Monday, November 29, 2010

Official Bad Mouths NLTB in Favour of Illegal Land Use Bank

Land Use Bank challenges landowners

Fiji Times - Monday, November 29, 2010
THE introduction of the Land Use Bank proposed by the Government is expected to draw the attention of landowners.
A presentation made by the Land Use Bank official Eroni Tokailagi at the Nadroga/Navosa Provincial Council meeting where council members were challened to choose who was to administer their land.
The official said the Native Land Trust Board legislature doesn't give the landowners the full benefit of their resources.
Mr Tokailagi said existing laws were considered cumbersome and hindered the development of economy as a whole.
"The standard of living for landowners have not changed since the founding of NLTB in 1940s," he said.
"Vast amount of land in Fiji are lying idle and not fully used to gain the maximum returns thus contributing to the poor economic performance over the years."
Mr Tokailagi said the new land bank would allow the landowners to receive maximum returns of their land.
He told council members that apart from their lease payout there would be an additional 4 per cent paid to landowners.
Under the new system, rentals would be charged on 10 per cent UCV (Unimproved Capital Value) compared to the current 6 per cent adopted by NLTB.
"This new service will make sure that the landowners will benefit more in terms of getting maximum returns of their land."
"And as for the lease payout, it will be evenly distributed to all members of the land owing units."
However, the council has decided that district representatives discuss the issue with landowners before submitting their report to the provincial office.

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Saturday, November 27, 2010

Indigenous vs Modern

Fiji Times News - 27 November 2010
by Samuela Loanakadavu

Manoa Mate and Filimoni Latianara with their giant yams at Nepani. Picture Atu Rasea
Manoa Mate and Filimoni Latianara from Yacata with their giant yams at Nepani. Picture Atu Rasea

I heard from so many people and read a good number of publications about the fact that we indigenous Fijians or iTaukei are slowly losing our culture and tradition.
We are also beginning to lose our language, what we eat and the way we plant and cook our food.
But now we are fortunate for being given the internationally-recognised legal power to protect what we rightly called to be ours as iTaukei.
Our national legislations will have to draw a clear line here on how we are going to handle the Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS) of Genetic Resources Protocol in order to fulfil the ideals behind it.
General knowledge tells me that most iTaukei are not aware of the Protocol, let alone understanding its meaning and implications on our lives.
Last month, Fiji joined 168 countries from across the globe at the 10th Convention on Biological Diversity Conference of Parties meeting in Japan, and agreed to adopt the agreement.
It was a major success because the decision came after 12 years of negotiation over the issues of preserving our genetic resources and our cultural and traditional intellect.
Definitely, the Protocol will ensure that the people of Fiji retain rights over their genetic resource and traditional knowledge and that profits from these resources can be shared fairly with the Fijian people.
In this piece, I would like to pay a lot more attention on the protection of indigenous knowledge against the tide of modernity.
This topic was the most important item to be negotiated at the COP meeting in Nagoya and that is why I see it appropriate for this column.
One of the lessons of my life as an indigenous being happened six months ago which was largely derived from my own observation of the world I lived in.
At that time, I was writing for The Fiji Times Fijian newspaper, the Nai Lalakai.
I then came to know of the fact that the standard of the Fijian language (spoken and written) is deteriorating and slowly disappearing from our grasp.
Speaking a mix of Fiji-English and sometimes Fiji-English-Hindi in informal conversations in today's day and age is understandable but to formally speak the original Fijian lingo when and where it is needed is a big ask to some.
Vernacular presentations through the mass media usually carry a mix of different lingo and it's a pity because this is what our children easily have access to every day.
Whatever the reasons may be for these changes, modernity is something that we cannot directly control.
I was really saddened by how we have lost track of our language because I have known quite a lot of iTaukei here in Fiji who do not really know their mother tongue.
Some, I believe, just choose not to be in the know but it's a worrying scenario overall.
All that they seem to be certain about was where they came from which I believe was something that they were told when they were young and will always be proud to say when asked.
That is quite an easy thing to recall just like remembering a person's name.
To set foot on their place of origin is a huge thing to some people because so many traditional protocols have to be observed in the process and may have not been fully remembered.
In the iTaukei context, it is only a norm because cultures and traditions are only maintained when they are passed down from one generation to the next successfully.
Each culture and society has its own traditional knowledge.
Different communities have different community practices, as well as experiences, institutions, rituals and value systems.
Language is widely seen to form the fabric of any culture - either modern or ancient. For the purpose of preserving a particular cultural belief, it is important that the right words are picked from the language of the trade.
So, in Fiji if we are to venture into the idea of protecting our cultural beliefs and identity, then the language of our forefathers is definitely the best available medium to convey that message.
The ABS Protocol is a huge development because it would enable communities to make rational and sustainable use of their natural resources, preserve the environment and produce food in a sustainable manner.
To give us an idea of what we are really looking at here, let us take one of the noblest practices of the iTaukei people about yam (uvi) farming.
From time immemorial this was one of the major activities of all Fijian men (tagane/turaga) and they are being referred to as real men (tagane dina/kaukauwa/qaqa).
And if they are not in that fold then they will be seen as weak (malumalumu).
In the old Fijian calendar, the month of July (Vula i cukicuki) is when they always plant yams and the month of November (Vula i balolo levu) is when they will then have to build towering frames on the plots to support its crawling branches as it grows.
Their first harvest, which are normally planted earlier, are always taken to church every second month of the year (Vula i sevu) for a special thanksgiving service by the farmers.
All their produce will be on display for the whole of that Sunday for all members of the congregation to see.
Soon after the 'sevu' (harvest of the first harvest) they then build a special shelter or store house called the 'lololo' before they start to harvest the rest of the yams from the farm.
The main harvest will always begin in March and their purpose is mostly subsistence as well as for other traditional engagement.
I have seen farmers who have different techniques on how to plant 'uvi' and may not easily share it with the others because they are always seen to be competing for the bigger and better.
The one who can plant the biggest 'uvi' is always highly regarded in society especially amongst his fellow farmers and are always referred to as 'turaga liga kaukauwa'.
This is what we are known for - our identity.
In the Pacific, it would be interesting to compare how the Indonesian 'ubi', Hawaiian and Maori 'uhi' are grown and the traditional planting methods of these staple root crops.
Apart from having a sustainable supply of food, we can also reduce the rural-urban drift, support mere family income by selling excesses, protecting our environment and most of all keep our unique indigenous knowledge at heart.
That is us, iTaukei.
And it will be the fruit of the ABS Protocol and we will come to see it all when the national legislations are in force to take care of the loose ends.

Villagers unite to Protect their Qoliqoli

by Paula Tagivetaua

FIJI TIMES - Friday, November 26, 2010
THE village of Nakorokula in the tikina of Wai in Nadroga is fighting a lone battle to save their qoliqoli.
The sad thing about it is that they are determined to protect their qoliqoli from people who are their kin in the other villages in the tikina of Wai in Nadroga including Lomawai, Kubuna and Tau by the coast and Bavu inland.
These people are related in one way or another but it seems the dollar sign and promises of wealth by hotel developers and their agents have clouded the minds of some yavusa heads.
I was invited to Nakorokula with Monifa Fiu of WWF.
They wanted Monifa to explain to them what was WWF's stand and WWF could do to help their cause. They invited me because they knew I was from the media.
The invitation was done mainly by Apisai Botevou, a man from Daku in Tailevu who had grown roots at Nakorokula and called it home.
Monifa explained to the villagers gathered in their new community hall that WWF could not stop the hotel developer with his hotel project or the government if it had given the go-ahead to the developer.
"What we can do is support your concerns over your qoliqoli with a letter stating how such development will destroy your qoliqoli forever," she said.
Men and women gathered in the hall that night including a small kid.
I felt for them because their plight connected to one which almost destroyed our qoliqoli at Nasarawaqa in Lekeutu, Bua years ago.
In my case, we went against the idea for a wharf to be built at Sasake near Nasarawaqa.
Our argument was that our qoliqoli would be destroyed for ever and if we had no qoliqoli, we would not have a place of feeding for our future generations.
Against promises that electricity would be connected to our villages and the main road tarsealed, we remained adamant that we did not want the wharf built at Sasake and the wharf was built at Wairiki near Nabouwalu.
As we were about to enter the community hall at Nakorokula, I noticed that a board with the name Nakorotubu House was nailed to the main enrance.
It was funny because Nakorotubu was in Ra and Nadroga and Ra are tauvu.
How come?
I made a point of asking and they said the foreman in charge of the builders who built the hall was from Nakorotubu.
"After the hall was built, he got the board, wrote Nakorotubu on it and nailed it to the front.
"Take it down and rename your hall," I told them as a tau of Ra people but on second thought, we are all traditionally related and better to have a name of a relative than of someone not related.
I could feel that the concern from the elders came from the heart.
"Everyone knows that when there is a function for the tikina o Wai, they always tells us Nakorokula, your contribution to the function is the fish to feed the guests and the people at the function which is normally held at Lomawai," said one elder.
"In the plans to build the new hotel, they are saying they will make a marina by clearing much of the coral reef around the area.
"They can build a hotel in tikina o Wai but they have to build it inland."
They cited the example of the failed hotel project near the Seashell @ Momi resort - the Marriot which was now black and rusty from exposure to the elements and had become "nodra i mocemoce na belo" as they said - a roost for herons and seabirds. With the Marriot, the developer had to build out to sea and the villagers of Nakorokula said the seafront around the Marriot was now devoid of marine life.
They said the hall we were in that night was a goodwill from the owners of the Marriot.
They had promised all the vilages in tikina o Wai a new community hall each in return for them to build the Marriot on their land.
"We were lucky in a way that they had built only two halls when the government stopped the hotel project," the elder said.
Nakorokula people said the other villages in tikina o Wai had been given money by the new hotel developer which had kind of bound them to give their qoliqoli to be turned into a hotel.
Only Nakorokula refused the monetary advance from the hotel developer.
"That is why we are fighting this case until we win.
There is no other way because we have seen what development on qoliqoli have caused and we do not want our sons and daughters to be eating tinned fish from the shop when they can always go to sea and catch fish from our qoliqoli which was given to us by God.
"We know that once our qoliqoli is destroyed it will never come back, not in a lifetime."
Such words spoken from the heart is full of emotion and the villagers of Nakorokula have vowed to go to the highest level with their petition and concern if they have to, to save their qoliqoli.
They asked me how I could help them and I told my dreu the best I could do was highlight their plight.
I told them they could follow the traditional path and take their case to the the minister of land who was their vasu from the village of Kubuna.
Nakorokula people came from Kubuna a long time ago. As it is, the case of Nakorokula villagers wanting to save their qoliqoli must be supported in full for many reasons.

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Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Sigatoka Village marks partnerships with FNPF

Sanasana Village in Sigatoka hosted the one-year celebration of their partnership with Fiji National Provident Fund (FNPF) and the Native Land Trust Board on Saturday last week.

The event marked a milestone achievement with relevant stakeholders.

It also marked a new reality in the lives of the people of Sanasana Village, which is where the InterContinental Resort is located.

Sanasana Village Landowners' representative and consultant Moape Nagata said the landowners were thankful for the efforts of the Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama and the Government in understanding the grassroots people and landowner issues of the past.

He said the constructive approach was now bringing about changes to a new reality.

Mr Nagata said they were also thankful to FNPF chief executive Aisake Taito for the fund's support and understanding for Sanasana landowners in bringing about a new partnership in a cordial and mutual way.
FNPF is the developer and financier of the InterContinental Hotel.

"We like to thank the Fijian Affairs Board for their understanding in the indigenous peoples' grievances and support for progress to a new height of success," Mr Nagata said.

"This is an important event that marks a new relationship in business endeavours from ten years of chaos to one year of success."
Assistant consultant for Sanasana landowners Usala Draunimasi said it was a celebration of the relationship that the landowners had with the Government and the Fiji National Provident Fund.

"For ten years the landowners of Sanasana Village had difficulties with regards to ownersship issues of land and now they have finally received compensation for the land they own," he said.