Friday, May 29, 2015

Jordan's birthday

from w
Our grandson Jordan is having a birthday party today - eighteen and a friend who turned eighteen a few weeks ago is sharing it too. In our backyard, a lovo with pork and dalo, and lamb on a spit, etc. etc. We've borrowed tables and chairs from the local Uniting Church and expect about seventy people - relatives, Fiji network friends, Jordan's old school friends, and others.  From a chubby little baby in Suva to a tall young man in Geelong.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Macuata celebration

from w
It's celebration in Macuata to pick up on financial needs of the province.   But the writer talks about the Macuata dialect. Actually there are more than one dialects in Macuata. Labasa dialect is unique to a small area - take out the 't' and take out the 'k' that is in most dialects, and so on.  Every twenty k or more there are slight differences in the dialects.Go to see the photo in

Here's what Fiji Sun has to say.
Conserving our mother tongue dialect and our culture is important, says Tui Macuata, Ratu Wiliame Katonivere. Ratu Wiliame Katonivere, was opening the Macuata Day at Subrail Park in Labasa on Wednesday. He said the issue of the Macuata dialect and traditions was important as it depicted our culture and our origin.
The four-day celebration saw more than 30 districts in Macuata taking part in the many cultural activities with women displaying handicrafts.
“The four-day celebration will involve students and women taking part in a Macuata dialect oratory contest, fashion parade and choir competition” Mr Katonivere said. He said the event would also emphasise the importance of conserving the dialect.
“This is what we are known for; that is our unique dialect,” Ratu Wiliame said.
Games will also be organised to cater for the youths from various districts.  Macuata Day ends today.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

A Pentecost message from Fiji

from w
James Bhagwan certainly is prolific in his writing in the media and at last the Methodist Church of Fiji is using modern media in every good ways.  Here's what James has to say about last Sunday's emphasis.
from the Fiji Times:

A fire in our hearts

Off The Wall With Padre James Bhagwan
Wednesday, May 27, 2015
THIS past Sunday, while missed by most mainstream media, was a significant day for the Christian community.
Pentecost Sunday commemorates an event that marks the "birth" of the church (Acts of the Apostles, Chapter 2). Pentecost Sunday is one of the most ancient feasts of the church, celebrated early enough to be mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles (20:16) and St Paul's first letter to the Corinthians (16:8).
For Christians, it supplants the Jewish feast of Pentecost, which took place 50 days after the Passover and celebrated the sealing of the Old Covenant on Mount Sinai.
Christ had promised his apostles he would send his Holy Spirit, and on Pentecost, they were granted the gifts of the spirit. The apostles began to preach the Gospel in all languages the Jews who were gathered there spoke, and about 3000 people were converted and baptised that day. That is why Pentecost is often called "the birthday of the church".
May 24 is of special significance to the Methodist, Wesleyan and related Uniting and United churches representing over 80.5 million people in 133 countries.
It marks the day of John Wesley's profound spiritual experience and acceptance that Christ died for all of humanity, not just for a specific group. As a result Wesley realised everyone is entitled to God's grace. This major shift of belief in personal salvation, an instant change in human behaviour through intense faith, is commemorated as the spiritual birth of the Methodist movement.
John Wesley
Wesley (June 17, 1703-March 2, 1791) was an eighteenth century Anglican minister and Christian theologian who was an early leader in the Methodist movement, the first widely successful evangelical movement in the UK.
Methodism holds many of the basic Protestant Christian beliefs. Wesley taught that Christians should strive to obtain holiness of life (called "perfect love") with the assistance of the Holy Spirit. He continually insisted on the general use of the means of grace, (prayer, scripture, meditation, Holy Communion, fasting, etc) as the means by which God transformed the believer.
Throughout his life, Wesley remained with the Church of England and insisted his movement was well within the bounds of the Anglican Church. His maverick use of church policy put him at odds with many within the church, though toward the end of his life he was widely respected.
He established a system of small group meetings designed to encourage and support fellow Christians in lives of faith.
Wesley's Methodist connections included societies throughout England, Scotland, Wales, and Ireland before spreading to the other parts of the English-speaking world and beyond.
Wesley travelled constantly, generally on horseback, preaching twice or thrice a day. He formed societies, opened chapels, examined and commissioned preachers, administered aid charities, prescribed for the sick, help to pioneer the use of electric shock for the treatment of illness, superintended schools and orphanages, received at least 20,000 pounds for his publications, but used little of it for himself.
His charities were limited only by his means. He died poor. He rose at four in the morning, lived simply and methodically, and was never idle if he could help it.
Methodism as
a social movement
Methodists committed to help the sick, poor and oppressed, to visit prisons, and to work for justice. This emphasis is still apparent today.
Under his direction, many Methodists became leaders in the major social justice issues of the day. Methodism has been linked to the formation of reformist groups and trade union movements.
Wesley's practice of encouraging working people to become lay preachers, alongside their paid jobs, gave them valuable experience of public speaking.
Later some of these went on to become trade union leaders and were instrumental in the formation of the Labour Party in the late nineteenth century.
Methodists have been prominent in many social movements, including temperance, prison reform, abolition, women's suffrage, and the civil rights movement.
Wesley had a lot to say about personal morality. In his sermons he encouraged people to work hard and to save for the future, but also to give generously. He also warned against the dangers of gambling and drinking.
Gender roles
For practical as well as theological reasons, Methodists have given women larger leadership roles in the church than some other denominations.
Wesley was himself deeply influenced by his mother, Susanna Wesley. Her piety and her work leading classes in her home while her husband was away preaching made a mark on the young boy.
Because Methodism began not as a separate denomination but as an effort to reinvigorate Anglicanism, it could develop informal structures of leadership more open to women than in other institutions in Wesley's day.
Wesley expected all Methodists to attend regular Anglican Church services and receive the sacraments there. He could therefore rely on non-ordained leaders to spread his movement. Because ordination was not an issue, more leadership roles were open to women.
Two of the most important facets of early Methodism that led to its success were the class and band meetings. These small groups (usually 12 people) met regularly to encourage growth in fighting sin and increasing Christian perfection (especially the classes), and growth in personal piety (especially the bands). These groups were often led by lay people.
Some of Wesley's earlier followers in London tried to exclude women from these groups, but Wesley let them know that he did "exceedingly disapprove" of women being excluded.
In 1787, over the objections of some of his male preachers, Wesley authorised Sarah Mallet to preach. Sarah Crosby, Hannah Harrison, Eliza Bennis, Mary Bosanquet, and Jane Cooper also functioned sometimes as preachers.
Even the non-religious, can find something useful from a man who believed the faith was to be lived out practically in society. Wesley's challenge is applicable to all who wish to leave the world a better place than they found it.
Wesley said: "Do all the good you can. By all the means you can. In all the ways you can. In all the places you can. At all the times you can. To all the people you can. As long as ever you can."
* Reverend James Bhagwan is an ordained minister of the Methodist Church in Fiji and Rotuma and a citizen journalist. The opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect the views of The Fiji Times or the Methodist Church in Fiji.

Monday, May 25, 2015

upgrading in Labasa

from w
In the media today, something about Labasa doing some upgrading. Very good.

Labasa Town Works On Beautification  Maraia Vula, LABASA 

The Labasa Town Council has called for tenders from interested individuals or companies to carry out major infrastructure works on certain areas of Labasa Town. Labasa Chamber of Commerce president Satish Kumar said they had discussed with the council that the works are necessary to beautify the town. “We met with them and requested if all the back roads and access roads including the footpaths can be repaired,” Mr Kumar said.“We are hopeful that works will begin soon because we are approaching a busy crushing season; the new footpaths will help avoid any accidents.We are also requesting landlords and tenants in the town too clean, wash and paint their buildings so that it looks beautiful especially with a lot of developments happening.” He noted it was great upgrading and painting works on the Labasa Civic Centre was nearing completion.
Tender will close at 5pm on June 12.

- Resealing of the Labasa Market taxi stand area including maintenance of its access roads and drainage;
- upgrading of gravel access road and drainage at Vuniwai subdivision;
- construction of a new multi-purpose court with an open shelter and a perimeter fence at Naodamu Ground;
- construction of a new open shelter with sitting facilities, fence and utility facilities for mixed kava vendors;
- construction of a new concrete footpath along Naseakula Road with driveway provisions; and

- replacement of box gutter and accessories at the Civic Centre building.

Friday, May 22, 2015

It's World Turtle Day today

from w

The turtles of Vorovoro

Turtle calling was part of the Mali Island culture, though not today. Some elderly people still remember the time. The people had chants that were sung from hilltops, such as Vatugolegole above the sandy beach on Vorovoro. A priest from Ligaulevu village led the chant and the chant was connected with a traditional religious view.
Ravete vete ni Toga,
vude mai mera
mai rai na marama sola e.
Ravete is the leader of the turtles, come out of the deep and show yourselves to our special visitors. Adi Timaima, who came from Mali and was the wife of the former Tui Wailevu, told me that a branch of the special usi tree had to be thrown into the sea and then many turtles and a shark will appear in the sea to form a parade for the visitors.

On one end of Vorovoro beach is a special turtle cave for breeding turtles. This faces the deep ocean of the Mali passage where big international ships come to Malau Port in Labasa. In the months of December and January female turtles used to come to the beach of Vorovoro Island to lay their eggs. It is an experience for life time to witness such events. Onlookers did not disturb the turtles as they laid their eggs. The turtle was regarded as a kind of god or queen.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Church and politics

from w
I agree with Akuila here when he says that people in the church do need to be political in the sense of caring about justice, injustice in society.  Okay, don't promote one party of course, but to be distant from the power grabs etc. is to make Christians focussed on heaven instead of earth. The Kingdom of God surely started with our local society.
From letters to the Editor of the Fiji Times.  (Bold words are my emphasis.)


Akuila Yabak, Suva | Wednesday, May 20, 2015
Thanks to communication secretary, Reverend James Bhagwan for saying as reported (Sunday, May 17) that the Methodist Church in Fiji and Rotuma has maintained itself apolitical at the same time allowing church halls to be used on request.
This I take to mean that any political party of whatever creed or colour could use Methodist Church premises so the offer includes others than just SODELPA.
However, the Methodist Church as "apolitical" needs further scrutiny for the benefit of those who have observed the twists and turns within the church during the coup years since Fiji's first coup in 1987 and in particular the takeover led by Voreqe Bainimarama in 2006.
Describing the church as apolitical could have these three meanings which seem at opposite - uninterested in political affairs; politically neutral or of no political significance.
In order to meet the new challenges facing the church at this time, the Methodist Church cannot remain uninterested in political affairs nor can it pretend to be of no political significance.
At least the church while remaining politically neutral with no specific party affiliation could collaborate with other faith leaders on speaking out on exploitation, injustice and oppressions as these continue to occur at this time within Fiji and West Papua.

And a response from the Methodist Church media man:
I AM appreciative of Akuila Yabaki's voice and note his comment in Tuesday's The Fiji Times letters.
For his information and that of others, may I clarify that the Methodist Church in Fiji's "apolitical" stance, as within the context of the statement last week, refers only to the definition of "apolitical" as "being not connected to" or "does not identify with any one particular party".
The church, as a nation-wide faith community, will continue to speak on issues relating to issues of justice, peace and society which we believe is part of our expression of our Christian faith, as protected by the 2013 Constitution.
Methodist Church in Fiji

Bias and prejudice in Fiji's Parliament

from w
What a ridiculous decision to suspend Ratu Naiqama for two years.  Strong words spoken perhaps but the reaction shows how Fiji's Parliament shows no respect for members who want to argue about a situation.
Fiji Times reported the story in this way:

MP out of the House

Nasik Swami
Friday, May 22, 2015
PARLIAMENTARIAN Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu apologised to his people minutes after he was suspended by Parliament yesterday.
Ratu Naiqama was suspended for two years for a "serious" breach of parliamentary privilege in a parliamentary session that ended at 9.30pm last night — a sitting that lasted five hours and 30 minutes with a 20-minute.
The House upheld the motion — moved by Attorney-General and Justice Minister Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum — that Ratu Naiqama be suspended with immediate effect as of yesterday; that he issue a public apology in writing to the Speaker Dr Jiko Luveni; and that he must not be allowed to enter the parliamentary precincts, including the Opposition office during his suspension.
"To the people that voted me into that House, I must apologise for what I have done given the decision of Parliament," Ratu Naiqama told The Fiji Times at Parliament last night.
"I want to reassure you all that whatever fight that SODELPA will undertake on behalf of its members and supporters will continue with much more vigour.
"Be rest assured that the SODELPA flag will always be flying high given this unfortunate incident that has happened which I respect."
Mr Sayed-Khaiyum yesterday moved the motion after the Parliamentary Privileges Committee cited Ratu Naiqama for serious breach of privilege and hold him in contempt of the honourable House. He said the Speaker of the House needed to be protected.
Parliament ruled that immediately upon his suspension, Ratu Naiqama was ordered to leave the parliamentary precincts and must remain outside of the parliamentary precincts during his suspension period.
Leader of Opposition Ro Teimumu Kepa said: "Many of us have not heard the recording so natural justice has not been served and we are very disappointed."
She said the Speaker of the House could have nipped this matter in the bud right on Monday when Ratu Naiqama apologised to her.
"I urge the voters to bare with us until we find out what options are available to us. This matter has set a precedence and we will see whether this is open for other people or not in months to come," Ro Teimumu said.
Twenty members voted in favour of the motion, 18 voted in the negative, and four did not vote.

AND ALSO a letter to the Editor of the Fiji "Times:


| Saturday, May 23, 2015
THE recent spate of name-calling, swearing and personal attacks in Parliament indicate it is a place of conflict.
It is not a place for the faint-hearted. The likelihood of violence is only too real.
Consider recent accounts of violence in parliaments around the world - fistfights in Turkey, physical ejections in South Africa, chairs hurled in Nepal, all-in brawl in Kenya, fists and chairs in Ukraine, pepper spray in India, AK47 fired in Jordan, more all-in brawls in Ukraine etc.
Even the seemingly harmless act of falling off to sleep during official engagements can reap disastrous consequences - one senior N. Korean official was reportedly executed for taking a nap on the job only recently.
In Fiji the situation is not as bad, yet. But rumblings in Parliament liken it to the modern battlefield.
I believe there are parliamentary snipers - those who specialise in dispensing their deadly destructive payloads from positions of obscurity. I believe their intention is to de-stabilise, demoralise and create distrust.
Then there are the parliamentary ninjas. These are individuals who claim to have supernatural powers, such as the ability to hear sounds far beyond the normal human spectrum. They can filter background sounds from everyday noise and chaos. I believe some can even pick up the frustrated mutterings of MPs on the far side of the room.
In the parliamentary battlefield, snipers and ninjas are masters of deception and misinformation.
The great Chuck Norris was known to have said, "when they send you a sniper, you must deploy the ninja".


Sunday, May 10, 2015

Fiji and so many villages

from w
So many places to visit and I've only been to less than one in eight of them.  Maybe my bucket list is to go to some more inviting places in Fiji. 'I've been everywhere man, I've been everywhere' as the song goes.

Koroipita village

from w
I was surprised to see a program on the ABC about the village of Koroipita on the outskirts of Lautoka.  We have visited there a few times and many of our Rotary friends in Geelong have contributed to this excellent program for rehousing Fiji families.

Australian builds storm-proof homes for Fiji's poorest residents

Updated 4 May 2015, 7:57pm
Just outside Fiji's second biggest city, Lautoka, lies a place known as Koroipita or Peter's village, home to some of the country's poorest people.
Despite their disadvantages, village residents live in homes designed to withstand powerful storms, at a cost of only $1 a day.
The village was named after Australian Peter Drysdale, who built more than 160 houses.
Mr Drysdale arrived in Fiji as a young man to work in forestry before building hundreds of houses for people left destitute by cyclones.
"In Fiji officially there's about 110,000 people squatting," Mr Drysdale said.
His solution to the problem of growing squatter settlements was Koroipita and played a role in every aspect of its development, including its ability to withstand cyclonic conditions.
Each home had two sections separated by a breezeway, with one containing two bedrooms, and the other a kitchen, shower and toilet.
"The two buildings buttress each other so there's tremendous strength and great integrity," Mr Drysdale said.
"I would hesitate, and I'm not an engineer but I've been through 22 hurricanes in my time in Fiji and my guess is this could withstand 350kph winds."
Mr Drysdale also designed the smokeless stoves and the plumbing system to reduce the amount of waste water sent to the sewerage treatment plant.
"From the washtub and from the sink and the shower water, that all channels via a grease trap and the idea is to trap the grease and don't allow that to get into the sewerage treatment plant because it will gum it up," he said.
Each house costs $12,000 and can be built in five days.

Koroipita a model for the Pacific

Friday, May 08, 2015

Top schools in Fiji

from w
One letter writer to the Fiji Times reckons one school was left out of the list of top schools.
Avineel Kumar, Nadi | Saturday, May 9, 2015
I WAS utterly disappointed to know that my former high school Swami Vivekananda College of Nadi was overlooked in the article published in The Fiji Times titled Top five in Fiji (FT2/05).
I believe despite being one of the top performing schools, the data submitted to The Fiji Times by the Ministry of Education failed to mention SVC in the top 20 schools of Fiji.To my knowledge SVC had an overall pass rate of 89 per cent in the Year 13 exam along with 78 per cent pass rate in the Year 12 exam.
I don't know if my former school was deliberately overlooked by MOE or it was a blunder made by those compiling the statistics at the MOE It is very disappointing and disheartening when reports as such are published in local dailies as I believe it discredits all the hardworking teachers and management who sweat to achieve high quality pass rates.
On another note I believe the report on the top 20 performing schools cannot be heavily relied upon as it fails to mention the total number of students who sat for the years 12 and 13 exams in the respective schools. Some schools have less enrolment numbers in their year 12 and 13 streams in comparison with other schools and getting a higher pass rate with fewer students is easily achievable.
I believe the MOE surely owes an apology to SVC and all other schools who may have been overlooked in their report.

I congratulate the management, staff and students of Swami Vivekananda College for achieving excellent pass rates in their year 12 and 13 exams.

Friday, May 01, 2015

What a grouchy minister

from w
I feel pity for the members of a meeting in Labasa of school principals when the visiting minister - who no doubt was given a salusalu and a nice meal - berated them for being slack and damaging in their school environments. Come on, Mr Minister - be positive!

School heads told to lead

Luke Rawalai
Saturday, May 02, 2015
INCOMPETENT school heads and principals can destroy a school system including the dreams of students and their parents if they fail to live up to the expectations of the ministry.
These were the words of Education Minister Dr Mahendra Reddy, while addressing acting school heads and principals in the North during their Future Leaders Workshop in Labasa yesterday.
Dr Reddy told teachers as leaders of institutions, they would be involved in the marshalling of their generals who are the teachers on the ground.
"You will be marshalling these teachers and leading but often we see that the calibre of our school leaders fail to portray these requirements," he said.
"We have head teachers and principals who tend to be led by their staff which creates a lot of problem.
"Loss of confidence and morale on leaders among teachers, and the gradual movements of staff from the school are indicators of these failures."
Dr Reddy said this would lead to conflicts between teachers and students, including the whole school until the system collapsed.
"Head teachers and principals do not realise how much damage they can do to the school system if they are not living up to the expectations of the ministry.
"Slack leaders can destroy their entire school and therefore, destroying the dreams of the students and their parents. Leaders of the schools play an important role being well grounded in subject matters to boost the morale and confidence of teachers."

Fiji's top schools academically

from w
The top five schools in Fiji have been listed - according to their Year 12 results. Story from the Fiji Times. However that doesn't mean other schools are not achieving well as there are many factors involved to make a school excellent. Labasa College is in fourth place in this listing which is to be expected of course!

Top five in Fiji

Nasik Swami
Saturday, May 02, 2015
FOUR schools from the Central/Eastern Division and one from Labasa have been identified as the top five best performing schools in Fiji.
Tailevu all boys school Queen Victoria School topped the academic listing with a 96.9 per cent pass rate in the Year 12 external examination last year.
Suva's Jai Narayan College came in second with 92.1 per cent.
In third place is all girls school Saint Joseph's Secondary (88.5 per cent), followed by Labasa College (87.0 per cent) in fourth place and Adi Cakobau School (81.5 per cent) in fifth place.
The data submitted to The Fiji Times by the Education Ministry yesterday reflected on the top 20 schools at Year 12 level.
These are the top schools throughout the country as far as the percentage pass rate is concerned.
Among the 20 schools were Yasayasa Moala College (66.7 per cent) and Cicia High School (75 per cent) in the Lau group, and Taveuni's Niusawa Methodist High School (68.0 per cent).
Fiji has 166 secondary schools.

And from the Year 13 results (not all schools offer teaching at this level of course)

Ministry reveals statistics

Nasik Swami
Saturday, May 02, 2015
SUVA'S Jai Narayan College has topped the list of Fiji's 20 best performing schools as far as the Year 13 external examination results are concerned.
Jai Narayan which produced the highest mark last year attained a percentage pass rate of 89.7 per cent.
Nadroga Arya College is second on the list with 77.1 per cent followed by Suva's Saint Joseph's Secondary School (77 per cent), Adi Cakobau School (76.5 per cent) and Rishikul Sanatan College (76 per cent).
According to data provided by the Education Ministry, Ba's Xavier College (75.8 per cent) was sixth followed by Lautoka Muslim College (73.5 per cent), Mahatma Gandhi Memorial High School (72 per cent), Sangam (SKM) College Nadi (71.5 per cent), Yat Sen Secondary School (71 per cent) and Suva Muslim College (70.6 per cent) respectively.
Nawai Secondary School was on 12th place with 70 per cent followed by Marist Brothers High School (67.5 per cent), Yasayasa Moala College (66.7), Saraswati College (65.6), Korovuto College (65.4 per cent), Kamil Muslim College (64.4 per cent), Rakiraki Public High School (63.6 per cent), Cicia High School in Lau (61.5 per cent) and Valebasoga Secondary School in Labasa (61.5 per cent).
The percentage pass rate does not necessarily only determine the best school.
"There are different ways of interpreting the data in terms of identifying the top schools. For instance the schools that are producing quality pass rate in contrast to quantity," the ministry said.
It said the differences in the levels of academic performances among various schools were not because os any innate differences in the ability of students.
"Rather they are the outcomes of other variables that are not always easy to identify. These variables might have a direct or indirect impact on how the students perform in school."