Thursday, January 28, 2010

Change cultural upbringings

Timoci Vula - Thursday, January 28, 2010

CHILDREN of all races must be brought up in a culture of appreciation for diversified ethnicity that exists around them.

"We're so fixed with the perception of our own culture so that we don't give way to learning or appreciating the many other races and cultures that dwell among us," ECREA Youth Peace Facilitator programme co-ordinator Waisale Ramoce said.

He said a lot of people never opened up to the many different races and cultures that existed in Fiji.

He made this comment in an interview yesterday during the youth peace facilitator's two-day workshop at the Bergengren Hall in Suva yesterday.

"We seem to be stuck with our own cultural perception and we don't open up to the other values and traditions of other ethnic groups," Mr Ramoce said.

He said another challenge was that of the failure by the general public to appreciate the diversity of races and cultures in the country.

"We seem to overlook this diversity of cultures and traditions," Mr Ramoce said.

Another matter he highlighted was that of policies at the national level.

He said policies that favoured assistance for the majority over the minority was in itself was an indication of the existence of racial discrimination.

He said Fiji would not be seen as a country that had achieved multicultural living regardless of being a multicultural country.

"I think there is a huge problem of racial discrimination in the country.

"There is a lot we need to do now if we are to achieve a real multicultural living society," Mr Ramoce said.

15 Hours Sea Ordeal

Shalveen Chand - Thursday, January 28, 2010

"Family saves mother, son after a 15-hour swim in open sea"

THE sort of thing you only see in a movie but it is a true story of heroism and hope.

A woman and her teenage son spent 15 hours swimming in rough open sea while a family of strangers strove through the night to find them and save their lives. All the rescuers had to guide them was an empty icebox with pictures and a phone number that they found floating in the sea.

Salaiwai Nanovo, 51, and her son Molitoni Taro, 18, of Wailekutu, in Lami, had been fishing in open waters outside the Namuka reef when their fibreglass boat capsized around 3pm on Monday.

Back at Suva Fish Market yesterday evening, a sun-scorched Mrs Nanovo described her ordeal and complained about her ears made sore by constant immersion in the sea.

"Our boat capsized when it was hit by a big wave and in that instant, Tukai's (Molitoni) legs tangled in the fishing line. The hook went right into his right foot and the left leg was completely tangled," she said.

"I went under the capsized boat and pushed it up so there was air inside and Tukai could hold onto the boat. Then we swam, for 15 hours" she said.

Mrs Nanovo had to repeatedly go under the boat and push it up when it started to submerge lower than their 'comfort zone.'

While mother and son were struggling to stay alive, their icebox floated off to nearby Naqara island, just off the coast off Viti Levu, the home of Horace Morell and his family.

The Morell's knew someone was in trouble when they found the icebox with a picture of a woman and her daughter inside.

They called the phone number found written on the lid.

Mrs Nanovo's husband Pauliasi Koroi, 52, said he received the call from the Morells late Monday afternoon.

"I was shocked and depressed, but this man talking to me from Naqara gave me his word that they would keep looking for my wife and son because they were sure they were somewhere around their island" said Mr Koroi.

He said the Morell family did what they promised and kept calling him through the night to keep his family informed on the progress of their search.

It was early yesterday morning that Mrs Nanovo and her son saw a light in the sea and heard someone calling out to them.

But they could not make contact, she said, because they didn't have any light and the sea was too rough.

"I prayed through the night, saying 'God help me and let me keep going on" she said.

Mr Koroi said early yesterday morning, members of the Morell family climbed a hill on Naqara and spotted the distressed swimmers in the sea off the island.

The Morells were able to rescue the tired and distressed pair about 8am and took them to their home.

Mr Koroi said the Morell family then contacted him and his elder son took his boat to bring his mum and brother home.

"I will always be grateful to this Morell family. They spent the night in rough seas searching for my wife and son, complete strangers to them. I had given up but their phone calls spurred my hope.

"All I want to say is that in today's world you hardly find people like the Morells" he said.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Nakalou Villagers to Tag Marine Turtles

Theresa Ralogaivai - Tuesday, January 26, 2010

FOR the first time villagers will participate in turtle tagging in a conservation bid to sustain marine turtle numbers.

The pilot exercise to be held at Nakalou Village in Macuata this week reflects concern for the declining marine turtle population and the possible irreversible loss of a provincial cultural icon.

Organised by the World Wide Fund for Nature, tagging the turtles will help monitor them.

WWF marine species officer Merewalesi aveti said it would allow them to collect baseline information crucial for the species survival.

"What we are trying to do is trace their migration patterns, where they go to nest and feed, how long they travel and how far," she said.

"We are piloting this program in Macuata because the turtle is a cultural icon for the province. There are about 10 nesting sites for turtles along the Great Sea Reef, the kinds that exist are mainly the green and the hawksbill turtle."

But numbers are declining according to Ms Laveti.

"It's a global trend and records from the local fisheries department also show the same picture. We believe involving villagers will help restore their numbers," she said.

"Villagers will take ownership of the exercise and the turtles."

Fish wardens from coastal villages along the Great Sea Reef, which is the third longest barrier reef system in the world, will be part of the training to build their capacity to conserve turtles.

Ms Laveti said it would also address reckless attitudes of some villagers who harvest turtles for feasts.

"One message that we are giving out is to 'protect our cultural icon' because if they don't protect these marine creatures it could threaten the existence of their cultural identity," she said.

"Turtles are revered creatures in the cultural context of Macuata because of their association with chiefly lineage.

Similar programs are expected around the country.

Quota for tabua export

Ifereimi Nadore - Tuesday, January 26, 2010

ONLY 225 whales teeth or tabua are allowed to be traded or exported this year.

The Department of Environment announced that as an endangered species the trading of whale or parts and derivatives of whale is restricted under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).

"Considering the cultural significant the tabua has for the indigenous people of Fiji, the Fiji Islands Management Authority and Scientific Council allowed for the trade of tabua for personal and household effects," a public notice said.

"This is limited and controlled by setting a yearly quota on the export of this commodity, a requirement under CITES.

"For 2010 the quota is 225, this quota is further distributed into monthly quotas to allow for equitable distribution throughout the year."

For the first quarter of this year 62 tabua are allowed to be traded, 50 can be traded in the second quarter, a further 50 can be traded in the third quarter and 63 for the final quarter of 2010.

The notice said people intending to export tabua were requested to acquire an approval letter from the Ministry of Indigenous Affairs.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Education ministry hits back

Fiji Broadcasting Corporation, January 22, 2010

The Education Ministry says it will not condone insults made to the indigenous community in the country.

This, Ministry was responding to an editorial column in one of the local dailies which it says manipulated the ministry’s intentions for children in rural communities.

The Ministry alleges that the editorial insinuated that the indigenous community relied on the government to build schools for their children.

Education Minister Filipe Bole says by before the Alliance Government of Ratu Mara came into power in 1970, indigenous communities had already built schools on their own without any government assistance.

He said many of these schools were built on the sweat and hard work of men and women who left their homes to raise funds for the future of their children.

Bole says that article is false and mischievous.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

My trip to Taveuni

FIJI SUN NEWS - 22 January 2010

Being denied an Australian visa in December 2009 was one of my most frustrating experiences to date as I had previously travelled there on several occasions, even held a multiple visa and have a clean travel record.

This made me feel like an innocent victim who was being punished because of family connections with the Fiji Military Force. Feeling dejected, I accept an invitation to join some friends on an excursion to Tavueni.

On New Year's eve, I join the Stolz family and Amil Coffin onboard the SOFI which makes its final trip for the year to Taveuni. The Stolz family consists of Dylan, Christopher, Channel and Medaline while Amil is a former Fiji resident.

Mayu, a Japanese student, also joins us on the trip. Apart from being aware that it is the youngest volcanic island in Fiji and commonly referred to as the Garden Island, I have little knowledge of Taveuni but feel comfortable given that the Stolz family are originally from Vunimaqo estate, Waiyevo.

It does not take long for one to realize that Taveuni is both beautiful and blessed. The lush vegetation is indicative of fertile soils and regular rainfall. Farming is prevalent with many planting dalo and yaqona commercially.

Taveuni's relief is characterized by steep slopes and mountains which are dissected by numerous creeks and rivers.

Many water falls can be found on the island and the coastal waters are abundant with marine life.

The forest walk and water falls at Lavena and Bouma were certainly a highlight of our trip. After checking into our accommodation at Lavena village, we decide to make our way to the water falls which is one and half hours on foot.

Without a guide we follow the forest walk track. It charts its way along the shoreline offering splendid coastal scenery including sandy beaches, rocky shorelines and there is an abundance of healthy costal trees and plants. We cross several creeks which flow with crystal clear water.

Wainisaivi is the largest creek we encounter and originates from the famous Lake Tagimoucia.

The hanging bridge is an highlight.

As we across, it sways from side to side because Christopher is shaking it vigorously.

The track makes it way uphill into the forest. It becomes cooler and we experience a diverse range of tree, vines and small plants. Bird as are chirping in the background.

We encounter many skinks and lizards, much bigger than those commonly found on Viti Levu. The environment is peaceful and relaxing. Finally, we reach the end of the track and start swimming to the water falls.

From a distance it appears as one but upon swimming closer does one realize that it is in-fact two water falls which drop into a deep pool of icy cold water. Being in a virgin forest which has never been logged and jumping into the pool is like washing away all forms of stress.

Christopher and Medaline almost give their older sister, Channel, a heart attack when they climb up the steep rock slopes so that they can jump from the top of the highest waterfall which is at-least 35 meters above the pool of water. Medaline is concerned for their safety, especially Dylan who is the baby of the family, because the slope is almost vertical and slippery. She screams on top of her voice for them to stop but like true kai Taveuni's they safely reach the top with Takaeva (a friend from Kioa), take a deep breath before making the jump.

Taking no risks, I decide not to follow them and jump from the second water fall which is about 12 meters above the pool. Banning of commercial logging is one of the best decisions local resource owning communities have made as it would pose serious threats to their pristine surroundings.

After a good nights rest, we walk from Lavena to the Bouma. According to Medaline, the walk is only half an hour but we end up walking the same distance the previous day.

The falls at Bouma is breathtaking and certainly one of Fiji's most treasured heritages. From a creek at the top, water plunges over 95 meters into a large of pool green water.

A naturally formed platform few meters above the pool offers an excellent jumping spot. As Amil says "this is the most excellent waterfall in Fiji and Taveuni is a beautiful place with enormous potential for development". Even Mayu is lost for words to describe her experience of Taveuni. My trip to Taveuni was definitely rewarding.

Having visited the Lavena and Bouma waterfalls and experiencing scenery along the highway from Waiyevo to Lavena, I am far convinced that this has been one of my best holidays to date.

I feel satisfied, refreshed and eager to start the new year. It makes me wonder why so many Fiji Citizens continually go abroad for holidays when Taveuni is only at our door steps. I also convinced that this is not my last trip to Taveuni.

I may have lost the opportunity to travel to the Land Down Under but have discovered the beauty of Taveuni which is now my favorite holiday destination.

Taveuni is a living paradise and I will certainly be back soon to explore more of the island. It is my sincere hope that development is controlled so that Taveuni maintains its heritage.

Taveuni Islanders Wants Reptile Destroyed

by Theresa Ralogaivau

Thursday, January 21, 2010
THE vanua of Cakaudrove has pleaded for State intervention to contain and destroy a reptile that has stirred alarm on the two islands in the province.
The reptile, which is thought to be a type of iguana smuggled into the country by a tourist, is said to be prevalent on Qamea Island and was recently spotted on Taveuni.
Tui Cakau's spokesperson, Epeli Matata, said the children were frightened of the creature and were staying away from beaches and plantations.
"They're afraid because when it was spotted in Somosomo Village last month it chased children who threw sticks at it to chase it off," he said.
"The children are staying away from the waterfront, even some adults.
"When they're sent to bring firewood and coconuts from the plantation they make excuses because they are scared."
Agriculture permanent secretary Colonel Mason Smith has called on islanders to remain calm as help was on the way.
A team of three - a quarantine official, a paravet and the ministry's Chief Veterinary Officer, Dr Robin Archari, will be on Taveuni today to investigate.
The team has been tasked with determining the reptile's habits, species, nesting sites, location and an estimate of its numbers.
"This team will supplement the team already in place at Waiyevo," Colonel Smith said.
"We need to determine the species, what it eats and whether or not it is a threat to the natural flora and fauna or wildlife.
"Based on the findings and with further consultation, we will decide on a suitable eradication program."
Meanwhile, the creature that Lovonivonu villagers captured remains caged in the agricultural compound at Waiyevo.
A Lovonivonu villager said the creature, about 1.6 meters long, was caught on Monday and was placed in a parrot cage.
"When it was on the village grounds, everyone just stood around and it looked too scared to move," the villager said.
"It's scales changed colour when it climbed up the trees and people just couldn't stop staring at it."

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

NLTB to market land - Wednesday, January 20, 2010

THE Native Land Trust Board will embark on a marketing drive soon to attract interest in the leasing of native land.

This campaign will include the introduction of new products to attract and add maximum value to the land for the landowners' benefit.

NLTB General Manager Alipate Qetaki said the Board would consider all avenues to market these products.

However, all native land transactions must be done with the approval of the Board. Mr Qetaki said the sale of native land was forbidden, unless it was sold to the State.

"Any land sale will be for lease purpose and it will have a beginning and an end," he said.

He said once a land sale was approved, the Board would have to provide terms and conditions before the final approval is given.

"The terms and conditions will have to be negotiated through the legal framework that we have under the Native Land Trust Act," Mr Qetaki said.

"We will be using the internet and all the available technologies that we have. We will be looking at tendering the land."

He said the Board would like to speed up the process of acquiring a lease, especially for investors.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

State has final say on reforms: Qetaki - Monday, January 18, 2010

THE Native Land Trust Board has clarified that the revocation of the Agricultural Landlord and Tenants Act can only be decided by the State.

Responding to an article which appeared in the Fiji Times, NLTB General Manager Alipate Qetaki said the revocation of ALTA was part of the Board's submission to government under its new Land Reform Program.

Mr Qetaki said government would make the final decision on the Land Reform Program.

He said the Land Reform Program was a government-sponsored program.

"Government will make the final decision on land reforms," said Mr Qetaki.

He said the NLTB was a stakeholder in the land reform process and, like other stakeholders, would make its views known to government.

Under the reforms, the NLTB proposes that all leases under native land should come under the legal framework of the Native Land Trust Act.

Mr Qetaki had said the reform should benefit all the landowners, government and all the relevant stakeholders.

Malomalo elder appreciates school upgrade - 17/1/2010

Malomalo elder Ratu Samuela Naulago is happy with the work that has been done by a team from the InterContinental Fiji Golf Resort and Spa.

As a young boy, Mr Naulago also attended Malomalo Primary School and yesterday expressed his gratitude to them for taking care of his children’s education.

“I think what they are doing is really good. I thank them for not only saying that they will help but actually coming out and improving the condition of the school,” said Ratu Samuela.

All Mr Naulago’s sons also attended the school and now his grandchildren are also schooling there too.

“Before the school was located in Sanasana and I had to walk for about three miles to go to school but now the school is closer to our village,” he said.

Ratu Samuela who throughout this interview communicated in fluent Hindi said in Malomalo village, the Indians and Fijians live together in harmony. He also stated that for the first time in the history of the village, there would be electricity.

Malomalo villages, as well as nearby residents have raised $21, 000 and have paid the Fiji Electricity Authority in order to have power.

“We do not have electricity and running water and rely on water from a well that I dug myself years ago.”

Ratu Samuela, 76, said that for years now the village has relied solely on the sea for their income.

He added that there is only one small shop in Malomalo village and people have to go all the way to town to buy items that are not sold there.

Rewa Chiefly Trip to their Verata Roots

Paula Tagivetaua - Sunday, January 17, 2010

I READ some differences of opinions this week about a great ancestor of the Roko Tui Dreketi.

My classmate Pate put it together very well on Thursday in his reply that should put to rest the argument but let me take you back to where they all came from.

On December 28, the Roko Tui Dreketi, Ro Teimumu Tuisawau Kepa, took members of her mataqali from valelevu in Lomanikoro, Rewa back to their roots at Ucunivanua, Verata. They went to see their yavu, the yavu of Romelasiga, son of Lutunasobasoba, the man they derive from.

It was a historic trip meant to educate the young genre.

The chiefly entourage included young and old, met former rugby skipper Ro Alivereti Doviverata and wife Rosi Tamani, Inoke Maraiwai who is married to national volleyball coach Adi Varanisese Logavatu and former national volleyball rep Ro Senimili Roqica.

Ratu Ifereimi Ravoka, the Turaga na Ratu, said it was merely a visit by Romelasiga's descendants to the tuakadra. He and Ro Teimumu had been talking about the trip for some time. She wanted it for the education of her people, being the teacher she is.

Adi Teimumu taught me in primary when she and the late Adi Talatoka came from Corpus for practical.

"I told her it was not a good time because the people were facing hard times and still picking up the pieces after cyclone Mick and there was a drought, but she insisted," said Tu Voka. "It is not a cara sala but a veisiko by our kin and we hosted afternoon tea."

A member of the mataqali valelevu I talked to said it was the first time a Roko Tui Dreketi had taken them to their roots.

"It's a good thing what the marama has done, we will learn from it," he said.

The entourage stopped first at a small hill about half a kilometre from Ucunivanua where signs of human habitation were still visible – trees indigenous to Fijian settlements such as the ivi and niusawa.

They said no one dared build a house on it. The hill is called Namako and is said to be where Romelasiga made his home a long time ago.

The mataki Burebasaga said Lutunasobasoba's children and their families built their yavu around Ucunivanua. Daunisai had his yavu toward Naloto from Namako and there is a yavu for kai Bau at the junction where a baka tree now stands.

"This is where they settled when they came from Nakauvadra," said the mataki.

"From here, they went to various parts of Fiji, Romelasiga to Burebasaga, Buisavulu to Bureta, Daunisai to Kabara and Tuinayavu to Batiki."

Namako was once a fortified hill –– bai ni valu. There is a trench around the hill to protect the inhabitants from hostile elements in those days.

The only way you can get past Namako from inland is to climb up the trench, where you would have been speared or clubbed to death by the bati.

Namako is full of history, as is Ucunivanua and mataqali valelevu members were privileged to be told their past.

At Namako is an ancient niusawa tree withered by exposure to the elements. Legend says Rokomoutu used to go and relax by the tree.

Such is the blood tie between the chiefly households of Lomanikoro and Ucunivanua, they address each other as mataqali, whereas Lomanikoro and other parts of Tailevu are naita.

I was part of the trip and got to see and hear my history – Buadolo where the Ulumatua's mother, Adi Leleasiga, gave him a branch of the bua tree when he was expelled by his father Rokomoutu.

From Ucunivanua, the children of Lutunasobasoba were sent on their way from Sovatabua, at Baravi o Walu, where Tuivanuakula won the great race. Miriama, a woman of Ucunivanua who has been tracing her roots, rang me the other day saying Tuivanuakula was a grandson of Rokomoutu and not his son as the mataki had told us.

That time, Rokomoutu was in a tight situation. He had expelled his dra tabu and could not go back on his word and as the Ulumatua had established his realm in Bua, someone had to take over at Ucunivanua because he was growing old. Just as well the Ulumatua did not run because all would have come under Bua.

When Romelasiga went his way, legend says he had a staff which he said he would plant where he established his realm.

There is a claim he first planted his staff at Nadoria and some say the seat of the Roko Tui Dreketi should be Nadoria and not Lomanikoro.

Where Romelasiga first planted his staff has been a subject of debate through the ages but as the mataki put it, Romelasiga may have planted his staff more than one time, where he would have rested on his sojourn and it did not mean that where he first planted it would be the seat of the Roko Tui Dreketi.

The story goes that before Lomanikoro, the Roko Tui Dreketi was on the other side of the river and looked after by the qase ni vale from the yavusa Danudanu.

Then there was a conspiracy.

The Roko Tui Dreketi was lured to the other side of the river by the yavusa Burenivalu who enticed him with the delicacy rourou vakautona and mana. They say the rourou vakautona and mana tasted so good the Roko Tui Dreketi wanted more but they told him if he crossed the river, he would eat what he had eaten everyday.

So he crossed to the other side and the Burenivalu clan took over as qase ni vale for the Roko Tui Dreketi. That is why Danudanu people and yavusa Burenivalu are veitabani.

What I have told you is what we were told by the mataki – the first chapter.

If you want to know more about Romelasiga and the second and third chapters, you have to go to Lomanikoro.

It is amazing what you can find out when you go back to your roots. We can trace our history back to Ucunivanua and no doubt Romelasiga's descendants learnt from the trip, as I did.

After all, Ucunivanua is where our ancestors were once.

New Chief to be Installed After End of Mourning for Late Tui Tavua - Monday, January 18, 2010

THE Vanua o Bila is yet to decide on when a new Tui Tavua will be installed.

Ratu Ovini Bokini's younger brother, Ratu Totivi Kama Ratu, is the likely candidate. He replaced Ratu Ovini as chairman of the Tavua Tikina Council and at the provincial council.

Tikina Tavua rep Apisalome Ulusova said the vanua would meet soon to decide on a successor and that they would follow the wishes of Ratu Ovini 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 are led in a clear direction," he said.

"A chief is a symbol of unity. Everyone will listen to only one voice and there will be unity throughout the vanua."

Ratu Ovini is survived by his wife, four children, many grandchildren, two older sisters and six younger brothers.

Bokini's last farewell

Mereseini Marau
Monday, January 18, 2010

THE Tavualevu Village ground was a sea of colours on Saturday to mark the end of the official mourning of the late Tui Tavua, Ratu Ovini Bokini.

The village ground was filled with fine mats, masi and tapa, bales of cloth, drums of kerosene and other traditional gifts during the vakataraisulu which were presented to the vanua by the members of the chiefly Navotukuyawa family.

It also included 20 huge tabua.

Tikina rep Apisalome Ulusova said Ratu Ovini's older sister Adi Laite Nariu was dressed in traditional garb to represent the chiefly family and her siblings.

His widow Tavo Bokini, their children and grandchildren were also outfitted in traditional clothes.

"They had been wearing black since our chief passed away last year. This marks the end of our mourning for our chief," Mr Ulusova said.

He said the vanua presented the family with 11 tabua, three carcass and 60 bundles of dalo to thank them for observing the mourning period.

"We also had the representative of the Sau kei Mualevu, a delegation from the Tui Ba, Tui Vitogo and all those other chiefly households that have links to us," Mr Ulusova said.

He said although Ratu Ovini had left them, the turnout on Saturday showed that his legacy was still remembered. - Sunday, January 17, 2010

THE immediate family of the late Tui Tavua, Ratu Ovini Bokini, ended their official mourning with a traditional ceremony attended by hundreds of people at Tavualevu Village yesterday.

The vakataraisulu was attended by all those with blood and kinship ties to the family. It also marked the one year since Ratu Ovini's death.

Tikina Tavua rep Apisalome Ulusova said at the ceremony that it was a solemn affair of great magnitude.

"They had been wearing black since our chief passed away last year. This marks the end of our mourning for our chief," he said.