Monday, August 31, 2015

Kuta in Macuata

from w
It is disappointing that kuta is becoming rare in Fiji because kuta makes beautiful fine mats such as from Macuata in the ponds near Navakasobu outside Labasa.  Kuta reeds are finer than pandanus. Article from the Fiji Times and photos from the internet.

'Diminishing reeds'
Luke Rawalai
Tuesday, September 01, 2015
RESEARCH by WWF South Pacific indicates that kuta ponds in Macuata are diminishing because of agriculture and development of infrastructure which have affected these wetlands. Eleocharis dulcis or the freshwater reed known as kuta grows well in wetlands and is used to make kuta mats native to the women of Macuata. NatureFiji-MareqetiViti director Nunia Thomas said important sources for the kuta such as the Laulevu pond in Navakasobu outside Labasa Town had been taken over by waterlilies.
Ms Thomas said by the 1980s most of the ponds hardly had kuta reeds in them. "NFMV is now doing a project through its Permanent Forests Estate projects to try and revive these reeds which is a traditional identity for the clans of Nalutu and Buca in Korovuli, Seaqaqa," she said. "We are looking back to the past and identifying with women how we can maintain the ponds and revive the reed. We are also looking at past experiences to move the women and their kuta ponds forward and preserve their traditional identity."
Ms Thomas said through traditional practices they identified that the harvesting of the reed needed to be done in order to assist the plant in its regrowth. "It is issues like these that we are learning from women who have been using the reed for a long time to make the kuta mats," she said. "We are also carrying out works with the people of Culanuku in Serua trying to establish a sustainable management plan for their sago palms which arendemic to Fiji. "The leaves of the sago or soga as it is locally known are used to thatch bure and it normally takes 20 to 25 years to grow these palms."

Ms Thomas urged hotel owners who are users of the thatch that they needed to purchase the thatch from sustainable harvesters such as those in Culanuku to ensure the future of the plant species.

Remember your own dialect

from w
I read in today's Fiji Times that in Fiji some of the dialects are now forgotten.  That's a pity as it's lovely to hear the distinctive differences in the Fiji dialects. Of course the Labasa dialect is unique with its deletion of 'k' and 't' most of the time as well as extra words not used elsewhere.  And 'our' family language is still used in Labasa, Mali, Wailevu and nearby.  Bula sia!

Extinct dialects

Sikeli Qounadovu
Tuesday, September 01, 2015
NINETEEN out of about 300 iTaukei dialects are now extinct or probably extinct.
And according to linguist Dr Paul Geraghty, there are many reasons for this. However, the number is likely to increase if nothing is done about it.
"There are many reasons for them becoming extinct. Colonisation, westernisation or more importantly because the people do not value their own dialects," Mr Geraghty said
Referencing a 2003 paper, The Language Situation in Fiji by Francis Mangubhai of the University of Southern Queensland and Francis Mugler of the University of the South Pacific, a further 17 are losing their distinctiveness, in addition to four more losing their phonological distinctiveness. Mr Geraghty added these areas do not speak their true dialects because a lot of words had been borrowed from other places.
"A lot of these dialects have been borrowed from standard Fijian (iTaukei), when there are really words from their dialect that can be used."
He said in order to avoid the extinction of one's dialect one must first learn to respect one's communalect while showing the same courtesy for standard iTaukei.
"Whatever knowledge we have the parents and the old please do share with your family. Do not be embarrassed to speak your own dialect, because the more you are embarrassed to converse in your communalect, the more likely it is to become extinct."
Dr Geraghty confirms that at the University of South Pacific he emphasises to his students to converse and write in their own dialects and value them highly.
Meanwhile the iTaukei Affairs Ministry is worried, Fiji may lose one of their most prized identity and that is its language. And to avoid this from ever happening, the iTaukei Affairs is working around the clock to ensure that this does not ever occur.
In an interview with the Fiji Times Permanent Secretary for iTaukei Affairs Mr Savenacala Kaunisela said this is evident as the standard of the quality of iTaukei language is no longer, as compared to the past.
"Some of us cannot speak our language, others there is a mixture of iTaukei and English. There can come a time that we may lose our language."
Mr Kaunisela said they are engaging the iTaukei Trust Fund to see to the protection of the iTaukei identity.
"We have published books, the book comes with pictures which the young can read and understand, and because one thing we have seen is everything is in English so why not have something in plain and simple itaukei language which the young can also understand."
He said as part of Government's initiative they are visiting villages and educating them the importance of preserving and protecting their identity as well as teaching their younger generation the importance of knowing and understanding their identity - language, customs and traditions.
Compulsory studying of the iTaukei language in the education system is another government initiative to protect its unique identity.
However, according to one of the lecturers in the Fijian language at the University of the South Pacific - Mr Sekove Degei while the dialect can be lost, it is impossible to lose Standard Fijian is impossible.
"I do not agree as a sizeable population of iTaukei are in the urban areas, while the rest are in the villagers and it's those in the villages who still speak their language."
"Put it simple, if a child is grounded in his customs and traditions from home he will never forget them no matter where he goes."

Sunday, August 30, 2015

How many languages do you know

from w,
and I wonder how many languages are there in Fiji, and how many can you identify in this picture?

Saturday, August 29, 2015

A Fijian visits Tonga

from w
I like the story of a visit to Tonga as we had a visit there a couple of years ago and also compared it with Fiji.  I like this bit:
On one of these rides back to our hotel room, we were talking about the similarities in the Pacific islands when we came up with names.
Makereta and I were talking about how Lauans (Where I have maternal links to) name their children with names that had meanings literally.
Our facilitator from SPREP Nanette Woonton, who came from the Cook Islands, told us of how someone from the Cooks was named "MyMamaandPapamademebehindtheEmpirecinema" (My Mama and Papa made me behind the Empire cinema and Samoan Iutita Loau remembered a friend whom they only refer to as Wales had his first name as WalesversusWesternSamoa which also included the name of the venue and the score including the year the game was held. It was in fact Samoa's first game against Wales.
Here is the full story from today's Fiji Times.

A Tongan experience

Vuniwaqa Bola-Bari 
Sunday, August 30, 2015
VISITING the Friendly Isles and the only island kingdom in the Pacific is something I never expected and did not know what to expect from it either.
From childhood memory, I only learnt about it through social studies but it was a place where I also have links, because my maternal great grandmother hails from Kolonga in Tonga and was born in Fiji when their dad, Viliame Fonolahi, a reverend than, came to Mualevu in Vanuabalavu to serve an appointment from the Methodist Church.
However, my grandmother, mother nor I had been to Tonga until I went in July.
It was to be my first time to the island kingdom, thanks to the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Program (SPREP).
Six of us caught our flight from Nadi International Airport, just a week after the King's coronation. When we arrived, the festive mood was still in the air.
Coconut trees swayed gently outside the perimeter of the Fuamotu International Airport but comparing it to Nadi International Airport would be farfetched.
Love for the king
I've only heard of how much they respect and love those in the royal family but I never realised how much it was until setting foot on the Island.
From the airport right to the hotel where we were accommodated, humongous banners carrying the picture of King Tupou IV and his wife Queen Nanasipau'u Tukuaho hung from buildings greatly displaying the royals. Small triangular flags decorated the roadside, lamp posts were draped with gatu or Tongan tapa.
Huge replica crowns were seated on top of arched-type billboards across the roads with messages congratulating the king on his coronation.
Mind you, these were still there, a week after the coronation when we arrived and even when we left, they left the decorations beautifying their Island.
Although the coronation was only held at Nuku'alofa, other districts on Tongatapu and I was told that even other smaller islands, did their own decorations marking the coronation of their king.
They even had alcohol bottled in a special bottle especially for the coronation of King Tupou IV.
Island life
We stayed at the Little Italy Hotel for the first week located at the Kolomatua District on Nuku'alofa before we moved to the Scenic Hotel on the second week.
Unlike Fiji where time in Suva seems to be at a faster pace, the island kingdom still has that island taste — laid-back way of life, where everything and anything would walk about freely, including pigs crossing the main roads without a care.
Their graveyards were probably two times bigger than the normal ones we have back home, tiled, and fenced, with big decorations.
We would later pass comments that if that was at home, the decoration would be missing after a few days.
I was told by some locals that during special days like Easter, Christmas or even when it's the birthday of their late relatives, the whole family would be at the grave of their late family member feasting.
SPREP workshop and
Pacific Meteorology Council
I arrived on Tuesday, July 14 with veteran journalist Samisoni Pareti who was one of the workshop facilitators, and three other Wantok colleagues; Heather Maraki from Vanuatu, Gregory Moses from PNG and Francis Talasasa from the Solomon Islands.
Our Samoan friends had arrived earlier in the day as they came in via Auckland.
Our first three days had us tied up to a workshop on climate change where we had speakers from Tonga's Meteorology Department and officers from SPREP which deals with Climate Change around the region.
In the second week, it was when we had to cover the PMC and the ministerial meeting on the last day.
We were all geared up for it but our hosts at the Scenic weren't very friendly, but we had no choice because it was the only available one as the other hotels on Nuku'alofa were booked out with Tongans from overseas who were there for their family reunions and other functions.
Every day after the program, we had to travel about 20 minutes (as if I was driving) back to our hotel, it was quite a long drive back but being with a group of Pacific journalists, the drive seemed short as we always shared jokes along the way.
On one of these rides back to our hotel room, we were talking about the similarities in the Pacific islands when we came up with names.
Makereta and I were talking about how Lauans (Where I have maternal links to) name their children with names that had meanings literally.
Our facilitator from SPREP Nanette Woonton, who came from the Cook Islands, told us of how someone from the Cooks was named "MyMamaandPapamademebehindtheEmpirecinema" (My Mama and Papa made me behind the Empire cinema and Samoan Iutita Loau remembered a friend whom they only refer to as Wales had his first name as WalesversusWesternSamoa which also included the name of the venue and the score including the year the game was held. It was in fact Samoa's first game against Wales.
After the first day, we were all hosted by the Tongan Government to Oholei Beach Resort.
We were hosted in a cave made up beautifully in a very artistic way and is owned by the Kami family.
This beach resort had a plethora of cuisine made the Tongan way with the plates made from banana stems.
From seafood cooked in coconut milk, sweet potatoes, yams and cassava cooked in coconut milk and pork cooked over an open fire, the Tongans love their food just like their Pacific Island neighbours.
These were food served to us at the resort and with a live band singing Pacific hits, it couldn't have been better.
From that night until we left we felt it was the best we could have seen of Tonga.
It was also on this trip to Oholei that we were told that one of the band members is the son of Famous Fijian musician, Sakiusa Bulicokocoko.
He had a mellifluous voice, singing his dad's hits, and when I realised who he was, I wasn't surprised, he is from Tailevu brought up by his Tongan mother in Tonga- he is known as Christopher Luka.
Last night
We were also hosted to another beach resort on the west side of the island on the last night to farewell all the participants at the PMC.
It was at Vakaloa where everyone was hosted to different Tongan traditional dances from the tau'aluga to the lakalaka.
This was also where we dined with the Tongan Crown Prince Ulukalala.
On Tongatapu, from the Fuamotu Airport to Nuku'alofa and to other villages in Tonga, there was no segregation in their housing. They all lived together, unlike Fiji, where we have places like Namadi Heights, Beyview Heights, Domain in Suva and Delailabasa in Labasa, Sandalwood at Waiyavi in Lautoka that have mansion-type houses, in Tonga there was no segregation.
You could see a home made out of corrugated iron right next to a double-story house which looked like that of homes overseas.
Fijian community
Tonga has a sizeable Fijian community. They are involved in different things; some of them are engaged in running a business, others are in other fields of endeavour. And when talking about Fijians in Tonga, you have to mention Lomaiviti.
It is like a village also on Tongatapu made up of Fijians who were originally from Lomaiviti and were given that piece of land where they are settled by the late Queen Salote.
I met former Fijian veteran journalist Iliesa Tora and his family in Tonga. They took me for a quick tour around the small island, visiting some of Tonga's great sites.
From Lomaiviti, where his uncles live to Houna — the village of the current Queen Nanasipau'u and its blowholes to Niutoua where they have the Stone Hedge and to the beach where Captain James Cook first landed on Tonga.
Cook's time in Tonga is commemorated by a plaque at the site of his landing at Tongatapu in 1777, where it is said that he rested under a great banyan tree before journeying to the capital, Mu'a, to see the king.
The plaque reads: "Here stood formerly the great banyan 'Malumalu 'o Fulilangi' or Captain Cook's tree under the branches of which the celebrated navigator came ashore on his way to visit Pau, the Tu'i Tonga (sacred king of Tonga) on the occasion of the 'Inasi (presentation of the first fruits) in the year 1777."
I was also later shown the villa of the late King GeorgeTupou V which I am told now is home to one of Fiji's sons — Ratu Tevita Uluilakeba, who is better known as Roko Ului. He was in the military and fled to Tonga just as he was charged with mutiny and accused of attempting to overthrow Bainimarama's government.
With his family's connection in Tonga, Roko Ului is well respected there among the Fijians as he is among the Tongans.
I was also told later of how some Fijians were faced with problems of returning home after their employers confiscated their passports and told them to leave.
After we left on Saturday, one Fijian girl, left the week after for Fiji with some help from the Fijian community and Tora who assisted in trying to get her home.
In some ways, Tonga has become like the US for Fijians, not in the sense of development but in the sense of keeping Fijians there, some overstaying but that government not wanting to deport them unless they got involved in criminal activity.
If there's one thing I learnt during my short stay in Tonga, it was how they value the family, how Tongans overseas would still send something back to their relatives back on the island, be it nuclear or extended family, the help was always there.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Can you live on $5000F a year?

from w
In Fiji Methodist ministers pay is $5000Fijian per year and those on probabion $4500F.  I wonder if they can live on this. Okay, they probably have a food garden and do receive gifts at times.  Do those who work in towns such as Lautoka and Suva get a bonus for not having a plantation?   I think this is not enough to raise a family on. The story is in the Fiji Times.  By comparision, in Australia a Uniting Church minister's salary is perhaps $60,000 ($54,000 plus superannuation contribution by the church).  When Peceli was a minister in the mountains of Naikoro his salary was 11 pounds a month, but sometimes the people didn't even have that to pay him, so perhaps times are better now!

Nawadra raises concern on pay of church ministers
By Watisoni Butabua
Tuesday 25/08/2015

The Methodist Church President Reverend Dr. Tevita Nawadra.
The Methodist Church President Reverend Dr. Tevita Nawadra has raised concerns about the basic pay of the church ministers per year.
Speaking during the opening of the Annual Conference at the Centenary Church, Nawadra says this is not easy because it involves money.
He says currently the ordained ministers basic salary is $5,000 while those who are on probation are paid $4,500.
He says the ordained deaconesses are paid $4,500 per annum while those who are on probation receive $4,000 per year.
Nawadra says he has heard stories of church ministers seeking financial assistance for their children’s tertiary level education.
He says the basic salary for the church ministers will be reviewed.
The Church President adds that the church ministers are paid from the circuits they serve.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

women in the Fiji Methodist Church

from w

Methodist Conference in Fiji starts today at Centenary Church. Where are the women? Surely not all are in the kitchen!!!!!

Friday, August 21, 2015

Photos from the Vatuadova church opening.

from w
Somehow photos got muddled in the previous post so here are some photos about the Vatuadova Methodist Church including the opening yesterday.

And on the Sunday there was a thanksgiving service. Photo shows some of the people including three women from overseass - Asena, Pinky, and Bale. And below, two of the Vatuadova women with the communion set taken to Fiji as a gift from Geelong.

Opening of new church at Vatuadova

from w
Yesterday was a significant day at our village of Vatuadova near Labasa with the opening of the new Methodist Church there. Peceli and I wanted to attend but medical issues meant we couldn't attend.
The family took photos and posted them on the Vatuadova Church group so I copied some for reposting. Tne opening of the new Methodist church at Vatuadova yesterday was a day of blessing for our village near Labasa. The former wooden church will be used for cultural activities and a kindergarten. It was too small for the people nowadays. The building process took three years of fundraising and then the carpentry team stage by stage built the church. Congratulations to all concerned. Thank you to the men and women of the former South Geelong Uniting Church for their contribution to the final stages. Overseas Ratawa family members included Mere from England, Asena from Hamilton New Zealand, Bibi from Sydney and Bale from Geelong Australia. Peceli made a video of greeting and it was played to the congregation during the worship service.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Letter re Methodist President's location

from w
I too was surprised by the Fiji Methodist Church decision to relocate the President's house in Davuilevu. Of course Davuilevu has a lovely environment but what about the people who need to visit the President? It's an extra bus ride or drive out of Suva - at least half an hour.  And a mention of relocating the offices away from Epworth House - what about people who work in the offices and those who visit the offices?
From Fiji Times Letters to the Editor.


REV AKUILA YABAKI, Suva | Tuesday, August 18, 2015
SOMETHING does not sound right here. The reason given for relocating the Methodist president's residence to Davuilevu near Nausori may need to be reviewed (Sunday Times 16/08).
What is wrong with having the president of the Methodist Conference based in Suva where all the actions and interactions are happening.
In the secular state which Fiji now is the head of Methodist Church needs not be located away from the centre to isolation. It's not enough to say that Davuilevu is the heart of the Methodist Church as perhaps it is no longer.
The heart of the Methodist Church needs to be where the action is. 
Eleven years of my life I spent in Davuilevu. First as a pupil in boarding school at Lelean for eight years and then I went back in the mid sixties to be trained a church minister at the vuli talatala for three years. There would be many others who look back with a sense of gratitude and satisfaction for years spent there.
However, in light of re-envisioning the mission of the church in the 21st century ? much talked about and heard about these days. this relocation away from Suva seems a regressive policy. The move which is away from the Capital may need re-thinking.
Methodists do believe that God does make all things new! And we all need to be open to new possibilities and unlearn catch phrases of the old heaven and Earth.
This current catch phrase "new exodus" or lako yani vou surely means working with new-found partnership in the gospel; and to work as co-workers with others including being more available to others; ordinary street and village people and at least other main line churches and challenge politicians and MPs, Government and civil society organisations.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Methodist Conference - hymn festival

$203k From NZ, Aust Methodists For Opening

from w
There is not a huge difference this year - but instead of a Choir COMPETITION there is a festival of music. There is still a soli, and this year the money raised will go to building a new house for the President, and not in Suva but in Davuilevu. The opening ceremony involved visitors from New Zealand and Australia.
from Fiji Sun:

$203k From NZ, Aust Methodists For Opening

Former president of the Methodist Church in Fiji and Rotuma Reverend Dr Ilaitia Tuwere with members of the New ZealandAustralia delegation at Furnival Park in Toorak yesterday. Photo: Methodist Church in Fiji and Rotuma
August 16
Fundraising for new Methodist church projects received a $203,000 boost yesterday, at Furnival Park in Toorak. This was confirmed yesterday by spokesperson Rev James Bhagwan.
A delegation of Methodists from Australia and New Zealand, led by former church President Reverend Dr Ilaitia Tuwere, made the official donation at the opening of the annual fundraising drive.
Part of the money is expected to be used for the building of the new residence for the church’s president at Davuilevu.  Its part of the church’s return to its historical base at Davuilevu, according to spokesperson, Reverend Bhagwan.
Reverend Bhagwan expressed the church’s appreciation for the support of Fijian and New Zealand Methodists.

$203k gift for church

Vuniwaqa Bola-Bari
Sunday, August 16, 2015
TWO-hundred and three thousand dollars ($203,000) was given by the Methodist Fijian communities from New Zealand and Australia yesterday.
This was their gift as they officially opened the solevu of the Methodist Church in Fiji's Festival of Praising God with Hymns and Gifts in a traditional ceremony.
Led by former President Reverend Dr Ilaitia Tuwere, the group were welcomed in the traditional iTaukei way where they were presented tabua (whales tooth), yaqona and baskets of food and pork cooked in lovo (earth oven).
Mr Tuwere thanked the Methodist Church in Fiji for their willingness to invite the Methodist Fijian communities in Australia and New Zealand.
"On behalf of every member in Australia and New Zealand and those in the southern hemisphere, including former presidents of the church who have left us, I would like to thank you for the treatment you've given us," Mr Tuwere said.
Mr Tuwere said the heart of giving had never ceased from the past and it had continued to increase.
"There are no words to describe how thankful we are for what you've done today, all we can say is that we can only watch God's goodness in your lives and that of your families," he said.
Meanwhile, today is the conference preaching Sunday where all the ministers will preach in all churches in the Central Division.
The Festival of Praise would continue on Monday at Furnival Park beginning with a Witness March from Suva Flea Market to Furnival Park at 9am.
Sunday August 16: Conference Preaching in Various Centres
Monday August 17: Furnival Park
8am: Morning Devotion Veiliutaki/Worship Leader: Deac, Meresiana Kuricava
Matasere/Choir: Nauluvatu; Vunau/Sermon: Rev. Eroni Moce, T/Q Suva
9am: March of Witness from Suva Flea Market to Furnival Park
9:30am: Choir Festival - Same - Valenilotu
10.30am: Choir Festival - Sere Usu
11am: Choir Festival - Mataveitokani - Valenilotu
1pm-2pm: Traditional Dances by Suva Division
2pm: Choir Festival - Mataveitokani - Tabacakacaka / Wasewase
7pm: Evening Devotion Veiliutaki/Worship Leader: Rev. Pita Drekilovoni
Matasere/Choir: Kadavu Choir
Vunau/Sermon: Rev. PeniTikoinaka

Sunday, August 09, 2015

Rev Josateki Koroi passes on

It is with sadness that we announce the passing away of the former President / Na Qase Levu Vakacegu of the Methodist Church in Fiji , the Rev. Josateki Fifi Koroi, who peacefully entered into his Master's joy this at 4 o'clock afternoon (Saturday 8th August, 2015), at his home in Mavana, Vanuabalavu. He will be laid to rest tomorrow (9th August, 2015) in Mavana. Our prayers are with Radini and the family.
"His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’" (Matthew 25:23)
Rest peacefully in God's love, good and faithful servant.

And the following comes from an old blog entry - perhaps a year ago, and then a bio of Josateki from Mary Johns-Rauto.


from w
It was a great day yesterday, saying sorry at last to the Josateki Koroi now an elderly man farming in the Navua area. Our loloma to Josateki and his wife Nola at this time.  I found this story of Jo's life in an earlier Fiji'Times. The author of the article left out an important aspect of Jo's life - the way the church turned on him, kicked him out of leadership and the pain and hurt of this time.  Instead of accepting that there are different views on how to deal with dissent and different views, Jo was treated very badly. We remember with shame that difficult time when there was a dispute within the leadership of the Methodist Church in Fiji - a conservative view, an inclusive view.  At last there is a reconciliation.

The reluctant preacher

Sunday, January 20, 2008
EVEN though he was not academically bright, he was determined to be a teacher, while his family had other ideas about what he should become.
Josateki Koroi was born in 1932 and grew up in his village of Mavana in Lau. His father was a church steward or vakatawa in Fijian.
He attended school in Mavana up to Class Four, the highest level in the village at the time. At 10 years old, he left the village for Levuka to attend the mission boarding school there.
Later, he moved to Bau where his granduncle Reverend Wilisoni Langi was the superintendent minister. There he attended Bau District School until 1947, when his granduncle retired and returned to Mavana.
The young Josateki set off for an uncle who worked at the Vatukoula gold mine where he attended school from 1947 to 1949, reaching Class Eight and having failed the qualifying exam.
Dream to teach
From a young age Josateki knew he wanted to be a teacher and trying to get him to change his mind resulted in trickery.
"My wish was to be a teacher. Failing to go anywhere else for further education I worked at the gold mine from 1949 and 1950.
"My uncle's house was next door to the talatala (minister) in Vatukoula, Wilisoni Buadromo, who was from my village.
"He saw me being a school leaver working at the mine and felt sorry for me and thought I should continue my education.
"He asked me if I was interested in going to the Bible school at Davuilevu and I said I had no interest in going to Bible school
"But what do you want?' he asked me. I told him that I wanted to be a teacher. He said oh yes you can go there then from there you could go into teaching.'
"Eh, how do you do that? You sit again for your qualifying examination at the Bible school.'
"Of course it was a lie; he just wanted me to get in. I believed him and at the beginning of 1950 he telephoned Davuilevu and arranged for me to go there."
Reverend Josateki said he had to work to pay his last two years at the Bible school.
"In the second year I did contract work like weeding grass work with Indian farmers in the Nausori area to pay my school fees until the third year
After all his struggles at the Bible school, the young Bible scholar was steadfast and more adamant than ever in his dream of being a teacher.
"I found out that going to the teachers training was not at all possible from the Bible school," he said. "Still I had no intention of joining the ministry. I was interested in education. I was dux in all three years at the Bible school."
Life in Australia
At the end of his third year at the Bible school and having turned 21, the school principal Reverend Tuilovoni wanted the high achiever to go into full ministry.
"The problem was that I was not interested and the rule of the church would not allow me being 21 to go into the full ministry," he said.
"The rule of the church was that the only way a 21-year-old could go into the full ministry was if you were married.
"I was single, 21, and only single men over the age of 25 were allowed into the ministry.
Reverend Tuilovoni took Josateki's name to the synod for recommendation and authorisation to go into full ministry.
The synod agreed and he was the first person in Fiji to go into full time ministry - below the age of 25 and single.
"I went in as a theological student in 1953 to 1955. At the end of my third year I should have been appointed to work in the circuit but then the church decided that I should go further in theological education to Australia
He went to Australia in 1955 and was to return at the end of 1957 but was told to stay on for to do youth work. He returned at the end of 1958.
Finding Love
During his time working in Australia, Reverend Koroi saw Nola Lambert in the church choir.
The rest, as they say, is history.
"When I saw her in the choir I joined," he said. "I also had a good voice - a good bass voice.
"My family was against me marrying a white woman. My mother asked can she fish, can she collect firewood, can she make mats?'" Upon his return to Fiji Reverend Koroi stayed in contact with Nola via letters.
Reverend Langi heard about his parents' objections and told his father to allow the couple to marry saying it was "God's will".
"From 1958 to 1960 we continued with our correspondence. In 1961 I said to her I'm concerned about my mother's concerns you better come to Fiji first before I ask you to marry me.'
"I took her to villages in Rewa and Sawani so that she had an idea of the places she would live in should she agree to marry me.
"She returned to Australia and after a few weeks I asked her what she thought. She wrote back and said nothing will change my mind."
Reverend Koroi said Nola's parents also objected to their marriage.
"Her father told her not to marry a Roman Catholic, a dark skinned man, a man whose eyebrows meet and a man who is hairy.
"His son married a Roman Catholic, Nola married a dark man and her younger sister married a hairy man."
The couple were engaged in early 1961 and married at Davuilevu in July of the same year.
Mrs Koroi is a qualified pharmacist and works in Suva.
Call from above
When Reverend Koroi returned from Australia he was made assistant director of youth at Davuilevu under the directorship of Reverend Tuilovoni.
He worked with Reverend Tuilovoni in the youth department until he was made director in 1969.
During this time he and Reverend Tuilovoni developed training centres for youths in which they planned to train youth leaders and Sunday school teachers.
But with the appointment of a new principal in 1971 who wanted to separate the training of youth leaders and Sunday school teachers, with which Reverend Koroi disagreed and resigned from the church.
A year later he was asked to return and was appointed superintendent of Davuilevu schools - the theological college, Lelean school and the youth department - where he stayed for three years.
He was then appointed to the Suva circuit as assistant minister to Suva City in 1972 and the next year moved to the Nabua circuit. In 1973, he was also made senior chaplain to the Fiji Military Forces.
In 1975 he was appointed the assistant general secretary of the church and became secretary in 1977. The following year being the senior chaplain he went with the first army peacekeeping contingent to the Middle East.
He returned in 1979 and was appointed principal of Davuilevu. He made his second trip to the Middle East in 1985. When he returned in late 1986 he was appointed minister of the Wesley Butt Street circuit in Suva.
Methodist presidency
At the 1986 church conference Reverend Koroi was appointed church president. He was in office from 1987 to 1989.
"But 1987 was a historic year because in May the first military coup took place."
Having been a military chaplain and now head of the Methodist Church, Reverend Koroi had to keep wayward elements within the church in line.
"During my second year of presidency the church started the problem of roadblocks." In 1987, disgruntled with the easing of the so-called Sunday ban on trading and non-essential travel imposed after Sitiveni Rabuka ceased power, some elements in the Methodist Church mounted unauthorised roadblocks.
"The secretary of the church, Reverend Lasaro, was for the ban and took advantage of it. That was where we differed greatly"
The roadblocks went up during Christmas 1987 and the New Year and Reverend Koroi and Reverend Lasaro's relationship was straining.
"I suspended him for the roadblocks and for not getting the authority of the church so after his suspension I was due for leave.
"I went on leave and by the time I returned he was able to lead the majority by buying their loyalty."
Reverend Koroi and his wife have three children: Ella, Naulumatua and Eceli.
They are also blessed with six grandchildren.
Today, Reverend Koroi lives on his eight-acre property at Waidradra, close to Pacific Harbour.
He spends a lot of his time in his garden.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...
Bula Wendy and Peceli , one small correction in this article: the road blocks were in 1988 , 18th December to be exact. The letter of suspension to Lasaro was dated 20th December that year and detailed 3 relevant points : (a) organising illegal public road blocks (b publicly opposing Conference resolutions regarding the Interim Government and (c) speaking as the official voice of the church without authority. Updates::::: In retirement we now reside in our home village of Mavana, Vanuabalavu, having moved away from the farm at Waidradra. And add one great -grandchild to the total of grandchildren. Loloma, Josateki & Nola.