Friday, February 27, 2015

New book of Fiji recipes and stories

from w
In the Fiji Times today is a story of the launch of a new book - recipes and stories of Fiji by Lynette Mercer. Good on you Lynette.  Peceli knew the Tippett family in Davuilevu when Lynette was a youngster. Her father was the excellent teacher and theologian, Rev Dr Alan Tippett.

Ten-year dream becomes reality for Mercer

Shayal Devi
Saturday, February 28, 2015
A 10-YEAR dream for 75-year-old Lynette Mercer culminated into reality on Thursday night when she launched her first cookbook at The Fiji Orchid in Lautoka.
A well-known figure in the tourism industry, Ms Mercer and her husband established the Kon Tiki Hotel, now known as Koro Sun Resort, on Vanua Levu in the 1970s.
The 267-page cookbook is titled Fiji Recipes and Memories and describes Ms Mercer's life in Fiji after she moved from Australia when she was two years old.
Having spent majority of her life in Cuvu, Kadavu and Davuilevu, she credits her book to all Fijians who encouraged her love of cooking meals with a unique Fijian flair.
Behind each recipe lies a delightful story, says Ms Mercer.
"For example, I put in a recipe for guava jelly," she said.
"I told the story about going to school in the bus, which used to break down. So, all the children would run out to get the guavas and the poor driver would be calling and we would still be climbing the guava tree."
Ms Mercer said it had taken about 10 years to get all the recipes together.
"So there are recipes and there are also stories for those people who want to read about the crazy things that we used to do as kids, like taking the boat out to go fishing and catch crabs."
According to Ms Mercer, all the recipes were simple and used only local ingredients.
"I just like food. I am not a dessert maker but I love simple things. I like making rourou and dhal soup and for ingredients, I like using onion, salt, pepper, chilli and Fiji lemon in my dishes."

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Second generation Islanders in Australia

from w
There are Tongan and Fijian Islanders in our local church congregation. Ben and Mona Lisa - from a Tongan family, and Andrew and Jordan from our Fijian family. Jhaia is part Aboriginal and Ebony's Dad came from Scotland.  A nice ethic mix to celebrate.
It wasn't exactly preaching up a storm but we did have a delightful worship service this morning with a youth accent - at East Geelong. The boys and girls aged 12 to 17 led the service with their youth leader Calum, each youth doing a mini-sermon based on their favourite reading. Andrew was first and he read a paraphrase of Psalm 23 from 'The Message'. Four of the boys sang 'I Believe' with a backup youtube, Ebony led a children's time, Jordan read Prayers of the People, Jhaia gave an excellent little sermon showing how he values our congregation and God's help in his life, We had a funny video for the children on 'Obey your parents' after one of the readings that Ben read in Tongan and English a verse he learnt at White Sunday many years ago. Mona Lisa will probably be a great speaker in the future after we heard her clearly articulated thoughts on a verse from Philippians. Our ;congregation on most Sundays has about seventy-five people, mostly older, so it's beaut to see our youth up the front today. One announcement certainly gave us heart for our engagement with mission overseas. The former members of the South ;congregation (who lost their church in the Uniting church kerfuffle last year) have made a substantial donation of $10,000 A to a church building project in Vatuadova village, Fiji. So it was a great morning. We signed love hearts to give out to friends in the congregation that we especially value..

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Will there be a ban on kava in Australia?

from w
I read this today and wondered if it is serious news.  Bottled kava is no substitute for the circle of drinkers sharing with a coconut shell.

  • Taking a drink of kava
Pacific Islanders in Australia are angry over a federal government move to ban kava.
Stefan Armbruster
18 FEB 2015 - 5:08 PM  UPDATED 18 FEB 2015 - 6:09 PM
(Transcript from World News Radio)
Claims organised gangs of Pacific Islanders are smuggling kava into Northern Territory Aboriginal communities will see the federal government ban the traditional drink in Australia.
Existing import limits will be abolished, a move that has angered Pacific islanders.
The proposed ban comes as Australian aid funds the development of bottled kava drinks as an export industry in Fiji.
Stefan Armbruster reports.
(Click on audio tab to listen to this item)
The drinking of kava is an ancient Pacific islander custom, now regularly practiced in Australia
(SFX of clapping)
The claps are a signal appreciation.
This kava club gathers regularly in Brisbane but soon these sessions could be illegal.
Federal Indigenous Affairs minister and Northern Territory Senator Nigel Scullion is on a mission.
"We accept people practising their culture in this country. Of course we do. But when it is perverted and redirected, and to harm our First Australians, it isn't a right, it's a privilege. But I'm an advocate unashamedly for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Australia. That's my job and I think it should be banned and I will continue pursuing it until it is banned."
A total ban on kava imports because of the actions of a few has shocked the tens of thousands of Pacific Islanders in Australia.
"It makes me angry, it makes me very, very angry."
Zane Yoshida is an Australian citizen from Fiji who regularly has kava sessions at his house and is the founder of Taki Mai, a company that makes bottled kava drinks.
"We definitely deserve to have kava as part of our traditional cultural practices, even in Australia. If anything, it has been a positive influence on the Fijian community. Even the youth in Australia, as an alternative to alcohol."
Kava is already illegal in Northern Territory Aboriginal communities in Arnhem Land because of the health, social and financial impacts.
NT police Detective Superintendant Tony Fuller of the Drug and Organised Crime Division has long worked in the remote communities.
"Basically what kava does is it compounds existing health and substance abuses issues in the communities, so what it does is it adds one more layer of problems to the community."
Two kilos of kava per person can legally be brought into Australia from Pacific Islands like Fiji.
"Generally it's brought into Australia by Pacific Island groups, and we're seeing what we call stockpiling in places like Sydney and Brisbane, and then the couriers will either bring it up by plane or mail it or sometimes they'll just drive it up."
NT police have seized about 10 tonnes since 2009 and made more than 200 arrests.
"The vast majority of offenders who bring it into the Northern Territory are Tongan, of Tongan descent. There are obviously some Tongans out there who don't abuse it. That said we have a significant amount of Aboriginal people we are arresting."
Penalties include prison terms of up to eight years for quantities over 25 kilograms.
Kava costs about $30 a kilo overseas, once in Arnhem Land it sells for about $1000.
Senator Nigel Scullion says kava smuggling is big business.
"There's been I think over seventeen busts over 100 kilo and one of the things this signifies is that this is a organised criminal activity. The size of the busts, the sophistication of communication, this is significant organised criminal activity and with significant organised crime comes other activities. People say, 'We are drinking kava today, but we have a suite of drugs for you'. "
Kava has a distinctive taste.
It comes from the root of a pepper tree, and has a relaxing and slightly numbing effect.
Pacific islanders enjoy sharing kava, much like a cup of tea or coffee in other cultures, but it is drunk in much larger quantities for the effect.
It was introduced to the Northern Territory in the 1980s by Pacific islander missionaries as an alternative to alcohol.
After initial successes it was soon abused, then restricted and finally banned with the imposition of the 2006 NT intervention.
"We understand that in a very naive community like Arnhem Land, this is why it is doing the damage, because it is drunk in vast quantities and not in a cultural sense at all."
Kava is not widely used in Aboriginal communities outside north-west Arnhem Land.
While the federal government wants to ban it at home, Australian overseas aid has funded kava production in Fiji as a health supplement for export.
Zane Yoshida's company Taki Mai has received tens of thousands of dollars of Australian international aid funds develop its product in Fiji. "I've developed a kava supplement that I currently sell in the United States and Fiji through the natural food channels and this produce here is a kava supplement for taking the edge of, for relaxing, and as we progress with clinical trials here in Australia, we'd like to make structure function claims for relieving stress and anxiety."
Their product was launched by the Fiji's Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama in July last year. "The head of the Australian High Commission, members of the community, distinguished guests, my fellow Fijian. Bula vinaka, I'm delighted to be with you this morning to officially to launch Taki Mai. A supplement drink that feature Fijian grown kava. I take this opportunity to thank the Australian government for the support of this project."
Kava is legal in the United States and the European Union last year drop its ban, saying it could not substantial health concerns.
Zane Yoshida says the federal government has got it wrong. "The key word for this is education, if we can put together programs to educate people about alcohol abuse and drug abuse, why can't were do the same for kava."
No date has been set for when kava imports will be banned and the Senator Scullion promises to speak to Pacific islander communities first.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Free books! I told you so.

from w
I just read in a blog that occasionally criticizes the Fiji leaders, here is an interesting bit about the promise of free books for students.  I told you so...... in my posting a few weeks ago.

BITING HARD INTO THEIR WALLETS: Parents fork out $150 to download textbooks from the Ministry of Education website and get it printed. Did Government con parents and students when it promised free textbooks?


1) Some schools are telling their students to download their textbooks from the MoE Website and get it printed. 
2) One parent tells Fijileaks he just spent almost $150 just to print textbooks for his son
3) The site has about 7 textbooks and it costs 10c a page to print at an internet shop
4) Each book is about 100-200 pages. 
5) Not all parents have access to internet neither can they afford the printing charges
6) Is this what the Government meant by free textbooks?

Good riddance to casino plan

from w
I read this in Fijilive and it is GOOD NEWS!  Fiji does not need a casino.

Casino licence revoked, A-G clarifies February 17, 2015 01:18:09 PMA+ A-||| 0 inShare   Follow @ Twitter file Fiji's Attorney General and Minister for Justice Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum maintains that the casino gaming licence issued to One Hundred Sands Limited (OHSL) for the construction of what would have been the country's first casino has indeed been revoked. The licence was revoked last week.

Read more at:
Copyright 2015 ©

Wednesday, February 04, 2015

More talk about a new flag for Fiji

from w
People are starting to talk about the idea of a new flag. Many are seriously against it for obvious reasons - it's familiar, it is loved, it has meaning for many people, it will cost a lot to change it.
Here's what an SBS (special broadcasting in Australia) person reckons:
Australia will soon be one of just a handful of countries still sporting the Union Jack on its national flag. Fiji plans to erase the historical link to mark the 45th anniversary of independence.
Stefan Armbruster

3 FEB 2015 - 5:37 PM  UPDATED 9 HOURS AGO

Fiji will this year remove the Union Jack from its flag and leave behind Australia in the diminishing club of countries still flying the British standard.
Fijian Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama has announced the 45th anniversary of independence is the year to replace the country’s flag introduced at the time.
“The union flag belongs to the British, not us,” Mr Bainimarama said.
"The shield on our flag has the British lion and the Cross of St George, a British patron saint. What does this have to do with us? They are the symbols of the coloniser."
With the return to democracy last year, Fiji has been readmitted to the Commonwealth of Nations and the Fijian flag was raised once again in London at the secretariat.
By removing the Union Jack, Fiji is doing what almost all other members of the Commonwealth have done already.
Mr Bainimarama says replacing the flag and the shield bearing the Cross of St George is not a reflection of bad relations with Britain.
“Britain (is) a country with whom we are friends and will continue to be so, but they are not symbols that are relevant to any Fijian in the 21st century and they should go,” he said. 
The current flag introduced in 1970 is Fiji’s fourth since colonisation. Reaction on social media has been mixed, with an online petition calling for the flag not to change until the question has been put to a referendum.
“Signing because changing a flag cannot simply be the mandate of a single political party or government,” commented London-based Fijian Mosese Dakunivosa on the petition page.
“Simply a nation's flag is a national institution and should be accorded proper due processes when changing. Citizens should be consulted and consent sought through the parliamentary process.
Fiji is not a dictatorship or is it?” Mr Bainimarama said the new Fijian flag will be put to a national competition over the next two months and then decided by a committee of prominent Fijians.
“Fijians like the flag because it represents them. They like their country, their love country. I think Fijians will also take to a new flag that speaks more clearly to the symbolism of Fiji,” said Tony Burton from research and preservation group Flags Australia.
“If you take a book out of the library, on loan, you have to give it back some time and the Union Jack has been on loan to these countries for a long time."
Prime Minister Bainimarama said he wants a new flag to unite a nation where racial tensions between the traditional owners and Indo-Fijians have sparked numerous coups. On the international stage, Australia’s flag is now becoming increasingly isolated on the world stage. 
Tuvalu is hanging onto the Union Jack for now but New Zealand has started down the road of acquiring a new flag with a referendum due this year.
"I am proposing that we take one more step in the evolution of modern New Zealand by acknowledging our independence through a new flag," New Zealand prime minister John Key said in March last year.
The uproar over Prime Minister Tony Abbott knighting the Duke of Edinbrugh has highlighted Australia’s move away from symbols of the British monarchy.
"Australians obsess about the Union Jack on their flag. Obsess because they don't want to let it go or obsess because they can't stand it and want to get rid of it,” says Tony Burton from Flags Australia.
“If all the other countries that had the Union Jack in the corner decided to change their flag, as in fact about 50 odd former members of the British Empire and now members of the Commonwealth have already done, if Australia was the only Union Jack left standing, in this side of the world anyway, supporters of the current flag could say, our flag's unique - let's keep it.”
I wonder if a simple tapa design could be incorporated into a new design, but still keep the light blue for the Pacific Ocean.  It's used on the planes.
And also in a letter to the Fiji Times:
Amendment to the flag
ONE obvious amendment to the current coat of arms and the flag is to remove the lion and cocoa pod and replace them with a mongoose, or perhaps better, a crested iguana, holding a rugby ball.

Vatuadova bridge

from w
Sobosobo, how come a bridge that is brand new bridge gets pot-holes so quickly?  Who built it?  It's OUR bridge next to our village of Vatuadova and there's a lot of traffic, even the link from Labasa to Nabouwalu and from Labasa to Savusavu. Yes, there's plenty of traffic but it should have been built stronger. Here's the story from the Fiji Times.  We are very disappointed about all of this. Here's a photo looking at the Vatuadova area.
Apparently vehicles wait and queue up. What an opportunity for our family to have a stall beside the road to sell watermelon, drinks and pineapple!!!!

Potholes spoil $1.2m bridge

Serafina Silaitoga
Thursday, February 05, 2015
A $1.2MILLION bridge built outside Labasa Town in 2009 has come under the spotlight for its deteriorating condition only five years after its construction.
And yesterday, the Fiji Roads Authority reiterated the importance of setting a high standard in construction so that structures could last for 100 years.
The bridge at Vatudova has been partially closed for about five months after potholes were spotted last year on one side of the bridge.
FRA will now have to use an extra $300,000 to replace the bridge deck.
The partial closure has raised questions on when the bridge would be repaired to allow for free flow of traffic.
The bridge sits between Tabia and Labasa and is a busy route for daily commuters.
Davendra Naidu, a Seaqaqa resident who frequents Labasa said during peak hours, vehicles would queue up on either side of the bridge.
"We only use one side of the bridge now so we have to be patient and considerate when approaching the bridge," Mr Naidu said.
"We can't understand how it got damaged so fast when it was totally new in 2009. We hope that FRA can build a better one for us all."
In statement, the FRA said repair works would be done between this year and next year.

A new flag for Fiji?

from w
Go to  for a look at the various flags of the Pacific and see the colonial influence.  Fiji's flag is really old-fashioned and the plan of Fiji government is to have a competition to find a new design. Of course there are rather mixed motives in all of this.  Kirstie has written an article about her thoughts on the subject. Go to
I'd like to see a change - maybe think of sea and sky and the reef,  or a curve of shore and an island. We don't need the Union Jack, the shield.

From Kirstie CLOSE-BARRY:
Fiji’s newly elected prime minister and one-time coup leader Frank Bainimarama has taken another step towards implementing a vision for a new unified Fiji with the announcement that the nation’s flag will bechanged by October this year, in time for the 45th anniversary of Fiji’s independence. It’s a move made as part of his response to continuing ethnic and religious division in the Pacific island state.
The nation is dominated by two significant communities: Indigenous Fijians and Indo-Fijians. The latter, mostly Hindu or Muslim, were marginalised throughout the colonial period and again during the coups staged over the past 30 years. Bainimarama has tried to label all citizens as “Fijian” in the of hope of promoting inclusiveness. Creating a new flag is part of his plan to embed a sense of unity, as well as a bid to cement the legitimacy and authority of his government.
Bainimarama has framed the flag change as an effort to break free of the shackles of Fiji’s colonial past. The flag that has existed since 1970 features the Union Jack – a nod to the British monarchy’s role in governing the islands from 1874 to 1970.

The colours, the shield and the dove of peace were, however, also on flags flown by the self-proclaimed supreme chief and king, Ratu Cakobau, in around 1870. That the British allowed the flag to retain some of these features, and that they were used in the flag of independent Fiji, reflect a continuation of the chiefly authority of Indigenous Fijians. 
Bainimarama’s idea then is not merely to move away from Fiji’s colonial past but also to break down chiefly power – the source of his greatest opposition. This extends on actions he’s already taken, through the dismantling of the great council of chiefs, for example.
His opposition to chiefly authority is in part due to the perception that celebrating it only further deepens ethnic rifts. He angered many when he implemented a new constitution in 2009 in which there is no distinction made between the Indigenous and Indo-Fijian communities: all are considered equally Fijian.
It is not just those with chiefly heritage who see this as a threat to Indigenous rights, particularly land title. It is also, as Bainimarama said in his announcement, significant that the flag announcement was made at Nasinu, near to the government buildings but also close to the military barracks from where his own 2006 coup and Major General Sitiveni Rabuka’s coup in 1987 received support. Bainimarama’s connections to the military are therefore still significant, despite renouncing his military rank.

Bainimarama has invited public .

This design reflects Fiji’s shifting gaze away from the Commonwealth nations towards Asia, but the topic of discussion places it in step with debates among these close neighbours. New Zealand intends to hold a referendum (a process Bainimarama will not follow) in 2016 on whether to swap the Union Jack for the silver fern. Australians are also constantly revisiting the Republican debate through questions about replacing the flag. Fiji is following regional trends while still in the process of mending relationships with Australia and New Zealand that were harmed by the 2006 coup.
The decision has provoked a mixed response: some see it as a necessary step forward, other see it as abstract and secondary to the real issues that face many Fijians day today. The frequent water and electricity cuts are a problem, and while the official unemployment rate is around 8%, approximately 45% of the community is living below the poverty line. Bainimarama is playing one tune to unite the people of Fiji but whether they choose to play along with him is another question all together.
And who designed the current flag?  Tessa?

Designer relives Fiji flag competition

Atasa Moceituba
Thursday, February 05, 2015
A FEW months after her husband was offered a new post in Fiji in 1970, the flag competition was introduced where interested candidates were given a chance to design and give in their ideas on how they wanted the Fiji flag to look.
As for Tessa Mackenzie, she was 36 years old at that time and was a volunteer teacher at Veiuto Primary School.
She said the decision to take part in the flag competition arose after her two sons — eight-year-old Robert and her youngest son Christopher who was only five at that time — begged their mother if they could also participate in the flag competition.
Mrs Mackenzie said this was where the whole creativity and the desire to design the flag started.
"When it came to the design of the flag, it was actually going quite fast. Quite a lot of people entered the competition," she recalled.
"While making the flag, my husband and I realised that whatever we make, it should be relevant for everybody because for me, it was something that was meaningful and relevant for everybody so my husband (Murray Mackenzie) went and consulted other people on how we could design our flag and use some of their ideas."
She said the Fiji flag had connections with Great Britain.
"The coat of arms has been with us for about 100 years now and the Government use it on every document and I don't think we have to take the whole of it or the whole thing away."
She said there had been also some misunderstanding and misinterpretation of the flag.
"The shield is a heroic design and you have to conform to certain rules and regulations. We designed something that consults with heroic rules.
"The three agricultural products, people use them everyday — coconut, banana, sugar and they are (part of our) economy.
"Though we can fall back on them always. When I designed the flag, bananas were a great export.
"The dove, that was a nice link giving the iTaukei, the Fijian community, just a little something special for them.
"We did not really design that but we felt that yes, this is appropriate. As for the lion, it's not a British Lion, there's no lion in Britain. It's a heraldic lion and it's a symbol of power.
"The pale blue represents the ocean, the Pacific Ocean.
"If they are going to change it, I just hope that they are going to change it to something suitable and let's not be too much like other people's flag because when you look at most of the flags in the world, so many of them are messy."

Tuesday, February 03, 2015

Photos from Labasa - babasiga kids

from w
These photos were shared on facebook by Pinky, one of the Ratawa girls, who lives in England. Photos are of Nukutatava beach, Vatuadova and Vorovoro.

The stained glass ceiling

from w

Cracking the stained glass ceiling

Padre James Bhagwan
Wednesday, February 04, 2015
from the Fiji Times: * Reverend James Bhagwan is an ordained minister of the Methodist Church in Fiji and is the church's secretary for communication and overseas mission.
History was made in York Minster, the cathedral of York, England, one of the largest of its kind in Northern Europe last Monday (26/1/15), when Church of England consecrated the Right Reverend Libby Lane as the bishop of Stockport.
According to the Guardian newspaper, women have been consecrated as bishops in many parts of the worldwide Anglican communion since 1989, and as priests in England since 1994, but opponents put up a long resistance to their further promotion, which only became possible last autumn. Roman Catholic bishops, who frequently attend important Anglican occasions, were absent. The service marked a final and decisive break with the tradition of an all-male priesthood.
Bishop Lane swore obedience to the Queen, and to the Archbishop of York and their successors. She heard Jesus's instructions to his disciples from the gospel of Luke: "I am sending you out like lambs in the midst of wolves. Carry no purse, no bag, no sandals, and greet no one on the road. Whatever house you enter, first say 'peace to this house' "
(section deleteld)
The Anglican Diocese of Polynesia, while ordaining women priests, some of whom hold senior positions in the diocese is yet to appoint a woman bishop. The Methodist Church in Fiji ordains women ministers and has for some time now had a woman divisional superintendent, its equivalent of bishop, in Reverend Kelera Wesele who has served as divisional superintendent of the Vatulele Division and is the new divisional superintendent of the Vatukarasa Division.
I have benefited from the wisdom and support of my big sisters in ministry — both clergy and deaconesses and sisters, in my own spiritual and ministerial formation. I was honoured to be a candidate for the ministry and be ordained alongside the largest number of women ministers in the Methodist Church's history. However the challenges that my sisters face in a patriarchal society, are much greater than I do as an ethnic minority in our community.
While some faith communities have a doctrinal and traditional stand on this issue which — like the Church of England — mean a long and slow process of discernment, there are times when the Bible is simply proof-texted for passages of scripture to cement prejudice rather than share "good news" of love, forgiveness, freedom from oppression and empowerment for all God's children.
Well, perhaps that's the challenge of living in a multi-ethnic, multi-faith, multi-denominational and multi-cultural society.
"Simplicity, serenity, spontaneity."