Monday, December 17, 2007


IT is a small fruit signified on the top end of our national flag and this fruit is customarily used as an essential ingredient that brought chocolates all around the world to life.

For decades this unique fruit has been in Fiji and the people of Namau Village in Naloto, Tailevu are trying to make the best use of it. Better known to them as Fiji's chocolate, cocoa farmers at Namau are on the verge of producing their own organic and pure cocoa products in the country.

Ultimately, they want to build Fiji's first chocolate factory, and thus be the first to make an truly original chocolate that Fiji can call it sown. The village is situated at about 60 feet above sea level, off Lodoni Road on a hill. It is part of the mataqali Navukuta with a population of about 158 people.

The twenty-three families that live in Namau depend essentially on the somewhat 18,000 cocoa trees that surround the village. These families work under the careful guidance of farm manager, Tevita Niumou_ a family man who has spent half of his life babysitting these green treasures.

Tevita says elders of the villager started cocoa farming in the 1960s and taught young youths the importance of the cocoa fruit. "I left high school in 1978 and began working with my father who showed me everything there is to know about the cocoa fruit," he said. Tevita's big dreams for his family and the whole village rests on the cocoa trees.

"Every household in the village has land breeding thousands of cocoa trees; it's our main source of income," said the 46-year-old. He said the village was recently visited by a couple from Sweden who recognised a cocoa fruit pictured on the national flag. He said the couple had inquired with the Ministry of Agriculture looking for the location of a cocoa farm and later found themselves at Tevita's front door.

"It was unbelievable when I later found out the tourists owned a chocolate factory in Sweden and were interested in our cocoa produce," said Tevita. "I gave them a tour around the farm and demonstrated our way of processing cocoa beans," he said.

He said the couple were amazed with the old system used by farmers and offered to donate machines that could extract cocoa liquid for the production of chocolates. Tevita says bumping into the couple from Sweden was sheer luck and it was even more interesting that the Fiji flag was the root cause of it.

He said the project to build a factory in Korovou has the full support of the Tailevu Provincial Council. At a recent meeting, council chairman Josefa Serulagilagi who is also the chairman for the Tailevu Cocoa Growers and Producers Association, said the couple were from the Cocoa Bello of Sweden organisation and had advised villagers not to sell cocoa seeds but to make chocolates here in Fiji.

Mr Serulagilagi said Tailevu cocoa businesses have been running for the past 20 years and the couple's guidance was of great assistance to the Tailevu framers. He said the couple sent experts after returning to Sweden to conduct a two-week training workshop at Namau and also invited eight participants including himself to Sweden for a two-week educational tour.

The objective, he said, was to see and learn how the finest chocolates in the world were produced and to expand their knowledge about manufacturing chocolates. Mr Serulagilagi said the trip was sponsored by Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA).

He said there was even an organisation in Sweden that was willing to fund the establishment of the fist ever chocolate factory at Korovou town.
Adapted from the

Thursday, December 13, 2007


Times: What inspired you to write about issues regarding Fiji Indians?
Professor Lal: I wish I knew; for the creative process is mad, full of inexplicable twists and turns. Mysterious even. I suppose it is a desire to make sense of things. I don't quite know what I think, what I have experienced unless I imagine it in words. I feel unfulfilled if I don't write. I feel something vital is missing from my life if I don't read and write. It is an addiction. But there is another reason. The world which formed me, the self-contained, self-sufficient rural lifestyle, is slowly disappearing as people leave the village and as modernity laps its outer-edges. I want to be a witness to that world which was once so important for me but of which I am no longer a part. There is very little written about the village world; the fears and hopes of the rural folks, so you have to recreate that vanishing world through imaginative reconstruction. We hear a lot about the movers and shakers of the world, the politicians and the bureaucrats, but little about 'little people' who lie beyond the range of official statistics, beyond official recognition: the housewives, the lovers, the workers and primary school teachers; those who have lost out on life. I want to capture some of the inner lived experience of their lives.

Times: What are some of the difficulties faced by Fiji Indians in terms of identity here, in their motherland (India) or when they migrate to other parts of the world?
Prof. Lal: I think you become conscious of your unique identity when you step outside your own cultural world. You realise how Fijian you really are when you live in another culture, among other people. Your language, your sense of humour, your food, as well as habits are different, unique. As the years advance, you suddenly realise how important your place is in your life, how deep childhood memories are. I cannot make sense of my life without my Fijian
Times: How is that a problem?
Prof. Lal: In this country, we are called Indians, but when you meet the real Indians, you suddenly realise how un-Indian you really are in your habits of thought and behaviour. The Indian world of horoscope and hierarchy, the obsession with protocol and ritual, of one's proper place in the order of things, means very little to you. Self-made that we are, we are impatient with things set in concrete, with restrictive tradition. I have met Indians from the Caribbean, Mauritius, South Africa, Kenya, Singapore and Malaysia. One thing we all have in common is our unique identity. We have an affinity for the 'cultural India', not the 'political India'. We have more in common with each other than with Indians from India. In fact, there is a kind of tension which animates our relationship. I don't have any of that with people from the Pacific Islands.

Times: Have attachments to Fiji changed?
Prof. Lal: Our attachment to Fiji is a function of generational change. I was born and educated here. I am a part of its history and culture. Its landscape moves me: the feel of warm rain on freshly mowed lawn, the smell of burning cane, and the swollen brown rivers. Fiji will always remain my spiritual and emotional home. I am not sure that it will be so for my children who have been formed by other influences and who have spent virtually all their lives in other cultures. They don't necessarily share my passion or obsession with Fiji though they honour it. They are, in a sense, citizens of the world.

Times: What feelings do Indians have when they are forced to leave because of political upheavals and land lease expiry?
Prof. Lal: People leave Fiji for a variety of reasons. Many feel uprooted and unwanted, trapped and terrorised. Many leave because they are fed up with uncertainty and diminishing opportunities for themselves and their children. But the emotional bonds linger, especially for the first generation; the umbilical chord is impossible to break. They keep in touch with developments in Fiji through a variety of ways. Travel and technology have revolutionised notions of attachment and citizenship. It is no longer a case of either/or; attachment to a country cannot be measured by a piece of paper. It is a commitment of the heart and the mind that matters.

Times: You grew up in the village but people like you managed to be immensely knowledgeable about the wider world probably more than most children today. Tell me a little about that life that you exposed in the book Turnings Fiji Factions.
Prof. Lal: The world which formed me has vanished. I grew up without paved roads, and running water, without electricity. Both my parents were illiterate. I was the first one in my family ever to complete high school and go on to university. There was no counselling about careers. There was no television, radio was new, there was no Internet, no iPods, and no mobile phones. It was, in some ways, the dark ages. Yet, people of my generation from that kind of background have travelled places, made something of themselves. We were from the village but were immensely knowledgeable about the world. There was a hunger to know more. I really am not sure if that is the case today. We had teachers who took their profession seriously, not as a stepping stone to another career. Our pursuit for excellence was driven by desperation. There was nothing to return to if we failed. There was no safety net, no one to lean on for assistance. So we strove hard and burned the midnight lamp to be successful today.

Adapted from the

Friday, December 7, 2007


AFTER nine years of darkness, 68-year-old Dionisia Yagose can see thanks to a team of specialists who removed her eye cataract for free.
Mrs Yagose of Tokou Village on Ovalau could not stop crying as she was overwhelmed at seeing her grandson for the first time.
It was wonderful to see my one-year-old grandson, she said.
I was blind for nine years and I see this as a new lease of life.
Mrs Yagoses blindness was caused by a cataract.
I never thought Id see again. Im very happy and thank God for working through the doctors to make me see.
I was so happy after the surgery I cried and cried.
Her nephew Inoke Vuivuwa, 44, thanked the doctors and nurses for giving his aunt her sight back.
We were so happy and could not believe it when she returned last Friday, he said.
We called all the family and had a feast to celebrate. Mr Vuivuwa said Christmas would be wonderful for them.
This is an early Christmas for everyone. We spent nine years guiding her and now shes walking around on her own.
She knew people by their names and voice only. The day she came out of the hospital she kept asking whos this, whos that, when she met someone.
Pacific Eye Institute director Doctor John Seeto said Mrs Yagoses condition was related to age.
Everyone who reaches that age will suffer from cataract, he said.
She was totally blind, incapacitated. Cataract is one of the main causes of blindness.
Mrs Yagose was among 400 people on Ovalau who benefited from the Fred Hollows Foundation team of ophthalmologists led by Dr John Szetu.
The team was able to restore the eyesight of 40 people.
Foundations executive director Carmel Williams says there is a severe shortage of eyecare professionals in the Pacific which must be remedied in order to reduce blindness. More than 80,000 people are blind in the Pacific Islands.
In Fiji there is a backlog of about 6000 cases needing surgery.
This will continue to grow by about 800 new cases each year, unless we have more eye doctors and nurses available in the country.
Adapted from Fijitimes Online

Friday, November 30, 2007

Family seeks compensation

A man who lost eight fingers while working on a fishing vessel 10 years ago is still waiting for the compensation which was awarded him last year.
Josaia Cama was 20 years old when he found employment on a fishing vessel belonging to Kim Sung Soo and went on a year-long fishing trip to Japan in 1998.
His wife Virisila Wati said Mr Cama was working throughout the night in the freezer in the ship's hold in 1998 when his fingers went numb from the cold.
She said her husband's supervisors soaked his fingers in warm water and wrapped them in woolen gloves to keep them warm.
When the ship returned to Fiji, Mr Cama was admitted at the Colonial War Memorial Hospital. The hospital amputated his eight fingers in December that year.
Ms Wati said after that, he would collect $55 as wages from the ship's office every fortnight but it stopped after the 2000 coup.
She said he then started court proceedings against the shipping company after they refused to compensate him.
Ms Wati said last year, Mr Cama was awarded $24,000 in compensation but has not received anything so far.
She said he had gone to the Ministry of Labour and other places without success.
Attempts to get comments from Mr Soo, the Labour Ministry's director for Occupational Health and Safety Standards, Osea Cawaru and Mr Cama's lawyer Suresh Chandra, were all unsuccessful.

Adapted from Fijitimes Online

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Saga nurtures his 36 sons

Saga Dewan is a man who knows how hard the lives of some young people can be. But that has only strengthened his belief that the youth of today are leaders of tomorrow.

It is why he believes in the importance of developing our children right, of ensuring that they grow holistically to become good citizens and leaders.

It is easier said than done given the increasing distractions and issues, like unemployment, HIV/AIDS, crime and drugs that mark today's civilisation.

Many of our young people have become victims of these ills. Many have found themselves on the streets through no fault of theirs. While some have found the strength to find a way out of their entrapment, there are many who continue to live on our streets.

Saga knows only too well. That's because he is in daily contact with them, trying to give them hope and inspire them to believe that there is still a chance to better their lives. As the principal of the Chevalier Training Centre, at Wainadoi, located only a few kilometres from the capital city, Mr Dewan has worked successfully with many youths who had gone astray.

The 37-year-old man of slender built calls himself a kai Wainikoro because he was born and bred on Vanua Levu. He lives with his wife and a child in the school compound. While he may be the biological father of his little one, he is father to the 36 young boys who call the centre home.

"Most of these young boys have either been left in the dark by their families, pushed out by society or have deliberately left home because of unbearable circumstances," he said. "Most have at one time in their lives been on the streets or have lived with friends in their respective societies.

"One thing is common in all these boys and that is that they have been victims of the great challenges that youths face today," he said. The youngest ward at the centre is 15 years old and the oldest is almost 19. "These boys are from all the 14 provinces in Fiji and we have quite a multi-racial lot in training," he said.

Mr Dewan said most of the boys were brought in because they felt that they could not make any positive change and contribution to their respective communities. "When they are brought in they are taught life skills. Some of them do not even know they have talents in those particular fields," he said.

"They are taught metal work, wood work, mechanical training, building, agriculture, English and maths." There's a class that teaches values, principles and the benefits of having a positive mental attitude. He said the biggest challenge was trying to convince every student that every cloud had a silver lining.

"I always tell them that no matter how low people think of you or how low your self-esteem there is always a place where each individual will be good at," he said.

"Not only do I have to talk to them constantly I have to help them and guide them in every little thing they do so that they know that even without their immediate family members we are there for them.

"In fact, we are a family and families look after each other through thick and thin," he said. Despite all the challenges Mr Dewan said he was always beside his sons to see them through as they transited from being a boy to a young man who could stand on his own feet in society.

"It always warms my heart and bring tears to me and the seven other staff members here to see one of our students being able to find a secure job and get a steady income," he said. Mr Dewan said students who graduated from the centre always returned there on special occasions not only to visit but to motivate their younger brothers.

"While working for such institutions is a great challenge I do enjoy it because I know that I am playing a part in trying to better someone's life to leave the world better than they have found it," he said
Adapated from the November 27th, 2007

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

NATIONAL Arts Exhibition in Suva, Fiji

More than 100 artists are showcasing their favoured creations at the annual Fosters Group Pacific Limited-sponsored National Art Exhibition which opened yesterday.
The week-long exhibition at the Ratu Iloilovatu Gallery housed at the Fiji Institute of Technology's School of Arts, Culture and Design in Raiwai is a Fiji Arts Council initiative to promote the work of local artists.
Council Director Letila Mitchell said the response from artists this year was overwhelming.
"Our youngest exhibitor is about 17 while the oldest is in his 70s," she said.
"So there should be real wide variety of art work to view and enjoy during the exhibition."
Pieces of FIT's art students are also part of the exhibition, which is open from 9am to 6pm until Saturday.
Apolosi Bolatu, a local artist, said he was excited and proud to have his work showcased alongside reputed artists.
The first-year art student said he also relished the opportunity to talk to those who appreciate art and wish to purchase their work.
Renowned artist Craig Marlow said it was great to note that more young people were entering the field with great ambitions.
"I hope that this trend would continue as it brings out the hidden talents within our youths," he said.
Ms Mitchell commended the Foster's Group Pacific Limited for being the major sponsor of the exhibition since it began in 1975.

Adapted from Fijitimes Online

Thursday, November 15, 2007


Spurred by a new Pacific Island exchange program, a team of Gold Coast cardiac surgeons is saving Fijian lives. Peter Gleeson reports. HEART surgeon Doctor Shailesh Khatri has just performed his eighth angioplasty procedure for the day and is about to sit and relax with a cup of tea for the first time in nine hours.

Then the sound of wailing sirens and the unmistakable blaring of an ambulance tells him that his long day may not yet be over. It is Monday this week and sure enough, the patient being wheeled into John Flynn's coronary care unit is having a cardiac arrest.

The 41-year-old has collapsed at the wheel while driving, luckily just a few kilometres from the hospital. As paramedics defibrillate the victim, Dr Khatri gets to work, pumping a special dye into the man's heart in preparation for an angiogram, which immediately reveals a blockage in the patient's major cardiac artery.

Within 15 minutes, Dr Khatri has performed angioplasty surgery, a procedure where a balloon is inserted into the artery, effectively blowing out the plaque which caused the blockage. A stent was then placed into the damaged arterial canal to keep it open.

This was life-saving stuff but all in a day's work for the Fijian-born and Australian-educated Dr Khatri. "I guess you could say I get a lot of job satisfaction,'' said Dr Khatri, who had literally saved this young man's life.

"He will be okay. "He is a heavy smoker. "I don't think he will smoke any more. "I hope not anyway.''

John Flynn Hospital has one of Queensland's best and busiest cardiac units, led by eminent cardiologists Dr Ian Linton and Dr David Cody, supported by Dr Khatri, and they have just embarked upon a project aimed at helping cut the Fijian cardiac mortality rate.

"The mortality rate in Fiji from heart disease is among the highest in the world,'' said Dr Linton, the program's brainchild. "I think there's some genetics there and maybe the more modern lifestyle and foodstuffs, not as much fish in their diet, those sort of things.

"We've been working for more than two years on the project and it is a labour of love for myself and Dr Khatri.'' Dr Linton said he had visited Fiji many times and had 'fallen in love with the people'.

"I got to thinking that in Australia we have these great facilities, we can deal with coronary disease issues and give people longevity, but in Fiji they just don't have that luxury and a lot of people die prematurely,'' he said. Dr Khatri was raised in Fiji before moving to Australia to do his medical degree in Queensland, specialising in cardiac surgery.

He has an affinity with his homeland and when Dr Linton told him of his plans, Dr Khatri was enthusiastic and keen to be involved.

The project, which started last month and was announced by the Fiji Government, delivers the equipment and training for diagnostic services in Suva. The services include coronary angiography, which is the X-ray imaging of the arteries in the heart.

These tests are readily available in Australia, and John Flynn does 2500 a year, but until now they have been beyond the reach of people on Pacific Islands. Fiji's interim Health Minister, Dr Jona Senilagakali, described the establishment of the unit as a major step forward for health care in the country.

John Flynn Hospital has supported the project by helping to provide treatment for Fijians suffering serious heart disease. One of the first patients to undergo an angiogram in Fiji had life-threatening blockages in major coronary arteries.

He was rushed to John Flynn Hospital last week and underwent successful bypass surgery. This week, two other Fijian patients underwent angioplasty, where the narrowed arteries are opened with stents. Much of Fiji's heart-disease problem relates to the increase in animal fats in their diet and the availability of tobacco since World War II.

Associate Professor Rod Jackson, of the University of Auckland, said while western countries were becoming more conscious about eating and smoking habits, the South Pacific Islands were going the other way.

"The result is that while we're conquering heart attacks and strokes, the Pacific Islanders are suffering more,'' said Prof Jackson. In Australia and New Zealand, diets and smoking habits had changed dramatically, said Prof Jackson.

"The major cause of coronary heart disease is eating too much animal fat and smoking. "We are dumping the cheaper cuts of meat, with more fat, on the South Pacific nations. We are doing it with butter as well. "What they need to do is rediscover their local foods and realise that foods being imported from Australia and New Zealand are not good for them.''

For the John Flynn team, education is all part of the process and it will tutor more Fijian doctors on how to perform angiograms, and ultimately, angioplasty. Dr Linton said the ultimate goal was to have a well-established clinic in Suva with trained medics, skilled enough to perform life-saving coronary procedures.

"That is the goal, the aim, and we believe we can school the local doctors into being able to treat people with life-threatening cardiac diseases," he said.

"Right now, they have nothing. It costs $45,000 to send a patient to Australia for bypass operation and that is simply not an option for a poor country such as Fiji.'' There are other charitable organisations in Suva to tackle the problem of coronary heart disease in Fiji, including the establishment of a special foundation, comprising local and New Zealand business professionals.

The Friends of Fiji Heart Foundation aims to send to Fiji medical teams comprising cardiac surgeons, technicians and complex and expensive equipment required to perform bypass surgeries on patients suffering particularly from valvular heart disease.

Valvular heart disease includes the condition commonly known as 'hole in the heart'. This month the foundation sent its first 25-person medical team with equipment and supplies to Fiji, led by Dr Vinod Singh, a consulting physician and trustee.

The team included two cardiac surgeons, three cardiac anaesthetists/intensivists, a cardiologist, technicians and 11 intensive care and clinical care nurses.

Adapted from November 15th, 2007

Tuesday, November 13, 2007


YOUNG people in Fiji have great talent in the musical world but because many take for granted such talents, success in their music careers only reaches a certain stage, and most fail to pursue this.

It has also been suggested that lack of support from society has contributed to the non-development of young talents and community members need to form groups, including church groups, to help the youths of Fiji develop their singing skills and show the world the unique talents, particularly traditional music that still exist in our society.
Samoan musician and coordinator of the Malaga Group, a well known University of the South Pacific musical group, Igelese Ete spoke to Serafina Silaitoga at the Savusavu Music Festival about the talents that exist in Fiji and what the community can do to make the world recognise the potential among young people.

Times: When did you come to Fiji?
Ete: I came last year in January to teach at the University of the South Pacific, becoming a senior lecturer in music.

Times: What do you think about the talent among young people in the musical world?
Ete: I think it's like the talent in rugby that we see here in Fiji. The natural talents are here and once exposed to development will enable the young people and upcoming singers to become better with their skills and as a result they can sing anywhere in the world. Not only with music but with dance as well. We Pacific islanders are known for these talents and I see a lot of it here in Fiji.

Times: Have you visited members of the community including those in villages to hold consultations on what they can do to develop such talent?
Ete: I have visited villages and seen great talents. I also notice that most of them are in church group choirs and that's where they sing and that is also where their talents in music is developed. Some even join other groups outside the church boundary, singing in bands in nightclubs or hotels and this is also good because it helps develop talent.

Times: What are some obstacles you see that have hindered such talents from being recognised in Fiji?
Ete: The main hindrance would be the non-existence of groups in society that youths can join to help develop their music talents. What I have seen is the lack of support for the young people who want to develop their music talents with the unavailability of groups that will attract the young people or have the type of music that young people enjoy because that will help develop their talents and skills of singing. There are hardly any organisations around that are relevant to young people. There may be some groups in society but the music involved is not relevant to young people and that's why young people don't want to join them. I don't blame them. There are some songs that are popular with our parents or the older generation but are not popular with the young people. It's a different style now and they have to be attracted to what they do and being passionate about the songs they sing. It's a situation that's got to be relevant especially when the locals sing and dance very well. Like the members of this Malaga group, I teach them songs that will inspire them.

Times: So it's important that the young people enjoy the songs and be attracted to it as that helps develop their talents.
Ete: Absolutely. You got to give them songs they enjoy singing because if they are given songs they don't like, they will not give their best. As for me the songs I teach my group has to inspire them and we have seen that those that watch or have heard us sing, tell us that they were also inspired by the songs sung by the group. And it's simply because these young people are inspired by what they do.

Times: Like in athletics, the young people are known or recognised for their talents on the tracks and in this case, for their singing talents, but after that season of fame, there is nothing more. They don't produce their own albums or continue singing in bands or in nightclubs.
Ete: That's true and it is something we need to develop here with big companies in the music industry that will support these young people throughout their singing career from being identified in the initial stages to days of becoming successful. This should also include sending them overseas for exposure as it will develop their skills and talents in singing. Or have music festivals in communities like this Savusavu Music Festival, and bring over the music industry producers from overseas to see the talents we have. And then they get to see the talents available locally and what they can offer our young singers especially when we have our own style of singing here in the Pacific. There is no where else in the world you can hear our type of music and that's the best way to further develop the singing talents of the young people.

Times: What are your views about traditional music?
Ete: I think it's a great art of music and the music of the Fijian culture blending with modern music is just a unique sound and attracts people, like other Pacific island cultural music. In Fiji, Black Rose does, and George Fiji Veikoso in Hawaii and if we continue to develop our own style we will inspire other countries. But we should stick to traditional music and have our own style because there will definitely be something in music that Fiji can offer to the world. Traditional music needs to be grasped by people around.

Times: What's the role of the community in helping young people develop their talents in singing?
Ete: It will be good if members of the community get together and form groups that are relevant to the young people and have the kind of music young people enjoy because when this happens, the youths will take it on from there. They just feed off each other with ideas and encourage each other, becoming role models for each other. Forming such groups also is a positive move for the young people because they will be occupied with the music world instead of turning to drugs or alcohol. It will also instill in these young people a purpose of living, they will think positive and know a purpose in life because they will realise they have talents to become successful, they realise they can do different types of meke and modern day dancing and basically know they can make a difference in society. We also need to encourage them. So it's important that we help our young people in this area. There is so much talent here but there needs to be a lot of support and good organisation. So forming groups is important because that is when we can put together our talents and show the world that we have something to offer because we live in a small country compared to the United States, Australia and other bigger countries that have developed world known singers.

Times: Does piracy affect the potential of developing the talents and skills of musicians?
Ete: Yes and it is something that authorities are trying to crack down on. It affects musicians because there are pirate copies being made and the musician does not gain anything. Musicians need to make a living and piracy does not help at all. Some are put off by this and even lose hope pursing their musical career so it is very important that the crime of piracy is tracked down by authorities.

Adapted from November 13th, 2007

Sunday, November 11, 2007


TOURISM can be Fiji's answer to many problems.

I have been fortunate to be invited to some tourism workshops where development plans have been highlighted to stakeholders. Fiji has a diversity of tourism products to sell its visitors. Apart from the people, sun and sand, Fiji has so much to offer in terms of art and craft and culture to name a few.

I am proud to be part of some of these workshops highlighting the importance of our culture and everything associated with it. Women have been encouraged to get active by making more products with traditional touch.

The women in Fiji will be able to supply handicraft in various forms creating employment as well as helping keep our culture alive. After several years in fashion designing and my new found interest in art, I am pleased to say that I have contributed to tourism through my Masi bridal designer wear which is loved by all races.

Today I feature one such artwork in masi for Dipti, pictured, who was awarded the "Miss Personality" at the Hibiscus Festival. Dipti's masi outfit for the Fijian/Pacific night was enhanced with rows of feather as well as magimagi and shells.

The bottom skirt had several miniature "iri" or fans with matching feathers and front of the skirt had a curved overlap. The outfit was lined with cotton backing under the masi for continuous strength. I wholeheartedly support Dipti's achievement and she fully deserved the title because her creativity and cheerful personality made my work so easy.

With so many such pageants in Fiji as well as the Pacific and Asia, the demand for the best gowns and ethnic wear would be greater. This can be our chance to cash in.

Fiji has been rated as one of top five inspirational honeymoon and wedding destinations in the world and this would be another chance to show our visitors what we have. There is a whole market of traditional designer wear waiting to be tapped in.

Many that come here end up buying only summer dresses. Shopping in Fiji is a significant tourist activity but you will find that there are lots of imported goods that can be designed and produced.

We can work together to really sell Fiji for its true value. For those of you who have faithfully followed these Sunday features and would like to get involved in a project to sell Fiji, e-mail me on:
Adpted from November 11th, 2007

Thursday, November 8, 2007

MUSIC - A Viable Career Path

Since its establishment in 1992, the Fiji Performing Rights Association has been battling for the rights of musicians. It has been an up-hill battle in light of the rampant piracy here.

The emergence of programmed music is of concern to the association, which feels it is stifling the creativity of artists and discouraging live sound. Among efforts to promote live music are competitions like the Young Mussos Acclaim and the Fiji Secondary Schools Original Song Competition scheduled for this month.

This week FIPRA chairman Eremasi Tamanisau spoke to ERNEST HEATLEY about the problems composers face and how they hoped to address them.

TIMES: Tell us about the primary work of FIPRA?
Tamanisau: Our core role is to license all users of copyright music, local and international, and to distribute the fees collected as royalty. It has taken quite a lot of awareness work by FIPRA because all businesses were initially reluctant to pay fees but our legal basis is the Copyright Act of 1999.

Times: How many businesses are paying fees to FIPRA?
Tamanisau: There are a number of them, including the Fiji Broadcasting Commission Ltd, Communications Fiji Ltd, World Harvest Centre along with television stations like Fiji Television and PBS. There are other revenue sources like Webmasters who distribute our music on the internet and companies like ANZ, FNPF and Colonial Bank who pay for using music on hold.
Fees are paid for downloads or mobile ring-tones We've signed a reciprocal agreement with the Australian Performing Rights Association to administer all international and local repertoire performed in Fiji. For example, the FBC pays us a certain percentage of its gross advertising revenue as a blanket fee every year.

Times: How concerned is your association about increasing piracy in the country?
Tamanisau: Unfortunately the breaching of copyright is rampant piracy. People are so confident in doing this because the enforcement by police is virtually non-existent. You can be fined $5000 per infringing copy and up to $50,000. A person can face 18 months imprisonment. It is a constitutional requirement for the police to enforce all laws and if they are failing in this, then they are failing in their constitutional duty. The question that comes to mind is whether to take the Commissioner of Police to task on this. It is depriving musicians and composers of a livelihood for their families.

Times: Why is FIPRA concerned about the effect of programmed music?
Tamanisau: There is one use for programmed music in that it reduces labour costs but when you go overboard and have everything done on a computer then that is worrying. A computer does not express emotions. It does not have any feelings. The one thing about it is that it is killing the restive talent of our young musicians. It's not really about going back to the good old days but more about marrying the two together. You can not ignore the progress in technology but at the same time, we do not want to take away the harmony in our music.

Times: Comparing the local music now to decades ago, how much of a difference has there been in terms of the availability of real live music?
Tamanisau: We used to have great live bands in the past at places like The Dragon and Lucky Eddies. There were acts like Ulysees, Sangfroid Ride, Mary Jane, Spinning Wheel. later on you had bands like Rootstrata and Exodus. These were great groups and live musicians. The great thing about live music is their feeling and emotion. There is a feeling of harmony in the music.

Times: Tell us more about the upcoming Fiji secondary Schools Original Song Competition through which you hope to encourage more live music?
Tamanisau: The inaugural event, won by Gospel High School, was held last year on December 1, but it had unfortunately coincided with the military takeover. This year the event is on November 16 at the Suva Civic Auditorium and so far we have had a lot of interest shown by schools from diverse locations like QVS, Sigatoka Methodist, Rishikul and Saint Joseph's Secondary. However, we will be choosing the best 10 schools to compete on that day and we are yet to go through the vetting process.

Times: What will be the criteria for selection?
Tamanisau: Each school will be allowed a maxim of two original songs.
It has to be an original song that has been composed by a student or a group of students and it has to be performed live by students. Only one group is allowed from each school. As a rule we are discouraging the use of cover tunes because this will work against our aim of encouraging originality among the participating students.

Times: What do you generally hope to achieve with this event?
Tamanisau: This is to encourage creativity and originality and to foster the development of live performances of singing and mastery of musical instruments. This even is to encourage students to know that music is a viable career path.
Adapted from November 8, 2007

Monday, October 29, 2007

Pacific Islands in Australia, by Dr. Katerina Teaiwa

When it comes to the prominent Wallaby player, it's pronounced Lote, not "Lotty", and Tuqiri (pronounced Tunggiri), and not "Tukiri".
Pacific communities are some of the fastest growing and visible members of the Australian population, but what do Australians really know about Pacific Islanders beyond the stereotypes of characters such as the reluctant student Jonah from the popular TV show Summer Heights High?
Is Oceania out there or right here in our major cities?
From rugby league and rugby union, to Australian Idol and Big Brother, Pacific Islanders are visibly contributing to the expansion and diversity of Australian popular culture.
But unlike in New Zealand, a country that now describes itself as a "South Pacific nation", prominent Pacific people here are rarely identified by their island heritage.
There are plenty of potential role models in Australia, but if heritage holds no social cache, it does not help young people struggling with identity issues.
A young woman I spoke to in Sydney, concerned with her Fijian boyfriend's snobbish attitude to all things from the land of his heritage, described this to me as the "Anglicise me" syndrome.
Many Pacific Islanders feel pressure to assimilate and forgo their cultures in exchange for acceptance.
The choice impacts particularly on young island men as stereotypes of the violent, unruly Polynesian male continue to circulate in popular imagination.
Recently in a lecture, a student asked me what I thought of the high-rating series Summer Heights High, the final episode of which aired on ABC this week.
The incredibly clever and disturbingly funny serial created by Chris Lilley was flagged because it is one of the few on air with a star Polynesian character.
The 13-year-old Jonah Takalua, who is Tongan, is the epitome of delinquency, obsessed with breakdancing, drives his teachers up the wall and has a violent father.
The Year 7 b-boy crew, The Aussies, rivals Jonah and his Islander mates and allegedly tags their lockers with: "Go home FOB ", "We grew here you flew here", "Get back on the boat".
In Episode 6, the Polynesian Appreciation Day featured an ambiguous Pacific dance followed by a Poly rap video illustrating two of the strongest forces shaping young Pacific migrant lives: Tradition and African-American popular culture.
One is rooted in the strength of culture in the home island.
The other is a strategy for maintaining a sense of efficacy and pride in the urban metropoles that continue to attract Pacific families searching for better opportunities.
What is striking about Pacific Islander migrants and the strategies that help them thrive in the diaspora is the way in which they can build on tradition.
Jonah isn't just obsessed with dancing because he's too stupid to learn. Most islanders come from strong oral and embodied cultures and so excel at sports and the arts for good reasons.
Let's look at a select list of Pacific Islander icons in Australia:
n Lote Tuqiri (Fijian, rugby league and Wallaby), Petero Civoniceva (Fijian, rugby league), Paulini Curuenavuli (Fijian, pop and R&B singer), Trevor Butler (Fijian, winner of Big Brother 4), George Smith (Tongan, Wallaby), Mark Gerrard (Tongan, Wallaby), Mo'onia Gerrard (Tongan, Australian netballer), Wycliff Palu (Tongan, Wallaby), Willie Ofahengaue (Tongan, Wallaby), Mal Meninga (South Sea Islander, rugby league), Jay Laga'aia (Samoan, actor), Jai Turima (Maori, Olympic long jumper).
The numbers of Tongans and Fijians featured in this line-up is fascinating when put into the context of Tongan representation in Summer Heights High, and Australia's stance on affairs in coup-riddled Fiji.
Aside from Meninga and those with Anglo surnames, all other Pacific-Australian icons have their names regularly mispro-nounced or strategically shortened.
Civoniceva is "Thivonitheva," and Laga'aia is "Langa'aia," with a soft ng like "sing".
A small thing like getting this right goes a long way in helping Pacific youth feel they can be proud to be both Australian and Islander.
It goes a long way in the perception of people in the islands who see Australia as culturally insensitive and bossy.
The Howard Government's approach to the region has been of the distant and hard "Big Brother" variety, focused on security with aid tied to the mantra of "good governance".
The Pacific, in the imagination of journalists, policy-makers and scholars, is strangely both paradise and nightmare and regularly focused "out there".
In the meantime, the number of Pacific Islanders is swelling in NSW and Queensland.
Maori numbers, in particular, are growing so much that on October 1, Pita Sharples, of the Maori Party in New Zealand, requested the creation of a new electorate for the one in seven Maori who now live in Australia.
So numbers grow, Fijians and Tongans are scoring the Australian tries, Australian museums and galleries are hankering for Pacific art and artefacts, and there is a strange and simultaneous increasing gap in understanding the islands in the streets, classrooms, sports fields, media and halls of government.
With economic giants such as China and India occupying the minds of students, business leaders, scholars and politicians alike, what is assumed to be the "tiny Pacific" in fact a region that covers one-third of the surface of the planet has slipped from the centre to the margins in the Australian consciousness.
Pacific Islanders must become Australian if they move here, but is it the case that Australia no longer needs to educate itself on the Pacific?
For a region of incredible historical, economic and political significance, such a situation is of great concern.
A 2003 Senate report that never received a formal reply from the Government made a passionate call for more education in Australia about Pacific cultures, lest Australia suffer a "dramatic loss" of influence in the region.
As the Howard Government ignored many of the report's sensible suggestions, I can only hope that if Labor wins, it will take a new and fresh approach to Oceania and the talented Pacific Islander communities that help make Australia the diverse and prosperous nation we know it will continue to be.
Dr Katerina Teaiwa is Pacific studies convener in the College of Asia and the Pacific at the Australian National University
The Canberra Times

Thursday, October 25, 2007


THREE Fijians have had their names etched on the BBC's 2007 Rugby World Cup dream team.

After a jittery start, wing Vilimone Delasau and centre Seru Rabeni rose to the occasion against Wales and South Africa turning heads and getting the nod from BBC's top rugby pundits.

Blindside flanker Akapusi Qera is the third Fiji player named alongside some of the world's finest in England's Jason Robinson, Springbok trio Bryan Habana, Victor Matfield, Fourie Du Preez and England's Andy Sheridan.

Tongan Nili Latu was voted the best Openside flanker while there were special mentions for flyhalf Nicky Little, lock Ifereimi Rawaqa and halfback Mosese Rauluni. The make-up of the dream 15 has five Argentines, three South Africans, three Englishmen, three Fijians, one Tongan, and not a single All Black and Wallaby.

Surprisingly, following Australia and New Zealand's early exit, the mainstream media in the two countries seem to have forgotten about their selection of the top 15 unlike the past RWC's. Flying Fijians manager, Pio Bosco Tikoisuva, said it was an achievement everyone should be proud of.

"On the same token, the entire team should take credit for that," Tikoisuva said. "It was a complete team-effort. Everyone gave the best of their ability and in doing so helped these individuals to shine."

Rabeni and Delasau came through the grades in the abbreviated code - a point Fiji sevens coach Josateki Savou yesterday highlighted for budding stars of the game. "It shows that sevens has the potential to groom world class players," Savou said.

"Players vying for selection in the sevens code always have a lot more to play for. "They can use sevens rugby as a platform to make it big in fifteens particularly at the world stage." The make-up of the Dream 15 has five Argentines, three South Africans, three Englishmen, three Fijians, one Tongan, and not a single All Black and Wallaby.

Surprisingly, following Australia and New Zealand's early exit, the mainstream media in the two countries seem to have forgotten about their selection of the top 15 unlike the past RWC's.

BBC's Dream Team:

15 Jason Robinson (England) - One of England's few genuine world-class players at the outset can be pleased with his farewell to Test rugby, despite the pain of being forced off injured in the final. A stirring one-man show in the battering by the Boks was followed by dazzling interventions in the shock victories over Australia and France. The game will be poorer without "Billy Whizz ". Honourable mentions: Chris Latham (Australia), Percy Montgomery (South Africa), Ignacio Corleto (Argentina).

14 Vilimoni Delasau (Fiji) - In a good tournament for wingers, the Clermont Auvergne player just about held off some strong competition, notably France's own impish predator Vincent Clerc. But Delasau epitomised the attacking flair that took Fiji through to the quarter-finals with that thrilling victory over Wales, entertaining the crowds with his lightning forays down the flank. Honourable mentions: Vincent Clerc (France), Drew Mitchell (Australia), Paul Sackey (England)

13 Seru Rabeni (Fiji) - A position where the main contenders beforehand - Ireland's Brian O'Driscoll, France's Yannick Jauzion, Australia's Stirling Mortlock - failed to quite hit the heights despite the odd flashes. The dreadlocked Rabeni on the other hand was an inspirational figure in knocking out Wales and giving South Africa a quarter-final fright. Power and panache. Honourable mentions: Stirling Mortlock (Australia), Jacque Fourie (SA), Tom Shanklin (Wales)

12 Felipe Contepomi (Argentina) - A guiding light in the Pumas' run to the semi-finals, providing flashes of brilliance with ball in hand, a reassuring presence with the boot, landing most of his kicks at goal, and a fiery attitude in everything else he did. Not at his best against Ireland, but his Leinster team-mates still won't thank him for helping knock out his adopted country. Honourable mentions: Luke McAlister (New Zealand), Francois Steyn (South Africa)

11 Bryan Habana (South Africa) - Who else? Began with four tries against Samoa, including one scintillating solo effort, and finished as the World Cup's leading try-scorer with eight, equalling Jonah Lomu's tournament record. Awesome pace matched by speed of thought and eye for a gap; showed in the final he can do the dirty work as well. Pure box office, now a world champion. Honourable mentions: Chris Paterson (Scotland - 100% with the boot), Shane Williams (Wales)

10 Juan Martin Hernandez (Argentina) - "El Mago" (The Magician) was also labelled "the Maradona of rugby" and certainly revelled in being handed the responsibility of directing operations for the Pumas after his switch from full-back. Booming high kicks and touch finders mixed with sublime touch, balance and bravery. Not great in the semis, but still a star turn.
Honourable mentions: Jonny Wilkinson (England), Pierre Hola (Tonga), Nicky Little (Fiji)

9 Fourie Du Preez (South Africa) - The class act in a strong field, in which Andy Gomarsall enjoyed a stirring renaissance. Du Preez announced himself with a man-of-the-match display against England in the pool stages. Lightning pass, strong kicking game, darting breaks and alert brain, invariably making the right decisions at the right time. Fulcrum of the new world champions. Honourable mentions: Andy Gomarsall (England), Agustin Pichot (Argentina), Mosese Raulini (Fiji)

1 Andrew Sheridan (England) - The cornerstone of an England pack that dragged the defending champions from pool stragglers to surprise finalists, giving a career-defining performance in the quarter-final victory over Australia with some formidably destructive scrummaging and barnstorming charges with ball in hand. No tight-head will enjoy facing him from now on.
Honourable mention: Rodrigo Roncero (Argentina - the other outstanding prop in the World Cup)

2 Mario Ledesma (Argentina) - One of the Pumas' most experienced campaigners, the balding 34-year-old hooker was the spearhead of an Argentine pack that barely took a backward step from start to finish. Formidable in the set-piece and inspirational in the loose, his all-round contribution offered more than the man who eventually lifted the World Cup.
Honourable mention: John Smit (South Africa)

3 Martin Scelzo (Argentina) - The other member of an outstanding Pumas front row that had the edge on all their opponents at scrum-time and kept the tournament's shock troops on the front foot throughout with some sterling driving work and tireless defence around the rucks. Carl Hayman can still claim to be the world's premier tight-head, but his impact was not as great. Honourable mentions Carl Hayman (New Zealand), Matt Stevens (England)

4 Simon Shaw (England) - A close call this one, and difficult to leave out Bakkies Botha, the Springbok who has added a skilful dimension to his hard-nosed aggression. But England's gentle giant, finally playing in a World Cup at the fourth attempt, enjoyed an outstanding tournament, producing an array of fine touches with ball in hand to go with the donkey work around the field. Honourable mentions: Bakkies Botha (South Africa), Mamuka Gorgodze (Georgia)

5 Victor Matfield (South Africa) - Underlined his status as the best lock in the world with a man-of-the-match display in the final, where his line-out dominance was something to behold. Head and shoulders above the rest, quite literally at times, the 30-year-old provided a crucial leadership cog in a Springboks pack that came up with the answers when required. Deserved his winners medal. Honourable mentions: Ifereimi Rawaqa (Fiji), Patricio Albacete (Argentina)

6 Akapusi Qera (Fiji) - Gloucester fans are in for a treat if the dynamic contribution of Qera to the Pacific Islanders' run to the quarter-finals is anything to go by. The big boys all came to the party - Schalk Burger was the pedigree choice, if not always brilliant, Jerry Collins showed flair to go with the brawn - but the pace and power of the 23-year-old Qera was quite something. Honourable mentions: Schalk Burger (South Africa), Jerry Collins (NZ), Serge Betsen (France)

7 Nili Latu (Tonga) - Another highly competitive area, where France found a new back-row star in Thierry Dusautoir, and Juan Smith put in a fair shift for the Springboks. But the bald head of the Tongan captain Latu was always in the thick of the action with his support play, ball-handling and work at the breakdown, playing through injury at times in a superb tournament for his country. Honourable mentions: Thierry Dusautoir (France) , Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe (Argentina), Juan Smith (SA)

8 Gonzalo Longo (Argentina) - A position where you could make strong arguments for the formidably committed and coiffeured Finau Maka and the athletic Julien Bonnaire - the closest the hosts came to getting a player in this team. But Longo, after taking over from Juan Manuel Leguizamon at number eight, was a key part of a rampaging Pumas back-row in both attack and defence. Honourable mentions: Finau Maka (Tonga), Julien Bonnaire (France), Vasco Uva (Portugal).

Adapted from - October 25th, 2007

Monday, October 22, 2007

South Africa - Rugby World Cup Champions 2007

England's shattered World Cup dreams were plastered all over the Sunday newspapers as the nation handled sporting grief with a stiff upper lip, while the South African papers hailed their heroes.

After the vicious criticism of the nation's football team following defeat in Russia, the reaction to the rugby side's 15-6 defeat by South Africa in Paris was one of saluting a team of heroes who had fallen valiantly at the final hurdle. The Sunday Telegraph's front page featured a full-page photograph of a despondent Jonny Wilkinson emblazoned with the headline "Heartbreak" - a word used liberally.

Incredibly the first five pages of the Telegraph's news section were devoted to events in Paris, with the inside page stating: "Agony then tears as England's brave warriors fall at the last" next to various photographs of Prince William and Prince Harry, who were watching in the Stade de France. The sports pages focussed on Mark Cueto's second-half try that was disallowed by the video referee.

"Killer Touch" said the Sunday Times with a photograph of Cueto diving over the line.
A series of photos at the bottom of the page shows his foot touching the sideline before he grounded the ball. "The hearts of the white lions were finally broken in the Stade de France last night," said its main story.

"The surging, thrilling revival of the team from nowhere is over, the title is gone." Analysing the match itself the Sunday Times said "Boks On Top in Brutal Battle" while another story described the England team as "Accidental Heroes" saying that in the four years since they won the World Cup England have been "average at best". Despite the controversial disallowed try there were very few recriminations.

Only the Mail on Sunday provided any serious whingeing with a front page headline saying England had been "Robbed by Video Ref" next to a photo of Prince Harry signalling for a try next to his apparently praying older brother. The Observer's front sport's page again focussed on a wistful-looking Jonny Wilkinson at the final whistle. "Down and Out in Paris and London" it said accompanied by glum-looking face-painted England fans. "A Game Too Far For England's Old Brigade" opined its inside page.

"At the final reckoning, striving against the rugby Gods once more, they were forced to accept the reality of their shortcomings..." Criticising the match as a spectacle the Observer said a tournament that had "buzzed with the unexpected" from the beginning had ended "lamely".
"Nobody expected a classic running decider, but there were extended periods last night when both teams were treating the tradition of a game started, according to legend, by a schoolboy who picked up the ball and ran, as some form of elaborate joke."

The overriding sentiment was one of great affection and national pride for a bunch of players who had defied logic to drag themselves to the final against all the odds. "The grumpy old men finally ran out of steam, and luck", said the Mail on Sunday. "The chariot could go no further".

In South Africa, the headline in the Sunday Independent Read "Boks rule the world!" while the front-page of The Sunday Times merely read "Glory Boys!" over a picture of skipper John Smit and the team holidng the Webb Ellis trophy aloft. For the Afrikaans' Rapport paper, the Boks had made a nation proud - including the anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela.

"This epic victory is all the sensational given the despair of Rugby World Cup 2003, and for the Springboks to have risen from the canvas to win the title is nothing short of miraculous," said the Sunday Independent. "Enjoy it South Africa, and be proud of your team because it is doubtful there has been a team more deserving of the game's richest spoils." The paper said that the team's veterans were the stars of the show on Saturday night, particularly Montgomery who kicked 12 of the 15 points.

"The senior Springboks were magnificent in marshalling the forces. Among the forwards Victor Matfield, Os du Randt and John Smit were outstanding, at the back Percy Montgomery quite brilliant." The Sunday Times also said the experience of the Boks was vital in ensuring the door was closed on England long before the referee blew the final whistle. "In the end, the most experienced SA test side yet held their nerve better than England .... to effectively shut the match down from as early as the third quarter."

It also pinpointed Montgomery's performance as the key to victory, saying the blonde fullback, who had been dubbed 'Percy the Peacock' by the English tabloids, "got his revenge at the Stade de France". The lack of tries in the game meant that the final was far from a classic, a point that was not missed amid the euphoria over the result. "Both sides will be grateful that there is no column for how it looked in the history books because it was an ugly game," said the Sunday Times.

The crucial moment in the game came shortly after half-time when England's Mark Cueto thought he had scored a try in the corner only for the television match official to rule that he had been pushed out of touch. "It was the turning point of the match," said the Sunday Independent.
"Smit pulled his players into a huddle and they left it with their jaws set. England were given short shrift, the match was controlled and South Africa muscled their way to victory." The front-page of Rapport had a picture of Smit holding the trophy aloft under the headline "Bravo Bokke!"

"The World Cup is ours. Full Stop."

The paper said that it had received a text message immediately after the final whistle from former president Mandela, reading: "We are a winning nation. Excellent! Well done men. You are our pride." The match also made onto the front page of the City Press, which has a mainly black readership, with a picture of Smit and President Thabo Mbeki illustrating a story headline: "Green and Gold Joy".

Adapted from October 22, 2007

Bryan Habana - International IRB Player of the Year

Winger Bryan Habana, who helped South Africa win the Rugby World Cup, has today (NZ time) been named International Rugby Board (IRB) Player of the Year. View video

Habana scored a record-equalling eight tries in the tournament though he was unable to add to his tally in a tight final the Springboks won by beating England 15-6 at the Stade de France yesterday.

South Africa's Jake White, whose team were the only unbeaten side in the tournament, was voted coach of the year and the Springboks took the team award.

The other four nominees for the award were Argentine pair Felipe Contepomi and Juan Martin Hernandez, France centre Yannick Jauzion and New Zealand flanker and captain Richie McCaw, last year's winner.

Habana, who started out as a halfback, is a fast and powerful runner who equalled the eight-try record that New Zealand wing Jonah Lomu set at the 1999 World Cup.

The 24-year-old also helped the Bulls beat the Sharks 20-19 in the all-South African Super 14 final in Durban in May, scoring one of their tries. Contepomi was the tournament's second highest scorer with a tally of 91, having added 19 points including two tries to his total in Argentina's 34-10 win over France in Friday's third-place playoff.

He was second only to South Africa fullback Percy Montgomery, who kicked 12 of the Springboks' points in the final. First five-eighth Hernandez was at the tactical fulcrum of Argentina's remarkable tournament in which they won six of their seven matches, his kicking reaching a zenith with three superb drop goals in the 30-15 pool-winning victory over Ireland.

McCaw departed the World Cup early when favourites New Zealand went out at the quarter-final stage for the first time, beaten by France.

The French were unable to build on that victory and failed to reach the final, losing their semifinal 14-9 to defending champions England.

Adapted from - October 22, 2007

Sunday, October 21, 2007


Flying Fijians coach Ilivasi Tabua was lost for words as he received a hero's welcome in his village of Naivicula, in Wainibuka, Tailevu, yesterday.

The national hero was accorded a full traditional ceremony by his elders who have come to see him as an icon. Mr Tabua said he had not expected to receive such a reception and was humbled by what his fellow villagers had prepared for him.

"I was just expecting a small lunch but what I have received today is far more than what I imagined," he said. "I am really happy to see that they are happy ... I am lost for words to describe how I am feeling right now."

Mr Tabua said it was in Naivicula that everything started for him. "To me, this is home and I am really just lost for words to be accorded this reception," he said. "To know that some of my relatives had to come down from the mountains and travel the rugged road to reach the village is just awesome," an emotional Mr Tabua said.

"I am just so grateful. I just really don't know what to say."

The Yavusa Naloto, consisting of the villages of Naivicula, Naveicovatu and Nasau, all converged on the Naivicula Village hall to salute their son. Mr Tabua was dressed in masi and yards and yards of sulu material.

His traditional Fijian seat, of specially made mats made by the women of the three villages, was changed every hour or so.

Each time, Mr Tabua was asked to stand as a new ibe was spread for his comfort before lines of people from the clans of the Yavusa Naloto made presentations of food, mats and yaqona. His cousins continually teased him with dance moves that kept the village hall alive and bubbling with laughter.

He was then treated to a feast of the Wainibuka delicacies of prawns and lalabe (wild ferns).
Mr Tabua said he hoped the village would be able to celebrate a much bigger and better Rugby World Cup 2011.

And, there was none better to share his moving home-coming then his mother, Paulina Tamanivalu.

"This is an occasion that we, as a family, will always treasure because of the achievements of Ili," she said. "We are all proud of him and I hope that I will still be around to see him take the Fiji team to the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand," she said.
Adapted from October 21, 2007

Saturday, October 20, 2007


The University of the South Pacific's Malaga Singers proved a hit for thousands of secondary school students and other spectators in Suva yesterday.

The choir and dance troupe entertained pupils from schools like Adi Cakobau and Saint Joseph's Secondary schools with their new Pacific musical production titled Vaka, A Pacific Journey.

The choral show, put together by 30 singers and over 15 volunteers from the USP's Laucala Bay campus, has engaged five performances since Wednesday. The Malaga choir was led by Igalese Ete, who was choir director for the Lord of The Rings Two and the South Pacific Games in Samoa two months ago.

"The production has been well received by the students. They were very impressed," said Mr Ete.

He was proud of the effort put in by the stage crew and performers who are all USP scholars
Mr Ete said the show was a Pacific musical which told the story of ancient voyages by mariners in the Oceania region.

"The production depicts the journey of Pacific people from one island to another uniting people through song and dance," he said.

The use of the term Vaka in the show title, Ete said was interesting, because it was the word for outrigger canoe, in both the Cook Islands and Rotuman languages.

The Malaga Singers staged their final show at the Suva Civic Auditorium last night.

Apadted from the October 20th, 2007

Thursday, October 11, 2007

QVS Celebrate 100 years

It was a once in a lifetime celebration and the students, teachers, parents and former students of Queen Victoria School celebrated it in style.
The QVS centennial celebration was one that brought all the former students of the prestigious school back to Matavatucou.
It was trip back to memory lane.
The occasion was graced by the presence of the President Ratu Josefa Iloilo and diplomats.
Current students rocked the Victoria Square with the meke ni waqavuka, which was revised to suit the school's 100th anniversary.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Youth Race for Poverty

A race was held in Lautoka to shed light on the issue of poverty.
The event, organised by the Foundation for Rural Integrated Enterprise N Development, attracted attention.
Event coordinator Jone Nawaikula said with its theme, "Stand up and speak out against poverty", teams from various social backgrounds from schools, security services and businesshouses took time out to participate in the one-day event.
He said the organisation decided against holding a seminar or training-like format in the usual training rooms, opting for an outdoor fun activity but with a serious message.
He said it also gave participants the opportunity to work as a team.
"Humor, passion and courage were displayed here today as 100 young people hustle through Lautoka City," he said.
"Amidst cracking clues and participating in team challenges, the teams visited 16 check points around the city." Mr Nawaikula said at every check-point, teams were presented with information on poverty in Fiji and the social services available when they were in need. "Next year we hope to organise this event on a larger scale where the teams would have to go out to places like Vunato to see for themselves people who scavenge down at the dump and other places in and around Lautoka."

Adapted from Fijitimes Online

Monday, September 17, 2007

Conservation vs Tradition-Case Study-Macuata

THROUGHOUT the last two weeks, letter writers, heads of organisations like WWF, the Methodist Church, the Macuata Provincial Council, the Department of Fisheries and the chiefly household of Macuata have been locked in a debate on the harvest of turtles during the annual Methodist Church conference held in Naduri last month.
Some letter writers have had some harsh words to say about the slaughter of the turtles particularly with Fiji having its own moratorium on turtle slaughter.
But like all laws there are exceptions and exemptions and not everyone can police them 24 hours in every inch of the sea.
Director of Fisheries Sanaila Naqali spoke to The Fiji Times about the issue and the interim Government's stand and involvement in the issue.
TIMES: Could you outline for our readers the main functions of the department?
The Fisheries Department of the Ministry of Fisheries and Forests is mandated to manage marine resources.
In order to achieve this goal the department has embarked on a number of activities aimed at ensuring that fish stocks are conserved and managed effectively so that our future generations also enjoy what our current generations are enjoying.
One notable feature of our activities over the last few years has been promotion and establishment of marine protected areas in a number of locations in Fiji and these marine protected areas or taboo areas are already bearing fruits.
There had been reports of increasing population of fish and other marine organisms including turtles populating these marine protected areas.
TIMES: So when were laws introduced to protect turtles in Fiji?
The first moratorium on sea turtles was introduced in 1995 and Fiji was the first country in the South Pacific to introduce a moratorium that year and declared that year as the year of Sea Turtles.
It was further continued in 1996 for five years until 2000 and extended to 2004 when it was reviewed and extended until today.
Basically the moratorium has been placed in Fiji for the last 12 years since 1995.
The current fisheries (protection of turtles) regulation which came into effect on February 6, 2004 will expire on December 31, 2008 and the moratorium prohibits the following:
The molesting, taking or killing of any species of turtles;
Selling offering, or the exposure for sale or export any turtle shell or flesh; and
The digging up, use, take or destruction of turtle eggs of any species.
The policy is quite clear that the sale of turtle meat is forbidden.
Even just offering for sale or exposing meat for sale and exporting flesh or turtle shell is forbidden.
The sale of turtle meat and export of turtle shells has been one of the causes of decline in turtles in Fiji and the moratorium on the sales of meat has been forbidden over the last 12 years. This has assisted in the preservation and effective conservation of the turtle stocks.
However, the spirit of the regulation allows exemptions for the use of turtle meat during a soqo vakavanua and other cultural and traditional gatherings.
This piece of legislation is quite clear it is only the minister who is empowered under this regulation to allow any person to be exempted.
But the person has to request this exemption by writing to the minister.
The administrative process involves an assessment by the senior officials of the fisheries department regarding the request and they submit their recommendation to the minister for his approval. The minister then issues an exemption.
Times: So what happened in Macuata?
The ministry only received two requests from villages in Nadogo district.
The requests were approved after the ministry had made its assessment but were reduced from 12 to five.
Both these requests had the support of the Macuata Provincial Council and the exemption approvals were relayed back to the applicants.
There was also a blanket request from the Macuata Provincial Council for a blanket approval for the whole of Macuata.
This was not approved and the ministry's assessment of this request was that each vanua submit separate requests so they could be dealt individually on a one on one basis.
We confirm that the department only received two requests from the tikina of Nadogo which were approved and there were no other requests from the other villages or tikina in Macuata.
It was clear there were some communication problem between the Fisheries Department and the provincial council to allow for each vanua and other tikina to submit their request.
This is a challenge now for the ministry to ensure such gaps in communication are not repeated in future and the ministry will carry out an internal assessment to further ascertain this and try to improve.
The ministry also wishes to note that we had sent two research officers to the Northern Division to collect and record data.
They took measurements of the shell its curve length, and standard curved length and width of the turtles caught during the period.
They were also tasked to do other research work to coincide with the opening of the taboo areas as part of research work.
The preliminary finding showed two species Vonudina (Green turtle) and Taku (Hawksbill turtle).
In their assessment they found 84 turtles were caught from North Eastern Vanua Levu from Udu Point, Lakeba in Namuka, Nabavatu in Dreketi, Cikobia, Kia, Navakasobu, Nasea-Raviravi and Mali Island.
Times: What species of turtles are common in Fiji?
Naqali: The
four species in abundance in Fiji include the Green turtle (Vonu Dina) Hawksbill turtle (Taku), Loggerhead turtle (Tuvonu or guru) and the Leatherback turtle (Tutuwalu or Dakulaca).
In 2000 the fisheries department estimated that the population of each of the sea turtle stocks found in Fiji waters were about 8000-12,000.
Green turtles or Vonu dina of all age groups was estimated at around 4000 to 6000.
Times: So what is the greatest threat to turtles?
The Fisheries Department has also noted that the greatest threat to sea turtles is not traditional or subsistence but the commercial harvest for their meat.
In the case of Macuata, the issue has been blown out of proportion by the media.
The ministry maintains that the 84 turtles harvested during the church conference is not a threat compared to those turtles kills each year commercially which run into the hundreds of thousands in the Pacific.
The policies were formulated to support turtle protection and management with the low staff numbers it will always be a challenge for the department to monitor and enforce the laws. Approvals had been granted to one tikina while the other tikina had gone through the provincial office.
The department maintains there has been an oversight in the area of communication between the two organisations.
This is an area we are addressing and will improve as we train community leaders and villagers not only in Macuata but throughout the nation.

Adapted from Fijtimes Online

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Fiji to Play against Japan in France

FLYING Fijians coach Ilivasi Tabua knows his team will have to withstand early Japan pressure in tomorrow morning's Group B World Cup match.
Injury-hit Japan will be looking to bounce back from Sunday's 91-3 mauling against Australia, while Fiji begins its World Cup program confident of beating the Japanese for the seventh time in their ninth meeting.
"They do everything at 100 miles an hour," Tabua said of Japan. "They will more or less rush everything, while we will try and control it, take the pressure off, and unleash what we have in our fire-armour," Tabua told the Associated Press.
Fiji beat Japan 41-13 at the last World Cup, and 30-15 earlier this year.
"You will see Fijian flair and the running style of rugby," Tabua said.
However, Fiji needs to be vigilant as Japan's all-out pacy, attacking style can unsettle opponents.
"It is hard to play Japan because of the pace, they have a running game as well so what we have to do is shut them down," Fiji's vice-captain and second row Kele Leawere said. "We have to beat Japan to make the quarter-finals."
Tabua will look to Saracens halfback pairing of scrumhalf Mosese Rauluni and flyhalf Nicky Little to unlock Japan's defense.
Centre Seremaia Bai is also expected to show his tough tackling.
Bai has been picked on three occasions for the Pacific Highlanders a mixture of Tonga, Samoa and Fiji players.
Tabua, meanwhile, will become the first Fijian to coach the small nation at the World Cup.
As a player, Tabua had the rare distinction of representing two countries at the World Cup: Australia in 1995 and Fiji four years later. Frank Bunce (Samoa/New Zealand) and Graeme Bachop (New Zealand/Japan) did the same.
Japan's coach John Kirwan the first All Blacks player to play 50 internationals needs to find a way to restore confidence after Saturday's thumping.
Japan, which is 1-17 at World Cups, won its only match 16 years ago a 52-8 crushing of Zimbabwe.
Kirwan's bid to turn Japan's fortunes around took a blow with the news that flanker Takamichi Sasaki, the captain against Aust-ralia, will miss the rest of the competition with a left-knee strain.
"He has been quite outstanding in the last two or three weeks," Kirwan said.
"He never took a backward step against Australia and he put in some big hits."
Kirwan's original World Cup plans have been shredded by a succession of injuries. Mitsugu Yamamoto, Eiji Ando and Daisuke Ohata are also sidelined.
Ohata is the highest try-scorer in world rugby with 69 tries five more than famed Australian David Campese.
Kirwan will give the captain's armband back to No. 8 Takuro Miuchi, who was captain at the 2003 World Cup.
"Everyone needs to have a great game but I'll be looking for Miuchi to really stand up as captain," Kirwan said.
Fiji has a slim chance of reaching the quarterfinal stage, with Australia and Wales tipped to take the top two spots.

Adapted from Fijitimes Online


A PARENTING manual on positive methods of discipline was launched by Save the Children Fiji (SCF) yesterday.
Titled Positive Discipline: What it is and how to do it is "an approach to parenting that teaches children and guides their behaviour, while respecting their rights to healthy development, protection from violence and participation in their learning" said the manual's author, Dr Joan Durrant.
SCF programs manager Lynette Petueli said the manual would strengthen their work in ensuring the rights of children were protected.
They hope to distribute the manual as widely as possible.
"We have done a lot of work at community level through our mobile play group projects as well as our training with partners and institutions on child protection and on children's rights in general," she said.
"The arrival of this parenting manual will fit into the ongoing process of public awareness."
Ms Petueli said SCF would take the manuals to the various communities.
"We will also contextualise the parenting manual so it can suit the needs of parents here in Fiji. We then plan to take it through our mobile playgroup project which works with several communities in Suva and Labasa particularly."
She said there was a continuous interaction between SCF and the various communities and these were assessed to gauge the different levels of change that took place.
The mobile play group project was established in 2002 and services 17 communities in Suva and Labasa.
"For most communities the value of early childhood education is already there but it is just a matter of having a facility and resources to be able to establish their own early childhood centres or playgroup centres so people are aware of the importance of early childhood education to give children a head start in life."
"For most parents it's a learning experience.
"We encourage people to learn from what has happened and from the awareness programs that we run and hopefully be able to practice it in their daily lives," she said.

Adapted from Fijitimes Online

Tuesday, September 11, 2007


HE was crowned the first Hibiscus King in the history of the Hibiscus Carnival but behind the king is a humble, respectful and down to earth person.
And if there is something 22-year-old Emosi Ah Ching is proud of, it is his Samoan heritage.
He said it was an honour to be a regional student taking part in such an event.
The third-year dental student at the Fiji School of Medicine said he had never regretted entering the pageant although he was in two minds about it when asked by friends.
Ah Ching is from the village of Vailea Tai in Western Samoa.
He started his primary education at Pesega Primary School and then Sackville Street Primary in Australia.
But he wanted to go to school in his homeland so he attended Marist High School in American Samoa before returning to Western Samoa where he joined Saint Joseph's School before enrolling at the University of Samoa.
Ah Ching came to Fiji in 2005 to enroll at the University of the South Pacific and then joined the Fiji School of Medicine.
He is not the first in the family to study in Fiji; his elder sister graduated from FSM last year while his father was a graduate from the institution and now practices medicine in American Samoa.
"The greatest challenge about coming to Fiji is that I am here to study.
"With studies and endless freedom given to us in campus, only the fittest will survive.
"Other than that, everything is just as similar back at home, the lifestyle the culture and tradition and of cause the friendliness of the people."
Ah Ching said it was an essence of the Pacific people the smiling faces one gets to see everywhere.
"There is not much difference. In Samoa the family is the foundation of everything and we have our own resources which we utilise to keep us going and there is also the system of share and care which still exists today.
"This, I believe, is what makes us unique. Even when one is from another Pacific island country he or she should always display some of his characters."
When asked what made him enter the Hibiscus Carnival, Ah Ching smiled and said his friends pushed him into it.
"I'm glad I agreed to be part of it and winning the contest was something I did not expect," he said.
"After agreeing, I made sure I would portray as much traditional custom of my island country as possible."
And this he did when he left the crowd breathless with the lively Samoan dance he displayed at the talent night.
"I think I did a good job and would like to thank all the support I have been receiving from my mates at FSM."
Ah Ching said the perception that pageants were only for women should be brushed aside now because it was also an opportunity for men to showcase what they had and their ideas on national issues that are affecting the country, region and the world today.
He said the funny thing about the contest was that he was supposed to be smiling and waving all the time he was in front of the public.
"At times I was not smiling but laughing at myself for waving and smiling to the crowd," he said.
"But I managed and it was such a great experience in my life.
"I thank the organisers for allowing a regional student to be part of the contest and I hope I will not be the first nor the last to enter such a pageant."
Ah Ching said there were three foundations in life that made a person a better one in life.
"First, one should set a solid relationship with Christ," he said. "Second, with the family.
"Third, with his culture and traditions."
Ah Ching said if all three were built on a rock-solid foundation, everything would fall into place.
For the time being, the Hibiscus King is hooked up with his studies. He said there was one thing he feared the most in life and that was failing his parents.
But for now, the Hibiscus King is concentrating on his studies for his final exams and hopes to be the best dental surgeon in Samoa and the region.

Adapted from Fijitimes Online