Monday, December 31, 2007


SAUHANI Fatiaki sure can cook. Just ask anyone who has tried out her tried, tested and tasty dishes.
The woman originally from Saulei Village, in Rotuma, has a steady stream of clients who go to the Flea Market, in Suva, just top grab a bite from her kitchen.
Affectionately known as Honnie, she attended Marist Convent Primary School, in Vatukoula, before moving to Lomaivuna Secondary School.
She was in fourth form when her father died and she had to find work to support her mother and seven siblings.
She started work with Morris Hedstrom as a cashier, and then decided to chuck that in and start her own business.
Working from home, Mrs. Fatiaki started baking for family and relatives.
As word of mouth spread, people started flocking to her with orders for birthday and wedding cakes.
"Most of the time people underestimate me," she said.
"They prefer ordering cakes from well known cake shops, but the only thing that motivated me was the positive feedback that I received from my customers.
"I would like to keep it that way."
That was 30 years ago.
Now in her early 50s, Mrs. Fatiaki is mother to five children and still bakes for a living and for her family.
She runs her own takeaway cafe at the Flea Market in Suva fittingly called Honnie where she sells cakes and food like beef chopsuey and chicken curry among a range of local delicacies. She admits that the support from her husband and children have helped her continue to do what she does best baking.
"I'm really fortunate to have my two daughters who help me, one helps me in the cafe and the other one helps in doing the chores," she said.
"My ultimate goal is to work hard and earn enough money to support my children's education and provide them with what they need."
Mrs. Fatiaki is married to Alfred Fatiaki, of Motusa, in Rotuma, a Staff Sergeant with the Republic of Fiji Military Forces.
They have five children Lawrence, 26, William, 23, Wilma, 21, Ruth, 20 and Vicky 13.
Her advice to people planning to start a business is to put their hearts into whatever they do and let the sky be the limit.
Now, that is a sure recipe for success.

Adapted from Fijitimes Online

Saturday, December 22, 2007


PAINTINGS and masi prints were on display at the Lautoka Teachers College yesterday.
The works of art created by teachers doing their Bachelor of Education (Primary) course at the University of the South Pacific were assessed as part of the curriculum.
All paintings and prints reflected the theme of the integrated arts course taken by the teachers.
Apart from the exhibition, the teachers also performed items which were assessed for their overall grades.
Naboro Primary School head teacher Kolinio Takali said the course was an upgrade to the teaching certificate they received from LTC.
Mr Takali said the exhibition of paintings and prints were the students' two major assignments for the arts course.
He said the course gave teachers the opportunity to express their thoughts and opinions of the world around them.
His creation, an impression of the untouched islands of Yasawa, generated a lot of interest as it included totems from his village, Yaqeta.
He said he wanted to let everyone see what he saw of Yasawa and his village

Adapted from Fijitimes Online


FOR Samuela Kailawadoko, home is where the heart holds fondest.
That is why this Lauan man considers himself a proud and loyal servant of Nadi.
Mr Kailawadoko's love for the tourist town stems from the tale of struggle his father, Semiti Naiaba, would constantly relay to him.
It was a story of a wide-eyed 16-year-old who arrived from Matokana Village in Ono-Lau in search of a better future. It was 1954 then.
Mr Kailawadoko said his father had tried to settle in Suva and the old capital, Levuka, but it was not to be.
It was in Nadi town though that he found a place he could call home.
He said when his father and his cousin arrived at the Nadi Bus Station they did not know anyone in the area.
"They were still standing in the bus station when a man from Narewa Village, Jone Naqiri, came up to him and asked whether they were new to Nadi," he said.
"Upon learning that they had nowhere to go, Mr Naqiri offered to take them to his place in Namaka until they could stand on their feet."
Mr Naiaba was able to secure employment and eventually found his bride, Vale of Mualevu Village in Vanuabalavu.
They had four children two sons and two daughter, of which Mr Kailawadoko is the eldest.
Mr Kailawadoko said it was the display of great hospitality and genuine friendship shown to his father and the years spent in the town that convinced him to dedicate his time and resources on developing the town.
The 44-year-old said his father always reminds them of the kindness shown by Mr Naqiri, urging them to show similar respect and hospitality to the people of Nadi.
Mr Kailawadoko, who was born and bred in Nadi, since a young child has always kept the message passed on by his father close to his heart and strived to serve the people of Nadi to the best of his ability.
He has represented the town in rugby since he was a primary school student.
He played rugby for Nadi throughout his school days before moving on to district level and representing the tourist town for the converted Farebrother-Sullivan Trophy between the late 80s and early 90s.
Mr Kailawadoko even took up power lifting and represented the district in 1988 under the guidance of Epeli Ligairi.
"I had just started power lifting and one day while I was practicing in the Nadi Bula Gym, Mr Ligairi walked in. He had just returned from the United States after serving with the Air Force and when he saw the way I was doing the lifts, he offered to polish up my techniques.
"He helped me a lot and I believe it was this guidance that helped me represent Nadi.
The success he achieved in sports extended to his role as a sports administrator.
He was secretary with the Nadi Rugby Referees Association in 2005.
He is currently the secretary of the Nadi Rugby Union; a position he has held since 2003.
Mr Kailawadoko, who works as a manager with Sonaisali Island Resort, is also a member of an advisory committee for the Training and Productivity Authority of Fiji.
In 2004 he was appointed to the board of the Nadi College.
He contested the Nadi Municipal Election in 1999 then later helped Akanisi Koroitamana secure a seat during the general election the same year as her campaign manager.
He also held positions with the Party of National Unity and Bai Kai Viti Party during its initial stages and in the lead up to the 1999 general election.
He said all the positions and challenges that he took up was for the best interest of the people of Nadi.
And Mr Kailawadoko, who has spent the past 25 years in the tourism industry, is not about to give up.
He has always been fascinated by the open-heartedness of landowners in Nadi to offer their land for development projects.
He said with Nadi being the fastest growing center in Fiji, his focus was now on protecting landowners and ensuring they received a fair return for their co-operation.
Mr Kailawadoko lamented though the wrongs committed by certain investors against the some landowners.
He said he had witnessed several incidents in which landowners were exploited by developers and deprived of the true income they deserved.
Mr Kailawadoko believes he would be able to make a huge difference in the lives of the "Kai Nadi" by guaranteeing their rightful entitlements.
He urged others of different ethnic backgrounds to work in partnership with the "Kai Nadi" so that all, irrespective of their culture, age or creed, benefited from the generosity of locals.
He said Nadi had a lot to offer and its true potential would only be realised through a genuine partnership of all communities.

Adapted from Fijitimes Online

Wednesday, December 19, 2007


EVERYONE deserves a second chance at life. This belief is the ray of hope that ex-convicts Olita Kau, Isireli Bera and Apenisa Jopelesi hold on to as they try to live reformed lives.

Mr Kau, 42, Mr Bera 37 and Mr Jopelesi, 17, hail from Vanuavatu in Lau. Each have been in and out of prison for various reasons.
Mr Kau spent 10 years at the Natabua Prison where he met Mr Bera who spent six years. Young Jopelesi says he spent six months at the Suva prison.
These men are members of the Green Army Ex-prisoners Association which was formed about six months ago to help in the rehabilitation of a group of ex-prisoners in Lautoka.

Already, it has 22 registered members. Mr Kau, who is the association's president, said the forum was formed to help given the difficulty for ex-prisoners to fit into society.

He said the association was formed to use the ex-prisoners skills in handicraft and other related work. This includes wood carvings and the weaving of handbags and other handicraft items. Their handiwork has drawn a lot of positive response from the community, he said.

But the stigma of having been imprisoned is. As such, it was the association's hope to facilitate growth in this area, particularly as most of their members are uneducated.
"Our members have already taken the initiative by trying to establish a group and asking certain members within society to assist them in their ideas," said Mr Kau.
"Putting our craft work pieces together is an expensive exercise. "Just for carving the materials is not cheap and it would cost more than $100 just to purchase the materials. "The timber alone costs around $32 and then there's the vanish and sand paper.

"That's why the end product is sold around $45 just to make up for the costs. "I draw up the designs and the rest of the members put the pieces together. I try my best to pass on whatever knowledge and skills I have to the other members.

"As for the weaving of baskets, we involve our wives." Mr Bera said their past decisions to take the wrong side of the law was largely influenced by their poverty.
At times there was nothing to eat, he said. He admits it is not an excuse to commit crime but at that time for them, it was a huge influence.

"If the tummy is not well fed one would go out and look for things," he explained.
"This leads to meeting up with other friends and leads on to other things, which usually do not have a good outcome. This is why he is very supportive of the initiative to form an association to help ex-prisoners change their lives for the better.

"When we go into prison we have lost everything," he said. "I have four daughters. Three are in school with the eldest being in class six. "Once we come outside of prison we try and find ways to earn a living to support, not only ourselves, but also our families.

"Some of the skills we have acquired were from when we were inside and now that we are outside we want to try and put it to good use. "But society is not very generous to us as the stigma of being an ex-prisoner still hangs over.

"When we approach business houses or some members in society to seek their assistance in getting our work recognised, they don't understand us or where we are coming from," he said.

Mr Bera said in order for the association to earn a daily living he and many of their members move around on foot to business houses. They had tried selling door to door in residential areas but sales was practically nil. He said sometimes they would travel down to Ba or even go to Suva just to try and sell their handicrafts.

"Its not an easy job but its our way of making up and trying to put food on our tables and ensuring that our families are okay," he said. "I start walking around town from about 8am and I can go right until the afternoon.

"Sometimes if we are lucky once the craft work is completed we come in to town. "There are time though when we are lucky and our items are sold so quickly that we have to go back home and get some more to sell," he said.

Adapted from the

Monday, December 17, 2007


Extracting cocoa out of its pods and fermenting it to its edible form follows a sequence of procedures that Namau farmers in Tailevu have mastered.

Cocoa farm manager Tevita Nuivou says despite the long process in extracting cocoa from its natural form, Namau farmers are urged to adopt the old procedure in order to understand how exactly cocoa is manufactured.

Tevita says nurturing cocoa trees is a very important stage and a lot of patience is needed before the tree can actually bear the cocoa fruits they want. A cocoa tree takes at least three years to mature and bear fruits. Around this time it's very important to keep the area around the tree clean and to pile the dry leaves around the tree to allow for decomposition.

Tevita said chemical spraying and farming manure are not used because they believe strongly in nurturing organic cocoa pods. He said one of their objectives was to hit the big European markets overseas. These markets, he said, paid a lot for organic products.

Harvesting cocoa pods from the tree is done every six months and there are about 14 farmers responsible for taking care of their allocated areas. Cocoa beans are removed from the pods and bagged in sacks made of nylon, a method Namau farmers follow. Tevita said beans are then suspended from the ground to drain the juice that seeps out naturally from the seeds. It is then left for four nights before the grinded process.

A hand-full of cocoa seeds are collected and the inner core is inspected to check the colour. Tevita said after the drying process is completed the colour of the nucleus should change from its natural colour purple to a dark brown.

The colour of the seeds, he says, reflects how well the trees are nurtured. Seeds are manually grinded into a liquid and this is normally an eight-hour process. The cocoa liquid is then poured into plastic moulds and cooled overnight to harden. It is then wrapped and ready for sale.

Adapted form the

Saturday, December 15, 2007


KIJI Bavou had hoped to follow her father's footsteps into medicine.

But that was not to be as she soon discovered a love for law and the pursuit of justice. Hence, instead of clinical surroundings and white coats, she found herself in a classroom of outspoken individuals citing torts and penal codes.

She does not regret her decision to deviate from her long-held dream of becoming a doctor. And last week when she received the Best Prosecutor of the Year Award 2007, it was for her a reinforcement that she had made the right choice.

The 30-year-old is a principal legal officer with the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP). She leads the constitutional office's Northern office. Having lived in Labasa for a year now, she has become accustomed to the challenges typical of a rural setting. It no longer troubles her so much and this, she says, is largely because of the warmth of residents.
"The friendliness of the people is such that there's always someone who is willing to help," she says. "We are geographically challenged, there is a lack of infrastructure, hampered by bad weather conditions and flooding, the roads are in a bad state, our resources are limited, (and) witnesses and victims are spread throughout Vanua Levu and are inaccessible at times," she explained.

Nevertheless, she admits that "it is in a place like this that I have been able to grow and develop not only as a person but in my career". "If you are willing to work hard and persevere and achieve results in a place that is challenged in many respects, then you should be able to work anywhere," she said.

She says the recent merger of the ODPP and the Summary Prosecution Office has considerably widened the scope of their work. "It was challenging initially being that much of my work was strictly prosecutorial but I thoroughly enjoy my role as manager and prosecutor in the North," she said.

Her work includes manage prosecutions in several districts, supervise summary prosecutors, and conduct training and lectures. She said staff of the north office should also be credited for ensuring the office meets its role. The team, she said, "have been a wonderful, committed group of people to work with".

Kiji believes formal education is an essential ingredient for success. Hers began in Yat Sen Primary School in Flagstaff, Suva. After eight years she moved next door to its secondary school.

Midway through her years at YatSen Secondary, she spent two years in New Zealand (intermediate). After completing seventh form in YatSen, she secured a Fijian Affairs Board scholarship and enrolled for the University of the South Pacific's Bachelor of Law (LLB) program.

In 1999, she graduated with an LLB from USP (Vanuatu) and in June the following year, she completed her Post Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice (PDLP). In September that year, she was admitted to the Fiji Bar as a barrister and solicitor.

Following this, she worked at a private law firm for two months before a position opened at the ODPP. In December of that year she started her prosecutorial career. Over six years, she worked her way up the ladder from a legal officer, to a senior legal officer and then as a principal legal officer.

It has not been all smooth sailing, she says. "We work on a daily basis with different people, and various personalities can create challenges at times," she said. "Many times, the work of a prosecutor tests you as an individual and (your) strength of character."

Case overload and resource constraints make it even harder, she said. But ultimately, "it is up to people to make the most of their situation and limitations if you want to progress and achieve maximum results as a prosecutor".

A prosecutor must be "a person who is dedicated, has an ability to work under immense pressure at times (and) yet be committed in your role and service to the courts, the country and its people". One of the most influential factors in her success is her family, particularly her parents, Paula and Resina.
"My parents focus has always been on education as a priority," she said.
"They sacrificed a lot to get us through school and tertiary." Her father is a consultant specialist at the Colonial War Memorial Hospital. Kiji's mother is Rotuman from Motusa and her biological father is Korean.

She said her mum kindly gave up job opportunities to look after her and her two siblings and provide a stable healthy environment for them. "My mother is particularly important in our family," said Kiji, herself a mother of a four-year-old daughter, Helena.

"Whilst dad provided financially for us, mum was the person who sacrificed so much of her time and energy to ensure that we were always properly fed, had good clean clothes and that there was nothing that could cause disturbances in our studies," she said.
She said her mother was very strict with her because she was the oldest. Her approach now has softened with age though, she said with a laugh. "My parents supported my career choice and gave me everything I needed in terms of support to achieve what I did," she said. "It was the fear of disappointing anyone who sacrificed so much and the embarrassment of failure that made me ensure that I completed my studies without hiccups."

Her parents' dedication have paid off. Her brother, Shem, recently graduated from the Fiji School of Medicine with an MBBS (Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery) and her sister, Nina, is in her fourth year of studies, also at FSM.

Discipline, she says, is another important factor for her, career-wise and personally.
She says she tries not to repeat her mistakes and instead to learn from them. "I believe in the power of prayer and that the Lord is always looking out for me despite my failures or mistakes in life," she said. "I learnt that mutual respect is the key to peaceful relations."

Having fun is also important, she adds. It is important to enjoy life, she said. On the country's unstable political sphere, she said one must not let it affect one's work. This is even more important for a prosecutor, she said.
"The recent political events have not interfered with my ability to perform my work independently and fairly," she said. As for lawyers, she says it is important to constantly read and keep abreast of the developments in the legal sphere.


Adapted from Fijitimes Online

Thursday, December 13, 2007


TIMES: Some concern was raised about the performance of science teachers and how this could have influenced the significant decline in the number of students studying science. How much of an issue is it?
JOKHAN: It is an issue. Science teachers are plagued with the lack of resources. Science has to be taught with a lot of resources; it's very intensive. A lab component is an integral part. But because of the lack of resources, teaching science would be very difficult for any science teacher. You can only do so much. We know from teachers who have been here for the past two days that many schools are very poorly equipped.

TIMES: So what do you propose be done?
JOKHAN: My understanding is that it's the schools that have the responsibility and not the government. The ministry gives the school an allocation, but the school managers however - school boards, parents association and school managers - just don't consider it an important part of resources. It's all about priorities, it seems, and so the frustration for science teachers mounts.

TIMES: What's your proposal to circumventing the problem?
JOKHAN: We do our best in trying to tell teachers wherever possible to use alternatives. You don't have to rely on expensive equipment which the schools are not going to get, so do what you can with what you have. We can do with home-made things. But they can only do so much. What we're now telling teachers is when they go back, they should be a bit more forceful about driving this home. And if they can, then they've fulfilled their responsibilities in convincing the school managers about the importance of the matter.

TIMES: How does the lack of resources affect the students?
JOKHAN: At the moment, the students go into a lab and learn as they would in a lecture. If they're lucky, they'd get a demonstration of what's in the lab. What we're saying is if all students got to do the demonstration themselves, with not necessarily the expensive equipment, then it'd be more interesting for the students because it's then hands-on and they're learning in the process.

TIMES: Would that increase the interest to study science?
JOKHAN: There has been a drop but a very slight drop which I have to admit that for here at USP - the numbers in terms of the decline isn't as significant. We will always have the core students coming in, only because we train teachers mostly.So while numbers have dropped a little bit, I don't think USP and other tertiary institutions, the issue in my view isn't really numbers. The issue is the quality. With quality comes success, so if you get poor quality students, the chances of them succeeding are less. If you have a higher quality, then you know you can churn out much better quality graduates and more of them.

TIMES:Were there other issues in respect of science that were not brought to the fore during the science teachers conference?
JOKHAN: One of the main issues is the curriculum. Teachers are saying they have a certain amount to teach, they have only a certain amount of time, and they're not spending enough time in labs. To me these things are not gelling. They don't appear to be making a lot of sense. Perhaps we need to revisit the curriculum to see if it is too heavy. Perhaps if the curriculum could be learnt elsewhere and while they're teaching children to learn by heart, emphasis can be put on children to be better learners to help them go on if they feel there is a need. Perhaps we are too content-based in our curriculum. I don't know. These are the things that need to be looked at closely in the near future.

TIMES: At the rate we're going and given the progress in the science arena, what do you think would be the economic impact of neglecting the question of science development?
JOKHAN: If you give it real serious thought to this issue, today there is a stronger science base than there was a long time ago. There is also a lot more appreciation of science. If we build up on science today, it will have a better impact on the economy in the years ahead. What we need to do is drive it in to the administrators of the country to start talking about it themselves as was suggested in the seminar. Government talks about sports. It talks about money. The Government talks about everything but no one talks about science. Once discussion on science starts at Government level, it will be a sign - and we'll know - that we're headed in the right direction. And that's where we come in. We need to have a section dedicated to talk about it, to tell the policymakers, to guide them on matters like these. Once we do that, they'll all start talking about it. I'm very excited about the meeting we had with the European Union at Rewa Dairy. I am on the board of directors. They're very keen to put in money into the country. At the same time they're keen to ensure that we use this money for research and development. And they want to ensure we don't let other people come and do it - but that we do it ourselves and we build the capacity. The bottom line is, once we've got that, we've got a sustainable economy. I am hoping the 'big people' will actually see it. I'd be really disappointed if we don't because we'd have got the money but not our act altogether. Come the next generation, we wouldn't have done what we should have done with the $60-$80million or however much the EU is giving us. That's the key.

Addapted from the


Jennifer James always had a passion for art, particularly painting. The Canadian simply cannot imagine her life without art as it brings her immense joy.

She recalls her young years when she would draw on anything she got hold of. Her artistic tendencies are hardly surprising given her families artistic background. Here family were known for their body sculptures.

So when they learnt she had she had no affinity for the family's past-time passion, they found it odd and were quite taken aback. And much to their disappointment, Jennifer was so set on becoming an artist.

Common ground was finally reached when parties resolved that she continue her studies in order to secure a better job and only after could she be allowed to become an artist. Jennifer said she did not have the heart to disappoint her family so she continued and successfully pursued a diploma in physiotherapy. She now owns a clinic in Canada.

"I had to work in a clinic for six months and then after three months, I opened my very own clinic with the help of my business partner," she proudly relayed. Today the promising artist from Vancouver is more confident and self-assured.

She is still buzzing from the rush of having 30 of her artwork exhibited at the University of the South Pacific's Oceania Art and Cultural Centre. She was very pleased with the response.
The second-year USPArt student Jennifer says she could not have asked for a better place to master her passion.

"I have come to understand what art is all about," she enthused. "I was really honoured to have an exhibit in the Oceania Art Centre.

Jennifer says art is not only about putting colours together to make the picture look good. It is instead a way of expressing feelings, moods and views on a particular subject, she said. I love to draw something that promotes peace and harmony, she added.

While painting is the ultimate de-stressor for her, nature walks, reading, spending time with friends and baking are also activities she cares to indulge in. She says young artists should find a good mentor, practice, and above all have fun.

Jennifer laments though that the high cost of painting materials is a restrictive factor to the development of the art. Resources in this field are very limited, thus very expensive, she said. The tropical weather is also another disadvantage as oil paints take longer to dry in the heat.

The artist says she has unconsciously developed a ritual on how she chooses her paintings.
Whenever she feels the urge to draw she first meditates on the subject. Normally, the first colour that pops into her head is what she uses to depict her theme.

Each work of art holds special meaning for Jennifer because through each piece, she tries to relay a message. Her work is largely about peace and harmony. One day she hopes to be able to make a living from her artwork.

My ultimate goal is to open a gallery so that I can support other artists, she said.

Adapted from the

Sunday, December 9, 2007


BACK in the mid 70s he was the heavyweight boxing champion of Fiji. Everybody who knew him and those who met him in the ring would say Filimoni Naliva had the knockout punch.
Naliva was the king of the ring in an era when Fiji dominated the South Pacific in boxing.
Naliva was the drawcard when and wherever he fought because not only was he the champion but his prowess and strings of wins reached a point when people started to say that he dabbled in the black art.
But of course, those were the rumours spread by people who had no answer to or could not give credit to the man for his pugilistic skills and enormous strength.
Naliva was a brute of a man and had no mercy for any of his opponents.
It was the era when Fiji's heavyweights ruled the South Seas including Tonga and Samoa.
Many people went to watch boxing then, to watch stylish and classy fighters as Leweni Waqa, Sunia Cama, Vuniivi Nadumu and Nemani Waka, to name a few.
Naliva, now 62, has contributed a lot to boxing.
Today, like many other sporting oldies, he lives a quiet and relaxed life in the village, his full attention on his family and traditional obligations.
Naliva is from the village of Sorokoba in Ba.
His parents were Ratu Isoa Vuniivi and Melaia Vakawale and they had five children.
Only Naliva and a sister are still alive. He went to Bulu District School which is now Ratu Filise Memorial School from Class One to Class Eight.
After that he helped out at home, on the farm and around the house.
As he grew up, Naliva became interested in boxing like the other young men of Sorokoba.
He said back in his heydays, boxing was a sport all or most young men of his village got into.
He said it was a disciplined sport and many young men took up boxing because of the influence from the then Tui Ba, the late Ratu Marika Latianara.
He said for him, boxing became a career and even though it did not pay well, he was earning money from the ring.
Back then, he said when young men trained to be a boxer, there were not that many distractions as there are nowadays.
That time, a boxer's performance depended mainly on how well and disciplined he was to train on his own, which was and is one of the main setbacks of the Fijian laid-back attitude.
"In boxing we have to make a lot of sacrifices and it is up to the individual if they want to pursue that path," Naliva said.
"I was introduced to the sport in 1967 at the age of 19 but did not have my first bout until I was almost 21, in 1968 against Marika Momo of Sikituru Village in Nadi. The fight was held in Nadi and I won by knockout. My next fight was against Marika Naivalu of Vunidawa. That time he was the heavyweight champion and it being our first meeting, it was just a contest. "The second time we met was in Ba the same year and his title was on the line and I won." Naliva said in boxing like in any other sport or life in general, "you win some and lose some". He said during his ring career he fought about 70 fights but has lost count of the year or dates. Back then there was only one boxing and wrestling body to look after the sport.
"Today, many boxers do not come up the ranks one step at a time and we often see a young and new boxer start off as a nobody and next day he is champion without many bouts under his belt.
"If boxing officials put their heads together and find a common ground, then maybe the sport will move forward."
Naliva hung his gloves in 1982 and returned to the village. He met his wife Miliana, also of Sorokoba, and courted her for three years before they tied the proverbial knot in 1987.
A year before they wed, they had their first son, Isoa. Years after he quit boxing, something happened which shocked their young family. In 1988, Isoa became very sick with fever which was hard to break.
His mother rushed him to the health centre and they transferred him to Lautoka hospital.
Isoa spent six months in hospital until Miliana asked the doctors to release her son so she could go back home and care for him there. It was not easy for us," she said. "It was a big challenge as my son was only a toddler and already bedridden.
"We had to bath him, clothe him and feed him."
Miliana said if Isoa's condition was not a scary enough experience for the family, they were dealt another blow years later.
In 1995, Naliva was returning from Vatutavui and had just reached the church at Sorokoba when he fell unconscious.
They rushed him to Ba Mission Hospital then to Lautoka Hospital.
He was referred to the Colonial War Memorial Hospital in Suva where they learnt that he had a heart condition.
"We were lucky because at that time there were overseas heart specialists in Suva doing operations.
"They saw my husband and said he had to have an operation and they put a pacemaker in him.
"In 2002 he had it changed and again this year but when my husband fell that day by the church I was kind of lost because our youngest was just two years old.
"I guess, in every relationship there are problems but those two experience really tested us to the limit," she said.
TEN things people do not know about Filimoni Naliva
HE is married to Miliana and they have five children -three boys and two girls.
HE is the turaga ni koro of his home village Sorokoba in Ba.
HE won his first title in 1968 in Ba.
IN the mid 1970s he fought former Australian champion Foster Bibron.
HE also fought in New Zealand, New Caledonia, Tahiti and the United States.
HE fought about 70 fights during his colourful boxing career.
THE longest fight he had was against Leweni Waqa. The bout went up to 15 rounds.
THE toughest opponents he met in the ring were Leweni Waqa, Sunia Cama and Marika Naivalun APART from boxing he also played rugby for the village team in his younger days.
HE retired from the ring in 1982.
Naliva won some and lost some
DURING his illustrious boxing career, Filimoni Naliva fought and beat some of the best heavyweights that the South Pacific produced.
From the local scene where he swept all aside when he was in his prime, to Tonga, Samoa, New Zealand, Australia, New Caledonia and Tahiti.
He won some and lost some in the ring.
In 1968 he fought Marika Momo of Nadi, Marika Naivalu twice including a title fight he won. He fought Naivalu six times.
In 1969 he fought Leweni Waqa who had just returned from the United States and lost.
He fought Sunia Cama twice.
In 1970 he fought Australian champ Foster Bibron in Tahiti and in New Zealand against Manu Sekona.
In 1972, he fought Luke Veikoso and Sione Pulu of Tonga and Niko Degei of Nadroga when he was going downhill.

Adapted from Fijitimes Online


FIJIS greatest musical alchemists gather for a night of blues and jazz on Tuesday in the hope they can inspire a new generation into chanting down Babylon and building a nation in One Heart.

Fronting the live gig will be two visiting living legends in Skee Bainimarama and sultry siren, Michelle Rounds.
With them will be, among others, guitar god Tom Mawi and the evergreen Ken Janson, whose love for jamming is as enduring as ever.

But it is the musical elder statesman with the most recognisable surname in the country who will front the gig. Skee is perhaps best known locally for his days in the mid to late 70s as part of the Sonia and Skee duet who were the talk of the town and are still referred to in almost reverential awe.

At 60, this singing Bainimarama is as young as ever. Skee or Sevanaia Laua Bainimarama is the older brother of interim Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama.

His love for music and performing live goes back into the mists of Fiji time, having done the old town hall and Coffee Lounge circuit in the hey-days of live sound. He has played with the whos who of Fiji music, growing up and jamming with our brightest musical luminaries. Talk Sakiusa Bulicokocoko, Mawi, Paul Stevens, Vili Tuilaucala, Tui Ravai, in fact all our musical angels and saints, at some time Skee has jammed with them.

Im a Suva kid. I know the city inside out, this bundle of positive vibrations said last week as we sat around jawing away with the darling Michelle, who like Skee, is home for a short visit. He earned his moniker in China while sailing the globe, working as a navigator on a ship. The Chinese just could not say Sevanaia so I became Skee and then I adopted it as my stage name, he said with his trademark elfin grin.

Having lived in New Zealand, he returned home with wife Sonia and they quickly made a niche for themselves, establishing a solid following that is still talked about. But long before that Skee was already being referred to as Fijis Ray Charles. Thats what I did best then ... rhythm and blues was my thing ... thats where that came from.
The fire within burns as strong as ever, with Skee saying it is time the nation paid its dues to its artistes.

We need a musical school. We need support for music makers ... the people who front up on stage and bring the world together, he said. He believes industry players can do much more. Imagine, having all the gear set up in Sukuna Park every Saturday. Anyone who can play is welcome to come along and jam.
Can you imagine what that will do for Fiji.

Music is something that comes from the heart. The world is a graveyard without music. Musicians are spiritual alchemists. The effect they and their work have on people is unrivalled. No politician or religious leader can achieve that kind of heart chokra, the harmony music infuses in us, he said.

He is unperturbed by his brothers and other members of the chiefly clan frowning on his chosen path in life. As musicians we dont believe in god the way most people do. We live God.

As musicians we dont look at people by race ... what is that. No, rather than differences, we create harmony by putting people in touch with themselves. We make them look inside and bring out the best in them. Musicians are not straight people. We cant live in the normal world, you know straight and flat. Its not about handing out an easy path for todays aspiring musicians. Rather it is about encouraging them to sing and play their dreams.

Musicians always make the world a better place. Lets do it our way and soon well find the way because we dont have to live up to other peoples standards, well leave all our troubles behind. But first we must learn to put our hand in each others. Religion cant take us there, politicians cant vote it in but musicians can enable the country to do things our way.

That is the miracle of music. Skee, Michelle and company play at Golden Dragon from 9pm onwards on Tuesday.

Adapted from Fijitimes Online

Saturday, December 8, 2007


Ro Nunia Latianara stood out in the sea of white-clad women at the annual Soqosoqo Vakamarama conference in Nabua. Although she was the oldest among her peers on Tuesday, it was not obvious while she sat immersed in conversation with the women folk around her.

The fair lady who is a chief from Lomanikoro in Rewa turns 82 in 12 days. While her steps are slow and weak, she does not choose the aid of a walking stick.

She was at the conference as a member of the Soqosoqo Ni Marama for Serua and Namosi, a group she had led for more than 20 years until her husband, the Vunivalu of Serua, Ratu Isikeli Latianara, died.

The years of active work for Fiji's largest women's group, says Ro Nunia, are among the most rewarding. "Being part of the Soqosoqo Vakamarama has been a great challenge," she said in Fijian.

"I love to sew and cook and being able to share my knowledge with others is something I enjoy doing." Her work as a leader involved a lot of travelling, which was quite a feat as development in majority of the areas she covered were close to nil.

But it was a crucial part of their work in order to keep the women in the various villages and districts informed and motivated. "The only means of transportation available in Serua were punts," she recalled. "When I wanted to go to Namosi, the punts were the only mode of transport available and it was really hard especially on rainy days." One of the highlights was when she represented the Soqosoqo Vakamarama to Cicia Island in Lau, she said.

There, she was required to educate the women on how to sew, knit, and prepare balanced meals for their families. Organising forums at which members could display their handiwork was another highlight. This normally occurred twice a year during the provincial council meetings, she said.

Ro Nunia's love for serving her people drew her to Fiji's Red Cross Society. She was a member of the society's Navua branch in the late 1950s. This meant that she was responsible for distributing aid for the needy and the affected during naturals disasters. She is also on the board of the After Care Fund, which looks after the welfare of ex-servicemen and their families.

"It helps them financially by paying for check up's expenses and sending their children to school," she explained. "We only help the children until they are 16 years of age. We help them by paying fees, and for their uniforms and shoes."

It became obvious that the mother of four is fond of children as her face lit up when she spoke of her work with the Fund. And she values education. It was hardly surprising as she was among the few privileged women of her time to attend the prestigious Grammar School. At the time the school was located in Muanikau Road in Domain. Only children of chiefly families were allowed to attend the near-exclusive European institution.

After she left school, she married in 1944. Ratu Isikeli was a lieutenant in the Royal Fiji Military Forces then. Shortly after they wed, he was called for duty to join the Malayan campaign. "It is a painful experience to remember," she said.

Her third child, Ro Vulavou, was only eight days old when Ratu Isikeli died. "Staying alone with my children was a real challenge," she recalled. "But we were not alone because we had the villagers supporting us. They would bring food and firewood and other things that we needed. When he returned, Ro Vulavou was already two years old."

When asked for the secret of her longevity, Ro Vulavou said it could be due to her strict diet," she said. "I rarely eat meat and I don't drink coffee or tea and all. I normally drink a cup of cold milk every afternoon.

"I've been able to live up to my diet and it has kept me going through past years," she said. She believes people need to look after themselves better, especially the youths.
"During our days of youth there were no diseases like STD and HIV/AIDS," she said as she shook her head.

"But now there are many deadly diseases out there. I would like to urge young ladies to try and avoid pre-marital sex.
"I plead to parents and guidance to advice their children on how to protect themselves from this deadly disease," pleaded Ro Nunia.

Adapted from Fijitimes Online


A SINGLE mother has encouraged other women in a similar situation to persevere and pursue higher education because it would benefit the family in the long run.

Marica Rainibogi has four children and has been separated from her husband for the past seven years. At the beginning of this year, she left her children with her parents at Sigatoka and moved to Suva to pursue a Postgraduate Diploma in Eye Care offered by the Fiji School of Medicine.

Yesterday, she graduated with a postgraduate diploma and thanked her parents for looking after her children. "I am a registered nurse and work at the Sigatoka Hospital," Ms Rainibogi said.

"Towards the end of last year, I started telling my children that we would be separated this year because I would be studying here in Suva.
"Just the thought of being away from them was hard to bear but I knew that this was something I would have to do."

Ms Rainibogi said she missed her children a lot but persevered because she knew the fruits of her studies would benefit her whole family. Her eldest daughter is 12 years old and the youngest is five years old. Every weekend, she would return to her parents' farm at Nabaka, Valley Road in Sigatoka to see her children.

When she told her children that she would be graduating this month, her children were ecstatic because they would become a family once again. Ms Rainibogi said she had to lead by example by being persistent in her studies and her children did the same and each one of them received awards on prize giving day.

She called on single mothers not to be disheartened by their circumstance but that they could still enjoy good lives by pursuing higher education. University of the South Pacific acting vice chancellor Dr Esther Williams, who was chief guest at the graduation, said graduation was a special time because it meant that many sleepless nights had paid off.

She said it was momentous occasion as the graduands would be celebrating a well deserved achievement after a lot of hard work and perseverance, even though the battle of life began after graduation.
"Therefore, we congratulate graduands gathered here today. We all appreciate the effort, both material and mental, that has gone into your training as doctors. Thank you for making good all the investments made in your education."

Apdapted from Fijitimes Online

Tuesday, December 4, 2007


At the age of 22, Eleni Domolailai has her own business, from which she earns enough to contribute to the family's income.

Ms Domolailai is from Laselase Village, which sits on the Suva end of Sigatoka Town's Melrose Bridge. She started her pawpaw business after officers from the Agriculture Ministry visited her village to teach villagers about making a living from their own farming businesses.

"I thought about it and decided to give it a try," she said. "From what I have seen so far not many young people get into a business like this.

"The agricultural officials came around to the various villages asking them if they were interested in learning farming and business skills. "So it was back to school for those of us who had joined."
Ms Domolailai had Form Four level education and had done commercial studies at tertiary level. The new opportunity was one way to help put her life on track and venture into a business of her own.

"I learnt how to get my own source of income from farming and also which produce business I wanted to venture into." Upon completing her training in farming skills, Ms Domolailai returned to her village and started her pawpaw farm.

She owns a 10-acre plantation just outside the village. She is usually helped on the farm by her niece and a friend, apart from being assisted by her father from time to time. Ms Domolailai said when she was learning about farming and how to start a business from it, she was impressed with pawpaw farming and the fact that the returns were good and quick.

"The benefits from having such a plantation are very good for me and family as I get to help my father support the family.

"For the pawpaw plantation, whether in good or bad weather it still goes ahead unlike some other fruits and vegetables.

"And in the past four years since starting my business I have been able to buy a tractor to help in the farm." Ms Domolailai said since starting her business four years ago, she was also able to export her produce through middlemen.

She supplies the local market twice a week and the export market on alternate days. In terms of exporting her goods. She said " for the local market I supply paw paw's on Monday and Friday's and this also depends on how many boxes I can fill which is usually around 20 to 25 boxes," she said.

"For the export market it's usually done on Tuesday and Thursday's and the boxes are sold around $15 to $20 a box.
Adapted from December 4th, 2007

Saturday, November 24, 2007


THE mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.
These are the words of one of America's greatest authors William Arthur Ward.
For Maritana Domoni, she says some people are not cut out for the noble profession because it is not exactly an 8-5 job.
Maritana teaches at Naduruloulou Fijian School in Naitasiri province where she takes Class Seven and Eight.
She says the noble profession requires a lot of patience, sacrifice and energy.
This is because not only does a teacher have to be a role model for her young wards, in many cases the teacher is everything to a child, particularly to one who comes from a broken family.
The 41-year-old said she has never regretted joining the teaching profession even though it was not exactly a career that she had pictured herself in when she was in secondary school.
Dressed in a bright dress, the Naisaumua woman from Tailevu said she believes that a teacher is almost everything to a child when he or she enters the education system.
She was born and bred in the old capital, Levuka where she started her formal education at Marist Convent School before joining Delana Methodist not far away.
She spent her secondary school years at Adi Cakobau School in Sawani.
"Being a straight science student in school I knew I was going to go into the medical field but God knows us better and I am convinced that he wanted me to be here teaching his children," said Maritana.
She started her teaching career at Nailagotabua District School at Verata before moving down the coast to Dawasamu District School in the northern part of Tailevu.
She recalls her first two years of teaching as a grueling experience. "I was really put to the test," she said. "Transportation was the first problem I faced because transport to this part of the country was limited and if you miss the bus that was it."
From Dawasamu, Maritana was transferred up the road toward Korovou town to Delainakaikai Primary School at Lodoni near Ratu Kadavulevu School. This is her sixth year of teaching at Naduruloulou and she said the change of environment was good, as it is always good for any teacher.
"Teaching two different classes in one classroom is hard but I take it as a challenge," she said.
"The only hard part is teaching subjects such as Maths because Class Seven and Eight have their own different levels of mathematics but I do manage and am enjoying it."
Maritana is a mother-of-three children, a role she says has instilled in her a lot of qualities.
Her eldest is a teacher while her younger two are in secondary school.
"I can say that teachers are not only teachers but we are also nurses, we are preachers and lawyers within our schools."
Maritana says she loves her job so much that during the school holidays she would miss her students.
"I am used to the noise and running around and shouting that during the holidays I miss the noise and the antics of the kids," she said with a smile as she nodded toward the students playing outside.
She believes a good teacher has to have a deep passion for the betterment of children.
They need to have the right values and qualities and need to be able to interact in the right and proper way with students, she said.
"Teaching is a noble profession and teachers should always remember this and try to live up to it when doing their duties."
Maritana said she is winding down the last week of school before the eight weeks holiday.
She wants to take a break with her children and family before school starts next year.
She will probably teach again at Naduruloulou but that is for the powers that be to decide.
Until then, she wants to relax the mind and body before another term starts and the same routine returns to occupy her time.

Adapted from Fijtimes Online

Friday, November 23, 2007


THE world of a mother-of-four crumbled when the military took over the government last year. Her husband, the sole breadwinner in the family, was made redundant.

But Makereta Matemosi dug deep and refused to give up.
With $35, she bought a manual sewing machine and set to work.
Having learnt the art of tali ibe (mat weaving) from her elders, she knew it was her best chance at earning a living.

Driven by her determination not to let her two children down, she started by adding value to her mat baskets and other mat-woven accessories.

One of her children was in a tertiary institution and the other at primary school. Mrs Matemosi is from Namuka-i-Lau in Lau but resides at Namuka-i-Lau settlement at Veisari outside Lami.

"I started sewing bags from mats and other items which I sold," she said. Her break came when she was approached by the makers of Mokosoi products to provide them with traditional packs for their products.

"To me it was something hard to believe. I was more into doing orders I received from women in the area," she said. "With the large number of orders they gave, I asked some women of the settlement for us to work together in meeting the demand.

"We worked day in and out weaving and sewing for the company." Mrs Matemosi said she did not learn any sewing or weaving skills in school. "I was able to learn a bit of English and that was it."

She said orders from the Mokosoi company included small boxes made out of voivoi for lotions, soap packets, baskets for a set of Mokosoi products and poly bags. "We also do masi which are sometimes asked by the company to be blended with the voivoi bags that we make."

Mrs Matemosi said they were struggling to keep up with the increasing demand when an old friend answered her prayers. "Thanks to my Australian sister Catherine Spicer who donated three electric sewing machines to us.

"It was a blessing and we thank her and all those involved in bringing in the new machines. "It certainly helped us in a big way to meet the demands." Her new machines made invite more women of the settlement to join and they formed a business group.

The women, most of whom are kin, welcomed the opportunity. On a working day they meet at the vakatunuloa (shed) beside Mrs Matemosi's home to work on their craft. "Now we have about 40 women who have shown interest in joining the group," she said.

"Most of the women are traditional weavers and they are very talented with their hands. "I know that if I was holding on to the business to only benefit me, I won't be able to meet the demand and it is good that we are helping each other out as women and mothers of this community."

Mrs Matemosi's ingenuity was rewarded at the 2007 Fiji Development Bank small business awards where she won the overall winner award. Since then the future looks bigger and brighter.

"The day after I was announced winner of the award, officers of Trade Aid New Zealand visited me and told me they would be putting in their orders for some of our products soon," she said excitedly.

"This is good news to us and we thank the Lord because we believe in him and know that he is helping us out." Mrs Matemosi believes women can make something for themselves out of nothing.

"Thanks to my $35 manual machine, my products which are produced right under this shed at Veisari, are entering the world market in a big way," she said. And that, is just the start for the hardworking women from the far-flung island of Namuka-i-Lau.

The next step may be is an exhibition on the world stage. But for now, Mrs Matemosi has a family to look after first. The world will come next.

Adapted from the November 23rd, 2007

Monday, November 19, 2007


MORE than 23 years ago, Ratu Aisea Cavunailoa Katonivere was a young man with a young family enjoying the comforts of living in Suva.

But his dad, Ratu Soso Katonivere, had a different career-path in mind for Ratu Aisea and called him back to the village to prepare for a future role as paramount chief of Macuata province.
For Ratu Aisea making good on his dad's vision meant sacrificing his job and comfortable living in Suva, and heading back to his roots in Naduri Village, with his young family in tow, having lived his entire life in the capital.

Ratu Aisea attended Draiba Fijian School in Suva from 1961 to 1966, then Queen Victoria School from 1967 to 1968, before completing his secondary education at Ratu Sukuna Memorial School in 1972.

When his father asked for him to come back home in March 1984, Ratu Aisea was 29 and working at the Native Lands Trust Board. Going back to Naduri meant giving up a regular income, but he knew duty called. "My dad said it was time I have my first interaction with my family in the village," Ratu Aisea said.

"Living there was a totally new experience for me and my family moving from an urban life to rural living where there was no employment and I had to provide for my family through farming and fishing." Farming and fishing took some getting used to because those were things he never did in Suva.

"It was quite difficult and a challenge in the beginning but my family and I got used to the new lifestyle of living in the village so fishing and farming became my best friends as I depended on it to support my family," Ratu Aisea said. Although fishing and farming provided meals for his family, Ratu Aisea had to look for a job that could provide money.

So he joined a cane cutting group in Seaqaqa where he cut cane for an Indian farmer. "That was one of the toughest jobs, cutting cane out in the hot sun. I realised how our Indian friends, the majority of whom own cane farms, struggle to keep huge farms," Ratu Aisea said.

"It's not an easy job because there is no machinery to help load the cane. Men cut the cane and load it from the early hours of the morning until late evening." While living in Naduri, he became the assistant village headman and joined the Fiji Military Forces as a reserve officer in 1986 and did a tour of duty of the Middle East.

The five years of living in the village showed Ratu Aisea the importance of education. So after a period in the village, he decided to pursue further studies. "I figured that being born a chief, the responsibilities I witnessed in the village inspired me to seek further achievement in life through the educational and academic arena," Ratu Aisea said.

"So I consulted my dad again and told him that I wanted to pursue further education, which he agreed to. I went back to the University of the South Pacific in 1989." He moved his family back to Suva a year earlier in 1988 so he could enroll at the USP.

Asked whether his children and wife, Sera, complained about the hassle of moving to and fro, Ratu Aisea smiled and said: "I always informed them of the reasons and the importance of moving back to Suva to achieve academic goals for their own sake and their future." This, he said, always won the hearts of his children and wife which made life easier in achieving his dreams.

In 1991, he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology and Economics. After graduating he got a job at the Ministry of Fijian Affairs as a clerical officer and, again, this was on the advice of his dad.

"My dad who had retired from politics after being a senator, wanted me to work there so I could get first-hand experience in Fijian administration and also familiarise myself with the vanua leadership role." The job at Fijian Affairs led to his appointment as Roko Tui Macuata (provincial administrator) in 1998 after spending seven years dealing with provincial matters at the ministry.

Ratu Aisea had to move back to Macuata with his family to take up his role as Roko Tui. "But we only returned with the three younger children as the two older ones were studying in university and not long after that started their own families." Returning to Labasa to take up his new post in the provincial office only reminded him of his dad's advice in 1984, when he first moved to Naduri Village.

Such obedience helped him with his duties of a Roko Tui Macuata where he easily mingled and worked with the people. "I never regretted following my dad's words of advice when he told me to return to the village to familiarise myself with the village life and environment.

"When I became the Roko Tui Macuata, the people willingly worked with the provincial office and it was not difficult to discuss issues that concerned the vanua," Ratu Aisea said. Then he became chief in 2001, it was even easier because he had already earned the respect of his people. His experience in the Fiji administration prior to becoming chief greatly helped him in his new position.

"After experiencing my time with the provincial office and the Ministry of Fijian Affairs, it enhanced my task as a chief especially, as chairman of the Bose Vanua (annual Methodist conference) and adviser to provincial council.

"It was easier to enhance the aspiration of district representatives and it was easier because I am the chief and they work with me easily and how the vanua, as known in the Fijian protocol, obey one voice," Ratu Aisea said.

"It has been a challenge especially with the political developments we face, and I always make sure that whatever I say in the media not only concerns the indigenous community but all those living in Macuata and all those who call Macuata home."

His father is his rock

RATU Aisea Katonivere is driven in his duties as overlord of Macuata province by the echoes of his late father's words.

"I can clearly remember the words of my late father which has remained in the back of my mind since I was anointed chief by the vanua in 2001 and I have always used it as a guide in helping me make decisions on certain issues regarding the vanua, Ratu Aisea said.

"His words were: 'When you become chief of Macuata, as Tui Macuata you are the overlord of the land and you must not forget that you are not only chief of the Fijian people registered in the Vola ni Kawa Bula (register of living indigenous Fijians) but you are chief of all the people who call Macuata home' and I have always used that to help me through as chief," Ratu Aisea said.

"All my life my inspiration was my old man, my dad, he was my rock and was always behind me with words of advice that has seen me through to this day." Now that his dad has passed away, Ratu Aisea holds on to his dad's words of wisdom because it has helped him in difficult times. The chiefly position was bestowed upon him after Ratu Aisea's elder brother passed away in the 1990s leaving him as the eldest surviving son.

"When the vanua annointed me as Tui Macuata in March 2001, I knew it was going to be a big challenge. "I told myself that I was stepping into a new frontier that was foreign to me and that my role was a crucial one as it dealt with the welfare of the people of Macuata, of all those people who have made the province their home irrespective of race, colour or religion," Ratu Aisea said.
As chief, he has also been a listener to members of non-indigenous communities hearing their concerns as well as their ideas to develop Macuata.

"My role as chief does not only involve the indigenous community but those from other communities and that has been a good part of my chiefly duty because it has built relationships and strengthened ties." And the members of the non-indigenous communities approach him like any other Fijian would do - take their sevusevu and inform him of the purpose of their visit. Seeing the members of non-indigenous communities visit the overlord in such a manner always touches Ratu Aisea's heart.

"I am always humbled to see such a reception from the people of non-indigenous communities when they come for a visit because it only shows that the community is united and have respect for the different cultures and traditional values. "Some come around to ask for guidance and I do help out as I believe that's an important element because with that in mind, the decisions made satisfies all members of the province," Ratu Aisea said.

"Considering the views of everyone involved is important because when decisions are made, it's fair and satisfies all."

Ten things you did not know about Ratu Aisea

1) Ratu Aisea Katonivere is married to Sera Katonivere and they have five children three daughters and two sons.

2) His favourite dish is boiled fish, miti with bele and dalo.

3) He makes sure that every Sunday his family goes to church

4) Ratu Aisea visits his mother's village of Waisa, Kubulau in Bua at least once every two to three months. "When I go to my mum's village, I have to take supply of food for my relatives because that's my koro ni vasu."

5) He was born on July 16, 1955. His parents are Ratu Soso Katonivere who worked for the Native Lands Commission and his mum was Samanunu Vaniqi who also worked for Government.

6) Ratu Aisea still does farm work and during the dalo and yam harvests he gives some to his friends and relatives.
7) He is a former senator, appointed by the province of Macuata. This led to him resigning as Roko Tui Macuata in 2006.
8) He has four grandchildren.

9) He enjoys meeting people and discussing issues that help develop Macuata.

10) Ratu Aisea believes that his dad's critical decisions in his career has made him successful today.

Adapted from the November 17th, 2007

Saturday, November 17, 2007


HER story is one of pain and agony but she has risen above it to be someone cancer patients can rely on as they battle the disease.

She lost her husband to cancer seven years ago and it made her stronger in taking the gospel of cancer to all levels of society and making people aware of the killer disease.

Today, Taufa Rasiga is one of the few people in Fiji who have dedicated their lives to become advocates for the disease. She knows too well the pain and struggle families go through when a family member is diagnosed with the disease.

Taufa was on the streets of Suva yesterday handing out pamphlets about all types of cancer. She is one of the members of the Fiji Cancer Society which is trying to make families understand and help them go through the darkest hours of family members with cancer.

Taufa is from Vanuavatu Island in the Lau Group, and at 45, she is one of the last person cancer patients in Suva and the west share their last moments with.

"My work with the Fiji Cancer Society is a care giver for those who are suffering from cancer and in the last stage of their lives," Taufa said. "It is not a job that everyone would like to do and it takes someone who has gone through the pain and difficulties of having a loved one killed by the disease to understand.

"For me, the experience was really hard. It was hard to bear seeing my husband going through the pain before he passed away."

Taufa's work involves being with the family and caring for cancer patients and helping both patients and their family members cope with the situation. "It is heartache but I have to be strong and let the families, especially the patients, know there is someone beside them in the final stage of their life."

Taufa said she came to learn about the society when her husband was diagnosed with cancer.
"I came to understand what their functions and roles are and after his death I volunteered to be part of the group and continue the good work of caring for cancer patients in the country," she said.

"Since I joined the society, I have attended numerous workshops that have helped me on how I can cope and at the same time provide valuable service to patients as well as families. "I struggled trying to come to terms when my husband was told he had the disease.

"I had to offer him all the love and care I could give because I know eventually he would have to succumb to the disease. "I was with him all throughout the different stages until his final breath.

"From the experience I was able to gain strength and confidence that I could help families trying to cope with the disease." Taufa said this year alone she served four patients until their death. "For some patients living in their own homes with the disease was not easy," she said.

"This is where I come in and talk to families as well as patients on the importance of giving all the love and care that a patient needs until he or she passes on. "Cancer is a dreadful disease. It drains a lot out from the families and the pain is just too hard to bear.

"However, families must always ensure they show the patients they are always there for them.
"We have to make sure our family members with the disease do know that we care for them even in the last stage of their lives.

"Through their darkest hour of pain, one can only sit beside them and cry but being beside them alone does make a difference in that they know we are there for them." Taufa said caring for family members with cancer should be seen as a duty and not a burden.

She said while nothing much could be done to those in the last stage of the disease, "the best thing to do is give as much love as we can while they are still with us". Taufa said the best way to avoid going through the pain of having the killer disease was to have regular checks and living a healthy lifestyle.

She advised the public to make use of the Fiji Cancer Society to learn more about the disease.
For now, Taufa will continue to care for patients as well as their families.

Adapted from the November 17th, 2007

Wednesday, November 14, 2007


WEA Cakacaka and members of her family are traditional wood carvers. It is a God-given talent, more like a gift passed down through the family tree for generations.

It makes her a rarity because in Fijian ideology, Wea and her blood lines are known as mataisau builders or sculptors and they have generally been men. It has been 10 years since Wea started in the woodcarving business and she has made a good name out of it.

Since leaving secondary school at Vashist Muni College in Navua in 1996, Wea tried her hand at carving and has not looked back. "It is part of our tradition that has been passed down through the generations," Wea said.

"My parents come from families of wood carvers who make a business from it. "This is something I am very proud of as I can fall back on it. "I have been lucky that the knowledge of wood carving has been passed down by my parents to me, especially as I am an only child."
Wea does not claim success for herself.

She comes from Fulaga, in Lau, and is married to Maika, who is from Matuku. The couple have four children. Wea and her husband's carvings range from turtle shell dishes, tanoa and interior decorating.

She said income from wood carving depended on the size of the project. "Since starting this business there is so much competition in carving," she said. "What I have gotten from these carvings is not only ideas of how to change, how I design my products to how to manage a small business.

"This is my way of contributing to the family income. The patterns or decoration on the carvings are different and that is what makes it unique." Wea said her husband usually came up with the designs on wood carvings and products like the tanoa.

She said a product took a week to complete, depending on the size and the materials needed to put it together. "One of the biggest projects my husband and I worked on was the door designs for the Shangri-La's Fijian resort.

"It took about a week to complete just one of the doors. "The work can be tiring but the income we earn from the job is more than the cost of materials. "The prices for interior designs on the hotel doors can vary from $300 or more. My husband comes up with the designs for the tanoa.
"All the designs he has come up with depict the changing times we in Fiji are experiencing and the mix of cultures in our world where we have a bit of African, Australian or New Zealand designs.

"Some of our work depict traditional carvings from our past." Wea said the tanoa was used during traditional ceremonies and was significant in Pacific cultures. She said to a tourist the tanoa would be an ornament.

"In that perspective, we designed the tanoa to suit all purposes. It is not only used for traditional ceremonies but can be used as an ornament in homes. "Some of our creations have shells or creative carvings around the tanoa.

"We decided to change the look of the normal tanoa. "All materials used in the wood carvings and our other works are cheaper to buy than the end products.

"We use vesi or vaivai wood for our carvings.

"Most of our carvings are sold to the big handicraft shops in Nadi."

Adapted from November 14th, 2007

Sunday, November 11, 2007


In every government, corporate organisations, private firms, society and family there are always people working tirelessly behind the scene. While it is human nature to only look at the show from the main stage, there are people behind the scene who help make a show a success.

Women are often among people behind the scene. The saying behind every successful man is a hardworking women' can aptly describe Bulou Lavenia Yavala, a woman who has grown from being a manual exchange operator on an island to become a team leader at Telecom Fiji Limited.

She started her career with the then Post Telegraph Department in the early 1970's. Bulou La as she is commonly referred to by her workmates, ended her 35 years of service with the company on Thursday.

And if there was a worker in the company who had gone through the evolving image of Fiji's first telecommunication company, it would have to be Bulou La. She hails from the chiefly family of Tavuki in Kadavu and is also a vasu of the same village which makes her a strong blooded kai Kadavu.

Dressed in a traditional sulu Jiaba with the traditional bui ni ga hair style, Bulou La looked her best on her last day at the office. "I started my training here in Suva as a manual exchange operator and was later transferred to Vunisea in Kadavu," she said.

"At Kadavu I worked under Peni Mau who was then looking after the Post Telegraph exchange on the island. She said her experience on the island was one she cherished, not only because she was back at her roots but because she started her career serving her people.

From the southern island of Kadavu, Bulou La was transferred to Lautoka in 1977. At the Sugar City she worked for six years before coming back to where it all started.

During her time with Telecom, she said she had seen a lot of changes not only in the company but also in the development of telecommunication. "When I started, the company was known as the Post and Telegraph Department.

"This was later changed to Post and Telecom Fiji and after a while it was decided the name would again be changed to Fiji Post and Telecom Limited," she said. "From that it was again changed after Post became a separate company, the new name became Telecom Fiji Limited and that name stands today.

She said during her years with the company she served under five different bosses. "When I first started what is now known as the chief executive officer was known as the permanent secretary and it was Mr John Miles who was at the helm of leadership.

"After Mr Miles, Mr John Manikam took over," she said. Bulou La said it was when Emori Naqova took over that the permanent secretary title was changed to managing director. "After Mr Naqova, Winston Thompson came in and after holding the managing director's position for some time it was decided that he would be known as the chief executive officer.

"This position is now being held by Taito Tabaleka," she said. Bulou La said her days with the company was one that has taught her a lot of good things in life that she holds dear to her heart.
Bulou La is married to Samuela Yavala a household name in the field of athletics and they have a daughter, who is now in the United Kingdom.

With Mr Yavala being a man from Ra and Bulou La from Kadavu the traditional Tavua relationship between the two vanua was the essence of their love story.

While, Bulou La would not go further in to that, she admits that having Mr Yavala as her husband was the best thing in her life. For now, she is looking forward to doing something different in life while she enjoys her retirement.

Adapted from November 11th, 2007