Thursday, April 30, 2009

Ratu Meli is new chair

Ratu Meli is new chair - Thursday, April 30, 2009
TAUKEI Navo Ratu Meli Saukuru has been appointed the new chair of Ba Provincial Council.
He was deputy chairman and acting as chair when the post became vacant following the death of Tui Tavua Ratu Ovini Bokini in January.
His chief goal is strengthening unity in Ba, the biggest province in Fiji.
"The first thing I want to do is to bring everyone together," he said.
" am honoured to be given this task and I will serve my people to the best of my ability," he said.
Taukei Sawaieke Ratu Tevita Momoedonu was elected deputy chairman.

Listen to authority, chief tells subjects

Listen to authority, chief tells subjects - Reports by MARGARET WISEThursday, April 30, 2009

NADROGA'S paramount chief, the Ka Levu Ratu Sakiusa Makutu, has urged his people to be obedient and to listen to those in authority.
Echoing the sentiments of Methodist Church pastor Seremaia Bose, the paramount chief told his people they must prepare themselves for the changing economic climate.
He said the military was in power and asked his people to "varorogo" (listen).
Accompanied by his wife, Ratu Sakiusa arrived at the provincial council meeting in a wheelchair. He told council members he was recovering from a second amputation and had just recently been discharged from hospital.
"I had the first amputation six years ago. I thank God that I am alive and I am very fortunate that I able to be here today to chair this meeting," he said.
Mr Bose said people must remember their roles to the vanua, their families and their community and not be misled by detractors.
"Give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and give to God what belongs to God," he said.
"Some people think that being a Christian is about worshipping in Church and there are people who are against soli to the vanua.
"Your deeds and teaching to your family, to your community and those around you is more important. Jesus did not oppose taxes so do not be misled.
"People are being laid off work, you have hundreds who will retire, and then you have those who have had a pay cut from reduced hours. This is where you need to play your role and be prepared to help those around you."

Chiefs told of vacant posts

Chiefs told of vacant posts - Thursday, April 30, 2009
THE chiefs and traditional leaders of Naitasiri were told not to be complacent and try to install the vacant traditional positions in the province by 2010.
New Naitasiri Roko (provincial administrator) Peni Sokia said this was an important subject being raised in the December meeting of the Bose Levu Vakaturaga.
He said there are only 57 traditional posts filled out of the 124 in Naitasiri.
Mr Sokia said that it was important for all the clan head positions to be filled as soon as possible.
He said chiefs at that BLV meeting were concerned with the number of traditional feuds that ended up in the courts.
Speaking in Fijian, Mr Sokia said it was important to note that a deterrent to big developments in provinces and districts was the number of traditional posts being left vacant for too long.
He said this is what the Fijian Affairs Board and the Native Land Commission would try and work on achieving this goal with the co-operation of the Fijian people.
Naitasiri paramount chief Ratu Inoke Takiveikata told the Naitasiri Provincial Council that he would soon summon a bose vanua for the province to work out a programme to ensure that all vacant traditional posts were filled.
He said he would work with the Naitasiri Provincial Office, the NLC and the chiefs in the province to ensure that all vacant traditional positions in Naitasiri were filled towards the end of the year.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Tui Tavua to be Installed

Chief to be installed - Tuesday, April 28, 2009
A NEW Tui Tavua will be installed before the end of this year to replace Ratu Ovini Bokini who died early this year.
And Ratu Ovini's younger brother, Ratu Totivi Kama Ratu, is likely to fill the vacant position.
Tavua tikina representative Apisalome Ulusova said they were just following the wishes of Ratu Ovini who had always emphasised that chiefly titles must not be left vacant for too long.
"He raised it in the Bose ni Momo in 2007, that it is important that all chiefly titles are filled so that the people can be led to a clear direction," he said.
Mr Ulusova said the vanua of Bila was of the view there were bound to be a lot of problems if there was no paramount chief.
"A chief is a symbol of unity, everyone will listen to only one voice and there will be unity throughout the vanua," he said.
Mr Ulusova said the vanua had already considered who would succeed Ratu Ovini.
"We can't tell you right now, because the chiefly family has to sit and discuss the issue, the chiefly mataqali and the vanua will also make deliberations," he said. "The only thing I can confirm is that we will install our chief before the end of this year."
Mr Ulusova said Ratu Totivi replaced Ratu Ovini as the Tavua Tikina Council chairman and would also replace him at the provincial council.
The vanua o Bila on Saturday lifted the fishing ban placed on its qoliqoli to mark Ratu Ovini's death. And they will have the traditional vakataraisulu to mark the hundredth night of his passing on May 9 in Tavualevu.

Village under siege

Village under siege - By Theresa Ralogaivau, Sunday, April 26, 2009

THE Wairiki-i-Cake that snakes its way from the Cakaudrove hills was once an abundant source of life for the people at Suweni, a little slice of heaven at the end of 20 kilometres of a dusty, gravelled track from Labasa Town.
It all dramatically changed when the life-giving river became a deadly monster in the early hours of January 14, 2003.
The date is drummed into villagers' memories and wove a common thread of fear in their very lives.
That morning the Wairiki-i-Cake rose more than 10 feet high and swallowed whole six homes within a matter of seconds.
She then set a radical new course directly hitting the village, eroding the embankment.
Overnight, Suweni villagers were under siege.
Entwined with the river
For centuries, since the days their forefather Lele dispersed his four children from Nukubolu Village which lies within Koroalau district in a "go forth and multiply" kind of way, the people of Suweni have lived a life entwined with the river.
It's their source of food like the sweetest prawns you'll ever taste, freshwater eels and fish.
And then there's the daily laundry and washing sessions marked by talanoa and interjections of laughter as the village women congregate to clean and socially interact.
Children splashing, bathing and swimming while men scrub down horses downstream and vegetable farms are watered.
From daybreak to when the sun sinks over the mountain range the Wairiki-i-Cake plays a major role in their lives, a bond that links them.
Even the odd traveller pops in to enjoy a dip in the cool streams branching off down to the Korotari River and it is common knowledge in town those are some of the best swimming spots to be found around the place.
January 14, 2003
Tropical Cyclone Ami pummelled many parts of Fiji with tidal waves, floodwater and wind gusting up to 115mph on January 13, 2003.
Early the next morning (between 3am and 4am), village elder Jovilisi Bolamasei, 64, like everyone else, sat and listened in the seeming security of their homes to the constant roaring sound from the enraged Wairiki-i-Cake.
The sound was really the deafening sound of huge rocks colliding as they were swept downstream from the mountains.
"The wind had been really strong and then it subsided and the sound from the river was so loud we couldn't sleep," he said.
"And the rain was like no other I had experienced because it was like a big bucket of water was being poured on us.
"Suddenly we could hear screams as some families that lived on the river bank ran away from their homes which were under water.
"The men moved their families to other homes on higher ground but when they went back to recover some stuff their homes were no longer there."
One of the village youths, Jone, managed to jump out of a window and seconds after he escaped, his home was swallowed by the angry river.
"When it was daybreak we all came out of our homes and were shocked and speechless at what we saw."
A sickening feeling of dread that lives could have been lost and fear rooted most to the now empty spots where six homes once stood.
Not a shred of the homes were ever recovered.
The duna feast
Struggling to find proper drinking water and rebuild lives villagers made an interesting discovery as the day wore on.
Littered on the village ground were hundreds of freshwater eel which the Wairiki-i-Cake had spewed forth as she unleashed her power.
According to village headman Pita Mira the duna also slithered in suitcases of clothes that had been inundated with floodwater and this managed to bring a smile or two to sad faces.
"E ka lasa ni keimami raica na vanua sa ra davo tu kina o ira na duna," he said.
They feasted for two months on the mana from the river but it would be the last blessing she was going to give for some years.
The three year drought
For three years after Wairiki-i-Cake's night of fury, drought struck the village.
"When we went looking we couldn't find the prawns, duna or fish," Mr Bolamasei related.
Processed food overtook the daily diet and for those who could not afford it, it was "rourou nikua" and "waci ni mataka" which basically is their light-hearted way of saying rourou every day.
"Those were very difficult times for us because we largely lived off the land and the river.
"We couldn't find them because the river had become very shallow.
"Before January 14, it was about 20 feet deep but now it is just waist-high and parts of the river have dried up because it's now on a new path."
"Before the river was about 100 metres away from the village yet now it's eating into the village."
Gone forever
Gone forever with the homes of six families were the centuries old hardwood trees like vesi that once lined the river banks, uprooted by flood waters.
Their outspread branches provided the river with a green shelter protecting it from the harsh glare of the sun.
"That's why we had an abundant source of fresh water food and the river was deep and cold but now its mostly dry and warm," Mr Bolamasei said.
The constant threat and fear
Top on the list of things to pray for during 'masumasu' time morning and evening is divine intervention to rescue them from the devil and the deep blue sea situation they are stuck in.
Right now part of the soil foundation of a home is gone while four others are in imminent danger of losing theirs.
"We are all in danger because if January 14 happens again and it's only a matter of time when considering the changes in the weather, most of this village will be gone," Mr Bolamasei said.
They want to relocate to higher ground but at the same time worry about being trapped in landslides which now happen often during periods of heavy rain.
Suweni as Reverend Neumi Vunileba described, sits in a 'lovo pit' with mountain ranges on either side.
"So if we run away from the river and go up hill we face the landslides.
"Every time it rains heavily and floodwater rises as it happens often now we are truly afraid of the consequences."
Mr Bolamasei said they want help from above and the government.
What's going to happen
Government officials from the Department of Land and Water Resource management surveyed the erosion problem and the new course chartered by the Wairiki-i-Cake early this year.
The 'Saving Suweni' plan involves a $.5million project that would include the construction of a 50-metre retainer wall and diverting the Wairiki-i-Cake back to its original course.
Work is expected to start next month.
Helping themselves
Making a change for nature, Suweni villagers have decided not to allow commercial logging to be carried out in their forests located upstream.
"We realise that logging also had a major role to play in the flood," said Mr Bolamasei.
"When we weighed the monetary benefit we got from it in terms of royalty and premium it was peanuts compared to the loss of food source, the destruction of our homes and constant fear we live in.
"We will only cut enough trees to build our homes."
Suweni's experience is not an isolated one as villagers of Korotasere and Navatukuca at Vaturova can easily testify.
These villages may be hundreds of miles apart but the common bond that they share is living in fear for their lives and that one day their village will be gone in the rising tide of floodwater.
They are the victims of climate change and man's own doing.

West Chiefly Titles go to tribunal

Titles go to tribunal - Monday, April 27, 2009

THE Native Lands Tribunal will give its ruling on who is the rightful chief in the three villages in the West -- Vitogo, Vitawa and Magodro -- on June 11.

Former magistrate and tribunal member Aminiasi Katonivualiku said the chiefly titles in the three villages -- the Tui Vitogo, Tui Magodro and Tu Navatu in Vitawa -- were being disputed.
Mr Katonivualiku said they collected evidence from both the parties to the titles under heavy guard from the Police Ready Action Unit team last week. "The villagers crowded up to where we convened the tribunal in the three villages," he said.

Mr Katonivualiku said the Tui Vitogo title, presently held by Ratu Viliame Sovasova, was being disputed by his elder sister, Adi Makereta Druma. The former magistrate said the Tui Magodro title held by Simione Vutevute as per decision by the Native Land Commission was being challenged by Tevita Bose Lewaravu. Mr Katonivualiku said the Tu Navatu title was disputed by Ratu Sainivalati Toroki and Ratu Akuila Kubou.

"The NLC went there and awarded the title to Ratu Akuila but after that the tribunal before us gave it Ratu Sainivalati." Mr Katonivualiku said that Ratu Akuila filed for a judicial review in the High Court and later appealed in the Fiji Court of Appeal.
"The Fiji Court of Appeal gave its ruling and ordered a new tribunal to hear the case again.
"That's where we came in."
Mr Katonivualiku, Ro Epeli Mataitini and Ratu Talemo Ratakele are the members of the tribunal.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

The Old Jail House

By Geraldine Panapasa

fijitimes - Sunday, April 19, 2009
There are fortresses and ancient ruins that tell stories of a piece of history forgotten over time.
In Fiji, one of those forgotten ruins is a prison fort in Naburenivalu Village in Tailevu.
Who would have thought the coral stone foundation held some of the very first prisoners in Fiji during the late 19th century.
The place where the foundation rests is called Nasese and the village it is in was relocated from the old coastal village of Namena, almost half an hour out to sea.
The morning we left for Namena was the same day the tsunami warning was issued after the Tongan earthquake on March 20.
By then, we were already halfway to our destination and I instantly remembered Features Editor Fred Wesley mention an old jetty I had to check out, something to do with the prisoners using the jetty to cross over to Levuka for work.
That thought coincided with the tsunami warning and a thought crossed my mind about witnessing firsthand a tsunami approach Fiji if I went out to see the jetty.
Not long after, the warning was cancelled and we finally reached Naburenivalu.
The house of Tui Nawainovo Ratu Filimoni Verebalavu welcomed us on the left as we entered the village to meet with the Turaga ni Koro Watisoni Lagicere.
The village slept quietly as roosters began to crow. As we neared a small stony climb into the village pathway, the prison fort stood seemingly forgotten, above the long weeds and grass surrounding the compound, and creepers that seemed to drain the life out of an important monument. This couldn't be it I wondered because for such an important foundation in the history of Fiji, the fort looked insignificant.
Our team down to Namena included Fiji Times photographer Eliki Nukutabu, Nai Lalakai reporter Anare Ravula and driver Durga Deo.
After we sought permission from Ratu Filimoni to conduct research on the old prison and the early village settlement, we headed out to sea.
The trek through the swampy forest was very refreshing for an urbanite like me. Watisoni pointed to a clearing through the trees and plants saying it was the path the prisoners took to reach the jetty.
Brief history of Nasese
According to records at the National Archives of Fiji, the earliest record of a Suva gaol was in 1887 when the Prison Service took over a mental hospital.
Matanivanua for the Tui Nawainovo Simione Loli Baleidaveta, 73, said the name of the prison was called Nasese. In Fijian, the word sese means 'wrong or foolish'.
"It was a place for people who committed a wrongful act. The people who went there were called 'na sese' also," Baleidaveta said.
In a publication by B.M Sellers in 1962 on The Development of the Fiji Prison Service, the gaol was a collection of huts behind a reed fence.
B.M Sellers was told by old colonists of a track along the beach that led to the gaol and the cemetery.
He mentioned it was not until 1912-1913 that serious attempts were made to provide a modern accommodation at the Suva gaol.
"It is interesting to note that one of the duties of a prison warden in those early days was to escort Hospital Sisters into Suva and back after dark," Sellers noted in his publication.
"The first prison was of course at Levuka and as settlement of the Colony took place, other prisons which were nothing more than 'back ups' were established," the publication said.
Click on links to discover:
    From Village to City                VodaHost  Affiliate             HOLIDAY IN FIJI 

    A brief summary of the establishment of the Fiji Prison has been published on the Fiji Prisons & Correctional Service website.
    According to the site, the first gaol was set up at Totogo Government Station in Levuka on October 10, 1874, historically when Fiji was ceded to Britain.
    It was administered by the police with the Gazetted appointment of a gaoler, a warder and one to be a gaoler and a police sub-inspector.
    Walk to Namena Village
    "The prisoners planted these tall trees which are lined all the way to the sea. Back then, this place was cleared. The resident magistrate's house was located opposite Ratu Filiomoni's house and from there, the resident magistrate would use his binoculars to check on the prisoners," Watisoni said.
    "He could see all the way out to sea and he would sit on the front porch with his big binoculars to monitor them.
    "This is the path they took to get to the jetty where they would be taken to Levuka to work and then brought back here in the afternoon by boat."
    The walk was about half an hour, it would have been less if I wasn't stuck a few times in the soggy mud which for a second felt like quicksand.
    We reached the seafront when the tide was coming in. It hadn't covered the old jetty completely and as Anare and Watisoni waded their way to the jetty, Eliki and I followed another guide through a narrow mangrove path.
    "There were no mangroves on this path to the jetty and only now it has grown in the direction of the path to the jetty," Watisoni said.
    The jetty was layers of rocks piled outwards facing Ovalau. It looked like a portion of a reef stuck inshore.
    "From here, the resident magistrate could see the prisoners," Watisoni said pointing back where we came from over the towering coconut and tavola trees in the direction of the resident magistrate's house.
    "Namena na koro makawa," he said guiding us to the right as we headed into the lush forest.
    Spider webs, buzzing mozzies and all kinds of creepy Fiji insects sprawled about on the ground and on plants as Watisoni and his son-in law led us to an ancient burial ground of one of their ancestors.
    Farther in was the almost disappearing foundation of a church set up by early missionaries, one mentioned by Watisoni was a missionary named Frederick Lingham.
    Square plots of land marked the different houses and it was very difficult to visualize what the village once looked like.
    "The villagers moved inland to where Naburenivalu is today but we don't know why the village name was changed," Ratu Filimoni said when we returned to do our traditional sevusevu in the village hall next to the resident magistrate's house.
    Outside the hall facing the roadside was a huge frangipani tree with wooden planks for seats.
    "This was planted by the first prisoners and it's still here today. It's as old as the prison fort," Watisoni said.
    But as true as the words of Ratu Filimoni sounded when he said not many people in Fiji knew about the prison, he agreed that the prison is significant and important not only because it housed some of Fiji's first prisoners but it was a place that served to rehabilitate and change people who had done wrong in life.
    The villagers of Naburenivalu constantly maintain the premises surrounding the old prison, pulling out weeds and creepers every now and then.
    While the prison lies dormant among the reeds at Naburenivalu, the villagers are hopeful the prison might turn into a national treasure.
    Not only does the prison hold a piece of history, it also highlights one of many forgotten remnants of early life in Fiji which is all the more reason for its preservation and maintenance.
    Prison Institutions in Fiji:
    * Suva Prison, Korovou - Suva
    * Women's Prison, Korovou -Suva
    * Nasinu Prison, Nasinu -Nine Miles
    * Levuka Prison, Delainasova, Levuka - Lomaiviti
    * Lakeba Prison, Tubou, Lakeba - Lau
    * Maximum Security Prison, Naboro Prison Complex
    * Medium Security Prison, Naboro Prison Complex
    * Minimum Security Prison, Naboro Prison Complex
    * Pre-release Centre, Naboro Prison Complex
    * Lautoka Prison, Natabua - Lautoka
    * Ba Prison, Namosau - Ba
    * Labasa Prison, Vaturekuika - Labasa
    * Taveuni Prison, Waiyevo - Taveuni
    Click on links to discover:
      From Village to City                VodaHost  Affiliate             HOLIDAY IN FIJI 

      Monday, April 6, 2009

      Faction gives Ratu Osia chiefly status

      Faction gives Ratu Osia chiefly status - Monday, April 06, 2009

      Tui Nasau and Tui Moala Osia Vulalima Delailoa, right, during his traditional installation at Wailoku

      A faction claiming to be the rightful holders of the chiefly titles of Tui Nasau and Tui Moala have carried out the traditional installation rituals in Suva after it was stopped from boarding a vessel to Moala in the Lau Group by police.
      Members of the Yavusa Nasau Mataqali Nakoroicake installed Ratu Osia Vulalima Delailoa at Wailoku on Saturday evening.
      Spokesman Tevita Delailoa said they have installed Ratu Osia as Tui Nasau and Tui Moala.
      Mr Delailoa added that the clan believed that he was the rightful holder of the titles and those who disputed the matter could take it to the tribunal.
      Their legal adviser, Tevita Fa, said he was still waiting for an explanation from the police on why they stopped the delegation from travelling to Moala.
      Assistant Roko Tui Moala Nacanieli Draunidalo said the Tui Nasau and Tui Moala are two different titles. Mr Draunidalo said the rightful holders of the Tui Moala title are the Mataqali Ucunimasi and the holder was Musuka Waqairatu.
      He said this was verified by the Native Land Commission last month. Mr Draunidalo understood the faction wanted to install a new holder of the title Sauturaga, which he said has never been installed before on the island.

      Friday, April 3, 2009

      No other way?

      No other way - 4/3/2009

      Now after the March multi-million joint military and police drug raid in Noikoro, Navosa has its share of wonderment, condemnation and publicity, the fact remains that unless reasonable improvement is made in lifestyle and marketing crops, a more costly and efficient monitoring system would have to be undertaken by the state in order to eradicate the cultivation of the “invaluable” crop in the district. The reason being, unlike other districts, Noikoro, village traditional leadership except for Namoli is almost non-existent. With the untimely passing away of the late Tui Noikoro, Adi Kuini Vuikaba and the poor state of the chiefly residence of Lomaiviti, in Korolevu does not make anything easier for the eradication of drugs.
      In the meantime if churches continue to show negligible effort, as in the past, in converting their church members to more holistic and lofty ideals of Christianity, then God helps us. Instead of plotting against the interim regime, the churches should be more concerned about the spiritual well being of their members and the potential tragedy of all the consumer of marijuana in this country. Obviously there is a general passivity and lack of prophetic guidance from that direction.

      The provision of substitution crop is a myth. It is a well known fact in the district that in a good day, a six foot marijuana plant may fetch up to $2,000. Both “substitution crop” and “awareness programme” had been suggested in the past but hardly implemented. To continue to suggest them shows that there are not too many options around.

      A more practical solution perhaps is improving the lifestyle through infrastructure development particularly of the 50-60 mile long Sigatoka Valley road. For a market vendor (especially women) traveling that distance daily without taking into account the changeable road conditions is a persecution in itself. Marijuana then provides a more comfortable alternative to the hardships of lengthy truck ride and heavier root crops.

      If drug cultivation and trafficking is turning out to be a potential national disaster then it needs and warrant a more pragmatic, broad based and lasting solution. If national interest is at stake then national resources needs to be utilised to save the country from impending ruin.