Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Fijian chief to escort the king

Fijian chief to escort the king
SAKIASI NAWAIKAMA - Wednesday, July 30, 2008

A FIJIAN chief will escort Tonga's King Tupou from the palace to his seat on coronation day.

The role of the Tui Soso, from Nukunuku Village, in Lakeba, will be a feature of the ceremony governed by strict protocol. Yesterday, thousands of school children converged at Teufaiva Stadium to pay their respects to their king with performances that captivated the hearts of locals and invited dignitaries.

Interim Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama arrived in Tonga at 10am yesterday with his wife Mary and missed out on the educational cultural day. He enjoyed an afternoon walk with his wife by the seawall near the palace, escorted by two Tongan guards.

Also arriving in the island kingdom yesterday were heads of state from Samoa, French Polynesia, Marshall Islands and a representative from the Niue premier.

Part of the educational culutral day celebrations included the lakalaka, kailao, Fa'ahula, a school brass band march and the ma'ulu'ulu performance that consisted of a large number of performers as never seen before in Tonga.

Leader of the Fijian community in Tonga Josateki Wainiqolo yesterday met Commodore Bainimarama and was told interim Foreign Affairs Minister Ratu Epeli Nailatikau and his wife Adi Koila would represent the vanua and Fiji Government at today's traditional installation ceremony.

Mr Wainiqolo said Ratu Epeli and Adi Koila would lead the Fiji delegation in the presentation of traditional gifts today at the traditional installation of King George Tupou V.

The ceremony has no legislative or executive powers and its membership consists of nobles who themselves have been installed into ancient hereditary titles belonging to several aristocratic lineages which formed the power base of the Tu'i Kanokupolu dynasty.

This was when King George Taufa'ahau Tupou I in 1875 pronounced Tonga a constitutional monarchy.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Land disputes put economy at risk

Land disputes put economy at risk

7/20/2008 -


Land and chiefly titles disputes risk Fiji's economy as well as its communities, a lawyer warned yesterday.

If the country had adopted a tribunal like the Waitangi Tribunal in 1987, then we might have fewer chiefly and land disputes.

Senior counsel to the Great Council of Chiefs Kitione Vuataki said trying to simulate legislation like the Treaty of Waitangi Act in New Zealand or the Native Title Act in Australia or the Restitution of Land Rights Act in South Africa may take time.

He said it was a lawyer's duty to find paths trodden by first nations in America, the Maoris in New Zealand and the natives in Africa through which resolutions may be found for claims on crown breaches.

"It is also the responsibility of those who appoint tribunal members that look into chiefly title disputes to also have on board those who know the ambits of their powers, the rights to fair procedure and the application of customary law on succession when it is found," said Mr Vuataki. He stressed the chiefs in their wisdom recognised this in 1987 in proposing a tribunal and that was why the government was under intense pressure to pass such legislation after 2000.

"In 1987 the GCC submitted a recommendation to the then President Ratu Sir Penaia Ganilau that a tribunal be set up like the Waitangi Tribunal to look into disputes raised by their people on lands that were purportedly sold and had become freehold or which had been alienated by Governor Im Thurn or which otherwise should be returned to them," he said.

Mr Vuataki said this recommendation was contained in a submission on the proposed first Constitution of the Fiji Islands which ultimately became the 1990 Constitution.

This recommendation did not see the light of day until the Qarase Government and the Attorney's General Office started to look seriously into the issue by sending a team to New Zealand and a draft Bill was proposed.

"The Bill was to set up a tribunal with jurisdiction to inquire into claims or grievances of Fijians on behalf of any of their divisions or subdivision who have been prejudiced by past Acts, current Acts or policy of government," said Mr Vuetaki.

The fear of state lessees that transfer of state land to native owners would prejudice their interest was unfounded as transfer of Schedule A and B lands from the state to native owners included a transfer of leases over such land being transferred to the NLTB for administration.

"Nevertheless for some reason this particular Bill was cited as one of the reasons for the military coup of December 06, 2006 in the ousting of the Qarase Government," said Mr Vuataki.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Ask Ratu Meli Bainimarama?

Ask Ratu Meli Bainimarama - 16/07/2008

Interim Finance Minister Mahendra Chaudhry has directed all queries regarding Colonel Apakuki Kurusiga's Investigation team to the Permanent Secretary for Fijian Affairs Ratu Meli Bainimarama.This follows revelations that the Native Land Trust Board (NLTB) had written to the Finance Ministry to reimburse more than $130,000 used by the Independent team appointed to investigate Fijian Institutions which was led by Colonel Kurusiga.Chaudhry said all these queries will be best answered by Ratu Meli who could not be reached for a comment.It has been revealed that the NLTB financed the Independent Team which was disbanded in March this year and NLTB and FAB were the only institutions investigated.NLTB officials say the $130,000 used was taken from landowners coffers and was used to pay for the team's $100 allowance per day, hotel accommodation and transport for the 6 member team comprising of Colonel Kurusiga, Ratu Luke Yavaca, Major Timoci Tuisawau, Ponipate Lesavua and Kalaveti Batibasaga.Fijivillage had also been reliably informed that there was some sort of agreement that the NLTB money used by the Colonel Kurusiga team would be reimbursed by the Finance Ministry, however, NLTB is still waiting for the money to be paid back and they are now concerned as nothing has been forthcoming.

Customary law ‘should be in legal system’

Customary law ‘should be in legal system’ - 18 JULY 2008

Customary laws regarding land should be incorporated into the legal system so the economic viability of landowning units in Fiji can be considered.The suggestion has come from Fiji Law society president Isireli Fa at the society’s annual convention at the Westin Resort, Denarau.Fa started the convention proper with a case study on Fiji’s customary land law and the problems surrounding the land issue in Fiji.He said the problems faced in terms of settling land issues and making decisions regarding land can be traced back to the Deed of Cession and the failure of those in power to define and regulate land issues.Fa said first problem to be looked at is the customary laws and how they can be incorporated into the legal system.He suggests that regulation be drafted to govern the issue of communal ownership of land and to find out who has what say in deciding how the land is to be used. The Suva lawyer says an inability to do this led to conflict within landowning units.Fa said the issue of land had now become an economic matter with the newer generations pressing for more investment and usage of land. He added that this issue within the chiefly system has been taboo.“There is now a greater need for customary laws to be recognised because this will be the first step in solving the greatest disputed issue in Fiji,” he said.Panellist Dr Ganesh Chand questioned which customary law was to be recognised, taking into consideration the racial and ethnic composition of Fiji. He said there would always be differences on the issue.Another panellist Ro Filipe Tuisawau said customary law and native land should be left to the indigenous community because they were the true owners of land in Fiji.

Thursday, July 17, 2008


By Robert Matau

SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, July 15, 2008)

The Vunivalu of Rewa, often the chief behind the scenes of all things Rewa, actually commands the fierce loyalty of his people.

This was evident last week as the people of Rewa commemorated the end of mourning for the late Ro Jone Mataitini.

[PIR editor’s note: Rewa province is located in southeast Viti Levu Island and is where Fiji’s national capital of Suva is situated.]

The Vunivalu is the traditional warrior-chief who keeps the affairs of his people close to heart.

The Vunivalu also enjoys the support of half the people of Rewa (the other half, of course coming under the Roko Tui Dreketi)

The four mataqali that first settled in Rewa were Nukunitabua, Yavusavasu, Burenivalu and Nakauraki, who are now living in Vutia.

Lomanikoro and Vutia people affectionately call each other Drega, but refer to the Yavusa Nakauraki in Vutia as Mataqali.

Ro Jone was always close to the late Roko Tui Dreketi Ro Lady Lala Mara.

His only surviving brother is former Senator Ro Epeli Mataitini, currently NLTB board member and most likely next in line for the Vunivalu title.

He has three surviving sisters, Ro Saunalewa (mother of Permanent Secretary for Tourism Environment Ro Banuve Kaumaitotoya), Ro Litiana, and Ro Qereitoga (mother-in-law of Ro Filipe Tuisawau).

The vow by his nephew last week Ro Aca Mataitini, while presenting the magiti vakavanua to the vanua of Rewa and the paramount chief of Rewa, Ro Teimumu Kepa was another age-old assurance.

He was pledging what his ancestors had done many centuries before.

Since the first Roko Tui Dreketi, Ro Rawalai was installed by the vanua of Rewa on Lomanikoro it has been the Vunivalu's, and the tribes he commanded, solemn vow to lead the vanua in protecting their chief.

The book "Customs of the Fiji Group," written by United States Commodore Charles Wilkes in the early 1880s, describes how the Vunivalu would summon his troops in preparation for war.

He said as the troops near their enemy, the Vunivalu, or general, makes a speech to each separate tribe.

He (Vunivalu) would use praises and taunts, or exhortation, as he thinks best suited to the purpose, to excite them to deeds of bravery.

Words like, "You say you are a brave people."

"You have made great promises, now we will see how you keep them. To me you look more like slaves than fighting men. Here are strangers come to fight us. Let us see who the best men are. To another tribe he would say: Where do you come from?"

Wilkes writes that this would provoke one of the tribesmen to strike the ground with his club and reply by naming the name of his foundations which Fijians refer to as dela ni yavu tabu.

Then the Vunivalu would reply: "Ah. I have heard of you; you boast yourselves to be brave men; we shall see what you are; I doubt whether you will do much. You seem to be more like men fit to plant and dig yams than to fight."

Rewa was settled from Verata by Roko Ratu (who was also known as Ro Melasiga) and was Rokomoutu the first Koya Na Ratu Mai Verata's younger brother.

Commodore Wilkes noted that the Roko Tui Dreketi had their own pennant - the flag that only chiefs of high rank possess.

The colour of that flag was four or five vertical black and white stripes.

He noted too that the Vunivalu of Rewa also had his own flag which was black and white horizontal stripes. Testament to his own high status.

Last week we revealed how the grandsons of Verata were granted pennants for taking part in the race at Walu in Verata including Vuetiverata the first Roko Tui Bau and then principle chief of Bau.

The patriarch Lutunasobasoba's children in order include: Buisavulu, Rokomautu, Rokoratu or Romelasiga, Tuinayavu, Daunisai and Sagavulunavuda.

David Routledge states in his book Matanitu that Rokoratu travelled from the Verata coast to Rewa in his canoe at Namako' and settled at Dreketi in the southwest coast of the delta.

But before Roko Ratu arrived, the yavusa Burenivalu were already living there and apparently were led to Lomanikoro by the Vunivalu himself.

The Burenivalu are made up of the six villages of Nadoi, Drekena, Vunuku, Narocivo Tavuya and Lokia.

The Drekena serenaders sing in their song about Rewa - the abundance of the moci (baby prawns), kuka (small crabs), bonu (eels that dwell in the mangroves) and mana (mud lobster) because these are the dishes that the Burenivalu pamper their chiefs with.

It is understood that Ro Rawalai arrived at Burebasaga when the Vunivalu and the Burenivalu were settled in Lomanikoro.

"One of our elders went up to the chief one day while doing chores for him in Burebasaga and standing a little distance away he opened a fresh parcel of rourou vaka utona - or moci baby prawns wrapped in rourou or dalo leaves," he said.

"As the smoky scent of the food aroused the young chief's taste buds, the elder of the Burenivalu clan started talking to the chief.

"He told the chief that if he wanted to eat such food he should cross the river and resettle with the Burenivalu in Lomanikoro."

Until this day the Burenivalu continue to perform this function and prepare the special delicacy for their chief.

There are other tales of the Burenivalu and their turtle catchers who do not go deep sea fishing but simply drag in beached turtles, as if they were steered to land, when the Roko Tui Dreketi wants to feed the vanua for a special function. Where some would call these things tales others refer to it as sau or mystical powers.

When the chief Ro Rawalai moved, however, he maintained the name Burebasaga in memory and out of respect for his old home while the chiefs in Burebasaga maintained the title Roko Tuni Mata Dreketi.

Ro Aca said the first title they bestowed upon Ro Rawalai was Tui Dreketi.

That changed later to Roko Tui Dreketi to give significance to the vast areas they were to lead.

Some members of the Vunivalu tribes in Namosi moved to Serua then on to Rewa.

Last week we related how Rokomautu's second eldest son, Rovarovaivalu left Verata and settled in Levuka then travelled to Namosi confirming the common names of the two vanua (Nabukebuke). It is most likely that branches of the same tribes resettled in the islet opposite Nasali Landing and eventually at Lomanikoro.

Today the people of Rewa call Verata people Mataqali in recognition of these close ties.

But in recognition of the Vunivalu's status, the tribes of the Burenivalu who accompanied the Vunivalu, are divided into two one lot under the Roko Tui Dreketi and the other under the Vunivalu.

Legend has it that when Roko Ratu had settled in Rewa his brother visited him from Verata and they travelled to Suva where they divided the borders of land.

Roko Ratu later installed his own son Ro Rawalai as the chief giving him the title Tui Dreketi, Routledge states in Matanitu.

As his home was in Dreketi they name the area today as Vuniyavu or origins or foundations.

When Ro Aca pledged, last week that if anyone left the Roko Tui Dreketi, the Vunivalu clans would stick by the chief's side, he was pledging and cementing the ancient ties that have kept the vanua of Rewa together ever since the Vunivalu arrived in Rewa.

He was also calling on his own tribes, just like those before him, to stand by their chief and rise to their various calling.

Fiji Times Online:

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Province records highest fish catch

Province records highest fish catch - 7/10/2008

An island province with the highest number of marine protected areas in Fiji has recorded the highest volume of fish bought from its Fisheries Center compared to the other centers around the country.
Kadavu has 48 marine protected (tabu) areas - the highest number among the 216 sites in Fiji. Vunisea fisheries officer Aporosa Rabo said they had seen the benefit of having restricted areas by the increase in the number of fish sold to their Rural Fisheries Service Centre.

“Kadavu had the highest in all of Fiji last year and this is the indicator of the volume of fish," he said. He also said many of the restricted fish species such as varivoce or humphead wrasse and turtles were being seen in those areas.

“This was revealed through our meetings with those who have MPAs - on the high volume of these species of fish," he said.

“And the common turtles seen in the area are the hawksbill and the green turtles.

“Also the chances of turtles coming in are high because of how their areas include the foreshore. Sandy beaches are where turtles lay their eggs."

Mr Rabo said there so much fish in the restricted areas that some had to go out and live outside these areas.

The main reason for these sites is to have a place for fish to feed, live, reproduce, grow and be safe from fishermen.

He said the centre assisted local fishermen by buying their fish so that they did not have to send their catch all the way to Suva.

Provinces maintain stand on charter

Provinces maintain stand on charter - 7/10/2008

With the cut-off date for provinces to submit nominees for the GCC meeting just around the corner, three provinces maintain their stand they will not join the council.
Rewa, Kadavu and Namosi have all stated they would uphold the decision made in their Bose Vanua that no support would be given to the new GCC regulation. Rewa Provincial Council spokesperson Pita Tagicakiverata said the province would stick to the decision despite the ultimatum given by the Fijian Affairs minister that he would choose the reps for the provinces who did not submit any names.

Mr Tagicakiverata said the province would abide by the decision of their chiefs and also the people of Rewa.

“We maintain our stand that we won’t give our support to the GCC or acknowledge the new regulations it comes with,’’ he said. Kadavu Provincial Council chairman Ratu Varani Rayawa said nothing has changed for the province and the decision not to acknowledge the GCC and its regulations would stand.

Namosi high chief, Ratu Suliano Matanitobua said his province won’t support the GCC and that decision which was decided during its provincial council meeting still stood.

But Lau has confirmed that it would be submitting names for the GCC next week.

Kubuna holds off on chief

Kubuna holds off on chief - Friday, July 11, 2008

THE installation of the paramount chief of the Kubuna confederacy will take place once the country's political climate stabilises, the kingmaker's clan spokesman said yesterday.

Ratu Veiwili Komaitai said they were not in a hurry to install a new vunivalu. And when they do, they would ensure protocols and traditions are followed.

The title has been vacant since the death of Ratu Sir George Cakobau in 1989.

Ratu Veiwili said the clan last discussed the issue last year.

He said once the Tui Kaba clan nominates the next vunivalu, then the Bau clan would meet.

"The installation of the vunivalu would not only involve Bau but other provinces too as we have close links with these provinces," he said.

Meanwhile, there has been no move by the vanua of Serua to install their paramount chief.

Serua Provincial Council chairman Ratu Samuela Waqainaceva said the vanua has made no plans.

"There is nothing coming from the vanua on that issue, so we don't have any plans on installing our chief," he said.

Tui Suva wants land compensation

Chief wants land compensation - 7/9/2008

A chief who claims to own the land on which he and others live wants compensation if they are to be re-located.
Tui Suva Ratu Epeli Kanakana, 83, says he is willing to vacate the land if he receives compensation from the Suva City Council.

He said he had moved to the settlement with his family four years ago and built his home.

He said it was unfair for the council to issue him with an eviction notice when the land was his.

“Unless and until I receive compensation I will continue to live here with my family,'' he said.

“This land was called Nacara and it is now known as Maunivatu squatter settlement.

“If the council wants to lease this land, they are to give me compensation. It’s not easy buying timber and building a house."

He said he had spoken with the director of lands showing a plan of the land he currently occupied.

“I have handed the lands department some paperwork and they will then decide on who is the rightful owner of this land,'' he said.

“I come under the Roko Tui Rewa, and they informed me about the government tribunal which I have been attending.

“This is my own land which has been handed down for many generations. Who are they to give me a letter to leave?"

SCC Lord Mayor Ratu Peni Volavola said the land Ratu Epeli was talking about belonged to the government and not him.

“As far as we are concerned we have received a lease from the lands department and the government is the rightful landowner," Ratu Peni said.

SCC’s Public Relations Officer Jillian Hicks said the tenants were given an extra week by the council to relocate.

She said enforcement officers will be checking residents of the area on when they will be vacating the land

Church leader to visit prisons

Church leader to visit prisons - 7/9/2008

Methodist Church president Reverend Laisiasa Ratabacaca is to visit the country’s two biggest prisons at the invitation of the Prisons Commissioner Ioane Naivalurua.
It is understood that the purpose of his visit to the Suva and Naboro Prisons was to mend the relationship of the vanua and the church.

Mr Naivalurua said at least 41 per cent of the inmates belonged to the church.

He said Ren Ratabacaca would be briefed at the Prisons Headquarters before proceeding on the tour to Naboro prison where he would be shown the maximum and minimum cells.

Mr Naivalurua said this is part of the prisons rehabilitation plans and work towards enhancing a better communication and future for those who will be released from time to time.

Rev Ratabacaca said he accepted the invitation by Mr Naivalurua with sincerity as it was to familiarise himself with the prison environment. He will be talking to the inmates and sharing words of encouragement.

Mr Naivalurua said from Naboro prison, they would then visit women prisoners at the Suva Prison.

He said the visit was part of the rehabilitation programmes which followed the Yellow Ribbon project.

The Yellow Ribbon project is a rehabilitation programme for ex-offenders that was launched on June 27.

It is focussed on the belief that there are no bad people and that rehabilitation programmes can be developed to assist in the re-integration of ex-offenders back into society, allowing them to live normal lives.

Naitasiri Chief to be Evicted

Chief wants reason for eviction - 7/9/2008

A landowner and chief is awaiting reason why he should vacate the land he occupies with his church group.
Ratu Loco Qiolevu said lawyers for the Matanikutu clan of Tamavua village were yet to give him a good reason why he should vacate the land.

“All we are doing here is carrying on with our lives. Yes, we worship here but no one is going to move me and my God from this place,” he said.

Ratu Loco is part of the One World Church which has its church based in Cunningham.

“I am a landowner and a direct descendant of the Qaranivalu (Naitasiri paramount chief),’’ he said.

Fijian businesses lack oversight, Ratu Joni

Fijian businesses lack oversight, Ratu Joni

VERENAISI RAICOLA - Thursday, July 10, 2008

RATU Joni Madraiwiwi says the establishment of provincial companies drawing on the communal organisation of Fijian society was intended to broaden indigenous participation in commerce and the private sector.

But its success has been limited as the mechanism of setting up companies on a provincial-wide basis has been a cumbersome method of seeking to benefit individual Fijians and their families, he said.

"Many Fijians contribute to community enterprises without deriving any material benefit for their effort," said Ratu Joni.

The former Vice-President said the provincial involvement in business was seen as a worthwhile concept without further analysis or consideration. He said a business required discipline, commitment and tight control over finance. Ratu Joni said provincial companies were established without clear corporate structures.

"The appointment of boards was inconsistent, shareholdings and payment of dividends uncertain for lack of specificity and there was little financial accountability.

"Further, there was a lack of oversight and administrative support to assist these businesses in their formative stages," he said.

Speaking at the opening of the Capital Markets Development Authority provincial and tikina companies workshop yesterday Ratu Joni said the structures of business from the board down to its most junior employees needs to be professional.

"Most provincial and tikina businesses have ad hoc arrangements in place that are no longer appropriate.

"The manner in which businesses conduct their activities and operations are factors which potential investors consider and study carefully."

Ratu Joni said if they liked what they saw, were satisfied with the corporate structures in place as well as the return on their investment, they would invest.

"If not, they go elsewhere."

Ratu Joni said provincial companies had problems having financial and accounting skills to maintain proper records.

He said examples of success stories were the Yatu Lau Company Limited, the Ka Levu Trust and its investments, Mucunabitu Ironworks Co-operative, Yavusa e Tolu Holdings of Narewa, Nadi and the tikina of Lutu in Naitasiri to name a few.

Ratu Joni said rent proceeds from the Native Land Trust Board amounted to more than $30million annually that could provide a huge potential for investment capital.

"Most of the funds continue to be utilised by Fijian landowners for their daily needs. "It is of course their money and they may use it as they wish.

"But it is also incumbent upon leaders in the landowner community to look beyond their immediate wants, to business and education opportunities for themselves and their mataqali, yavusa or vanua," said Ratu Joni.

He said rent collected by the NLTB was significant as it represented capital sums that could be deployed for wider effect.

Provincial firm hits $2.2m
Thursday, July 10, 2008

LAST year was the first time a provincial company raised $2.2million from capital markets through a public share offering.

Capital Markets development Authority chairman Daryl Tarte said the initial public offering by Yatu Lau Company was targeted to raise $1.5m.

Mr Tarte said at the close of the 30-day offer period the company received applications valued at $2.8m and had to refund $593,304 as the total share allocation was oversubscribed.

"The authority believes many more provincial and tikina companies can do the same and may flourish from the disciplined and regulated capital markets."

Lau Council Leadership

Traditional leadership

I AGREE with Paula Vuli (FT 4/7).
Letter to Editor - - 10 July 2008

It seems the Lauan delegates at the Draiba meeting experienced first-hand the change in traditional leadership style from veivakaturagataki to the contemporary one of intimidation and coercion.

The stiff-arm voting tactics by the new chairman, Ratu Uluilakeba Mara, reflect this.

So, it did not come as a surprise that the delegates of Ono Island preferred to stay out of the meeting.

Other delegates may have been cowed into submission well before the meeting.

By now, Lauans around the country would have had time to reflect and digest on the new traditional style of leadership.

It is a self destructive one that will lead nowhere.

Ulai Taoi

Tui Yaroi Title

Tui Yaroi
Letter to Editor - - 10 July 2008

FOR the information of Jovilisi Cavuka (FT 2/7) the leading chief of Matuku at the time, the Tui Yaroi, was taken captive by Ma'afu and held prisoner in Lakeba until his death.

He never returned to Matuku. It was none other than the Tui Yaroi's own son, Kolitagane, who sought the assistance of Ma'afu to stop the Tui Yaroi terrorising and killing villagers on the island who had accepted the lotu.

The present chiefly title of Tui Matuku was created by Ma'afu. So it does not stand to reason that a slain and defeated army as claimed by Mr Cavuka would then march up to the supposed victorious chief's own village and take the chief prisoner.

I would urge Mr Cavuka to read the documented accounts of these that are readily available at the National Archives and church arrival records.

It would enlighten him of some circumstances that are best forgotten.

Samisoni Kaitu

Tui Mavana and Sau kei Mualevu Title

Mualevu Chiefly history - 10 July 2008
I WISH to correct a few things published already on the Tui Mavana (FT 3/7).

It is correct that Ratu Josefa Basulu is yet to be traditionally installed as the Tui Mavana.

Ratu Josefa is the eldest in the Nasima family of Mualevu. As the eldest, he is entitled to be called Sau kei Mualevu.

The title of Tui Mavana was initially given by the chief of Mavana to the chief of Lomaji in Mualevu, who then handed the title to the chief of Mualevu.

Later, the chief of Mualevu was installed by the people of Mavana at A place called Buli-ya.

In regards to the superiority of the two titles, the Sau kei Mualevu and the Tui Mavana are related and relevant depending on the situation observed.

The title Sau was bestowed on the eldest of the Nasima family who left Vuna in Taveuni and went to Mualevu in Vanua Balavu. Traditionally, the Sau kei Mualevu was the headchief of all the islands in the Somosomo group.

However, Finau Soko's observation on Ratu Josefa's claim as Tui Mavana, should be considered together with the current move in light of the present situation in Fiji.

Mosese Uluicicia Sasala

Funny matter - 3 July 2008
IT is a laughing matter for the Mualevu tikina to hear that Josefa Basulu has claimed that he has been traditionally installed as Tui Mavana.

He is not the title holder of the Tui Mavana and he is from the family of the Sau kei Mualevu and none of the Sau kei Mualevu have ever been traditionally installed, not even his father, since that title had come from Vuna in Taveuni. When that title was to change from Sau mai Vuna to Sau kei Mualevu, there was never any traditional installation.

Secondly, it must be known that these two titles are not the same.

They are two different chiefs altogether and thirdly Basulu knows the reason why the people of Mualevu will not install him as their high chief because there is some other who has got higher ranking than him and their families but they seem to be pushed aside by none other but Basulu and his family.

The sad thing is that these two titles are from the same family but the real kai Mualevu will know that the Tui Mavana is superior than the Sau kei Mualevu.

Finau Soko

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Indigenous Fijians fear their rights under siege

Indigenous Fijians fear their rights under siege - 7/8/2008

Eighteen months after the 2006 coup there is an element of fear within the Fijian people.
They now feel that their right as indigenous people are under siege.

Former Vice President Turaga na Roko Tui Bau Ratu Joni Madraiwiwi in delivering the keynote address at the Fijian Teaches Association annual general meeting this year said: “There is a feeling among many Fijians that their rights as indigenous people are under siege. Whether by the marginalisation of their elected representatives and preferred political party, the reversal of affirmative action programmes, arbitrary changes to Fijian institutions such as the Bose Levu Vakaturaga and the perceived targeting of the Fijian elite: ‘something is rotten in the state of Denmark,’ to quote from Shakespeare’s Hamlet.”

It is this fear that prevents them from openly supporting the interim Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama’s interim government.

This fear has also created suspicion of the leadership.

Support for the interim government would have gathered if the clean-up campaign had produced results.

However, they never dreamed the clean-up would start with Fijian institutions.

The Fijian people have so far watched in silence as they witnessed the reforms in the Great Council of Chiefs.

They have witnessed the unceremonious removals of Fijian chief executive officers.

Now they know their communal representatives will not be in the next parliament.

Ratu Joni said: “Both the interim regime and the National Council For Building A Better Fiji have provoked the ire of certain sections of Fijian opinion by advocating a one vote, one value electoral system. Fijian protagonists have interpreted this as an attack on indigenous identity and the right to have their representatives elected on their own electoral rolls.

“Articles 3 and 4 of the Declaration guarantee the right of self determination. Article 5 assumes the right to maintain and strengthen their distinct political institutions. Those views are held passionately and sincerely. However, in our present circumstances the rationale underpinning the Declaration does not equate. If one accepts that the principle of self-determination enables indigenous people to govern themselves, the dynamic must necessarily change where they form a majority.

“The paramountcy of Fijian interests as a protective principle (as stated in the Compact of the present Constitution) more aptly captures the spirit of the Declaration as opposed to the paramountcy claimed in the 1990 Constitution. In the present situation, Fijians are able to exercise predominance over other communities as well. So the insistence on having separate electoral rolls and representatives becomes less obvious. The irony is that in this different setting, it is the minority communities who then need to be protected.

“The long term solution for Fiji lies neither in communal seats nor in a one vote, one value electoral system. The answer lies in proportional representation that provides the most appropriate safeguards for minorities.”

The indigenous Fijian people are aware through reports of the team that reviewed Fijian institutions the people they elected to represent them in parliament did not do their jobs properly but with no concrete evidence.

They are usually comfortable to be represented by one of their own

They are also aware of the removal of the affirmative action programme and the reason behind it is it is a racist policy.

They are also aware of the adoption of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples at the 61st session of the United Nations General Assembly

Ratu Joni also told the Pacific Cooperation Foundation at Wellington on the title `The Challenges In Building A New Fiji’ that: “In challenging Fijian institutions such as the Bose Levu Vakaturaga, the Methodist Church and the Soqosoqo Duavata Ni Lewenivanua Party, the Commander has also provided opportunities for reflection and soul searching. What real difference do the Bose Levu Vakaturaga (BLV) and the Fijian Administration (of which the BLV sits at the apex) make in the lives of ordinary Fijians? Does the latter serve any purpose in view of the fact that the Government has responsibility for infrastructure and economic development? What place has the traditional system in the scheme of things? The Fijians themselves need to be heard on those issues.

“Their leaders have a responsibility to listen and discern what it is they want. In what form do they wish their indigenousness (and all that attaches to it) survive? My preoccupation has not been with the form and the hierarchy. It is with the values of kinship, reciprocity and mutual respect that provide a bridge to the other communities. These are qualities that can be harnessed to enhance the vision we seek.”

Here are Dr Brij Lal’s comments on the issue.

“There is a great deal of anxiety among the Fijian people. As they see it, everything has gone wrong for them. Their cherished institutions have been hobbled and marginalised, such as the Great Council of Chiefs. Institutions to which they looked up for leadership and guidance have now been disabled. And what is particularly perplexing for them is that all this is being done by an institution, the military, which was supposed to be the guardian of their interests. So the Fijian peoples’ sense of fear and anxiety and powerlessness is real - and understandable.

“There will be little argument that some, and not only Fijian, institutions need reform to bring them into line with modern thinking. But this should be done through sensitive handling and in cooperation with the people whose lives will be affected by the reforms.

“Commodore Bainimarama may mean well, but he is going about things the wrong way. He seems to prefer monologue to dialogue. Instead of winning the hearts and minds of his people for his reforms, he has alienated them, pushed them into a corner, hardened their resolve not to cooperate, leading them to adopt stances which, in the normal course of events, they might not. The prospect for genuine dialogue is thereby dimmed. Sullen silence is not consent.

“What is particularly galling for many Fijian people I have spoken to is the gleeful gloating among their opponents, erstwhile, fair weather democrats who have no compunction supporting a regime that is anything but democratic, and who are enjoying political power that has come from the barrel of the gun. What can they make of supposedly learned academics calling the military coup a ‘Lesser of the Two Evils’ (what was the other Evil: a Labour-SDL Multiparty cabinet?).

“I have never seen race relations as fraught as they are now. It will take a great act of statesmanship to heal the wounds.”

The Fijian people bear the pain of the reforms silently.

They have no say in the reforms and are continually blamed for their reliance on government help.

Government must be mindful of the fear of the indigenous people.

They must be fully engaged in the reforms in the Fijian institutions.

They need to be engaged in open and honest dialogue, with the government of the day.

It requires patience, forbearance, humility and goodwill to deal with the issues that they want as this will lead to bridging the divide that continues to widen.

The special interests of the Fijian people, including their right of ownership to their natural resources, must be seen by them as firmly protected.

We all want to live happily in a truly multiracial nation.

However, this atmosphere can only be put in place if all ethnic groups realise and respect the rights of the indigenous people.

They are to be reminded that rights co-exist with each other. They are inherent and we possess them as individuals or as part of a collective.

However Fijians have rights as indigenous people and as individuals. It does not mean that their rights are superior to that of our non Fijian brothers and sisters.

Ratu Joni said: “As indigenous people, Fijians have rights that derive from that characteristic. They are different because they focus on the fact of indigenousness. The fallacy of arguing that indigenous rights are superior to individual rights is simply demonstrated. The rights one has as a Fijian do not deny our rights to freedom of speech and conscience as an individual. Similarly, the rights a Fijian has in relation to a non-Fijian arise by virtue of our definition as indigenous people. However, this does not give Fijians superior or special status in legal terms.”

The fears of the Fijian people need to be addressed now.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Rewa Province fete end of mourning for chief

Province fete end of mourning for chief
Saturday, July 05, 2008 -

Peniame Silatolu (right) leads Bure o Rewa clan members Ro Alifereti Doviverata,
THE chiefly village of Lomanikoro, Rewa, was a sea of colours as family members and the vanua celebrated the end of mourning for the late Vunivalu of Rewa, Ro Jone Mataitini.

Intermittent rain cooled the day as close relatives travelled from various parts of Fiji for the function.

And in a presentation of magiti ni bogi drau (100 nights feast), Ro Aca Mataitini made a pledge on behalf of the Vunivalu clan to their paramount chief and Roko Tui Dreketi, Ro Teimumu Kepa, that no matter what happens they would always stick with her.

"Na vuvale mai Dravo ena maroroya saka tiko na i tikotiko vakaturaga e Valelevu (The Vunivalu's household of Dravo will protect the chiefly household of the Roko Tui Dreketi).

Ro Jone was known to have stuck by the late Roko Tui Dreketi, Ro Lady Lala Mara, throughout her leadership.

Ro Teimumu thanked the vanua for the presentation and kind words.

The lifting of the mourning period featured 10 families with maternal ties to the Vunivalu of Rewa's mataqali Nukunitabua.

Ratu Tubu Uluiviti of Nairai said from one clan emerged many women who raised children with families in various parts of Fiji.

"Their presentation today is testimony of the links the women of Nukunitabua have forged," Ratu Tubu said.

Ro Alipate Mataitini said the function was attended only by those who had close blood ties to their household and those with special links.

The Wye and Pickering families also attended the function as they have close ties with the Vunivalu's family.

A feature of the function was the articulate presentations made by the spokesmen of families linked to the Vunivalu.

Clan members want land back

Clan members want land back
Monday, July 07, 2008-

Peter Dysdale explains the state of affairs at Yaqara to interim Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama
A LANDOWNING unit believes that all State land have their right or traditional owners who cannot be overlooked.

Josateki Buadrau, of the yavusa Rara at Navolau Naba Rua in Ra, says part of their land is now under State grant.

Mr Buadrau said it was important for the Native Lands Commission to clarify who owned which part of the land to avoid dispute among the owners.

He said all State land in the country were under the State because of illegal sales done to it in the early time of their forefathers.

However, he said they knew which land belonged to them because the information had been passed down to them by their forefathers.

Mr Buadrau said his yavusa owned large tracts of land from Ellington wharf to the Vaileka town boundary.

He said they owned Volivoli and other areas including Nananu-i-Ra, Nananu-i-Cake, the islands off Ellington.

Members of Mr Buadrau's clan met interim Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama on Friday to discuss issues on State freehold land they claimed was theirs.

Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama and his team travelled to Ellington wharf to met the landowners.

The trip was part of the Prime Minister's itinerary of his Western Division tour which included visiting the resort development project at Natadola and the Yaqara pastoral farm.

Mr Buadrau said the land in question should be returned to them.

The interim Minister for Lands, Netani Sukanaivalu, was also at the meeting and said that all State land had been sold and now belonged to the Government.

As such, Mr Sukanaivalu said the Volivoli land in question should be returned to the Government and not the landowning unit.

The interim PM's tour party also included the interim Attorney-General, Aiyaz Saiyad-Khaiyum.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Fijian Affairs minister gathers more power

Fijian Affairs minister gathers more power - 7/1/2008

The Fijian Affairs Great Council of Chiefs) Regulations 2008 has conferred more powers on the Minister for Fijian Affairs.

This new regulation will create more crises for the high Fijian institution.

This will be in regard to the appointment of its membership.

According to section 3 (5) of the new regulations: "The Minister shall be the Chairperson of the Council."

Interim Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama who is also the Minister for Fijian Affairs will be the chairperson of the new look Great Council of Chiefs (GCC) or the Bose Levu Vakaturaga (BLV).that will sit next month.

Section 3 (1) (a), (b), (c) and (d) deal with membership.

This particular section provides overall power of appointment to the Minister for Fijian Affairs.

S3 (1) (b) states: "the 42 persons who are prescribed by regulations 2 (b) of the Composition Regulations to be members representing the chiefs of the 14 provinces shall comprise of 3 chiefs from each of the 14 provinces, each of whom shall have demonstrated exemplary leadership in Vanua and in the community at large, and shall be appointed by the Minister."

Section 6 deals with the disqualification of members.

"A person shall not be eligible to be appointed as a member of the Council under regulation (3) (1) (b), (c) or (d) if the person: -

(a) is an undischarged bankrupt;

(b) is under a sentence of imprisonment (by whatever named called);

(c) has, within the 10 years immediately proceeding his appointment -

(i) been released from prison after serving a term of imprisonment of more than six months, whether as an inmate or extra mural prisoner; or

(ii) completed serving/performing a community service order;

(d) has at any time during the immediately preceding 7 years, been,

(i) a member of the House of Representative (s); or

(ii) a Senator other than a Senator nominated from the Great Council of Chiefs;

(e) is the holder of a public office;

(f) has at any time during the immediately preceding 7 years has been -

(i) a candidate for election to the House of Representative; or

(ii) an office bearer of a political party;

(g) is a person of unsound mind within the meaning of the Mental Treatment Act (Cap 113); or

(h) is by virtue of his own act under any acknowledgement of allegiance, obedience or adherence to a power or State outside Fiji, including being a citizen or resident of another country.

The new regulations have given the power to the Minister for Fijian Affairs to discipline any member.

Delivering the keynote address at the 2008 Fiji Teachers Association (FTA) annual general meeting former Vice President Turaga na Roko Tui Bau, Ratu Joni Madraiwiwi said: "There is a feeling among many Fijians that their rights as indigenous peoples are under siege. Whether by the marginalisation of their elected representatives and preferred political party, the reversal of affirmative action programmes, arbitrary changes to Fijian institutions such as the Bose Levu Vakaturaga and the perceived targeting of the Fijian elite: "something is rotten in the state of Denmark," to quote from Shakespeare's Hamlet."

The new GCC regulations has taken away the power from the people to select their provincial representatives and conferred it on the Minister to totally have the overall power in the appointment of the new GCC members.

Is this fair?

We must be mindful of the fact that the United Nations General Assembly in its 61st session on 7th September 2007 adopted the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (the 'Declaration').

Article 18 of the Declaration concerns the right to participation in matters affecting the rights of indigenous people through representatives chosen by them.

The new GCC regulations have raised concerns on the power conferred to the Minister for Fijian Affairs in regard t the appointment of members.

The former Vice President raised his concern on the matter too.

He said at the FTA annual general meeting: "The Minister has aroused much debate by the changes he made.

He now appoints all 51 members of the Bose Levu Vakaturaga: the 42 provincial representatives (3 per province), the 3 representatives of the Rotuma Council and the 6 high chiefs appointed at large. The 42 provincial appointees must not only be title holders but are required to be installed as well. These amendments narrow the pool considerably from which provincial appointees can be drawn."

Citing an example he said: "The effect can readily be seen by taking Bau as an example. I would be eligible as an installed title holder, but my close cousins from the chiefly households of Mataiwelagi, Naisogolaca and Muaidule would not qualify for the three Tailevu seats. Neither would anyone else from the Yavusa Kubuna of Bau. Secondly, the requirement takes no account of the vanua throughout Fiji where there is no installation. A successor assumes the title as next in line or by validation from the king makers. These chiefs would not be eligible either."

The installed chiefs will be a very sensitive issue.

For Lau, the nominee from Cicia and Vanuabalavu, Turaga na Sau Mai Mualevu Ratu Josefa Basulu had not been installed.

However he claimed in accordance with the records at the Native Lands Commission (Veitarogi Vanua) the Sau Mai Mualevu is not installed but the next in line takes over when the reigning chiefs dies. So he had just taken over from the late Sau Mai Mualevu.

The nominee from Yasayasa Moala is also not an installed chief. The third nominee will be for the paramount chief of Lau, Turaga na Tui Nayau. Again, since the passing away of the late Turaga na Tui Nayau Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara, no installation had been made.

In the case of the chiefs who just took over the reign without any installation, will the new regulation allow for this?

Many other provinces will have the same problem.

It will be interesting to see the decision by the Minister on such a case.

The chair of the GCC Task Force team, Ratu Josefa Nawalowalo has warned the provinces that had not submitted the three names that the Minister for Fijian Affairs will make the appointments in accordance to the powers conferred on him from the new regulations.

Such appointments would surely be against the people's will.

The change in the regulations may be in breach of the recently adopted Indigenous Rights Declaration.

Ratu Joni said: "To be fair to the Minister, the structure of the Bose Levu Vakaturaga has always been determined by the government of the day. What is controversial is the circumstances in which these amendments were made and their arbitrary nature. They came almost ten months after the Bose Levu Vakaturaga was dissolved or suspended for ostensibly performing its constitutional role. It reversed the practice of several decades where the provincial councils have appointed nominees to the BLV.

Formerly, the Minister only appointed the six members of high chiefly rank. In the last decade, the Chair was appointed from within the BLV with the President, Vice President, Prime Minister and Minister being ex officio members. The Minister's actions do not appear to offend Article 18. But they are inconsistent with its spirit. There was no consultation with the provincial councils, the tikina councils or the constituent vanua. It behoved the Minister or his predecessor to have done so, given the regard with which the BLV is held. This followed some considerable time after the BLV's suspension for its apparent defiance of the interim regime's wishes by vetoing its nominee for Vice President. Moreover, the concentration of powers in the Minister with respect is inconsistent with the more flexible method of appointment that existed previously. It confers on one person despotic powers inconsistent with the more egalitarian nature of our times."

Ratu Nawalowalo has also said the six appointments to be made by the Minister would be at his own discretion and would not require to be in line with the criteria set by the new regulations.

Surely this is not fair as rules are made to be followed and the Minister should set the example.

It will be interesting to see the developments as we come close to the opening of the GCC meeting in August.