Friday, November 23, 2012

Fijian Customs and Culture EBook

 Fijian Customs and Culture – A Brief Guide & Handbook 

by Sai Lealea

Throughout this book the term Fijian refers to the indigenous people of Fiji.

For any one wishing to gain a general understanding of Fijian Culture and Customs, it can be a challenge finding useful information or guide as what to learn in order to be able to conduct oneself when amongst the people of Fiji.

As a Fijian, I know I have always been keen to have an accessible handbook from which I could quickly glean and learn the basics about my Fijian culture, especially those elements that form part of everyday life. 

In my work, I have often been approached to provide advice, deliver language lessons and presentation on Fijian culture or translate Fijian materials. I have been fortunate to have learned and lived my culture all these years and am now keen to share it with those wishing to gain some basic understanding.

That is the aim of this book:
  • to show you how to get started in developing a basic and general understanding of key aspects of Fijian culture and customs. It is not intended as a comprehensive guide but enough to be able to gain an appreciation of its importance and significance to Fijians.
In this book I have attempted to bring together and summarised materials that are contained in various publications into one to serve as a guide and handbook.

It is my hope that with the topics covered in this book, those of you interested in learning and understanding Fijian culture and customs will at least have access to material that would come in handy and useful. 

Topics covered include the following:
  • I Cavucavu ni Vosa Vakaviti - Pronunciation
  • Vula Vakaviti - Fijian Calendar
  • Wiliwili Vakaviti - Fijian Numbers
  • A I Cavuti – Chiefly Titles for Province and District
  • Na I Vosavosa Vakaviti – Fijian Idioms and Proverbs
  • Etiquette for Visiting a Fijian Village  
  • Useful Resources


Price: only $6.99 US

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

No plans for Rewa Bridge

by Verenaisi Raicola

Fiji Times - Thursday, January 27, 2011
THE Ministry of Works maintains they have not made any plans regarding the old Rewa Bridge.
Suggestions to build a flea market on it have not progressed although the historical landmark was still sturdy.
The structure that had survived cyclones, hurricanes and floods since it opened on June 12, 1937 was no longer used for cars but remained a fishing base for people at night and an exercise spot by early morning joggers and walkers.
Ministry of Works spokeswoman Sainiana Waqainabete said the ministry had not planned out what they would do with the bridge.
"There has been no decision made by the ministry and the future of the bridge remains unknown at this stage," she said.
The Fiji Procurement Office had placed an advertisement calling for tenders to dismantle the old Rewa Bridge in one of the dailies at the beginning of the year.
Ms Waqainabete said earlier there were many factors to consider like the need for an environmental impact study on the removal of the bridge.
Plans to convert the bridge into a flea market concept were earlier pursued by the Nausori Town Council.
In July last year, the Ministry of Works had set aside $1m for the dismantling of the bridge.
The ministry said earlier the project would be carried out by the United Kingdom Company Roughton International but nothing was finalised.
Public Works Department bridge engineer John Luveniyali in 2008 estimated the annual cost of maintaining the bridge at around $300,000.
He said apart from the cost, the Government would have to consider if it was worth maintaining the aging structure.
Mr Luveniyali said materials from the bridge could be used to construct a similar infrastructure in rural areas.
Water and sewerage lines run under the bridge.

Village Bylaws Debate

by Verenaisi Raicola

Fiji Times - Thursday, January 27, 2011
Roko Tui Ba Ratu Sireli Vesikula said while some villagers supported the draft village bylaws proposed by the Ministry of iTaukei Affairs, he cautioned them not to apply the penalties as they had not been legalised.
Ratu Sireli has however suggested that all disciplinary issues villagers presently faced or had to deal with should be referred to police.
Ratu Sireli said some villagers agreed to promote the draft village bylaws to encourage discipline in some areas of village life that seemed to be deteriorating.
"I am telling the villagers to be careful because they have no authority to apply the penalties," he said.
Ratu Sireli said what was important was for villagers to improve on their behavior.
"Things like being drunk and disorderly, turning the volume of music high and wearing nonrespectable clothes in the village needed to be discouraged," he said.
Ratu Sireli said overall, there is a need for some form of order in village settings.
He said homes in some villages were constructed too close to one another.
The proposed draft village bylaws states that there should be a space of 12 metres between homes. All homes should contain a sleeping space, bathroom, toilet and a kitchen.
The law also prohibits smoking in any village public places.
Police spokesman Inspector Atunaisa Sokomuri said the village bylaws was not law so the village elders and turaga-ni-koro were prohibited from exercising it.
He said the turaga-ni-koro who were 'disciplining' villagers were effectively commiting assault.
They have been charged and will face the full brunt of the law, Inspector Sokomuri said.

State halt of bylaws good

Fiji Times - Thursday, January 27, 2011
THE Citizens Constitutional Forum (CCF) welcomes the suspension of the proposed village bylaws by the state.
CCF chief executive officer Reverend Akuila Yabaki said they were informed at a meeting by the Ministry of iTaukei Affairs last week that Cabinet had decided to suspend the implementation of village bylaws pending further wider consultation with stakeholders.
"This government move will receive wide support from civil society organisations (CSOs, particularly because the village bylaws was incompatible with United Nations Conventions on Human Rights which Fiji has ratified," Mr Yabaki said.
In a letter signed by Mr Yabaki and addressed to deputy permanent secretary Indigenous Affairs Department Colonel Apakuki Kurusiga last year, CCF shared its fears and reservations about the draft bylaws.
Mr Yabaki said some villages, according to media reports, had already embarked on the implemention of the said bylaws; offenders of the bylaws are actually punished.
"CCF believes that the goal of national unity compels us to move away from racial or communal approaches."

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Ana Does Fiji Proud in NZ

by Kelera Serelini

Fiji Times - Saturday, January 22, 2011
There was no sweet sailing for Ana Waqairawaqa during her journey as a nurse. But she fought all odds and has now done well for herself.
Ms Waqairawaqa is the lone Fijian nursing lecturer at the Waiariki Institute of Technology, Rotorua, New Zealand.
Her career, she said, was carved from an early age when she left home to pursue her education.
"I guess leaving home at an early age has taught me a lot about being independent," she said.
"I feel great being a Fijian woman and the only Pacific Island lecturer on the whole campus.
"The students have a lot of respect for me even though some of them are quite older than me. The staff are very supportive and I don't feel being the only different one.
Ms Waqairawaqa is originally from Nabalabala Village, Tokaimalo, Ra and attended Tokaimalo District School and later pursuing secondary education at Ballantine Memorial School, Suva.
She graduated from the Fiji School of Nursing, Tamavua in 1987 and had worked at the Colonial War Memorial Hospital for 13 years before migrating to New Zealand in 2000.
Ms Waqairawaqa then joined Lakes District Health Board, Rotorua Public Hospital from 2000 to 2008 before joining Waiariki Institute of Technology, Rotorua in May, 2008 as a Bachelor of Nursing Lecturer.
"Life then was a bit tough trying to settle into Kiwi lifestyle and at the same time face reality of culture shock," she said.
"The hospital staff and the few Fijian family here are very supportive in helping my family to settle.
"Life has been challenging for me, having my daughter in 2002 and beginning my post-graduate studies in 2003 as part-time student and a permanent shift staff. It's being quite a rough road to success when I have to juggle work, family and studies.
"I just thank God Almighty for what I have achieved and where I am today. If it wasn't for Him, I don't think I would be able to achieve anything and most importantly the breath of life. I resigned from the hospital in 2008 and accepted this job as a Bachelor of Nursing lecturer here at the school of nursing.
"I like the working hours and it works out well for my daughter who is still at primary school.
"My two boys are both working and very independent."
Despite the challenges, Ms Waqairawaqa holds the nursing profession close to her heart.
"Nursing is a caring profession and if someone does not possess that caring attitude in herself, she is not fit to be a nurse.
"I still do casual shifts at the hospital during school holidays, because I love to help sick people and to see them get better and be independent.
" It gives me a feeling of satisfaction that I have helped someone who needed my help when they were sick, I do believe in holistic nursing so you do not only cure the physical being but spiritual and psychological as well. Commitment is also a major aspect of the nursing profession.
Her advice to young individuals is to put God first in everything they do and there will be no problem.
"If you let Him guide He will also provide there is no question about that.
"My work hours now are quite flexible with my daughter attending primary school it works out well for both of us, I must admit I did struggle during my first year of study but if you have a goal to achieve then you need to sacrifice in some areas."
She said it was because of her parent's commitment towards her education and upbringing that got her to the lifestyle that she lives today.
Ms Waqairawaqa said family support is integral and is grateful to have had people like Reverend Kalivati Ravoka (Talatala qase Suvavou) and her aunt Iliseva Ravoka, cousin Inosi Colavanua and her late aunt Ana Colavanua as he mentor.
"I left home at the age of 6 to attend primary school I had to stay with my aunt (mum's older sister) because she lives closer to the school, I used to feel homesick all the time. We had to walk to school and crossed rivers.
"My parents worked so hard to get me to where I am today with my four siblings, I am the eldest child so my parents' expectations were so high and seeing them working so hard to cater for the five of us encourages me to move forward and achieve something in life.
"Both my parents have passed away in 2007 and I would like to dedicate this article to them, " she said.

Fiji's Veikoso (Mr Fiji) Holidays at Home

Life in Suva with George ‘Fiji’ VeikosoFiji Sun News - 23 January 2011George ‘Fiji’ Veikoso is a household name in Fiji and other parts of the world that play his music. The Buretu, Nakelo, Tailevu man believes that without the Lord’s hand getting in the way of all things he has faced, he would not have been the showbiz personality that has been widely acclaimed.
“I was born here and my family stayed at Derrick Street or Raiwaqa makawa (old), which meant the early pioneers of the housing settlement,” Veikoso said during his interview.
Veikoso said he was told that he was such a healthy baby and was drinking so much milk they had to do away with the standard baby milk bottle. Then they fitted the teat straight onto the bottles of milk that were bought from a nearby retail shop.
This led to his first trauma when he thought that anything in bottles irrespective of size, shape or colour is to relieve his hunger.
Then his family moved to live outside Raiwaqa, which is just a few blocks away from the former Tradewinds Hotel now known as Hotel Novotel Suva Lami Bay.
They lived there for a couple of years before moving to Samabula East just a few blocks up from the former Bajpai’s Supermarket.
“I started primary education from Class One to Class Four at Assemblies of God Primary School and continued on at Saint Agnes Primary School from Classes Five to Six,” Veikoso recalled.
“I would call in at the residence of uncle Paul Williams who would occasionally have a get together with Tomasi Mawi and Sakiusa Bulicokocoko.”
These men were renowned musicians.
“I would fake being sick just to stay in and listen to them practice and talk and the talks they gave me had an impact on my life.”
They also told him to take a sound, put them into his heart and make it his.
“This was the defining moment of my life,” he said.
When he was 12 years old, during the school holidays, he would be selling papers on the streets and at the Suva bus stand.
This ended on the day he was really hungry and used all the money from the papers sold on meat pies and sausage rolls.
“During these times I experienced that unforgettable moment when we were going around in Suva and with my other three companions sharing a half loaf of bread.
“Those were probably the silliest of moments also but being around with my friends was everything to me.
“I was bored of school but continued with my secondary school education at Indian College until my family moved to the United States of America in 1985.
“Dad was the first Fijian officer in the US Air Force and it was a long road but very rewarding since we now have the best of opportunities.
“I only sang in church and later would accompany Sosiceni Tamani, the ‘Sunshine Man’,” Veikoso added.
One day his mother turned up where they were practicing and demanded that the family will serve the Lord only and he was included in that package.
“She would beat the daylights out of me and Ratu would yell do not let him live so we won’t have any grandchild.
“Things did not turn out right for him and the bad boy was sent back to Fiji,” he said.
By this time he had established that his life was music and music was his life.
In 1986 his mum called and reminded him that he would only come back to the US if he would behave.
He made his first recording a month later and toured around the country promoting his album.
Apart from music I love to watch rugby and anything authentic like a Bula shirt would be a good wear on any occasion for me.
“I have a nightlife character and in my past times I make recordings and write music.”
Today, Veikoso is still strongly connected to his country especially to his roots.
He is a frequent traveller of our national Air Pacific that services the Nadi-Honolulu route as he now resides in Hawaii.
Veikoso is currently spending his holidays here.

Dictator Reduces Chiefs' Entitlement

Chiefs, villagers to get Equal Portions

Serelisoni Moceica

Monday, January 24, 2011
Landowning unit heads and chiefs will from now on, receive the same amount of lease money as the rest of the landowning unit members.
This is according to a new lease distribution formula by the Native Land Trust Board (NLTB).
NLTB general manager Alipate Qetaki confirmed the introduction of the new lease formula.
"All lease monies by way of rent and premiums, received or held by NLTB, must be distributed equally between all, including chiefs and all other living members of each landowning units," Mr Qetaki said.
The move was in response to a directive issued in a letter by the Prime Minister Commodore Frank Bainimarama who is also the NLTB board's chairman.
The letter to the board members stressed the importance of the board's compliance to government decisions.
Commodore Bainimarama directed the application of the new formula on all lease money starting from January 1 (this year).
Payments under the formula would be processed from next week.
Approximately 90 per cent of total land area in Fiji is native land of which 24 per cent is administered by the NLTB.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Inoke Tabualevu Passes On

The church service for the late Inoke Vakataraisulu Tabualevu was held at the Yarawa Wesley Circuit in Suva yesterday.
Tabualevu was well known for his commitment to sports, he was a civil servant and a matanivanua fot the Tui Cakau.

Tabualevu’s son Radrodro Tabualevu said his dad was a father who often challenged his sons.

“In a Fijian tradition, it is very important to a father to develop and groom his son well so he is prepared for challenges in life. I’m happy to say that my father brought me up that way”.

Representing Queen Victoria School (QVS) old scholars Minister for Education, Youth and Sports Filipe Bole emotionally shared his friendship story with Tabualevu at QVS.

“Inoke was a close and a true friend and I feel deep privilege and honour to share with you the life of a true friend.

“Tabualevu, we were born in the same year 1936 but 19 days difference, we attended the same school which was QVS for six years, we had the same dormitory we both belong to the same house, which was Bau House,” said Bole.
“We were assistants in our dining room, we were both part of the student council, Inoke was the Head Boy and I was a prefect, we played rugby, cricket, hockey and athletics together. We always take part together in our school house competition that we have every year, Tabualevu was always a captain for our rugby side, cricket side and athletics he was a star sportsman of Vulinitu,” Bole added.

Bole then portrayed a story when Dr Tukaha Mua approached him one night in their dormitory to ask Inoke if there could be changes made to the positions as captain.

“One night when we were in our dorms Dr Tukaha Mua approached me and said it in Fijian o Tabualevu sa kavetani tu ga e kavetani na rakavi, kavetani na kirikiti, e head boy , o koya sa liu tu ga, vacava mo lai tukuna vua me veisau mada, me sa kavetani o iko na rakavi o au na kirikiti ( Tabualevu is always captain, he’s captaining the rugby team, the cricket team, his our head boy how about if you could go and ask him to change you be the rugby captain and I be for cricket).

“I went to Tabualevu I told him and he agreed to it so I was the captain for rugby and Dr. Mua for cricket, for our cricket team we were thrashed by the Verata team which was a great team.

Former Fiji’s Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka speaking on behalf of Fiji Rugby Union said Tabualevu was one who gave his full commitment and he’s best when he did something.

“ He loved the sport if we try to find out a player and coach, I was one player who toured England in 1970 this was the tour that the England Rugby Union tagged it as the tour of 1971 even though it took place in 1970,” said Rabuka.

“He was great man and coach, he knew the players and he knew what to get out of the players, Queen Elizabeth Barrack was our main training spot, we were pushed, pushed and pushed during training, he was a great leader who loved what he always do,” added Rabuka.

Speaking on behalf of the family and vanua Ratu Tu’uakitau Cokanauto said Tabualevu was a great mentor.

“Tabualevu does not only know sports but he teaches sports as well. When he speaks his words touches the heart of the players, he always remind the players when you are learning something it should reach the highest level, his words were always be Fiji should be number one not two or three, Fiji should lead,” said Ratu Tu’akitau said.

“We acknowledge him for everything he has done for Fiji.” Tabualevu will be buried today in his village in Somosomo, Taveuni.