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.