Friday, December 28, 2007

Ex-Methodist boss to be a chief - 28/12/07

A former Methodist Church president will tomorrow be installed as a traditional leader.Reverend Ratu Isireli Caucau will be installed as the Tora ni Bau (Chief of Batiki) in a traditional ceremony on Saturday at his home village of Mua on Batiki in the Lomaiviti Group.
Ratu Isireli, 79, said he was looking forward to giving his best to serve his people.“Already I have served as the Methodist president whereby I looked after the welfare of more than 100,000 people and serving the people is nothing new to me,” Ratu Isireli said.“But the good thing about it is that I will have something to offer back to my people. “Church and the vanua are interrelated and must go together.”
Ratu Isireli said this was an opportune time for him to serve his own people.He said he was passionate about serving his own people.Ratu Isireli is also the chairman of the Batiki District School. “One of the plans I intended to implement next year is to improve the school,” he said. “This will includes meeting with teachers and parents and to work out ways to increase quality pass rate of students at the island,” said Ratu Isireli.
The installation ceremony will begin after a church service led by Reverend Tuikilakila Waqairatu. “Mataqali Lewenikoro, of which I am a member, will perform the installation,” said Ratu Isireli.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Fijian Savings Scheme

Study a waste of money: A-G

Last updated 12/23/2007
A study commissioned by the ousted Soqosoqo Duavata ni Lewenivanua Government to look into the viability of a proposed scheme that would benefit indigenous Fijians and Rotumans which cost about $162,000 has been considered a waste of public funds.
The Auditor General’s 2007 special investigation report revealed the National Savings Scheme was initially a blueprint programme and the objective was to instill a savings culture within the target group and help them build a capital fund to finance future business and investment activities. The report said Fijian Holdings Limited was engaged to carry out a feasibility study that would determine the long term viability of the scheme.
The report of the study was to assist government in deciding whether to approve of reject the scheme concept based on key financial investment analysis.
It is understood that part five of the agreement between government and FHL on January 20, 2006 provided for a VAT inclusive fee of $102,000 comprising consultancy services of $90,000 and reimbursable expenses not exceeding $12,000.
In May 2006, the scope of the study expanded to include other races and the PM’s Office and FHL deliberated on the changes to the terms of reference between March and May 2006.
This extended scope the report said amounted to an additional $60,000 was approved by the Major Tenders Board in August 2006.
The AG recommended that unless the government used the report, it might be just one of the many reports that were shelved for some reason that government was not prepared to be transparent about.
“Consequently, if the government would like specific areas to be covered in a study such as this with conclusive results, these should be clearly described in the scope and deliverables of the study.
“Unless this happens, the expenditure of $162,000 may therefore be considered a waste of public funds,” the report said.
Former chief executive officer in the PM’s office Joji Kotobalavu said the report was studied by the then SDL led government and the usefulness of it was that it informed government that a scheme for compulsory savings exclusively for Fijians would not be in accord with Fiji’s Constitution.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Need for more dialogue: CCF

20 DEC 2007 -
There needs to be more dialogue between landowners and tenants to address the issue of land problems, says the Citizens Constitutional Forum.

Responding to recent reports that tenants homes were being demolished without their knowledge in Davuilevu, CCF chief executive Rev Akuila Yabaki said landowners are not respecting their own lease terms and conditions.

“It is alarming that landowners are demolishing buildings of tenants and forcing them to move out without notice.

“It shows that the NLTB has been unable to find an acceptable solution to the land problem in Fiji. It also shows that politicians and former Prime Ministers and governments have been unable to find an acceptable solution,” Yabaki said.

Yabaki said it is the responsibility of Government and landowners to make available a reasonable amount of land, that can be used by those that don’t own any land.

“The Great Council of Chiefs and the Methodist Church have failed in their duties to create an understanding about the national importance of making adequate land available for use by landless people.”


Thursday, December 20, 2007

Singh shows flair for Fijian formalities

Thursday, December 20, 2007

AT first sight, Dinesh 'Bui' Singh, looks like your average farmer with his flowing beard and grizzled looks, shaped no doubt by years of working the land.

It's only when he rattles off in fluent Namosi dialect that you begin to realise Bui is not your average man.

The farmer from Wailoaloa, Lobau, in Navua turned heads at the town's open day last week when he presented a whale's tooth or kamunaga to the chief guest, Police Commissioner Esala Teleni.

During the qaloqalovi (a presentation of a whale's tooth to welcome a guest), the ease with which he delivered his speech, which was punctuated with humour that drew giggles from the crowd, left guests, including Commissioner Teleni, in awe.

After the ceremony I discovered that Bui had basically spent all his life among in Wailoaloa settlement, where he has a farm.

His family is one of two Indo-Fijian families in the predominantly indigenous Fijian settlement.

Bui is a popular resident in Navua. This, to a large degree, is because of his cheerful personality and proficiency in the Fijian culture.

The latter is such that even indigenous Fijians seek his services at traditional ceremonies.

People from as far as Lami and the central Suva areas have sought his help in this respect. For instance, during the funeral of popular radio host Akuila 'Momo' Verebasaga, Bui presented the sevusevu on behalf of businessman Iqbal Jannif.

He was also called upon to present a sevusevu during the funeral of a policeman in Lami earlier this year.

On Tuesday Bui was busy preparing for his son's wedding ceremony at the family home in Wailoaloa.

He expects many people from the nearby villages to attend the wedding because his family is very close to the community.

He said his family attended almost every social gathering that occurred in the nearby villages of Nabukavesi, Namosi and Navatuloa.

"Whenever there is a gunusede on, a were koro (village grass cutting) or caka bulubulu (grave work) we are always there to assist,'' he said.

Bui proudly relays that his family is so well-versed with the local Fijian culture that even his daughter, who is in primary school, is adept at weaving mats and making coconut oil.

"Us Indians and Fijians all need to hold hands to be able to live together peacefully,'' said the part-time taxi driver.

Bui said the Tui Namosi Ratu Suliano Matanitobua was a good friend. They often visited each other's homes.

"In fact we are leasing his land and he comes around every once in while to visit us,'' said Bui.

Bui's family had initially settled at Vuluniwai, about 4 kilometers from the Queen's Highway, when he was a child.

It was only 14 years ago that his family decided to lease the 150-acre farm at Wailoaloa.

The family plant vegetables and rootcrops which they sell at the Navua market.

They also breed cattle.

Bui is the fourth youngest in a family of five brothers and one sister.

He looks after his 77-year-old mother. He is blessed with two daughters, one son and a grandchild.

Bui says his life is very simple and that he like is this way, just as he enjoys all the local Fijian dishes.

"Here at home we eat everything, bele, rourou, cassava, dalo and uvi and kumala. My family has been eating this and it's a normal part of our diet,'' he said.

Former Lami Mayor Jasper Singh, who is also his cousin, says Bui is great company to be around.

"I would say that he fits in all the circles and all races," said Mr Singh.

"The fact that he speaks three languages fluently is his greatest asset,'' he said.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Clans install Tui Sabeto


Tuesday, December 18, 2007 -

Sabeto Village had every reason to be jovial two weeks ago because they were finally installing the Na momolevu Na turaga Na Tui Sabeto Ratu Tevita Susu Mataitoga.

He succeeded his father, the late Tui Sabeto Ratu Kaliova Mataitoga who died a few years ago.

The appointment of the Tui Sabeto is done by the mataqali Bosali, not the kingmakers or the Sauturaga as in other traditions.

In most traditional outfits the chiefly clan would meet to have a meeting to decide who will be the next chief and inform the kingmakers.

For the vanua of Sabeto, the mataqali Bosali had the sole responsibility as the head of the clan and not the chiefly clan.

This installation of the new Tui Sabeto was unique because before the traditional ceremonies accorded to chief of such a high status, he was blessed as a commoner in the church among his people.

Whilst seeking blessing from the church, the new high chief Ratu Tevita also under took an oath to protect his people and uphold the teachings of the church.

Mataqali spokesman Eroni Lewaqai said during the special meeting of the mataqali Bosali to determine the next title-holder, young men or warriors are stationed outside to ensure that the meeting is not interrupted and things are done according to what the head of the mataqali says.

Once all that was in place on the bowl of yaqona that was served to him he made the announcement of who is the new Tui Sabeto, he said.

Whether or not you like the person appointed, you will just have to go with what was said. Once that is done we send out word to get all the other heads of the other mataqali in the area to convene at the same time.

We dont need their opinion of what the other mataqali have to say.

Then its decided when another meeting would be convened for the whole tikina of Sabeto, which comprises seven yavusa.

He said once all that was sorted out then duties were delegated out to everyone and their contribution.

He said the appointment and the date of the appointment were not negotiable.

Taukei Naevo Ratu Meli Saukuru

Chief implements stringent measures -
The high chief of Dratabu village in Nadi has implemented some stringent measures in the village to ensure that they do not abuse alcohol and get into trouble during this festive season.

With the rise in stabbings and other violent crimes associated with increased consumption of alcohol over the past few weeks, the Taukei Naevo, Ratu Meli Saukuru stresses that funds used for alcohol can be put aside for other expenses especially the school items.

Ratu Meli feels that it is important that chiefs of the various villages take the first step to advise their people.

Taukei Naevo, Ratu Meli Saukuru.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Voreqe still banned from NZ

NZ remain firm on Bainimarama

Monday, December 17, 2007 -

NEW ZEALAND will not entertain interim Prime Minister, Commander Voreqe Bainimarama's request for a visa to attend next year's Pacific Trade Expo in Auckland.

Senior press officer, James Funnell told Fiji Times Online Commander Bainimarama will not be granted a visa to visit New Zealand while sanctions remain in place.

In a Radio New Zealand International news report, the commander indicated his interest in the expo when he met with NZ Pacific Business Council chairman, Gilbert Ullrich.

During that meeting in Suva, the commander is reported to have expressed his concern about tourism and the drop in trade, saying he was interested in accompanying Fiji's delegation to New Zealand in March.

The cocoa revival


Monday, December 17, 2007 -

IT is a small fruit signified on the top end of our national flag and this fruit is customarily used as an essential ingredient that brought chocolates all around the world to life.

For decades this unique fruit has been in Fiji and the people of Namau Village in Naloto, Tailevu are trying to make the best use of it.

Better known to them as Fiji's chocolate, cocoa farmers at Namau are on the verge of producing their own organic and pure cocoa products in the country.

Ultimately, they want to build Fiji's first chocolate factory, and thus be the first to make an truly original chocolate that Fiji can call it sown.

The village is situated at about 60 feet above sea level, off Lodoni Road on a hill. It is part of the mataqali Navukuta with a population of about 158 people.

The twenty-three families that live in Namau depend essentially on the somewhat 18,000 cocoa trees that surround the village.

These families work under the careful guidance of farm manager, Tevita Niumou_ a family man who has spent half of his life babysitting these green treasures.

Tevita says elders of the villager started cocoa farming in the 1960s and taught young youths the importance of the cocoa fruit.

"I left high school in 1978 and began working with my father who showed me everything there is to know about the cocoa fruit," he said.

Tevita's big dreams for his family and the whole village rests on the cocoa trees.

"Every household in the village has land breeding thousands of cocoa trees; it's our main source of income," said the 46-year-old.

He said the village was recently visited by a couple from Sweden who recognised a cocoa fruit pictured on the national flag.

He said the couple had inquired with the Ministry of Agriculture looking for the location of a cocoa farm and later found themselves at Tevita's front door.

"It was unbelievable when I later found out the tourists owned a chocolate factory in Sweden and were interested in our cocoa produce," said Tevita.

"I gave them a tour around the farm and demonstrated our way of processing cocoa beans," he said.

He said the couple were amazed with the old system used by farmers and offered to donate machines that could extract cocoa liquid for the production of chocolates.

Tevita says bumping into the couple from Sweden was sheer luck and it was even more interesting that the Fiji flag was the root cause of it.

He said the project to build a factory in Korovou has the full support of the Tailevu Provincial Council.

At a recent meeting, council chairman Josefa Serulagilagi who is also the chairman for the Tailevu Cocoa Growers and Producers Association, said the couple were from the Cocoa Bello of Sweden organisation and had advised villagers not to sell cocoa seeds but to make chocolates here in Fiji.

Mr Serulagilagi said Tailevu cocoa businesses have been running for the past 20 years and the couple's guidance was of great assistance to the Tailevu framers.

He said the couple sent experts after returning to Sweden to conduct a two-week training workshop at Namau and also invited eight participants including himself to Sweden for a two-week educational tour.

The objective, he said, was to see and learn how the finest chocolates in the world were produced and to expand their knowledge about manufacturing chocolates.

Mr Serulagilagi said the trip was sponsored by Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA).

He said there was even an organisation in Sweden that was willing to fund the establishment of the fist ever chocolate factory at Korovou town.

Rounds Dynasty Reunion 2007

Rounds near and far unite at family reunion

Monday, December 17, 2007 -

Members of the Rounds family, one of more prominent Part European dynasties in Fiji, converged to says goodbye at Lomary yesterday the last day of the first reunion the clan has seen since their first descendent arrived in the country 157 years ago.

Family members from around the world have mingled since last week at Sigasiganilaca in Serua, were their patriarch laid his roots.

"We came here to honour the past, appreciate the present and prepare for the future,'' said Captain John Rounds, a member of the newly formed Rounds Family Association.

Mr Rounds said apart from remembering their ancestors, it was also time to "seek forgiveness among each other for any past differences that may have caused friction".

"We also had the opportunity to discuss future management of land and other resources in the Rounds family name in Fiji and begin work on a database of family members and the various professional skills they have to offer," he said.

Family historian, Dennis Rounds, said their descendent, Charles Rounds I, originated from Essex in England, but later moved to Massachusetts in the United States before arriving in Fiji during the 1850s. The family patriarch eventually had eleven children from Francis Pickering, seven of whom survived, all sons, to eventually raise families of their own in various parts of the country, particularly Sigatoka and Lautoka.

Close to 400 people who met at Sigasiganilaca are direct descendants of those family streams while about 200 more who turned up at the re-union, are related through marriage.

The late politician, Bruce Rounds and current interim minister, Bernadette Rounds-Ganilau, renown local architect, John Rounds, an architect who designed the Suva City Council Car Park and Handicraft Centre and Captain John Rounds, currently acting deputy secretary for Transport are some members of the family who have rose to prominence.

The family is also musically talented boasting international jazz singer Michelle Rounds and guitarist Victor Rounds, who could not make the reunion because of his tour commitments with US Grammy Award wining singer Lionel Ritchie. The Serua settlement is where the original Rounds head laid his roots and was buried in the 1880s, and was fittingly chosen for the reunion.

"We thought of letting the world know that the place exists and that the Rounds are very much a part of it,'' said Gordon Rounds, 67, of Sydney.

The family intends to record its history in Fiji through the future publication of a Rounds Family Tree booklet which will not only be a record of family members, but an insight into the various personalities.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Take the money, give us our land

Last updated 12/17/2007

Twelve of the sixteen tokatokas (clans) of Sanasana Village which own the proposed multi-million-dollar Natadola golf project have refused to take thousands of dollars in lease money paid to them by Native Land Trust Board officials.
The landowners refused to accept the payment from NLTB officials on Friday, saying they were unaware of a lease for Natadola, which is being developed for a world-class golf course resort.
Sanasana Village development committee chairman Korowaiwai Jonetani Doro, a member of the tokatoka Koroiwaiwai, said NLTB officials told villagers that the money was for the new lease.
He said they were shocked by the payment because they had not agreed to one.
“How can we receive lease money on something we are not aware of?” said Mr Doro.
“We told the NLTB officials money is not a priority to us, we need our land for the benefit of our younger generations.”
The total area to be leased out is 1171.24 acres of land, he said.
“If the land is leased, what will our future generations use for farming and other developments. Take your money and give us back our land,” he said, referring to NLTB.
Mr Doro said landowners realised the importance of land and any dealing in relation to it would have to go through them.
“Even though the NLTB has the right to administer our lands as stipulated in the Native Land Trust Act, it should at least consult us,” he said.
“No consultation was done on the issuance of lease by NLTB and we don't know who the new lessee is.”
Mr Doro said the subject land was leased by Natadola Land Holding (owned in partnership of the Fiji National Provident Fund and Hotel Pacific Property). He was informed by NLTB that the lease was terminated.
“NLTB told us that the money that was supposed to be distributed was for the new lease they have issued on this same land whose lease was terminated,” said Mr Doro."They said this money was paid by the four contractors who are working on the land.
"We (landowners) don't know who the four contractors are and how much they were supposed to pay."
Mr Doro said anything to do with the issuance of the new lease the NLTB had to go through their lawyer, Tupou Draunidalo.

Mataca stresses religious unity

Last updated 12/17/2007

The Catholic Church promotes the unity of mankind, said Archbishop Petero Mataca at the Ahmadiyya Muslim Convention at the weekend.
Addressing the subject on unity of mankind from the Christian perspective, Archbishop Mataca said the Catholic Church was promoting the unity of mankind through the restoration of unity among all Christians and giving deeper study to the Catholic Church and its relationships with other non-Christian religions.
An example, he stressed, was the 1962 Pope John XXIII established secretariat for promoting Christian unity also known as Ecumenism.
“Not in order to build a super-church but to accept the fact that they are members of one family and God is their common Father,” said Archbishop Mataca.
“The dialogue, it is hoped, will promote the growth of brotherhood and sisterhood. At present a number of dialogues are going on. They are Anglican and Catholic, Methodist and Catholic, Lutheran and Catholic, to name but three.”

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Tailevu Districts Differ on Illegal Charter View

Fiji Times - Thursday, December 13, 2007

THE Tailevu Provincial Council yesterday agreed to submit the individual submissions of tikina on the People's Charter to the Prime Minister's Office.
This was decided amid mixed signals on whether the charter was supported by most tikina in the province.
Council chairman Josefa Serulagilagi said while the many of the 22 tikina in the province were behind the charter, it was agreed to send the views of tikina individually, rather than in a collective statement.
"Because of the wide consultation work done by the government, it was thought best that it be done this way. In this way all the tikina views will be heard,'' said Josefa. "We want to collate all the written submissions and send them to the Prime Minister's office.''
Josefa said provincial officials who visited various tikina in Tailevu concluded that most of them supported the charter but some in the council chose to disagree.
"Most of us do not support it,'' said Tui Nawainovo Ratu Filimone Verebalavu.
Ratu Filimone said Josefa was just trying to push forward with his own views on the issue by saying that support for the charter from the tikina of Tailevu was unanimous.

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    Wednesday, December 5, 2007

    Restorative Justice Good for Fiji

    Restorative justice ‘a healing process’

    Last updated 12/5/2007 -
    The community plays a large part in dispute resolution and in fact is central to many of the local dispute mechanisms, says Bua Provincial Council chairman and former GCC member, Ratu Filimoni Ralogaivau.
    Ratu Filimoni said the community acts a monitor and arbitrator, providing an arena for private feelings to be vented in a public manner and acting as a safety measure and a sanctioning device to the confronting parties.
    “There are a number of traditional dispute settlement mechanisms that have
    existed in the Pacific societies for a very long time. Some follow simple forms of apology where minor disputes are settled informally between families,” said Ratu Filimoni.
    Whilst others take on a structured court like process with a formal assembly of disputants and community members presided over by a designated person or group of persons who act on behalf of the community, said Ratu Filimoni. He said restorative justice brings victims and offenders together in a safe and structured manner before the sentence was imposed.
    “Principles of restorative justice operate on the basis that offending behaviour may be prevented in the future if the offender is aware of the consequences of their actions and the harm caused.”

    Tax privileges

    Letter to Editor -, 5 Dec 2007

    Dividends from Fijian Holdings Unit Trust

    A lot have been said and published in the media recently about tax privileges to Fijian Holdings Limited and Fijian Holdings Unit Trust. It is unfortunate that FHL and Fijian Holdings Unit Trust had been singled out, although the removal of tax exemption announced in the 2008 Budget Address was applicable only to the Unit Trust of Fiji. I therefore offer the following for the purpose of clarification.

    Fijian Holdings Unit Trust was established in April 2001 to provide another investment opportunity to the growing investor communities in Fiji. It is open to all communities in the country and because of its low-entry level and competitive return it has become very popular particularly to our rural-based investors.

    To imply that the tax exemption was enjoyed only by FHL shareholders and unit-holders of Fijian Holdings Unit Trust is a mis-statement. The fact is, all dividends paid out by the 16 companies listed on the stock exchange (and FHL is only one of them) are exempt from tax because the income has been subject to tax at the company level.

    Similarly all unit-holders in the Unit Trust of Fiji, Colonial State Funds and the Fijian Holdings Unit Trust are enjoying the same privileges. These measures were part of the Government's policy to grow the capital markets in Fiji, which is consistent with measures taken in other developed markets. Funds under management in these locally-registered unit trusts have grown from over $60million in 2001 to close to $180million at end of 2006. Unit-holders in the Fijian Holdings Unit Trust only account for 21 per cent of the total 14,000 unit-holders in all the unit trusts in Fiji who enjoy such privileges.

    Information with regard to dividend paid to the shareholders of FHL is available for public record at the Companies Office. Suffice to say that the company pays dividend at a rate of 20 cents per shares for A-class shareholders and 10 cents per share for B-class shareholders.

    In conclusion, FHL and Fijian Holdings Unit Trust reiterate that their affairs are being conducted in accordance with law and for the benefit of their members. The companies will pursue legitimate commercial goals, and will continue to support the enhancement of the nation's economic stability in Fiji.

    Jaoji Koroi
    CEO - Fijian Holdings Trust Management Limited