Monday, March 31, 2008

Fiji doomed unless VP appointed: Chief

Fiji doomed unless VP appointed: Chief
31 MAR 2008

A Fijian chief believes the country could become a ‘crisis’ zone unless the position of Fiji Vice President is filled and the appointment of members of the Great Council of Chiefs done as soon as possible.

GCC taskforce chairman Ratu Josateki Nawalowalo told Fijilive it is imperative that members of the GCC are appointed soon otherwise the country is doomed.

“With all due respect, what if something goes wrong with the head of government and his position is left vacant?

“We will have no choice but to have the interim Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama take over his position because the VP and the GCC has not been appointed yet.

“That’s the reason we are trying to appoint the chiefs to sit in the council, but a few provinces have turned renegade on us. They don’t realize the consequences that will follow.”

Nawalowalo was referring to five provinces that have not shown support for the military-led interim Government and its initiatives.

He said that resentment of the interim Government will not get any better if the Prime Minister decides to become the head of government.

“So why don’t the chiefs and the people come aboard and support the interim Government and let life go on because if they continue to drag this then surely a crisis is imminent.

“It’s now or never and its time to make a wise choice for the people of Fiji.”

He is also pleading with the 14 Fijian provinces not to hesitate in appointing their high chiefs as their respective representatives to the GCC, so that the appointment of the VP is done.

“Our priority is to appoint the Vice President as soon as possible to fill the vacant position.”

He said the taskforce is confident that the new-look GCC will be ready to convene in two months.

“We are planning to hold the first meeting in June.”

Meanwhile the taskforce will be visiting the province of Serua next on April 10 to present to them the interim Cabinet’s decision on changes to the GCC.

The Naitasiri Provincial Council last week rejected the changes.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Villages stand by Tui Cakau

Villages stand by Tui Cakau

Monday, March 24,

A group of villagers in the province of Cakaudrove says their allegiance lies with their paramount chief Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu and not with the interim regime.

The villagers of Koroivonu and Vuna, on Taveuni, believe their obedience to the Tui Cakau carries more than backing the People's Charter.

The comments from the villagers follows a split in the province over the Charter.

Some villages have agreed to work with Charter teams while others have banned them.

Ioane Paulo, an elder of Koroivonu, said it was not easy to go against the vanua, especially their paramount chief.

"We are living in rural areas or in the vanua so it is not easy and impossible for us to go against our chief's wishes," he said.

"If he does not support the Charter, we will not support it.

"It's important that we show him our respect and obedience because the vanua will look after the vanua.

"For us to disobey our chief is the most disrespectful thing a Fijian can do, it's just not right," Mr Paulo said.

Vuna Village headman Navitalai Qali said they supported Ratu Naiqama's stand not to accept the Charter and would not allow any committee to visit villages.

He said an elected government should carry out the exercise.

"We will abide by what our chief says and decides because we all want an elected government in power and such an initiative should be undertaken by an elected government," Mr Qali said.

The biggest district, Cakaudrove, which has 14 villages, has opted for the decision made by Ratu Naiqama not to allow or support any Charter teams to the villages.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Moce Sir Ian Thomson

Moce Turaga

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Sir Ian Thomson, who is being buried in Scotland today, was a proud Scot but a large part of his heart belonged to Fiji and especially the Fijian people. He commanded Fijian troops in the Solomons in World War II, was fluent in the Fijian language and would later spend a significant part of his career protecting Fijian interests on the Native Land Trust Board. He was a man who believed firmly in a multi-racial Fiji and dedicated himself to defending the interests of Fiji-Indian cane farmers as independent head of the sugar industry.When the annals of the decades leading to Fiji's independence and subsequently fall to be written, John Sutherland Thomson's contribution to nation building will feature prominently.

It is two decades since Sir Ian (as he was widely known) left these shores, and there is now a generation "which knew not Joseph" in the words of Exodus.

His death, aged 88, in Scotland on March 13, 2008, marks the end of cherished bonds of affection between Sir Ian and his adopted homeland spanning nearly 70 years.

Arriving in Fiji as a 21-year-old year old, Sir Ian was to spend most of the next 45 years in these islands.

Initially serving as aide de camp to the then Governor, Sir Harry Luke, Sir Ian saw action in the Solomon Islands campaign with Fijian soldiers as a commissioned officer.

There, he was decorated for bravery. It heralded the beginning of a close and intimate relationship with the Fijian people. One that was reciprocated in full measure.

After World War II, Sir Ian served in parts of Fiji in the District Administration.

He had strengthened his ties further to these islands by marrying Nancy Kearsley, a fourth generation member of a prominent local European family.

It was a union of kindred spirits and the bedrock of Sir Ian's life, together with a quiet Christian faith.

They were to have seven sons and one daughter, now scattered all over the globe who yet carry with them the vexing ambivalence of memories and reminiscences common in Fiji's diaspora.

As a district officer and eventually district commissioner, Sir Ian was closely involved with development in parts of the country.

Serving in Kadavu, Lomaiviti and Vanua Levu, Sir Ian had a rapport with the local communities.

His son Peter would follow in his stead. Fluent in Fijian with a smattering of Hindi, Sir Ian personified the best in the British colonial civil servant.

In manner and bearing he was princely, with an approachability that was as reassuring as it was genuine.

It was complemented by a voice that evoked dignity and gravitas.

Among Fijians, Sir Ian was said to embody 'nai vakarau vakaturaga', the chiefly manner asserted by so many yet practiced by only a few.

A critical part of Sir Ian's reputation for effectiveness, was the enduring friendships he had with Fijian leaders of the time.

Ratu Sir Lala, Ratu George Cokanauto, Ratu Josefa Lalabalavu and Ratu Tevita Uluilakeba, among others, as well as emerging successors like Ratu Mara, Ratu George Cakobau, Ratu Edward Cakobau and Ratu Penaia Ganilau, valued his counsel and companionship.

To Ratu Penaia in particular, he was like a brother.

Sir Ian was his best man when he married his first wife Laisa in 1947.

Many a convivial evening was spent with the Ganilaus at either their home in Suva or in 'Vuniduva' at Somosomo.

It would inevitably end with the singing of Scottish folksongs like Early One Morning and Loch Lomond.

Sir Ian's standing in the colonial administration and his Kearsley connections gave him ready entry into local European circles.

Part-Europeans like Fred Archibald counted among his friends. He was respected by the likes of Pandit Vishnu Deo, Pandit Ajodhya Prasad, Swami Rudrananda and Mr A D Patel for his sense of fairness and integrity. It was what struck people most about him.

On the death of Ratu Sir Lala in 1958, Sir Ian succeeded him as chairman of the Native Lands Commission.

It was a measure of his familiarity with things Fijian and the confidence reposed in him, both by the colonial administration and the Fijian chiefs, that he acceded to a position Ratu Sir Lala had made his own.

In this capacity, he continued and completed much of the records and detailing of boundaries his predecessor had embarked upon. It was all done in the understated style that was his modus operandi.

In the years immediately preceding independence, Sir Ian was Assistant Chief Secretary and acted as Chief Secretary on several occasions.

He contributed to the smooth transition to independence by encouraging dialogue, a message reinforced by the confidence he enjoyed among Fiji's political leaders.

In this process, he was the perfect foil for the Governor, Sir Derek Jakeway, who had a prickly relationship with Ratu Mara.

The untold story of his role in providing advice to Ratu Mara, Ratu Edward and Ratu Penaia may never be widely known, as the protagonists are no longer with us.

If Sir Ian was concerned about the sudden abolition of the Lawa i Taukei (or Native Regulations) in 1967, which gave Fijians galala or freedom overnight, he was too much of a gentleman to show askance.

His innate caution and tutelage under Ratu Sir Lala, would have inclined him to a more gradualist approach.

The irony must have struck him when he headed a Bose Levu Vakaturaga inquiry several years after 1987.

It considered how chiefs in general, and young chiefs in particular, might be given more training for national leadership.

Galala had accelerated the populist nature of the times.

It was difficult, if not impossible, to put the genie back in the bottle.

After a short period in the British Virgin Islands, Sir Ian returned to Fiji to be independent chairman of the Sugar industry.

He was to occupy the position for nearly a decade and a half.

These were the golden years of the sugar industry. Repositioning it in the wake of the departure of the Colonial Sugar Refining Company, the dynamism of Rasheed Ali and his colleagues at the Fiji Sugar Corporation, co-operation of the cane farming organisations, political stability provided by Ratu Mara's leadership and the wise stewardship of Sir Ian was a formula for success.

A critical element was his facility in dealing with all communities and the regard they had for him as an honest broker.

In this period, he served on other statutory entities as well. He was knighted for his record of public service in 1984.

In well deserved retirement, Sir Ian was able to spend more time with Lady Thomson.

However, her ill heath and deteriorating condition, obliged them to leave the country that had been his home for nearly half a century. Lady Thomson died two years later in 1988. Sir Ian's grief and loss can only be imagined, for he was a private person despite his public profile. Sir Ian subsequently remarried and the second Lady Thomson survives him.

In a very real sense, Sir Ian left this country at the right time. A year later, the cycle of coups began.

Although he would have understood Fijian insecurities, the British sense of justice and fairplay that was second nature would have caused Sir Ian profound hurt.

Peter, his son, was to become a casualty of the second coup in September, 1987.

Ratu Sir Penaia's poignantly piercing observation to the latter as he took his leave, about the divide between himself as 'an outsider' and the Fijian people, would have cut Sir Ian deeply.

It delineated the fault lines at the core of Fiji's ethnic realities, defying the enduring ties between them. But Sir Ian would never have dwelt on it given his generous nature.

True friendships bear all things, and the Fijian statesman was reflecting sentiments embedded deep in the Fijian psyche.

Sir Ian would have understood that and, recognising the love of one's country encompasses both the good and the difficult, he nevertheless continued to hold Fiji firmly in his heart to the end.

A fallen son of Fiji

Friday, March 21, 2008

Sir Ian Thomson+ Enlarge this image

Sir Ian Thomson

Sir Ian Thomson KBE CMG MBE(Mil) Sir John Sutherland Thomson KBE CMG MBE(Mil) distinguished colonial service administrator in Fiji over some 40 years from 1941, punctuated by a tour as Governor of the British Virgin Islands 1967-71, died in Edinburgh on 13th March, aged 88.

He was born in Glasgow on 8th January 1920, and graduated from the University of Glasgow with an MA (honours in economics) in June 1940.

Sir Ian, as he always chose to be known, was a dedicated colonial civil servant, wholly committed to Fiji and its people from the day he assumed duty in the colony as ADC to the Governor, Sir Harry Luke, in 1941 after a brief period of service in the Black Watch.

He formed very close links with the Fijians during his service as an officer with the 3rd Battalion of the Fiji Infantry Regiment on Bougainville, where he attained the rank of captain and adjutant and was awarded the MBE(Mil).

He greatly valued this experience which was the basis of his fluency in the Fijian language, and meant that wherever he went in Fiji later, he was almost sure to meet up with old comrades.

On his return to Fiji at the end of the war in the Solomon Islands, he married Nancy Kearsley, an event which was the beginning of a loyal, loving and fruitful partnership of 42 years. He served as District Officer in a number of areas, rising to become Commissioner Western.

He always remembered this experience, which meant he never lost the common touch when he rose into senior posts in the capital of Fiji. He and his wife kept open house for country officers and their wives when they visited Suva.

His links with the Fijian people were further strengthened by his years in the Native Lands and Fisheries Commission, the statutory authority which deals with Fijian Reserves. He was selected as deputy chairman by Ratu Sir Lala Sukuna, the outstanding Fijian of his day, and succeeded him as chairman.

He was ideal for the post with his knowledge of Fijian, his patience, and his transparent integrity, and he himself described this assignment as the most satisfactory work of his life. When he left this post, the Governor-General warmly commended his work as an outstanding and abiding contribution to Fiji and the Fijian people.

He was Colonial Secretary as Fiji was being prepared for independence. It was no secret that he rather reluctantly left Fiji to become Governor of the British Virgin Islands from 1967 to1971.

When he was invited by the new Fiji Prime Minister, Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara, to return to Fiji to chair the Sugar Industry Board he gladly accepted and held the post until 1985.

Once back in Fiji, his leadership qualities made him a prime candidate for the chairmanship of various other boards and committees including the Fiji Coconut Board and the Fiji Development Board. Notably amongst these appointments was the chair of Fiji's ailing airline Air Pacific, which he revitalised by negotiating an alliance with QANTAS, which is still operative.

He also acted as Governor-General on a number of occasions.

Meanwhile, he played a full part in the social life of the capital through Rotary and the YMCA, and his lifelong abiding faith was evidenced by his long service as an elder of St Andrews Presbyterian Church.

He retired to Scotland in 1986 and settled in his beloved Argyll near Oban. Sadly his wife Nancy died in 1988.

He later met up again with a childhood friend from his Glasgow days, Nancy Caldwell, and they were married and enjoyed seventeen happy years together, including frequent travels to visit families in all quarters of the globe. Latterly his wife had to undergo a serious operation. Nothing was too much for Ian in his care for her and it was one of life's ironies that very shortly after her discharge from hospital he should be the first to go.

Besides his widow, he leaves seven sons and a daughter, sixteen grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Vunivalu of Rewa- Ro Mataitini Passes Away

No mourning period for Rewa

Wednesday, April 02,

THE people of Rewa will not observe a taboo period marking the death of the late Vunivalu, Ro Jone Mataitini.

A nephew of the late Vunivalu, Ro Alipate Mataitini, said only close members of the family, including the Vunivalu's widow, Bulou Amalaini Vale, his sisters and several nieces would observe the ritual, which entails wearing black and not cutting their hair until 100 nights after the funeral.

The late Vunivalu, a former Ombudsman and soldier at the Malaya campaign was buried at his village, in Lomanikoro last Wednesday.

The funeral was attended by the Roko Tui Dreketi, Ro Teimumu Kepa, interim Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama and relatives.

Province mourns chief
Last updated 3/27/2008 -

The vanua of Rewa farewelled its Vunivalu Ro Jone Cure Mataitini yesterday.
The funeral service, which was held in Lomanikoro, Rewa, was attended by close relatives, diplomats and senior government officials including the interim Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama.
The passing away of Ro Mataitini has left the vanua of Rewa in mourning.
His nephew Ro Alipate Mataini said the people of Rewa would be observing a period of mourning.
It is not yet known when the next Vunivalu will be installed.
“It’s the vanua who decides on the installation of the next Vunivalu but at the moment the people want to observe a period of mourning,” he said.
Ro Jone passed away in his sleep on Tuesday last week. His wife Bulou Amalaini Vale was by his side.
Ro Jone was 81. He succeeded his late father, Ro Etuate Navakamocea Mataitini, as Vunivalu of Rewa 41 years ago and is survived by Bulou Amalaini, two sons Ro Jone and Ro Mocelutu, and two daughters Ro Unaisi and Ro Mereani, 13 grandchildren and ten great-grandchildren.
Ro Jone also has three surviving sisters, Ro Saunayalewa, Ro Litiana and Ro Qereitoga, and a brother Ro Epeli Mataitini.
He was a member of the Great Council of Chiefs, a former senator and member of the Fijian Affairs Board, the Rewa Provincial Council of which he was chairman, and various other statutory organisations.
He was also a former Ombudsman and an ex-serviceman.
Traditionally Ro Jone is the closest confidante, relative and advisor to the Roko Tui Dreketi, with whom he claimed traditional paramountcy in the province of Rewa.
As Vunivalu, Ro Jone was the bedrock upon which the people of Rewa found stability and to which the Roko Tui Dreketi Ro Teimumu Kepa and her predecessor Ro Lady Lala Mara could always rely on for support and advise.

A chief for the land and people is laid to rest

Thursday, March 27,

The Roko Tui Dreketi, Ro Teimumu Kepa, at the funeral yesterday.+ Enlarge this image

The Roko Tui Dreketi, Ro Teimumu Kepa, at the funeral yesterday.

THE late Vunivalu of Rewa, Ro Jone Mataitini, was a man who always had the vanua and the people at heart.

Delivering his eulogy at the funeral service at the Josaia Methodist Church at Lomanikoro in Rewa yesterday, his son and namesake Ro Jone Mataitini said that was something which his father would always be remembered by.

He said his father was someone who was always there for the people of Rewa and his advice and sound knowledge was something they would greatly miss.

Ex-Servicemen Association president Colonel Matereti Sarasau said Ro Jone was a respected member of the association who had served in the Malaya campaign.

He said that Ro Jone was a distinguished soldier and a chief who was hardworking and a very active member of the ex-soldiers association.

Yesterday, more than 500 close family members, relatives from chiefly households, friends and colleagues attended the funeral church service.

The church service was a combination of Methodist and Catholic denomination.

Methodist Church in Fiji Rewa division superintendent Reverend Kalivati Ravoka, who led the service, said they were farewelling a chief who was well known for his love for his people.

He was glad that the late chief had a yearning to learn more of the Lord and do his good will.

After the sermon from Mr Ravoka, Ro Jone was accorded a requiem mass celebrated by Father Sanele.

Hymns were sung by the Naililili Catholic Mission Church choir.

The funeral service was later moved to Wairua, the chiefly burial ground for the Vunivalu clan, where Ro Jone was laid to rest.

Delegates present at the service included the Roko Tui Dreketi Ro Teimumu Kepa, interim Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama, interim Defence Minister Ratu Epeli Ganilau, his wife Adi Ateca Ganilau and senior officers from the police and military.

Province prepares to farewell chief

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Dalo and pigs were piled up at Lomanikoro Village as people arrived to present their reguregu to the late Vunivalu of Rewa Ro Jone Mataitini yesterday+ Enlarge this image

Dalo and pigs were piled up at Lomanikoro Village as people arrived to present their reguregu to the late Vunivalu of Rewa Ro Jone Mataitini yesterday

THE late Vunivalu of Rewa Ro Jone Mataitini will be accorded a mixture of Methodist and Catholic church burial at the Josaia Methodist Church at Rewa Lomanikoro at 10am today.

Family spokesman Ro Aca Mataitini said his late grandfather's funeral service will include the two denominations because they were the first two to be received by the people of Rewa.

"We are expecting more than 1000 relatives from chiefly households from around the country, friends and the vanua at the burial today," he said.

He said interim Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama led a delegation on Monday morning to present their last respect to the family at the village.

Ro Aca said they Mr Bainimarama was accompanied by officers from the Fijian Affairs to pay their respect.

"The funeral gathering proper was supposed to start on Tuesday but close relatives and those closely linked to the family have been coming to pay their last respects since Saturday last week.

"This did not include those that came on Monday but since 10am on Tuesday morning there has been 44 delegations that have come to the village to pay their last respects," he said.

He said they had expected the Vanua o Lau, Na Vunivalu of Korolevu , Vanua o Rewa and other chiefly households closely linked to the family to pay their last respect yesterday.

Ro Aca said the warriors of Vutia Village were at the village yesterday morning ready to carry out their traditional duties once the body of the late Vunivalu arrived at the village

Former Ombudsman dies, 81

Thursday, March 20, 2008 -

A high chief of Rewa and former Ombudsman has died.

The Vunivalu of Rewa and also a former senator Ro Jone Cure Mataitini (pictured) died in his sleep on Monday evening, with his wife, Bulou Amalaini Vale in attendance.

He was 81.

Ro Jone succeeded his late father, Ro Etuate Navakamocea Mataitini, as Vunivalu of Rewa 41 years ago and is survived by his wife, sons, Ro Jone and Ro Mocelutu, and daughters, Ro Unaisi and Ro Mereani, 13 grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren.

Ro Jone was a member of the Great Council of Chiefs, and member of the Fijian Affairs Board, the Rewa Provincial Council of which he was chairman, and various other statutory organisations.

He is also an ex-serviceman of the Fiji Military Forces. The funeral will be held in Lomanikoro, Rewa.

Traditionally, the Vunivalu of Rewa is the closest confidante, relative and adviser to the Roko Tui Dreketi, with whom he claims traditional paramountcy in Rewa.

As Vunivalu, Ro Jone was the bedrock upon which the people of Rewa found stability, and to which the Roko Tui Dreketi Ro Teimumu Kepa and her predecessor Ro Lady Lala Mara could always rely on for support.

To the last, he never swayed from his loyalty to the Roko Tui Dreketi.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Chiefs agree to hold meeting

Chiefs agree to hold meeting
Last updated 3/19/2008

The Bose ni Turaga would go ahead with a planned meeting despite being warned not to by the interim regime.
An executive committee met yesterday to further discuss the proposed Bose ni Turaga scheduled for April.
The proposed two-day meeting will be followed by the annual general meeting of the Viti Landowners and Resource Association.
VLRA spokesperson and Bose ni Turaga member Ratu Osea Gavidi said the meeting would go ahead as scheduled as agreed upon by all present at the executive meeting.
"We have decided at the meeting that we will go ahead with the planned Bose ni Turaga gathering," said Ratu Osea. He said the Bose ni Turaga being the governing body of the VLRA would have to be briefed on the first day about the progressive reports on the 20 resolutions arrived at in its meeting in February and March of 2006.
"The second and the third day will involve papers and discussions focusing on issues such as land utilisation and agriculture, indigenous land claims, mineral and oil explorations and so forth," said Ratu Osea.
He said in view of the unstable socio-political situation and the economic downturn since the military coup of December, 2006, papers and discussions would focus on how people could survive during these trying times keeping in mind the future of indigenous Fijians.
"The military has changed the legislation of the land by interfering with the Fijian Affairs Act which had also resulted in the removal of the Great Council of Chiefs,'' he said.
"This is why we have to meet in order to discuss about issues that concerns the people and they are trying to stop us from meeting."
He said the military was trying to dismantle the issues which the Bose ni Turaga would discuss.
Military commander Voreqe Bainimarama had earlier warned Ratu Osea to cancel the meeting and that the police would make sure it did not happen.

Land problems will remain despite more rent: Qarase
Last updated 3/19/2008 8:32:39 AM

The recent announcement by the interim regime on the increase in land rental is a good move, says ousted Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase.
He however warned it would not solve the land problem.
The Soqosoqo Duavata ni Lewenivanua party leader welcomes the announcement that rent on agricultural native land would increase to 10 per cent of the Unimproved Capital Value of land with a 4 per cent subsidy to be paid by government.
“It is a good move on the part of the interim regime however it will not solve the land problem or the problem of rent on agricultural native land unless the Agricultural Landlord and Tenants Act is amended,” Mr Qarase said.
He said that under ALTA, rent on agricultural land was fixed at up to 6 per cent of UCV.
“This means that rent actually charged can be anything from 1 per cent to 6 per cent. In effect this is what has been happening since ALTA came into effect in 1976 and 1977,” Mr Qarase said. He said several independent studies had revealed that landowners were receiving an average of only 2 to 3 per cent of UCV as annual rental income.
“This can be attributed directly to the clause in ALTA which allows negotiation in the determination of annual rent,” Mr Qarase said.
He said the SDL government had been pushing for a flat annual rent of 10 per cent of UCV and tenants who could not afford to pay this rent could put their cases to the Agricultural Tribunal for review.
“The ALTA Amendment Bill of 2005 presented to Parliament by the SDL government fixed the rent at a flat 10 per cent of UCV but this Bill was torpedoed by the Fiji Labour Party,” said Mr Qarase.
He said because actual rent levied had been running at 2 to 3 per cent of UCV, the 4 per cent subsidy by government would increase rental income to only 6 to 7 per cent of UCV and not 10 per cent of UCV.”The interim regime should explain this fact to landowners to avoid confusion and anger later on,'' he said.
“The 10 per cent of UCV rental income that has been widely publicised is likely to remain a dream for many landowners.” He said the rent subsidy decided by government was one of two options considered by the SDL government.
The second option was for government to take a head lease of all agricultural land and then issue sub-lease to individual tenants.
“But decisions on these two options should be conditional on appropriate amendments to ALTA,” Mr Qarase said. He said although ALTA appeared to have provided a solution to the land problem at the time (1976), the same law had now become a serious impediment to the development of agriculture in Fiji today.
“Unless and until ALTA is suitably amended to provide fairness and equity to both tenants and landowners the land problems will remain unresolved,” said Mr Qarase.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Land survey 'costly exercise'

Land survey 'costly exercise'

Thursday, March 13, 2008

A new survey of native land ownership proposed by the team investigating Fijian institutions will be a massive exercise, says Native Land Commission chairman Ratu Viliame Tagivetaua.

Ratu Viliame said another survey of native land ownership and boundaries (veitarogi vanua) would be costly.

He said that he had not been informed by his permanent secretary on the proposal by the team headed by Colonel Apakuki Kurusiga.

"As far as I know, there is no formal correspondence between our permanent secretary and myself on that team's proposal. But if the survey does take place, it will be a massive exercise," he said.

"They will travel the width and the depth of Fiji and collect all the information from the people."

Ratu Viliame also questioned why there was a need for a new survey when previous surveys from the 1820s to the last survey by Ratu Sir Lala Sukuna in the 1930s were correct.

"All the records of land boundaries and ownership are there and people were given time to query and make changes at that time. If the majority of the Fijian people agree with all the records here with us, why have another survey," Ratu Viliame said. Last week, one of the investigative team members assigned to investigate Fijian institutions, Kalivati Batibasaga, said the team hoped to carry out the survey once it was given the green light to investigate the NLC.

Mr Batibasaga said they submitted their proposal and budget of $1.3million to the Finance Ministry and were awaiting approval.

Rewa chief Ro Filipe Tuisawau said the basis of the review was erroneous.

"What it will do is cause uncertainty and instability because we will be questioning our current records," said Ro Filipe.

He said for the Rewa province, the survey was recorded and established in 1923.

He said a fresh survey would shake the foundations of Fijian society.

The Tui Cakau and the paramount chief of the Tovata confederacy, Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu, said the team needed to tread carefully with its proposal to carry out a survey.

"They need to tread carefully as it is a very sensitive area and they should do their homework well to see if they want to proceed with it or not," said Ratu Naiqama.

"I would be interested to see the parameters or their terms of reference regarding the NLC and whether they will look at the land issue or the social structure."

Tui Macuata Ratu Aisea Katonivere said his view was that the decision made by Ratu Sir Lala Sukuna had stood the test of time and had been the backbone of the vanua.

He said a fresh survey would be a huge exercise to undertake and urged the team to review its proposal

Monday, March 10, 2008

Bau Links

Bau links still alive deep in the country

Monday, March 10, 2008 -

Kolinio Tubuna, right, of Nayavu Village in Wainibuka points to Navunikuluva, where the Vusaradave warriors once lived. On the left is Saula Matarau+ Enlarge this image

Kolinio Tubuna, right, of Nayavu Village in Wainibuka points to Navunikuluva, where the Vusaradave warriors once lived. On the left is Saula Matarau

FOR commuters along the Kings Road, Nayavu in the interior of Tailevu, is a beautiful village, large with modern home structures and to the passerby could well be a Government station.

But if you ask a bit more and sit down with the friendly villagers you will find it is a village deeply entrenched with the origins of some of the chiefly tribes of Bau Island - regarded as the traditional heads of the Kubuna confederacy.

I had passed the place often located in Wainibuka but did not know how deeply entrenched the links were until I was shown the foundation mound of a house or yavu makawa called Kubuna and Naua.

I had even pondered over the late Ratu Sir Lala Sukuna's sweeping statements on why Fijians should tread with caution when accepting modern concepts, likening the Fijian race to a bamboo on the Wainibuka River being swept down (by civilisation) and crushed on large boulders. He may just have been visiting his relatives in Nayavu while making that statement.

During the trip to Nayavu, I also discovered a place where the Vusaradave used to watch as the swift flowing Wainibuka River flowed, giving them the name Vu Sara Dave or watching the bowl (referring to the river below, the spot where an old village used to be).

The Vusaradave were known as the warrior clans of Bau and were renowned for their fighting prowess.

And who else to relate those tales but an ageing warrior of old from the village they call point of origin. The head of the mataqali Nubulevu of Nayavu (which means foundations in Fijian), Mitieli Turaga, 98, says he and his ancestors were the original elders of the Yavusa Bau and Yavusa Kubuna.

Pointing to a number of areas around the village area Mr Turaga, a World War II veteran and a former member of the Third Infantry Regiment (3FIR) who saw action in the Solomon Islands, says he is the head of the mataqali Nubulevu, who come under the Yavusa Bau.

"Our ancestors were closely related to the great Ratu Seru Cakobau, the Vunivalu of Bau and who also knew and cherished his connections with us," he said. "In those days our chiefs were God-fearing and much loved by the people and we enjoyed a cordial relationship with the people.

"As you will see the foundations of Kubuna and Bau are around this area and some households are named after some of the chiefly households on Bau like Naua (from which the Tagivakatini and Seniloli families come from)."

Mr Turaga said the Cakobau family from Ratu Seru's era and later on used to make frequent trips to the village.

"The name Nayavu means Yavu kei Bau. Our village used to be called Drekeniwai but then it was changed by Ratu Seru to Nayavu because of his links with our people."

Another Nayavu villager, Kolinio Tubuna said the old village was located on the opposite side of the river from the present village location.

"The elders were told to leave the place called Navunikuluva near the Irish crossing but they told those who were advising them to leave that they wanted to stay and watch the river down below which they referred to as a bowl and derived the name Vu sara dave to which they have links with the same clan on Bau by the name Vusaradave.

He said today the old site is surrounded by trees.

The old Kubuna village is located a few feet above this area on a hill.

And to cross check the authenticity of the story as Fijian legends can be disappointingly contradictory a senior member of one of the Bau clans confirmed the links and the fact that they were very much intact