed to visit Australia to play in a school rugby competition, but he remained unhappy with the principle of sanctions.
Ms Bishop said a review of the policy was almost complete, and the next opportunity to take it to cabinet would be very soon when he steps down as army chief.
The last meeting between Commodore Bainimarama and an Australian foreign minister, Labor’s Stephen Smith, degenerated into recriminations. The most recent meeting with New Zealand Foreign Minister Murray McCully was also difficult.
Ms Bishop told Commodore Bainimarama that the new deal she brought to Fiji was not conditional, even on its accepting the return of an Australian high commissioner to the mission in Suva which it has so far refused.
Ms Bishop told The Weekend Australian: “I want us to normalise relations ahead of an election. I want Australia to be the partner of choice in the Pacific. And there is an opportunity with our new government to start afresh.”
She has held meetings with Mr Kubuobola, including in Brisbane, to discuss this normalisation, “on the basis that free and fair elections will proceed”.
She considered it vital to have “met Mr Bainimarama face to face to make sure we were on the same page. We have invested a lot of time and effort in this.”
Besides support for the election process, the new Australian package will include a twinning arrangement in areas including foreign policy, finance and the Public Service Commission, with Fiji officials working in Canberra, and Australians in Suva.
Australia has invited Fiji to send a defence representative to Canberra, and hopes to reinstate its own defence attache in Suva.
Fiji will be invited to participate again in Australia’s Pacific patrol boat program, through which its present three boats might be renovated, or it might receive two further vessels.
A defence co-operation program will be re-established to include joint exercises and staff college training. Australia’s seasonal workers’ program that brings Pacific Islanders to Australia is set to be expanded to include Fiji.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Response by the Uniting Church

from w

Rev Dr Tuikilakila K. Waqairatu
11 Feb 2014
For Immediate Release
The Uniting Church in Australia is shocked and saddened to hear of the death today of the President of the Methodist Church in Fiji and Rotuma Rev Dr Tuikilakila K. Waqairatu. A former General Secretary of the Church, Rev Waqairatu commenced his term as President in mid-2012 and was inducted as President at the 2013 Methodist Conference in Suva. 

Rev Waqairatu was admitted to the Colonial War Memorial Hospital in Suva two days before he passed away.  He was 66 years old and is survived by his wife Ioana and daughter Salote. 

UnitingWorld National Director Rev Dr Kerry Enright said Rev Waqairatu was one of the Pacific church’s great leaders and had been guiding the Methodist Church in Fiji and Rotuma in a remarkable process of reconciliation and renewal. “My dear friend Rev Waqairatu was committed to reform the church so it would befaithful to the Gospel and alert to changes happening in Fiji and across the Pacific,” Dr Enright said.
Rev Waqairatu was recently quoted as saying, “There have been mistakes in the past and we have not remained abreast with the changes, we have not evolved but it is time to change.”

The late President was also an audacious advocate for the place of women in the church and society and at the 2013 Conference challenged ministers to treat their wives with respect.  “They think they have been called to serve while their wives are just there to cook, clean and do other domestic duties,” he said. 
He said that wives of pastors represented the women in the church and more should be done to help build women's relationship within the church.  He encouraged the pastors of the church to look after their wives and build a strong equal relationship.

Growing up in Naroi village on Moala Island, Rev Waqairatu was encouraged to become a minister by his father and grandfather and completed his secondary education at Central Fijian School – nowSila Central High – less than two kilometres from the Davuilevu Theological College where he would eventually study for the ministry and in due course became Principal.

During the recent Methodist Conference in Suva Rev Waqairatu was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Divinity from Vision University in the USA.

This year sees the Methodist Church in Fiji and Rotuma celebrating the 50th anniversary of becoming an independent conference. 

In a symbol of his humility Rev Waqairatu had planned to celebrate the anniversary by washing the feet of the superintendent ministers and lay leaders of the Church’s 55 divisions.  He was intending to ask these leaders to go back to their divisions and continue the process until every church had held a washing of the feet, as a sign of humility, servant hood and seeking forgiveness.

UnitingWorld understands that, according to the procedures of the Methodist Church, the former President Rev AmeTugaue will act as the Interim President until a new President is elected.

UnitingWorld Associate Director Church Solidarity (Pacific) Mr Bruce Mullan said Rev Waqairatu’s death was an absolute tragedy for the Methodist Church in Fiji and Rotuma. “To be struck down just as he was leading the church in the changing context that is Fiji is a huge loss both to the Methodist and the ecumenical movement in Fiji,” Mr Mullan said. “People in Fiji, Australia and across the Pacific will be saddened by this news and the Uniting Church in Australia offers its prayers and deep condolences to the family and to our Partner Church in Fiji.”

UnitingWorld is available for further comment. Please contact National Director Rev Dr Kerry Enright on +61 2 8267 4267

Monday, February 10, 2014

Isa, our friend Rev Tui passes on

from w
We are saddened today to hear of the passing of Rev Tuikilakila, President of the Methodist Church in Fiji after being admitted two days ago to the Colonial War Memorial Hospital in Suva. Isa, it's a hard day for many people, his family, friends, colleagues, and the wider Methodist Church members.  Tui was an outstanding scholar in the Old Testament, studied in Melbourne where we got to know him well.Most of all he has been a light in darkness, a man of high principles and standards who would not compromise like so many others  - about injustice in society and the trauma of political coups and mayhem. Yesterday when I read that the deaconesses were praying for him at their service I wondered then if Tui was seriously ill. He was only sixty-six.  Our condolences go to Joana his wife, and their daughter. There are many tributes already on facebook.

The FBC broke the news publicly about midday Fiji Time.
FBC News  Report by: Elenoa Turagaiviu
The President of the Methodist Church in Fiji Reverend Tuikilakila Waqairatu has passed away after a short illness.
FBC News understands Reverend Tuikilakila passed away at the CWM Hospital at nine this morning at the age of 66.He hails from Naroi in Moala, Lau and also holds the title of Turaga Tui Nasau. Reverend Tuikilakila is survived by his wife Joana and a daughter. According to the procedures of the Methodist Church, the former President, in this case Reverend Ame Tugaue will act as the Interim President until a new President is elected.

Saturday, February 08, 2014

Places where I've lived in Fiji

from w
Toorak, Suva when I had a room in the back of a house in Amy Street near the mosque.  Veitalacagi near the girls' hostel in Davuilevu. Dilkusha when we lived under the hill of Dilkusha.  Nukutatava beach out of Labasa where we built three bures.

A Tongan in the Winter Olympics - the luge

from w
We've been watching the Winter Olympics this afternoon and in the luge event were surprised to see a young Tongan so I wanted to check out his story on the web.

His name is Semi but in a marketing ploy changed it to a German underwear company!  Here's a little youtube video about his story.

Tonga’s Bruno Banani overcame his four-year Olympic heartbreak to create history in the first heat of the luge men’s single runs.

Denied a spot in Vancouver 2010 when he crashed in qualifying, Banani became the first athlete from Tonga and the first luger from a Pacific island nation to participate in the Winter Games.
The 26-year-old achieved a time of 53.656 seconds in his first of four runs, putting him in 34th place out of 39 competitors, 1.486 seconds behind leader Albert Demchenko of Russia.

The man with “coconut powered underpants” has attracted worldwide acclaim after changing his name from Fuahea Semi to the German underwear manufacturer as part of a marketing campaign.

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Fijians in Australia can register for voting in election

from w
Message for Fijians in Australia:
Voter registration will take place from 14 February until 22 February.

Five registration teams will be registering potential voters for the upcoming Fiji Election. This will be at multiple locations across New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland, including Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne and Brisbane. The teams will also be visiting other major towns and cities in these three states, such as Penrith, Griffith, Ballarat, Geelong, Banyo, and Cairns.

Please consult the official program for the complete list of times and locations which can be found on the website.
Our city of Geelong is included: Thursday 20th 4 to 7 p.m. at Geelong East Uniting church Bay Room, corner Boundary and Ormond Rd East Geelong, Entrance via carpark Boundary Rd.  Please pass on this message to friends or family in our region who have retained their Fiji citizenship and would like to be registered.
There's a website to look up -

Monday, February 03, 2014

From Mexico to Marshall Islands

from w
There's a strange story of survival in today's papers.  From Mexico two men set off to go fishing but the wind took them way off course.  Over a year later the one survivor was washed up in the Marshall Islands, way past Fiji even.

Man washes up on remote Marshall Islands atoll after more than a year adrift in Pacific

Updated 3 hours 16 minutes ago
A man who says he survived more than a year adrift in the Pacific drinking turtle blood and catching fish with his bare hands has been transported to the Marshall Islands capital Majuro for treatment.
A male nurse had to help the man down the gangplank of a police patrol boat after a 22-hour trip from the remote coral atoll where he washed shore last week after apparently setting sail from Mexico in late 2012.
About 1,000 curious onlookers crowded the dock for a glimpse of the long-haired fisherman, who smiled and waved briefly before he was whisked away for a medical check-up at Majuro Hospital.
He was found disorientated and clad only in ragged underpants last Thursday, after his 7.3-metre fibreglass boat floated onto a reef at Ebon Atoll, the southernmost cluster of coral islands in the Marshalls.
Marshall Islands Foreign Affairs acting secretary Gee Bing said the the man, who identified himself as Jose Salvador Albarengo, 37, told interpreters he set sail from Mexico to El Salvador on a shark fishing expedition in late 2012.
Mr Bing said Mr Albarengo says he was accompanied by a Mexican man who died at sea.
"Well according to him he said he was on a fishing trip with another guy and somehow the north wind blew them and they got lost," Mr Bing told Pacific Beat
Mr Bing said Mr Albarengo spent five days onshore before locals noticed him.
"I think he landed in one of the islands and I guess after that the people over there found him and reported it".
Mr Bing said Mr Albarengo had been put on drip and treated for dehydration and joint pain but is otherwise in a stable condition.
"When he arrived today his vital signs were ok after the nurse checked him out," Mr Bing said.
He said Mr Albarengo said he had been living in Mexico for 15 years but was originally from El Savador.
Mr Bing said Mr Albarengo had been fingerprinted to verify his identity with the government working to communicate with Mexican and El Salvodor authorities on repatriation.
He said Mr Albarengo had not been quizzed on his survival as yet and has been unable to remember his family's contact numbers.
"We will be talking (further) with him after doctor has done check ups," Mr Bing said.
Marshall Islands Journal editor Giff Johnson, says there are no details at this stage of how his fishing expedition ran into trouble.
"They (locals) said when he came off he was just in a ragged pair of underwear, a long beard; the boat looked like it had been in the water for a long time," Mr Johnson told Pacific Beat.
"Whatever the back story is on this, it appears that this guy's been out on the water for an awful long time."
Ebon locals have been struggling to communicate Mr Albarengo, who only speaks Spanish.
He had been able to communicate to locals he survived by eating turtles, birds and fish which he caught with his bare hands.
He also communicated he drank turtle blood when there was no rain.
Mr Johnson says they have been providing him with food and clothing while a government boat was sent from Majuro.
"The people on the island said he looked to be malnourished," he said.
"They just started feeding him water and food, and said he was doing better, but still needed help moving around."
There are few islands in the more than 12,500 kilometres of Pacific Ocean between southern Mexico and Marshall Islands.

Saturday, February 01, 2014

Fijians at Altona Meadows/Laverton Uniting Church

from w
This morning we had a splendid church service at Altona Meadows/Laverton to amalgamate the afternoon Fijian congregation with the morning English language congregation.  Instead of meeting at 1 p.m. each Sunday our group will now join in the 10 am service. Rev Susan graciously welcomed our group, starting off with 'Ni sa yadra!' and later with the children Susan demonstrated making a plait of different strands. Peceli gave the sermon on the Beatitudes. This is a lively informal kind of church very welcoming to families and children and oldies. To show everyone just how Fijians can sing, the group stood up and sang a well-known Fijian hymn. When we had Holy Communion we stood in a very large circle and it was indeed a blessed time. Afterwards we had a shared lunch - chicken, pasta, watermelon, all kinds of goodies. And as usual, some of our Fiji people adjourned to a house - Sailosi's in Wyndam Vale - for kava and talanoa.  Loosening the necktie, they call it though no-one today wore a jacket and tie as the temperature today soared to about 41 degrees!