Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Chinese eye Fiji properties

China’s rich looking to purchase properties away from home have Fiji in their sights, according to Air Pacific’s representative in Asia.

“There are a lot of queries coming right now regarding property purchases in Fiji,” said Hong Kong-based Watson Seeto when asked about the opportunities for Fiji in mainland China especially with the Fiji government forging closer ties in the Orient.

“Land prices in Hong Kong are very high. So it’s really the people coming from China, they basically are asking about investment properties or holiday homes in Fiji.”

“So once I get enough queries and put together a data base I will be going to the Fiji Trade and Investment Board or the real estate agents in Fiji to try and generate that market.”

According to Seeto, there are currently tour packages for investors going into New Zealand and Australia to buy homes, which Fiji could tap into.

“They come in small groups of 10 to 15, but they have basically a couple of million dollars to spend per person,” he said.

“The Chinese market is the market we have not fully tapped. It’s the biggest market we know is going to be available to Fiji.”

China's super-rich usually purchase homes and luxury brand items in Hong Kong, one of the main financial centers of the Far East.

According to one real estate report, property prices in Hong Kong are booming in part because of mainland cash pouring into the city.

But these days, the prices are what is taking people's breath away and a modest apartment now can go for $30 million, reports CNN.

An apartment in Hong Kong, a 6,200-square-foot duplex, recently sold for a record $57 million.

The Expat Forum reports that this year, Hong Kong returned to its status as having one of the most expensive real estate sectors in the world, both for the commercial and residential real estate.

Prices are sky high due to the fact that there is very little property on the open market, and what is there will be squeezed up to crazy prices, it said.

Some properties within the centre of the business sector are going for something in the region of $4,000 a square foot, a massive increase on 10 years ago, it said.

Seeto is optimistic that given Air Pacific’s twice weekly direct flights between Nadi and Hong Kong, Fiji is in an ideal position to take advantage of China’s economic power.

“We’re the only guys that can land you in the South Pacific,” he said.

“When we first did our study we thought it was 60 per cent from UK and Europe on the Hong Kong flight, but that’s reversed in the last three months. It’s 60 per cent tourists from China to Fiji, the UK/Europe number has dropped.”

“Our partnership with Cathay Pacific also gives us the global reach – there are many opportunities there. We have a code-share in only one sector, which is the Nadi-Hong Kong route. We are talking to Hong Kong, hoping to open opportunities in other routes.”

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Tailevu Province to fund Prisoner Rehabilitation

Chiefs from Tailevu Province have promised to put money into helping their imprisoned sons and daughters start a new life in their villages upon their release.

The ‘vanua’ of Tailevu led by its Provincial Council Chairman Josefa Serulagilagi visited the inmates of the Nasinu Reformative Centre, the Naboro Correctional Centre and the Suva Prison at the Naboro Correctional Academy Mess on Friday.

It was the first ever such visit by the Province of Tailevu.

Chairman Serulagilagi likened the visit to the biblical story of the Good Shepherd going back to look for a single lost sheep.

Serulagilagi told the inmates that from next year onwards the council will be setting aside funds for their rehabilitation.

“The council has decided that next year we will set aside funds to rehabilitate and set you up in the village,” Serulagilagi is quoted by State media.

“Come back to the village. Once you are there, everything will work out, and the vanua will help you.”

Serulagilagi said the committee tasked to work on the rehabilitation of ex-offenders will work closely with the prison authority.

Serulagilagi said that the vanua is ready to give its sons and daughters a second chance, but he cautioned them that there will be no third chance.

Meanwhile, Taito Raiwaqa, who calls himself a “veteran prisoner”, told the delegates from Tailevu that he wants to start a new life upon his release in 2015.

“This the first time for my high chiefs to come and visit us inmates,” he said.

“This visit is truly inspirational, it motivates people like me to rethink about the kind of life we are leading.

“I want to get married, own my own home and have a car.”

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Call of the island life - Maneesha Karan

Saturday, December 12, 2009

EIGHTY-six year old Ana Waqanitoga cannot live without her island home -Levuka on Ovalau.

Singing and beating the lali during meke performances, Ms Waqanitoga says it's impossible for her to find the peace of home in any other place.

Two of her seven children live in Suva and she often visits them.

But she tires easily of the busy city life and longs to return to her village where she indulges in her favourite pastimes of gardening and socialising.

"This is my life and I can't think of living anywhere else. I've lived here all my life - the neighbours are my family," she said.

"I have a flower garden and plant a little cassava and dalo. I weave mats which I use for traditional purposes and visit friends and families in the village.

"It is safe because everyone knows me and they help me when I'm in need."

Ms Waqanitoga and her family survived on farm produce when the children were growing up.

She remembers packing boiled cassava for her children's school lunch.

"It was a hard time for us because my husband had no fixed job," Ms Waqanitoga said.

"Some money came in from the sale of cassava and dalo but there wasn't enough to send the children in a bus or carrier, so they had to walk four kilometers to attend Marist Convent School."

Ms Waqanitoga's husband died 35 years ago. She now lives by herself in her little home, although she never lacks help with her children and grandchildren assisting her daily and providing her with groceries.

Ms Waqanitoga keeps busy in the cassava patch. It keeps her healthy and strong although she's often disturbed by the attitude of the younger generation.

"The young people do not respect the elders as they did in our time," she said.

"Those were good times when everybody loved each other but now people talk back to their elders and fight among themselves."

She says children should practise the virtues of life to strive to become successful and respected

Chief gives up work for church - Saturday, December 12, 2009

RATU Tevita Makutu gave up his working career five years ago to become the evangelical leader for the Nadroga division of the Methodist Church.

"I heeded a call from God and my life and the lives of my wife and six children have been blessed since," Ratu Tevita said while helping at the Methodist Church Evangelism Renewal Seminar in Cuvu yesterday.

Ratu Tevita has been a volunteer evangelist for the past 17 years and said he made the decision to do so after observing what his children and the youth in his province were going through.

"A lot of the youth were born in and around 1987 and have been brought up in turbulent times," Ratu Tevita said.

"This is reflected in their attitudes and acts of rebellion at home and in the community.

"I believe that this revival will go a long way in changing their mindset, spirit and outlook on life."

The evangelist also said that there had been a marked increase in youth numbers attending church.

Ratu Tevita was also overwhelmed at the numbers of young people attending the seminar.

"There is a huge revival in the Methodist Church in Fiji today," he said.

"More and more people are beginning to realise that in these economically trying times only God is the answer to every situation, circumstance and problem," Ratu Tevita add

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Bua Villagers Ban Alcohol

Serafina Silaitoga - Saturday, December 05, 2009

A DISTRICT in Bua has banned the drinking of alcohol to provide a safer environment for women and children.

The villagers of Naiviqiri, Nasau and Navaka in the district of Navakasiga are not allowed to drink alcoholic beverages anywhere in the district.

Villagers who do consume alcohol outside the district are not allowed to re-enter until they are sober.

Naiviqiri village headman Etuate Roqica said the alcohol ban, piloted a few months ago, was aimed at providing a safe surrounding for all women and children in the area.

He said apart from that, chiefs and village headmen of the three villages wanted to prevent unnecessary trouble.

Mr Roqica said villagers who wanted to drink alcohol could do so outside the district boundary, which begins at Lekutu government station, about 45 minutes drive from Nabouwalu.

He said the action was prompted after reports of stabbing and women and children being threatened as a result of alcohol abuse.

Mr Roqica said it was the duty of heads of families and communities to make sure that women and children were well protected.

Villagers from the district usually depend on the sea, yaqona and dalo for income.

Well known rugby union player Rupeni Caucau hails from Nasau Village.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Native lease to be priced at market rates

Fiji's native land leases are going to be priced at market rates as part of the government’s ambitious land reform plans.

Attorney General Aiyaz Sayed Khaiyum said the land reform initiative will be spearheaded by Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama and should see the unlocking of much of Fiji’s unused land.

“Land reform essentially means making land available for productive use and longer tenure. Under the Agricultural Landlord and Tennant’s Act, you have agricultural land tenure for a very short lease period. The idea is to make that available for a longer period where the landowners themselves actually benefit and would-be investors are able to access that land, pay market rates and get into agriculture,” Sayed-Khaiyum.

Previous governments have tried unsuccessfully to bring about land reforms in Fiji, with their failure being blamed on politics.

One of the main issues that had been thrashed about in the past was the land rental under ALTA, which is said to be among the lowest in the world at six percent of the land’s Unimproved Capital Value.

The ruling Bainimarama government however has put land reform down in its 10-point plan, a schedule of what it wants to achieve by 2020.

Sayed-Khaiyum said consultations with various stakeholders, including native landowners, have already begun.

The communally-owned native land makes up some 80 percent of Fiji’s available land but most of that remains largely unused.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Koro Village Nuts Over Bio-fuel - Tuesday, December 01, 2009

The use of diesel fuel will be a thing of the past for the people of Koro Island because they will now rely on coconut oil as its suitable replacement.

This means that all vehicles, generators, outboard motors and other machinery on the island will depend solely on bio-diesel extracted from coconut oil, which will be produced locally at Nacamaki Village.

The initiative is part of the efforts to introduce renewable energy for rural people who find it hard to cope with the rising price of diesel fuel.

As part of a long-term plan government has brought 15 villagers from Nacamaki to Suva to train them how to use the Modular Bio-Diesel Processing Plant which will be installed in the village early next year.

The $30,000 plant will be able to process other bi-products such as edible oil, soap, and fertiliser.

Department of Energy spokesman Vilimoni Vosarogo said the new processing plant would be the first of its kind to be introduced in Fiji and the Pacific. He said government has planned to install similar processing plants in Lau, Kadavu, Rotuma and other parts of Fiji.

Mr Vosarogo said villagers of Koro would have to build their own shed to accommodate the new plant while government would provide them training.

He said the new initiative would help ordinary villagers financially.

Nacamaki villager Leone Manu said the new project would create employment for the villagers. He said carting diesel fuel to the island was an expensive exercise.

He said villagers had given up selling dried coconuts to Savusavu and Suva because of the associated costs.

"Now that our coconuts will be sold on the island, it should help us financially in many ways," he said.

Biofuels - liquid fuels derived from plant materials - are entering the market, driven by factors such as oil price spikes and the need for increased energy security.

Biofuels provided 1.8 per cent of the world's transport fuel in 2008. Investment into biofuels production capacity exceeded $4billion worldwide in 2007.

Church Ban in Serua - Tuesday, December 01, 2009

New religious groups will be banned from Serua province if they do not follow the traditional protocol.

The issue was discussed in length at the Serua Provincial Council meeting at Vunibau Village.

Council chairman Ratu Samuela Waqanaceva told the Fiji Times that some new charismatic churches caused widespread division within the province because their beliefs contradicted traditional customs and beliefs.

"Some of these new churches do not agree with certain things we do in the village especially on traditional matters. While we respect their beliefs, it is becoming a worry because it contradicts our tradition and customs," Ratu Samuela said.

"Any religious group that wishes to enter the province will have to get an approval from the Commissioner Central's Office, likewise the provincial office," said Ratu Samuela.

He said there was an alarming increase on a number of charismatic churches in the province and the provincial office would want to see that they adhere to protocols to avoid any problems.

A number of new charismatic churches had been very vocal on traditional matters such as the consumption of kava which they viewed as contradicting their Christian beliefs, he said.

Meanwhile, delegates at the meeting unanimously supported the idea of establishing a Provincial Development Board to oversee the overall development within the province.

Commissioner Central Lieutenant Colonel Mosese Tikoitoga told the meeting that the new board would work closely with the government on all development matters arising from each province.

The names of those who will join the new board will be finalised this morning.

Ratu Samuela said the new initiative should avoid the bureaucracy within the government system.

"Hopefully the new board will speed up the whole process in getting our message across to the government," Ratu Samuela said.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Villagers choose to banish farmers, users - Monday, November 30, 2009

ANY villager found with marijuana or selling the drug will be exiled from the district of Wainunu, Bua, but only after being dealt with by Fijian warlords.

This is a stern warning from Tui Wainunu Ratu Orisi Baleitavea, who believes it's time that chiefs and their people stand up to fight against the illicit drug problem in society.

Known as the red zone in Bua, Wainunu district is a popular marijuana spot that police officers have continuously raided in the past.

The decision to exile any villager found dealing or cultivating marijuana has been agreed to by all village reps, including the minority group who live in the district

Ratu Orisi said although it has been difficult to find anyone dealing in or cultivating marijuana, his decision as high chief was firm and nothing would change that.

He said any villager found guilty would be taken to task in their respective village meetings and traditionally dealt with by chiefly warlords.

This would include spanking and other disciplinary measures before being exiled.

Ratu Orisi said they have uprooted marijuana plants found in farms and forests of Wainunu.

He said the drug cultivation in his district has to stop and such vanua laws would be enforced to deal with culprits and put an end to drug problems.

Ratu Orisi said a lot of problems have been caused by drug users, including criminal activities which affected innocent people.

"For the sake of security and a better future for our people, we will take this stand and ensure that it is followed. It's time we rise up and stop drug problems in our society," Ratu Orisi said.

This is the second district in the Northern Division that has decided to exile villagers found with the drug.

The first was Wailevu Village in Tunuloa, Cakaudrove. The village elders had decided two months ago to exile any villager found with marijuana.

Tunuloa has also been a hotspot drug cultivation area in the province

Friday, November 27, 2009

Do not lose sight on cultural identity - 27/11/2009

Fiji must not lose sight of the maintenance of its own identity, values, traditions and customs and traditional structures, says Filipe Jitoko.

He is the Permanent Secretary for Education and he made the comment during the Queen Victoria School’s (QVS) Annual prize giving ceremony yesterday.

He said over the years the role of QVS had extended so that its purpose in training Fiji’s leaders was not only confined to traditional chiefly household, but a substantial contribution to other areas of national development.

He said the school should feel proud of its achievement in educating Fiji’s leaders for more than a century.

He said QVS was associated with the education and training of men of rank with the concept of nurturing those who would finally ascend to the thrones of the chiefly households.

“The push towards providing an education system for all and the reduction of inequities and disparities in education has brought about changes in the provision of education in Fiji.

“I firmly believe that it is imperative that Fiji’s traditional societies embrace and welcome the role of education in their development in the same way the market does.”

He said education was a pre-requisite to economic growth and Fiji’s traditional society should similarly value the education of its members as of paramount importance to their development in this modern day and age.

“Students who represent their different vanua should be reminded of their traditional obligation in accordance with the expectation of their elders,” he said.

Sunday, November 22, 2009


Historical facts have surfaced this month that Ro Veidovi’s remains were buried in one of America’s distinguished military burial grounds, Cypress Hills in Brooklyn, New York.

Cypress Hills National Cemetery is at least 18 acres in size and is located approximately ten miles from JFK International Airport, New York. A quick search has revealed that over 21, 000 persons, mostly decorated soldiers, are buried in Cypress Hills. It is managed by the Long Island National Cemetery.

Through the years, meticulous research has found that because Ro Veidovi became a celebrated prisoner and died on board a US military ship, it was deemed obligatory to have his remains interred at Cypress Hills.

He lies among what Cypress Hills National Cemetery records as “Notable Persons” who won Medals of Honour during the war in the mid-1800s.

Details like these are in the official records at various graves in Cypress Hills - Coxswain John Cooper, (Civil War), U.S. Navy. Awarded two Medals of Honor; On board the USS Brooklyn, Dec. 31, 1864, and April 26, 1865 (Section 2, Grave 5022); Captain of the Hold Louis Williams (Interim), U.S. Navy. Awarded two Medals of Honor. On board the USS Lackawanna, March 16, 1883, and on board the USS Lackawanna, June 13, 1884 (Section 6, Grave 12616); and so on.

US records state that many graves had to be carefully dug up and transferred to the main gravesite to make way for the construction of a large department store in the 1920s. This event might have contributed to loss of records of the exact location of Ro Veidovi’s grave.

William Rhoades, Director of Long Island National Cemetery in Farmdale, New York, and Roko Tui Dreketi Ro Teimumu Kepa’s traditional historians and heralds have been in contact in the last month.

Rhoades says he had “looked everywhere possible” to find the original headstone placed on his gravesite but he is preparing a permanent marker when Ro Teimumu passes details of Ro Veidovi’s Rewa status.

“While the exact circumstances of his interment at Cypress Hills are historical facts, I don’t think that we can inscribe those circumstances on his headstone,” he said.

“It is a fascinating story that just keeps going,” Rhoades states. “It appears (the headstone) has been removed and destroyed. I plan to submit an application for a new memorial marker.”

The Ro Veidovi story has also connected senior Fiji and USA Government officials. Rhoades in particular stood ready to discuss “the history associated with this distinguished gentleman”

“While the cultures were much different then, he was obviously a well-respected man of his culture and apparently earned the respect of the US Navy Crew that captured him,” he said. “That in itself speaks volumes about his character.”

Rhoades explained he had received a letter from Penijamini Lomaloma, First Secretary at the Fiji Embassy in Washington D.C., to say Fiji officials had conducted a search to confirm the whereabouts of Ro Veidovi’s remains. Lomaloma had acted on requests by Adam H Domby, a senior official at the office of Congressman Gonzalez, after certain requests by Anthropologist Dr Ann Fabian, a Congresswoman whose keen interest in Ro Veidovi’s story has allowed her to write many scholarly papers. Lomaloma raised the matter with the Fiji Government through its Ministries of Indigenous Affairs and also of Foreign Affairs, Civil Aviation and International Cooperation in March-April this year.

Permanent Secretary for Indigenous Affairs Ratu Meli Bainimarama said there were no official records of past attempts to repatriate Ro Veidovi’s remains, but knew of the late Roko Tui Dreketi Ro Lady Lala Mara’s wishes that they remained on exhibit at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C.

He said Roko Tui Dreketi Ro Teimumu Kepa’s views and wishes were being sought on the matter.

Dr Fabian’s curiosity was roused when she began another series of publications on a history of skull collectors “and Vendovi plays a major role”.

Dr Fabian’s search and her colleagues’ encouragement became a much talked about issue at State Department level and was relayed to the Embassy of the United States in Suva.

Richard Pruett, Deputy Chief of Mission wrote to Ro Teimumu in June this year, and personally invited her to the Smithsonian Institution to become “a part of the fascinating story”. Pruett had informed Ro Teimumu that he held consultations with Smithsonian Institution scholars like Dr Fabian, Chairman of Anthropology Dr Dan Rogers and Dr Adrianne Kaeppler, Curator for the Pacific Collection.

Pruett also informed Ro Teimumu that the Smithsonian would honour her wishes on the subject. He personally invited her to visit the Smithsonian Institution and assured the US Embassy would facilitate her travel.

Mullish views have surfaced in Rewa in recent weeks as to why Roko Tui Dreketi’s clan had suddenly taken a keen interest in Ro Veidovi. Her spokesperson Ro Dona Takalaiyale has expressed strong views, saying the Ro Veidovi story is not a new story.

“There is a very strong historic and cultural connection between Fiji and the United States in the story of Ro Veidovi,” he says. “If the Government of the United States considers his story a critical link in our history and culture, it will then be quite critical for Roko Tui Dreketi to share that value with us.”

“The story of Ro Veidovi is one of many significant stories in our history as a people, as a clan and as a nation,” Ro Dona adds. “His skulls became the first human remains on exhibit when it was deemed peculiar to do it at the time; the story has made it into numerous scholarly theses on the historical importance of US expeditions to the Fiji Islands.”

“And for all we know at Rewa today, there is a high level discussion going on between Na Gone Marama Bale Na Roko Tui Dreketi and the Ministries of Foreign and Indigenous Affairs, and the US Government on its historical and cultural importance.”

Ro Teimumu is of the view that, like every other significant Fijian story in scholarly publications everywhere in the world today, the Ro Veidovi story deserved a decent ending. She promises that is there is a need for her family to do it, she will personally supervise its care in a noteworthy section of the world’s largest museum and archives, the Smithsonian Institution in the American capital, Washington D.C.

“There is nothing wrong with taking care of an ancestor’s remains in a far away country and I personally believe that Ro Veidovi deserved a mention in the annals of the powerful history of Rewa and Burebasaga and most importantly, of Fiji and its power.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Sere ni CBM - Melaia Dimuri

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Ratu Epeli's Tongan Connection

In the name of the President

Morgan Tuimaleali'ifano - Thursday, November 19, 2009

Stories about the new President (Fiji Times November 5 and 6 2009) make for interesting reading but your readers may have been a bit confused by the new President's Tongan connections. His distinguished Tongan connection is well known and given his recent elevation to Fiji's highest office, a reminder of the ancient relations between Fiji and Tonga might serve a useful purpose. It also serves as a reminder of how often our circumstances (now and future) are determined largely by forces outside our control.

Ratu Epeli Nailatikau's well known Tongan connection is perhaps too well known for the Mataqali na Tui Kaba. Like anyone else, he had nothing to do with the way his pedigree panned out. Some might explain it in the stars, others the waywardness of the heart.

His grandmother, Adi Litia Cakobau, was the daughter of Bauan Ratu Timoci Tavanavanua and Tupoutu'a of the Veikune family of Vava'u, Tonga. The story goes, in 1908, when the lovely Adi Litia was visiting Tongan relatives, she was seen and approached by the impetuous Tongan king, Tupou II.

The product of this brief romantic encounter was Ratu Edward. He was born in Bau in 1908 and was the second son of Tupou II, the oldest being Vilai, born in 1898.

Ratu Edward was given the Cakobau name from his maternal great-grandfather's side. When he visited Tonga for the first time in 1934, he was nicknamed Tungi Fisi in recognition of his high rank in Tonga. Queen Salote Tupou III and Princess Fusipala were therefore his half-sisters, and his son, Ratu Epeli, is therefore a cousin to the late king of Tonga, Tupou IV. The current king, George Tupou V, is the great-grandson of King George II. This material is available in Elizabeth Wood-Ellem's Queen Salote of Tonga, The Story of an Era 1900-1965, published in 1999.

On the other side, Ratu Epeli's great-grandfather, Ratu Timoci Tavanavanua, is of the Mataqali Tui Kaba of Bau, one that has been under siege from within since November 25, 1989.

The Tongan connection also runs deep in his wife's pedigree. Adi Koila's paternal grandmother, Lusiana Qolikoro, was one of eight striking daughters of a Tongan Wesleyan church minister and his kai loma or part-European wife of the Miller family. These and other intriguing details are told by Deryck Scarr in his Tuimacilai a Life of Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara launched in October by Papua New Guinea's Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare and our region's elder statesman.

Ratu Epeli's elevation to the highest office is important in another way - for what it signals about transformative changes taking place in Fiji. His appointment by the Bainimarama government in some ways represents a revolution, a quiet one yet nevertheless a revolution.

Why "revolutionary" your readers might well ask? Because the constitutional author of such appointment, the colonially instituted Great Council of Chiefs has been disregarded. In a tit for tat, the GCC had rejected Ratu Epeli's nomination and in turn the GCC has been shown, if Bainimarama is correctly reported, the "Mango Tree".

But more than that, for the first time since independence, a Fijian Head of State has been appointed without a vanua title. Not that being without vanua title can prevent an appointment, and although Ratu Epeli's genealogy is impeccably aristocratic, his appointment marks a significant shift in Fiji's social arrangements.

Under the imprimatur of the GCC, the past four heads of state have maintained the principle of equity among the three 19th century Confederations. The first was Ratu Sir George Cakobau, installed as the Vunivalu na Tui Kaba title and titular head of Kubuna. The second was Ratu Sir Penaia Ganilau, the Tui Cakau titleholder and titular head of Tovata. The third was Ratu Sir Kamiese Mara, bearers of Tui Nayau and Sau ni Vanua ko Lau titles of Lau, again of Tovata but undoubtedly taking cognizance that his wife, Adi Lady Lalabalavu Litia, was Roko Tui Dreketi, the eminent chieftain title of the Rewa-based Burebasaga.

Right to his grave, the enigmatic Sakiasi Butadroka of Rewa, decried his chieftain's being cast in the shadow of her imperious, towering but lesser ranking husband. The principle of rotating the office of head of state among the titular heads of the three confederations appealed to the vanua sense of history and fairness.

The fourth and recently retired President was Ratu Josefa Uluivuda Iloilo, Tui Vuda, a major district chief from the chauvinistic Yasayasa Vakara in the West, the fourth confederacy, with close affiliation to Burebasaga. Through Ratu Josefa, Burebasaga got its full tenure of government house!

With the principle of rotation established in this way, would Ratu Epeli Nailatikau's appointment been confirmed in the next appointment by the GCC?

The appointment of Ratu Epeli as the current and fifth head of state, returns the position to Kubuna. However, the recycle marks a radical departure from the established practice. Not only is he the first without the blessing of the GCC but he is also the first without a vanua title. Could he be setting a pattern for future heads of state or is his appointment merely an anomaly that will be corrected in time? He has the Naisogolaca inheritance and vasu to the Qaranivalu of Naitasiri and his Tongan royal family connection. Will Fijians regard these connections as sufficient in themselves? This change may appeal to modern oriented Fijians. Unfettered by a vanua title, will this make the President more accessible to ordinary citizens from all walks of life? He seems so.

Since 1987 to 2006, the word 'normal' has acquired many meanings for Fiji, and current high political appointments reflects social stresses in the local establishment. Whether these appointments will endure beyond the military regime remains to be seen. Furthermore, whether the chiefs as a collective form will ever respond, as with the currently fragmented Methodist Church, also remains to be seen. For the moment, the shift within the local tectonic plates provides interesting movements for readers.

* The views expressed in this article are that of the author and not necessarily the Fiji Times or the University of the South Pacific where he lectures history.