Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Fiji Chiefs Seek Church Support

Tui Cakau - Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu
 Fiji Live - 27 August 2008

The heads of Fiji’s three confederacies have aired their concerns on the plight of indigenous Fijians while calling on the country’s largest Christian church to unite with the vanua.

The chiefs, Ratu Epenisa Cakobau, Ro Teimumu Kepa and Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu, made their presentation at the Centenary Church in Suva in the presence of more than 700 clergymen from around the country, who were attending the week-long annual Methodist Church conference. The chiefs head the Kubuna, Burebasaga and Tovata confederacies respectively, the three political divisions of traditional Fijian bureaucracy. 
Ratu Epenisa Cakobau
Ro Teimumu Kepa

Ratu Naiqama presented a ‘tabua’ (whale’s tooth) to the outgoing Methodist Church President Reverend Laisiasa Ratabacaca while offering the chiefs’ support of the stand taken by the church earlier in the day to reject the draft People’s Charter, which proposes among other things a common name for all Fiji citizens. 

“Sega ni rawa ni ‘ada duadua na vanua…e sega ni rawa ni ‘ada duadua na lotu. E rawa ga ni da cakacaka vata, veilomani (the vanua and the church can not work alone, they have to work together),” he said.“E sega ni gauna rawarawa oqo. E dodonu me da veilomani. (This is not an easy time. We should unite and love one another).”

Ratu Naiqama said the chiefs of Fiji have been denied a voice with the suspension of the Great Council of Chiefs by the interim Government last year.Then he called on the support of the church on safeguarding the interests of indigenous Fijians, reiterating the chiefs’ strong rejection of the proposed People’s Charter, which he says has been imposed on the people.“E sega ni vakatarai me rogoci na domoi keimami. E da sa kalawaci.“Na kamunaga sa i tatau ni veigauna sa tu mai liu. 

“Me lomani na vanua ko Viti – na vanua ko Kubuna, Burebasaga kei Tovata.“Keimami sa sega sega sara ni duavata, au kuria….sega sega sara ni duavata kei na vakanananu e suguraki mai oqo.”Reverend Ratabacaca accepted the ‘tabua’ on behalf of the Church, saying it was easy to accept when the Tui Cakau (king of the reefs) went down on his knees to present it in the house of God. 

Patiliai Leqa, who acted as Rev Ratabacaca’s herald, said: “This is perhaps the first time for the three high chiefs of the three vanua to come down to us, your people. May you all be blessed”. “Our journey is now complete. May God’s will prevail on our land and may he be our Lord always…,” he said in the Fijian language as other men of the cloth sat in complete silence. 

Church general secretary Reverend Tuikilakila Waqairatu, who yesterday labelled the Charter a “dangerous” document, escorted the chiefs out and later told reporters that the church stood as one with the vanua.“ he GCC is suspended. The only voice in society now to raise issues of the Fijian people is the Church,” he said.

Fiji Paramount Chiefs Raise Rights Worries

Descendants of chiefs who ceded Fiji to Great Britain in 1874 say they are saddened that the 2006 coup has continued to undermine the rights and protection given to the Fijian people under the Deed of Session document. In a statement today, the traditional leaders and heads of Fiji’s three confederacies said they were obliged as moral guardians of Fijian interests to raise some serious implications on a number of issues in the draft People’s Charter. 

Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu, Ratu Epenisa Cakobau and Ro Teimumu Kepa issued the statement after calling for unity at the Methodist Church conference today. On the Charter proposal for all citizens be called ‘Fijians’, the chiefs said it is “a gross violation of what the term stands for including its spiritual, cultural and social significance to the Fijian people”. 

They add: “We believe that only when ethnic and cultural differences are recognised and respected that we can work through the balancing of our diverse needs to ensure that the rights of all citizens and ethnic groups are provided for”. 

The chiefs also expressed concern with the attempt to integrate provincial and advisory councils. “We see this as a direct attempt to undermine Fijian development and identity, and all that has been developed since the inception of the Fijian administration,” they said in the statement. “It also runs counter to the provisions of the UN Declaration of the Rights of the Indigenous Peoples which recognises the rights of indigenous peoples to self governance and self determination. “The provincial administration is our essential component of the Fijian administration (under the Fijian Affairs Act) and is linked directly to the Great Council of Chiefs. “These institutions had existed informally long before contact and were recognised by the colonial administrators and they were reconstructed to fit in the colonial machinery of Fijian administration.” 

Ratu Naiqama said these two issues were critical to Fijians and were highly regarded by British monarch Queen Victoria during cession and recently adopted by the UN. He said the issues highlighted have come out of recent consultation and deliberation of traditional leaders and the heads of confederacies.


Yasawa-Blue said...

Vinaka Sai for the commentary on the latest happenings in Fiji-we,-(in Sydney) as you guys in NZ and all concerned Fiji citizens outside Fiji have been watching the latest developments in Fiji with a mixed sense of feelings.

Apenisa Rokobaro

measuring line said...

The ball is in your court( methodist) to clean up the house of GOD. Starting from the top to humble themselves. Put on your sacloth and seek the face of GOD. No one owns the Church but GOD. Its time to look within the house because sin is present.

Yasawa-Blue said...

You're missing the point "measuring line"-the subject of discussion is on "Fiji chiefs seek church support.The cleansing and ownership of the Church is not being questioned nor the sinful nature of people like you and me

Anonymous said...

You are truly correct with this blog post.