Friday, August 31, 2007


KALIOVA Nauqe knows the Warwick Fiji Resort like the back of his hand.
In fact the Warwick, he says, is his second home.
It is somewhere he has spent most of his life, almost three decades as staff and more as a boy from his nearby Namatakula Village.
He has seen many changes since the resort opened in 1979, when it was called the Hyatt.
Kali, as he is commonly known, comes from a village famous for producing some of Fiji's finest rugby union and league players.
He comes from a sporting family.
His younger brother is former Canberra Raiders player Noa Nadruku who was a star for Fiji in sevens and 15s before he switched to league. Another brother, Viliame Tani, played for Fiji in 15s.
Kali, 55, says he loves the Warwick environment so much he would never swap his job as laundry manager.
He started work at the Warwick in 1979 as a waiter.
After four years he moved up to become captain of the resort's restaurant in 1983.
Kali's advance up the ladder did not stop there; in 1985, he was promoted to restaurant manager.
In 1990, he was promoted to duty manager, a post he held for 10 years before moving to the housekeeping department in 1999. Kali worked at the housekeeping department for seven years before calling it a day in April this year. But his retirement was cut short when he was called back onboard the Warwick in June to again look after the laundry department.
"I have been with the Warwick all along because I like it and enjoy the working environment with fellow staff," he said.
"Since starting here, I have seen the resort grow to cater for the needs of guests.
"I have moved from one department to another and up the ladder in various departments that for me is a bonus because I got to learn and improve my skills."
Kali attended Ratu Filise Memorial School at Namatakula and Rishikul High School in Nasinu.
He joined the Warwick soon after high school.
"For many of us from villages on the Coral Coast, once we complete secondary school, we go back and work in the hotels.
"If I was not in the tourism industry I would have joined the police but looking back, I do not regret choosing this career path. I have been able to work with some great people in the industry and learnt a lot of things.''
Kali said young people should always strive for excellence.
"My best memories of working at Warwick is I have had the opportunity to meet some famous sporting stars, especially rugby players. I have also met some heads of State and politicians from other countries when they came for the Commonwealth heads of government meeting at the Warwick."

Adapted from Fijitimes Online

Thursday, August 30, 2007


SHE is known to the children she minds and everyone at the Warwick Fiji Resort as Mama Soko.
She comes from Komave Village a few kilometres away and is always smiling. Mama Soko has been with the Warwick for 19 years. She started as a house keeper in 1989 and in 1997, she crossed to the activities department and started looking after the kids club. She has been with the club and activities department for the past 10 years.
Mama Soko said she would have up to 20 or 30 kids in her care, especially during the Australian and New Zealand school holidays. And if she was not at work, she would be helping out in the village. The activities for children varies through the week.
"On Monday mornings, we have drawing competition, candy hunt and building sand castles at the beach," she said. "In the afternoon we weave baskets and pick flowers for the evening entertainment. This job is more interesting than housekeeping. It requires a lot of energy because I am looking after children of guests but I love it. They are full of life and enjoy the activities."

Adapted from Fijitimes Online

Wednesday, August 29, 2007


Trusting yourself and having the confidence to carrying out a task effectively are the key elements of a firemen's life, says a man who has spent the past 26 years in the field.
Timoci Ranavue, 47, is a man of great strength and who is passionate about his work.
He is the one of the three sub-officers in charge at the Suva Fire Station in Walu Bay.
Ranavue likes challenges and taking risks in life because he sees it as a chance to test his skills and capabilities.
He hails from Naselai, Nuku, in Tailevu, saying joining the National Fire Authority as a cadet fireman was his first paid employment.
Ranavue said he was lucky to have been accepted in the team as he had only reached fourth form.
Today, the entry requirement for firemen has been upgraded to a sixth form pass.
"I went up to Form Four at Shridhar Secondary School, in Nausori, and after that was looking after my father's shop in the village," he said.
"I was lucky to be taken in that time because now the system is different," he said.
He joined the Suva Fire Station in 1981 as a probation fireman.
"I was only 21 years then but I was prepared to tackle the great challenges waiting ahead for me.
"This was something I wanted to do because this profession has been in our blood.
"My grandfather was a fire fighter in Nadi, my father was the station officer in Suva and my eldest son, Ilaitia is a fire officer in Nadi.
"It is in our blood and I am proud of it." he said.
"I have followed the footsteps of my ancestors and I am glad that at least one of my sons is in the same field to carry this on," he said.
"It was my dream and I just followed my heart."
Ranavue, who has three sons and a daughter, said he loved his work and looked forward to every day at the fire station.
"My job is to keep everyone together and tell them what to do," he said.
"Teamwork is our biggest strength. Without teamwork nothing will be achieved.
"You just can't work on your own. I prepare the team and give out instructions on what is to be done.
"When there is a call for a fire, I have to organise the fire fighters to get ready within a very short period of time, wear our protective clothing and off we go. It is my job to tell them how to react at the scene," he said.
After successfully completing his probation period he became a fireman.
Ranavue was then promoted to senior fireman and after five years became sub-officer in charge of the Suva Fire Station.
This is the position he now holds, supervising 11 senior firemen.
In 2000, he was given the chance to attend a firefighting rescue course in Japan for three months.
In April he was sent to Australia for a week to learn motor vehicle testing.
"I enjoyed going out because I learnt a lot from these two trips. It was an opportunity to learn more about motor vehicle and rope rescue techniques. It built more on my ability and talent," he said.
Many may think a firefighter's job is risky but not Ranavue.
"I don't see it as risky at all. All you need to do is trust yourself and believe in yourself that you can do that particular task. You have to have the confidence that you can handle it and handle it well," he said.
He said there had been great improvements and advancements in the National Fire Authority since he started there.
"There have been new fire stations built in Valelevu, Nausori, Labasa, Levuka and Sigatoka. There is another one about to be built in Nadi.
His advice to young people is simple: "Believe in yourself."

Adapted from Fijitimes Online

Saturday, August 25, 2007


SEVERAL years ago, after the coup in 2000, Kesaia Vakaola made her way to Suva to fend for her children's education.
Since then, it has not been easy for the mother of three but she is coping well enough, after banking on skills she acquired at an early age while growing up in her village on Moce in Lau.
Vakaola, 39, is among the limited number of women in the country who are adept at making masi, the traditional Fijian cloth produced from the bark of the mulberry tree.
The Fiji Times met her as she taught other women the skills at the Veiqaravi ecumenical community training centre at New Town, Nasinu.
The consistent thudding of wood against wood was the only sound that emerged from this urban setting, as women concentrated on their individual tapa pieces.
Beating the bark of the mulberry tree is probably the most integral part of the whole tapa making process which takes about three to five days at best.
The activities provided at the centre are aimed at empowering women through acquired skills and also giving them some spiritual guidance.
The facility is supported by ecumenical partners which include the Methodist Church of Fiji, the Anglican Church and the Seventh Day Adventist Church of Fiji.
"I like doing what I do very much. It was what I learnt on Moce when I was small and I'm glad I have been able to pass it on to others for their benefit,'' said Vakaola.
"I have been making good money from tapa, roughly about $130 a week from the sales.''
Vakaola said as a small girl growing up in her village of Korotolu, she picked up the skill from elder women.
"I used to see my grandmother, mother and aunties beating (tapa) every morning until the afternoon."
The Lauan native said she usually derived much of the mulberry bark from the village of Viwa in Yasawa, where they grow prominently.
The Veiqaravi training centre is encouraging the trainees to plant their own mulberry trees in their backyard or garden.
It is considered a good investment because it is usually six months or more before the bark can been harvested, which is a relatively short time for a good cash crop, according to Vakaola.
The trainees have also been taught how to boil the bark of the dogo or mangrove plant to make the dye used to paint tapa.
Vakaola said initially life in Suva was hard but with her tapa business, she was learning to make ends meet and help support her family and elderly parents.
"My eldest daughter is in Form Six, one son in Class One and one in Class Six.
"With the money I make I manage to pay for their education."
Vakaola said most of her clients usually placed their orders with her but if they are not enough, she takes her wares to sell at the Suva flea market.
She said tapa making was not easy to teach but said she found it easy to achieve because of her apprenticeship at home.
"It is hard work but luckily it comes easy for me. I can have a big piece ready in just three days.
"I'm glad I have these skills because it has allowed me to provide an income for my family.
"My advice to young women out there is whatever they can do with their hands, they can support themselves or their families with."
Vakaola is a good example of how individuals without much of an education, can rely on skills such as tapa making as a means to financial independence.
But, as in any other work, she said it was important that commitment and dedication were part of the effort to bring out the best in the results or handiworks.

Adapted from Fijitimes Online

Wednesday, August 22, 2007


DETECTION and control of fraud and corruption must start from the highest echelons if the trickle down effect is to be felt, says Rosa Langi, believed to be Fiji's only certified fraud investigator and forensics accountant.
In her view, the Fiji Independent Commission Against Corruption's tactics in dealing with white collar crime are peripheral and fail to address the biggest and most widespread white collar crime known as financial statement fraud.
She explains this as she speaks candidly to FREDERICA ELBOURNE about raising the red flag, and the fear that FICAC itself may commit fraud because of the pressure it is under.
FT: Your qualifications and experience speak volumes of your understanding and perception of the problem of white collar crime and fraud or corruption as most call it here. In the face of growing concern over how wide spread this practice is in the civil service and in light of the work and role of FICAC, can you explain what you think should be the proper way for FICAC to proceed under the circumstances in successfully undertaking its role to fully meet its goals?
Langi: I worked at FIRCA in 1996 where I came across a lot of white collar crimes. It was where taxpayers tried to make deals with you. After working in the Prime Minister's office in 1997 I worked for the Fiji Intelligence Service where we focused on white collar crime a lot of it and investigations we came across included the covert underhand kind of service.
In 1999, they sent me to the Major Fraud Unit in Nabua for a few months and I was asked to go to Finance because of the concerns of the Y2K problem. Turned out the Y2K was fraud. There was some politics with my posting as private secretary to the Finance Minister then so I was sent to police head quarters. I was there from June to December doing literally nothing because police were busy with law and order and civil issues. I was paid to do nothing much. So I started asking myself questions and PSC and I wasn't the only one there were a few of us that were just mucking around because there was nothing to do. The AUSAid funding was removed and there was a worry about things to happen, so I quit at the end of 2000 and went back to FIT to teach auditing tax until 2004.
The FIT problem is history now but when I was there I was one of those forever bringing up the issue of corruption. There were issues of lack of transparency. For example, as head of accounting, the Budget was something that very few had access to. There was no transparency, lacked accountability and that continued from 2001 to 2004. In the meantime, I had become a member of the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners the only institution of its kind in the world today.
The deal with FIT before I quit in 2004 was for them to allow me leave without pay to complete my PhD in the US. I mentioned specifically that the PhD was to do with fraud and that this would be the first time in Fiji for someone to study fraud. This was leave without pay which I explained was for an area that would be huge in the future. University of Texas is where the Association of Certified Tax Fraud is and it was where I was going. FIT replied that if it was more than one year, then I would have to resign. So I quit, gladly.
Later, I was to go away, but somehow I met the University of Fiji people at that time because they had just started so they asked me to coordinate the accounting department and prepare programs.
It was supposed to be a six month contract but I ended later in June last year in fact. I left Fiji and joined the University of Wollongong in 2006 where I did my Masters in forensics. The University of Wollongong is the only university in the world that offers Masters in forensics in accounting.
I'm also completing my Masters in fraud investigations which Charles Sturt University offers. It's done on line. This was part time, while Wollongong was full time.
FT: Why the interest in this field? Are you the only locally certified one? Do you know of any other locals in the same profession here? What about FICAC?
LANGI: In fact I think I am the only one locally with this much experience and qualifications in Fiji. There may be some overseas people here but I am the only local. Being an accountant I went to FIS and then moved on to intelligence and then with VAT Income Tax experience.
What FICAC is doing is just the tip of the iceberg. FICAC is a reactive unit, meaning the fraud happened elsewhere and FICAC is investigating. Fraud is not happening in FICAC, it's happening in the government ministries and departments.
FT: So what you're saying is FICAC is not serving its full purpose?
LANGI: What I'm saying is nothing is happening in FICAC. It is timely, but a short term solution. At the same time they need to realize that what they need to do is all the ministries need to understand this trend and crime, otherwise FICAC will keep increasing.
To detect and prevent fraud is the solution. It's proactive. It's what needs to happen. It needs to start first and foremost in the ministries and departments, from the top to the bottom. I need to speak to each one of them in the ministry and department about it. We haven't even tapped into the private industry and statutory bodies. What interested me with FICAC were the jobs recently advertised. The bigger the organisation doesn't necessarily mean it will achieve its aims and goals faster. It's a reactive unit after all, just like the police. The unit detects fraud and the police come running.
The code of conduct is for those at the top. It has all this jargon about transparency, accountability. Do these people know what they're talking about? They can bring the most experienced forensic accountant in. It does not solve the problem because the problem stems from the ministries. So while the investigations are going on at FICAC, the corruption and fraud continues in the ministries.
FT: There are mechanisms and systems in place to detect and control. Why not strengthen it?
LANGI: No. Internal control will not work. The civil service reform will not work.
FT: What gives rise to fraud and corruption?
LANGI: Fraud and corruption happens for three reasons or in three situations and these happen simultaneously. They can not happen in isolation. One is pressure. Last night on television, there was a church minister saying something about tithe and its obligations and how it did not pressure people to give soli. He does not realise that indirectly, it leads people to corruption. These people do not know what they're talking about. One of the reasons for corruption is pressure which comes in many forms. Finance is the main one, and work pressure is the other. The teachers and nurses have just returned from strike. This is a result of pressure and unhappiness at work which is called employment deviance.
You are not happy, and you think you deserve better rewards to earn more. I never go to CWM anymore. These nurses want more, but what guarantee is there that when you give them more it will improve their work?
You see your boss going off to the west on a corporate jaunt and you think I deserve that too. The Methodists are pressured to produce a lot more than they can give.
FT: On account of having tea and tavioka at home as a sacrifice?
LANGI: Exactly. The second reason for fraud is opportunity. An example I have a financial problem, I am a cashier, I have access to money. But you don't have to be a cashier, but as an auditor in direct contact with the business people you are most likely going to strike deals.
Rationalisation is the third reason. It is something like "I am a religious person and I have faith in God and he will pardon me if I borrow this money but don't pay it back because I am giving it to the church. It is self justification. It is where you excuse your own wrong actions because God will pardon you. It is where they see stealing as borrowing and is something cashiers do.
This is where the red flag comes in. These people are the ones that must turn up to work every day. Because A is borrowing from B to pay C and C is borrowing from B to pay A. So you need to be there all the time to collect these different transactions.
Financial pressure is huge. The Fijian traditional system indirectly places huge pressure on the solis and ogas. Directly and more commonly is where people are promoted and they don't have what it takes. FICAC is not qualified and there is a lot of pressure. Their work is secretive. There is the opportunity there for rationalisation so the quicker they get qualified people in there, the better, otherwise you have FICAC committing fraud as well because of the situation. It has been tested overseas that pressure in any form gives way to fraud.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007


SINCE age 12, Mata Prasad has been a dalo farmer, helping his dad and younger brothers at Qaravalu, Delaivuna, on the Garden Island of Taveuni.
Today, more than 44 years into the farming business, Mata owns a house in Suva, a car and tractor on the Garden Island, 40,000 dalo plants, 5000 yaqona plants and a five-bedroom home on his farm.
Asked what his revenue is like, Mata smiled and said: "Good money. Very good".
"It comes with a lot of hard work and to make your farming business a successful one, depends on the farmer and his discipline, dedication and commitment to his farm," Mata said.
"I started farming dalo and yaqona in Class Seven at South Taveuni Indian School and I've always reminded myself to be faithful to my work and remain committed."
Mata believes this reminder has brought him a long way from 1963 as a student.
The eldest of six, Mata left school at an early age to help his dad, Saha Deo, who was sick and needed help with farm work.
"I pulled out of school and helped my dad on the farm from planting the dalo to harvesting it and selling the dalo," he said.
"Those days we used to sell a bundle of dalo for 50cents, with one selling at 10cents each and if we sell to the market for export we receive 20 shillings a pound for dalo," Mata said.
"And that was a lot of money during those days as the cost of living was much cheaper compared to the cost today."
Although the price of dalo fluctuates in the export market, Mata said having such a business was good as it had no employment conditions such as qualification, salary and retirement age.
"I start and finish work on the farm whenever I want, take my leave any time and even decide on the duration, and will only retire when I can't walk any more," he joked.
When he started farming, Mata used to plant about 500 dalo plants a day but because age is catching up on him, now at 56, he and his workers plant about 300 dalo shoots."
Mata begins farm work at 6am and returns at midday for lunch, has a good rest and returns to his farm at 3pm.
"I return home at around 5pm to 6pm, and at times mix a bowl of grog but I have to be in bed by 10pm so I can wake up early the next day to start work again.
"Although I have my own working conditions, I don't abuse the situation I'm in because if I do, it will affect my business and everything I worked hard for over the past will disappear into thin air.
"I don't want that to happen because this is my livelihood and my source of income not only for me but for my family and two children studying in university," Mata said.
He has four children and it is his dream that his future generation continue with the farming business.
"I know the sweetness of this business and how, white collar job, people work years to save thousands of dollars compared to dalo farming which can be collected in eight months once the crop matures.
"That's why I want my grandchildren and their children to continue because they don't have to answer to anybody except remain faithful to God and to their farming business," Mata said.

Adapted from Fijitimes Online

Monday, August 20, 2007


SERVING the people of Fiji with the best of their capabilities is the aim of a Fijian social group in Australia.
The Central Coast Fijians is made up of a small charity organisation of 20 families originally from Fiji now residing on Australia's Central Coast.
Tamani Cama, who represents the group, was home lately to donate glucometers costing about $1000 to the National Diabetic Centre.
The sugar-testing machines, strips and lancets, were part of the package given to 10 patients who, with the help of the machines, can check and control their sugar levels themselves instead of going to the centre every time.
Cama said it was the least they could do to show people of Fiji that they still cared about this country and the people.
He is one of the pioneers who started the Central Coast Fijians and the idea of helping diabetes patients here.
Cama was inspired to carry out the good deed after his son, Nicholas, was born with the disease and had to have nine major operations to survive until the present day.
Nicholas is now 16 years old.
"My son was born with diabetes. After the operations, he has been relying on tablets and pumps for the past 15 years.
"He is now in Year 10 at Brisbane Watters Secondary School," said the father.
"So I wanted to do something to help diabetes patients in Fiji.
"We cannot help all the diabetes patients but we are doing our best to help a few.
"It is about getting together and holding each other's hands.
"I believe in God and everything is possible through him.
"I keep telling people that God will one day heal my son and he will be fine.
"His pancreas has been taken out but he is doing fine.
"My faith is strong and there is always hope. You can have plenty money but if you do not have hope, it is all useless."
The CCF was formed in 1993.
"We started with only five Fijian families but now we have 20 families that includes Indians, Fijians, Rotumans and even part-Chinese from Fiji.
"It's like whenever we have a new neighbour, we invite them to be a member of the club and explain the purpose of the group.
"Most of us have one or two family members in Fiji who have diabetes and we want to do something for them.
"It is our way of contributing something and at the same time maintaining close ties with the people." The group did their first major fundraising in 2005 and the donation this year is the first one.
"The Fijian community on the Central Coast has been very helpful and we have tremendous support from them.
"We organised a cultural night in 2005 and collected $2150 in one night.
"After that, we wanted to open a club in Fiji but it was unsuccessful."
Cama is originally from the island of Moce in Lau.
He left Fiji in 1989.
He resides on the Central Coast and is married with five sons.
He is confident the membership of the Central Coast Fijians will grow as the years go by.
"We will keep telling the people of Fiji who will be coming to settle on the Central Coast and perhaps, spread our wings outside our area in future.
"I am grateful to the Fiji community on the Central Coast.
"Our aim is to grow bigger, do more fundraising and continue doing something for needy people back in Fiji."
Cama is planning to make a trip back to Fiji before the end of the year.
"We would like to be kept updated on the progress of the 10 patients we helped at the National Diabetes Centre but the main thing is for them to be educated and know how to control their sugar level."
Having hope and faith in all you do is Cama's message to the people of Fiji.
"If you have hope you will go a long way and to succeed, keeping faith in God is very important."

Adapted from Fijitimes Online

Friday, August 17, 2007


The island of Vanuabalavu, in Lau, is without doubt one of the most magnificent places in Fiji.
Lomaloma Bay and the volcanic rock bay of islands are places that will live forever with anyone who lays eyes on them.
For people planning a trip to the island, they are must-see places.
That is exactly the case for Reverend Epeli Fotofili, who was born and bred in Sawana Village, one of the many villages on the island.
On hearing the name one can easily figure out that Mr Fotofili had close ties to the island kingdom of Tonga.
In fact, the village of Sawana, on Vanuabalavu, is a Tongan village where descendants of Tongans who came in the early days to Fiji settled.
Today, Sawana still has its church talatala sent from Tonga to serve the Methodist congregation there.
For Mr Fotofili, his calling from God was something he had looked forward to long before his ordination as a Methodist minister.
From the long white sandy beach that stretches from Sawana to Lomaloma, Mr Fotofili now serves in a place that is totally new and different from where he was brought up.
He is now in charge of the Tai Vugalei circuit, based in Vatukarasa Village on the border of Tailevu and Naitasiri.
Mr Fotofili said the change in environment was something he had expected when he decided to join the Methodist mission work as a talatala.
"This is my 12th year as a talatala and I tell you I have never ever regretted committing my life to the work I do now," he said.
It dawned on me that the good reverend was somewhat of a foreigner in the interior of Tailevu because whenever a traditional ceremony took place in the village, his presence was recognised through the mention of his tribe as the yavusa Toga.
Mr Fotofili said he was used to serving in the islands as he had spent most of his days on Kabara and serving the smaller islands in the Lau Group.
"In 2004 I was appointed to come and serve as the minister for the Tai Vugalei circuit," he said.
"I had no choice and accepted it humbly because it is God's calling," he said.
He said the circuit he served included the four villages of Vatukarasa, Nameka, Natuva and Tonia.
"Being in the interior of Tailevu, just as the people of Tailevu say, is no problem," he laughed.
"Although we are here in the deep forest, we still enjoy life like anyone else in any part of the country.
"There is a lot of fresh food and the traditional solesolevaki (communal gathering) is the best part of being part of such a community," he said.
Mr Fotofili said his regular diet was now freshwater prawns, fish and dalo from the alluvial plains of Vatukarasa.
"I take care of the spiritual lives of the almost 600 members of the church in the four villages and, in return, they look after me just like I am one who is originally from here," he said.
He said serving his congregation was just like rearing a child to become a better person in life and to be holistically prepared to face the challenges of the world.
He said the biggest drawback in serving in such an area was transportation.
"This is probably a major hindrance to my work, especially when there is heavy rain and bad weather," he said.
While Sawana may be hundreds of miles from Vatukarasa, Mr Fotofili is proud to be carrying out his duties in a place far different to his home village.

Adapted from Fijitimes Online

Tuesday, August 14, 2007


THERE are many job opportunities in the tourism industry but students must stay in school and complete their education, says Mika Vuidavuwalu Mocelutu.
Mika, as he is known, is the maintenance supervisor at Treasure Island Resort, just off the Lautoka coast.
He says dropping out of school should be the last choice any student should consider.
Mika started with Treasure Island in 1978 as a teenager working initially as a dive shop attendant.
Today, he is one of the longest serving staff members with the popular tourist holiday destination that opened in 1972.
Mika, 46, is from Beqa Island, while his wife Losana is from Gau. They have three daughters, with the eldest married, the second only recently completing secondary education and the youngest a three-year-old.
For someone who only went up to Class Eight at Raviravi District School in Beqa, Mika said that had not deterred him from climbing up the employment ladder.
"After I failed my Class Eight exams I went back to the village to do farming but when the opportunity arose for a job here I grabbed it with both hands," he said.
"I do not regret doing it."
After a year as a dive shop attendant, Mika moved on to the maintenance department as a carpenter.
"Today (yesterday) marks my 29th year with the resort," he said.
"When I moved to maintenance, I started as a carpenter, then became an electrician and am now the supervisor.
"One thing I like about being in the tourism industry is that we get to meet people from backgrounds and cultures from all over the world.
"This is an interesting feature about being in the tourism industry. Although we are away from our families, these people become our other family.
"We are on the island for 20 days before we get to go home and visit our families and spend time with them."
Mika said he had been lucky his staff had been supportive in his role as maintenance supervisor.
"Although I did not complete my secondary school education, my only advice to the young people is that they should study hard and achieve the highest they can in education," he said.
"Young people should not get involved in drugs because it does not get you far in life."
Mr Mocelutu said many of the opportunities that were out there in the tourism sector or the well paid jobs expected university education or some other higher qualifications to that of high school leaving certificate.
He said children should dig their heels deep and set standards for themselves.
"Education is everything these days and children of today should not be too relaxed about going to school," he said.
"Back when we were in school if we failed our exams it was back to the village to work on the farms.
"But now even if they fail or they drop out of school the children or young people don't want to return to their villages to help out on the farms."
Mr Mocelutu said he never expected to reach supervisor level and that tourism was his window to the outside world.
"If I was not here I would be back in my village working on the plantation," he said,
"We can always go back home to villages and work on the plantation but most people, if given that option, don't want to go."

Adapted from Fijitimes Online

Monday, August 13, 2007


Elizabeth Alice Mahabir is an independent woman who sticks by her principles.
She is one of 10 residents of Pearce Home, on Butt Street, in central Suva.
She has seen the capital city evolve from the 1920s.
Her parents were originally from India and came to Fiji during the Girmit era.
Her father was a businessman and her mother a housewife.
Ms Mahabir is an introvert who seldom discusses herself with others.
That's why her willingness to grant an interview proved quite a surprise to everyone at the home, although it took some cajoling to have photographs taken.
Her father was one of the first businessmen in Suva during the 1900s and she lived through the many changes Suva has experienced.
"Suva during the 1920s and 1930s was an old looking town like any other old looking town," she said.
"It was in the 1930s that the town really started to develop.
"All the shops were wooden except MHs, which was concrete.
"Now the look of the town has advanced and grown."
Born and brought up in Toorak, she spent most of her life there.
She went to Saint Anne's Primary School but could not go any further because there simply was nowhere for her to go. "There was no secondary schools at our time so after I finished my primary school, I stayed at home to help my mother," she said.
Her dream career, however, was to become a nurse but this remained a dream as she could not make it a reality because her father died.
"I love nursing and wanted to be a nurse," Ms Mahabir said.
"At that time we had plenty volunteers going to New Zealand for training and I wanted to go to but my father had died and I did not want to create a hassle for anyone to pay for my fees, boarding expenses or anything.
"So I just stayed home and nursed my family members when they got sick."
She was only eight years old when her father died and is the youngest in a family of two boys and three girls.
Now, 89, Ms Mahabir is the only survivor of her family.
She does not have many relatives in Fiji and wishes to live on her own.
She has been living at the Pearce Home since 1987 and says that is where she belongs. She used to run a tuck shop at Saint Anne's Primary School before settling at Pearce Home.
Ms Mahabir comes from a strong Catholic background, saying she had devoted her life to God.
She is single and does not believe in pairing up with someone.
"I never got married. I mean what is in marriage that people go for," she said.
"I used to meet my friends on the street and ask them how everything is and they all have the same story that they have been divorced from their partners and were not coping well.
"I don't want to live a life like that but I am happy on my own. "I believe in being independent and I don't want to rely on anybody.
"I made a vow never to get married after my father's death because I did not want anyone to look after me.
"I am quite capable of that on my own."
She does not believe in mixing around and communicates only with people she is comfortable with.
Ms Mahabir was brought up in a strict family, saying she was grateful to her family for having looked after her so well.
"My family was very strict and my father only allowed us to speak to the people who regularly came to our place," she said.
"We were not allowed to speak to boys.
"After my father's death, several boys came to our place for marriage but the answer was no."
Although she is an Indian, Ms Mahabir can not speak Hindustani fluently but speaks fluent Fijian, saying no one can beat her in that.
"I am more fluent in Fijian and English than in Hindi. It is hard for me to pronounce and understand the Hindi vowels and I am bad at it," she said.
"When I was a child, my mother used to get wild on me for not being good at my language and saying what kind of Indian I am.
"I am glad my father supported me there and told my mother to leave me alone if I was not good at the language. Now if you say something in Hindi, I will understand it but I won't be able to reply instantly. But I tell you, no one here can catch me in Fijian. When I speak they think I am a Fijian woman," she said with pride.
In addition, she knows a little Samoan.
She will be turning 90 next month and is proud of being in good health.
"I am the only one alive out of all my brothers and sisters. I have no major sickness doctors say. I just have some pain in my leg and I used to donate blood about five years ago.
The doctors could not believe I had healthy blood at that age. It is what I eat. I don't drink, I don't smoke but I look after myself," she said.
She has no regrets in life, saying Pearce Home is where she will spend the remaining years of her life and sees it as her true home.
Ms Mahabir believes that people should not be pushed into something in they are not interested in.
"Don't push for something you know you can't have and try and be happy with what you have," she said.

Adapted from Fijitimes Online

Saturday, August 11, 2007


SHE is the only private practitioner on the garden island of Taveuni but that does not necessarily mean business is on her side.
For Doctor Losana Taroga, being the only private doctor comes with a great package from publicising her practice to providing unavailable drugs to members of the community.
She started her practice in January this year and business was slow at first.
But after much support from her husband, Gabriel Taroga, who as part of the promotion told every second soul he met about his wife's practice, the number of patients increased gradually.
"Even when he goes farming he tells villagers about my practice, when he is in the supermarket he tells people about the practice so it is a great help," she joked.
"I don't have to pay an advertising crew to do the promotion."
Comparing Taveuni to previous places where she worked such as Tavua and Suva, Dr Lo said the garden island was the toughest in the sense that business was slow but when people started to know of her practice, they not only visited her for medical purposes but to buy drugs as well.
"So I have to keep a good stock of drugs and expensive ones too because they are not readily available on the island. That is why people visit the clinic to buy drugs," she said.
"I always make sure a prescription is with them before the drugs are bought and I check to see if the drugs suit their sickness."
Dr Lo has seen how successful her husband's promotional work has been. Last month, she started a weekly medical check-up on Laucala Island for workers building a resort there.
"I was approached by the management on the island and it has come as a great help," she said.
"I want to thank the management for thinking of me and giving me good business.
"I travel to the island every Thursday morning and return in the evening with my transport and boat provided by them."
Even when she returns in the evening, messages from patients would be on her table.
"So I call my patients again and ask them what's wrong. At times I have to travel to their homes to examine them because they cannot come to the clinic," she said.
"Even if it's at night, I still go because I am the only private practitioner and receiving such calls from people wanting to be seen by a doctor at home and at whatever time, means a great deal to me."
As a member of the Taveuni Rotary Club, Dr Lo helps out with voluntary work when groups of doctors arrive on the island from overseas.
At times, the voluntary work deals with cleaning compounds in villages and renovating buildings and she sees it as a great way of building relationships with the community.
Dr Lo has five children and she contributes her success to the support of her family, especially her husband. "Without them I wouldn't have built a reputation in this community and my husband, who's originally from Taveuni, did a lot," she said.

Adapted from Fijitimes Online

Friday, August 10, 2007



What are your heritage links to Fiji?

My Grandfather is Fred Aull who resided in Suva before my grandmother caught his eye on one of his trips to Lautoka. My grandmother (nana) is Margaret Aull and she is a Henry, Her mother was Elizabeth Lilo . Nana and Grandpa lived in Lautoka until they joined the big Island Drift to New Zealand in 75 for better education for the kids. My father met my mother Katarina who is Te Rarawa/Tu wharetoa.

I have a big wonderful family that live back in Fiji and we keep in close contact I try make it back there (now that I am older and know how the pot holes go on Fiji roads) every year and in time for the Bula festival!!! Well any festival that I can have a candy floss for 50c, a BBQ for 2 bucks and curry!!

My name is Margaret Aull jnr I am Fijian, Maori.

What privileges have you received as someone of mixed heritage?
Well in terms of privileges there are often two sides with me one is the ‘I am privileged because of my Maori/Fijian Mix my heritage runs through my veins’ the other is the cynical ‘ how would things be different if I didn’t sit in this brown skin of mine.’
Its the stereo typical nuisance when it comes to studying or categorizing my work that you have to handle with the ‘oh you got Islander blood, so can go for grants “ or “ you are Maori you do Maori Art.’
But Hey that’s how the cookie crumbles you either pick the crumbs up or dunk it and eat it!! I have a big Mix and I can draw simultaneously from both cultures to create work!!
But there are resources available to help with studies and I was lucky enough to receive one from the Pacific Island Trust to help with my Degree in Media Arts and of course my Iwi grants. (Well hey it’s our land and that’s what it is all set up for!)

What is like growing up as someone of mixed ancestry of Fijian, Maori and European heritage?
Well I had a great up bringing with Friday nights at Nana’s watching the uncles and aunties drinking grog with nana and Gramps eating curry and roti while on the other hand I had Mum in Kohanga and cooking & eating boil up!!
So it was great- I always made it on the girls rugby team and I always knew I had more meat and bones on me than my cousins from Taupo.
Growing up is always the easy part because everything isn’t as tainted and the rules of life are yet to be applied, as a kid there is freedom.
Mum always kept us in close contact with Nan and Gramps and so being part Fijian (and still is) adds a bit of flavor to the fried bread.
Mum always proudly called my brother and I “her fruit salad kids” but we always knew that our cultures were both very special that we belonged to Aotearoa and the tropical sun of Fiji.

What are some achievements in life you would like to share?
My love for Art History took me through Europe and back home again and after living in Sydney for two years I thought to take up my Art again. I started with Te Wananga o Aotearoa for the first 3 awesome years and have currently finished my Bachelors in Media Arts majoring in Painting and Sculpture through Wintec.

I received the Waikato Museum Arts Post Award from Wintec for outstanding Academic Results in 2006. This year I’m taking a break and working on a body of work for a solo exhibition at Arts post next year (2008). I’ ll be going back to Fiji in a couple of months to do some more research for the exhibition. I am part of collective group of Artists that have opened up Gallery 8 in Te Awamutu but My long term goal is to move to Fiji for a couple of years and run workshops for local artists and get in there with the contemporary art movement.

What is your vision for future generation of mixed Fijian, Maori and European youngsters to appreciate their ancestry?

Well I say you got the goods be proud of it!!
There is something unique about culture, its part of your identity, there’s something on the pads of your fingers that makes you unique and that is your finger print no one has the same as you or I. No one can deny you your birthright because your heritage runs through your veins! And remember you are who you are because of others that have gone before you. Equip your self with knowledge so that you can share what you have and so that “ you make a contribution of consequence.” (Buck Ninn)

Any other comments or advice to those of similar ancestry as yourself reading your story online?

I think any one that is Maori Fijian we would make a pretty strong rugby team!!!

All the very best Margy from all of us at Fijituwawa.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007


Written by Arieta Vunileba
THERE'S just something about being out in the rural areas that makes any city slicker never want to return to his or her urban abode.
And that is the feeling a couple of us pen pushers felt when we went into the heart of Viti Levu two weeks ago.
So when an opportunity presented itself by way of the visit by the independent audit team investigating Fijian institutions to the upper reaches of Nadarivatu, we jumped at the chance and truly enjoyed every minute we were there except, of course, for the bumpy ride we had to endure.
On reaching Lewa Village, we were taken to the home of Kuru Toutou, who is originally from Saivou, in Ra, but married to Isikeli Toutou.
She comes from a family of seven siblings and was taught from a very young age to toil the land a teaching she eventually passed on to her husband.
She's the third eldest in her family, a family deeply entrenched in farming.
Now her husband is more into planting dalo and cassava and, like others in his village, he is involved in forestry as well.
When they got married more than two decades ago, Kuru taught her husband to plant other cash crops like Chinese cabbage, lettuce, carrots, capsicums, spring onions, eggplants and much more.
She said with most of these vegetables, it only took three months to mature and money was guaranteed.
She said these were vegetables and crops she and her siblings learnt to plant when they were younger and money earned from selling these was used to pay for school fees.
So knowing the fruits of planting these veggies had potential to flourish, she convinced her husband to take a step away from conventional crops and try a hand at these cash crops.
It was a step that neither of them regretted.
They have four children, two of whom are teachers, one at high school and the other at primary level.
Another son returned to the village even though he had completed his high school education and was on the verge of joining the National Youth Band but was called by his parents to return to the village to take over the family's farming commitments.
Kuru says this was done because she and her husband were getting old and were beginning to slow down on their daily farming trips.
The couple's youngest daughter recently completed Form Seven and after searching for jobs in the city, decided to go back to the village and farm the land as well.
From selling vegetables, she has been able to open up a little shop near the family home where she sells mostly canned food items that are an everyday need in the village.
In any village, the success or wealth of any family is often gauged by how well the family is provided for in terms of housing, education and general well being.
Kuru's family can be said to be one of the wealthier families in Lewa Village because they have three houses all neatly built side by side, a sort of meeting house built on a mound atop the three houses and, of course, the little shop that belongs to the couple's daughter.
All four children's education has been paid from money earned from selling cash crops and Kuru says, in any harvesting week, the family can earn a minimum of $400.
Although they did not have an inkling of how to manage and record their finances, Kuru says her husband kept an old diary with records of all the money they made from sales and the expenses they incurred.
That, she said, was all for accountability's sake.
With all of their children being able to sustain themselves now, Kuru and her husband have started saving the money that had been going towards the education of their children. In addition to the crops they plant, they have a chicken coop and own a number of cows.
She says the vegetables they harvest were often sold to middlemen from Lautoka Market and there was never any problem in the sale of their crops.
For the many years they have tilled the land, Kuru and her family have never been denied anything and for that she says, there is money in the land and people should just toil it well to know the benefits they can reap.

Adapted from Fijitimes Online

Monday, August 6, 2007


ENGLISH poet James Flecker once wrote: "Half to forget the wandering and the pain, half to remember days that have gone by, and dream and dream that I am home again."
Home again is exactly where 63-year-old Matai Chee is at the moment.
Matai is a resident of the Father Law Home at Veisari, past Lami town.
He is one of the 27 residents who is still able to use his imagination to create things with his hands.
Born and bred at his village of Muanisolo, Kadavu, Matai is restricted to a wheelchair because his legs have been amputated.
"It is more than two years that I have been here and I have never regretted coming to live in this home," Matai said.
"There is so much love and care here and it is something that we, old people, look for especially when we are sick or need constant assistance."
He said it was a hard decision that his family made for him to be brought to Suva.
"After my legs were amputated, we talked about the situation I was in with my family and we all agreed that I was to be brought over to Suva.
"I knew that this would be the best decision for me because everything was readily available here and I would be able to have access to the best medical facilities in the country. Although emotions were high when I had to leave the village and my family, we all knew it would be for the best."
Matai's wife lives on the island with their six children. At Father Law Home, Matai shares a room with a young man known as Samu, who is paralysed.
"This environment is really a blessing to me because it strengthens my spiritual life."
Matai said his program at the home was one which involved a lot of prayers of thanksgiving.
"I know that the Lord I serve is my strength and that is exactly why I always devote my time to him every day.
"I have my own personal time with the Lord and along with my room-mate, can always sit on our bed and pray whenever we feel like it.
"We know that he has sustained us through his love."
He said it was only through the power of prayer that he was able to find peace within himself.
Matai, in Fijian, has several meanings it could mean smart, skilled or being the first.
These three meanings would perfectly sum up this old man from the southern part of Fiji.
Matai was once urged by the nuns at the home to make use of his hands because he was still strong and had a sharp mind.
"I was given coconut shells and told to create anything out of it."
Like any other Fijian, the first thing that would come to one's mind when given a coconut cup would be the grog bowl.
"I knew a lot of things could be made from coconut shells.
During the Father Law Home open day and bazaar, Matai's table was full of coconut shell products that he created.
The items included curtain holders, candle stands, decorations and accessories such as ear-rings.
"I am really happy and sometimes I am amazed myself when I see what I can do.
"It proves to me that even without my legs, my mind and hands are being blessed by God to create such things for other people."
He said the work he did at the home had occupied his mind so much that he rarely misses his home back on the island.
However, he says that he makes a call to the island now and then to talk to his wife and family when he feels lonely or thinks of them and that is when they come over to visit him at the home.
But for now, Father Law Home is a home away from home for the man mai na sauca.

Adapted from Fijitimes Online

Sunday, August 5, 2007


WHEN he left Fiji twenty-two years ago to look for greener pastures overseas, Solo Williams had no idea his quest would lead him to learn how to cook and bring him back home as owner of a fine dining restaurant.
Mr Williams who is originally from Rotuma was in the Royal Fiji Military Forces before he left in search for a better life in Sydney, Australia.
He was posted to the Middle East in the 1970s and when he returned from his peacekeeping duties, Mr Williams decided to resign from the army and went to Australia.
"I left Fiji in 1984 and migrated to Australia and when I was in Sydney I was looking for a job. My first job was as a kitchen hand at a French Restaurant,'' he said.
He said he saw an advertisement and decided to go for the interview.
"When I reached the venue for the interview I was shocked to see a long queue of people vying for the position and got nervous.
"All those people who were being interviewed before me had a lot of experience while I on the other hand knew nothing about the kitchen and the job that I was hoping to get,'' he said.
But when asked by the people interviewing him about his experience and expertise, Mr William's reply was honest. He said if he was given the opportunity to learn then he would be the best student and do a good job.
His reply got him the job!
"I was quite surprised when I did get the job and I worked very hard at it and found the kitchen a very interesting place because there were people speaking different languages.
"Eventually I began to observe how the cooks were doing their work and decided to learn cooking.
"The head chef had been observing me and my growing interest in cooking and one day he asked me if I would like to learn to cook and I said yes.
"The next day, I came with a pen and my notebook and began to watch them closely while they cooked the various dishes. I was sent to a chef's school where I studied for four years and then I began my career in cooking,'' said Mr Williams.
Mr Williams said when he was serving in the Middle East he used to watch the Arab women cooking on open fire and they would grind their own herbs and spices.
"I had not paid much attention to their cooking then but as I slowly got to cook, I began to recall the types of herbs and spices they were using and use them."
He met his wife Kim while he was in Tasmania and they got married and have a daughter. Tasmania was also where he won a big chef's competition and surprised a lot of locals and famous chefs.
Mr Williams moved back to Fiji last year and recently opened his fine dining restaurant in Suva's Midcity Plaza called "Green Olive".
The restaurant boasts Mediterranean influenced cuisine with lots of fresh tomatoes, vegetables, olive oil and other fresh greens. Mr Williams said the restaurant was open to anyone who had a taste for fine dining.
Recipe: Turkish bread
BOREK (TURISH BREAD)- Filled with spinach, Basil, fetta, cottage cheese and sundried tomatoes
2 eggs; 1 tablespoon plain yoghurt;
1 cup milk (warm);
1 tblsp extra virgin olive oil; 1 1/2 tsp yeast; 1 1/2 cup warm water; 1 kg plain flour; 1 tsp salt; 4 tsp sugar.
Combine eggs, yoghurt, milk, olive oil, yeast, warm water, salt and sugar. Mix well. Add flour to the mixture slowly and knead till it forms a firm dough. Rest it for 30minutes or till it is double in size. Knead it down and cut cup size dough, knead again.
Rest for 15 minutes
Roll out the dough and fill it with spinach, cottage cheese mixture, close the ends and brush it with egg mixture
Bake it in the over (160 degrees) for 20 minutes or until its all brown.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

MEET TARA WATI, of Savusavu

FOR most of her life, Tara Wati had been a labourer working for different copra planters in the hidden paradise of Savusavu. But she reckons it was those years of struggle that helped her children succeed in life.
With the little she received as weekly wages since the 1970s, Tara who lives in Nacekoro, Savusavu, could only afford to pay the bills, school fees and basic food items like flour, rice, sugar and vegetables.
"That was the basic food I could supply to the children together with my husband, who was also working in copra plantations,"she said.
"We did not receive much but we managed and today, three of my five children are working in Suva, one is employed here in Savusavu and my youngest is still at school."
Although at times the thought of not getting through life usually crossed her mind, the idea of seeing her children succeed motivated her.
"I remember those difficult days especially when all my wages went for family expenses and I didnt even have a spare cent to buy things for myself,"Tara said.
"Whenever that happened, I used to feel good about myself because I knew that at least my familys priorities were being looked after first."
But there were days when her children were small and tears would stream down her cheeks when they cried to eat chicken like other families.
"Even though my children used to cry for chicken, which was something we could not afford and could not put on our table, I am glad we provided them education until Form 6 level,"she said.
"And that is why I say we were blessed to receive the little wages but still managed to put our children through school."
Today, at the age of 50, Tara still works in copra plantations, transporting the product to mills. But her job now is different from before.
"Now I am my own boss. I collect copra from the plantations, bring the copra here to my small burner to cook first then take it to the mill to sell,"she said. Tara is not too concerned about the availability of markets for copra because she is satisfied her children were well educated unlike her.
"I only finished school at primary level so when I got married, I promised myself I would give my children a better education and thats what I did and I thank God for that,"she said.
"My husband has also played a major role in the success of our children."She said considering she came from a poor background with her husband, she considered her childrens success in life a blessing from above. Tara also has a vegetable garden and animals such as ducks and goats she sells to help with her financial needs.
"Its a difficult life today and whatever little we can do to provide financial needs for our family we should do,"she said.
The money collected from her copra and vegetable businesses has enabled Tara to purchase a truck which is used for loading copra.
"When I first bought it five years ago we used it in the village of Viani in Natewa Bay, Cakaudrove to transport villagers to Savusavu Town and back.
"But now, because we need it more for the copra business, we stopped the village business and the truck is now being used for the copra business so we dont hire any other trucks,"she said.

Thursday, August 2, 2007


Meet Damien Whippy, an aspiring youth who believes he can do almost anything if given a chance.
Damien, 22, is one of the most wanted persons at F1 Mobile a telephone accessories company located on Waimanu Road, near the Colonial War Memorial Hospital, in Suva.
He is responsible for graphics, IT and web designing for the company and loves his job, saying he could not think of a better workplace even though he has to do the work of three people.
"I love my work and what I do. It's just too cool. I have never worked at a place like this. It is unlike any other workplace," he said.
Graphics is what he enjoys the most, saying, "I love graphics because you get to push the boundary of doing things. You get to do things that others can not do. At other workplaces, one has a fixed task but here we create and design what we like.
"In graphics and web design, I learn most of the things on my own. I like doing this sort of work as it gives me the opportunity to explore and come up with ideas. My bosses tell me what they want and I design it. We discuss and I tell them how this is done and how that is done and they let me do what I want. They hardly change my design.
"I do advertisements as we merchandise wallpapers, ring tones and phones.
"Our workplace sometimes gets very busy but it is just heaps of fun here and that's what I love about it," he said.
"I like working in a lively atmosphere where there is music and people are cheerful. The good thing about this company is that there are many young and funny people here."
Damien is from Waiyavi, in Lautoka.
Boasting about the place he comes from, Damien said the unique thing about Lautoka was that "people don't judge others there". After completing sixth form at Natabua High School, he joined the Fiji Institute of Technology in 2003 to study electrical engineering.
"After the course I went to Lautoka to do my practical for seven months and then I came back to Suva in 2004 to do my diploma in Information Technology," Damien said. "I started work at Fijilive in the webmasters section and continued doing some electrical work.
"I enrolled again last year at FIT for the trade certificate in graphic design course.
"I was working and studying at the beginning of the year but am not enrolled for the next semester. I like working and studying."
Damien wanted to be a rocket scientist. "But this is Fiji so I had to give that up and went for something that was realistic," he said. Believing in himself, he says, is his biggest strength. "I am capable of doing almost anything. It takes me about three months to adjust to a new field," he said.
He is the only son and the eldest in a family of three sisters. His father is an electrical engineer and his mother a housewife.
Damien says he is grateful to his parents for giving him "hiding" when he was a child because that's what pushed him to success.
"I used to be very cheeky when I was young and used to get constant hiding from my parents. Today I am really happy that they did that because that was what pushed me to work hard and become someone," he said.
Damien is a fun, jovial and outspoken person. He, as he says, loves to vakachi, and is someone who is almost constantly cracking up in laughter. He loves to make fun, to make people laugh.
Apart from his jovial side, Damien loves to play the guitar, saying it took him seven months to learn. He loves to listen to music, any music.
He has a curious nature, with an urge to learn more.
His motto is "Don't try to be the best but just be good enough to shine brighter than most".

Wednesday, August 1, 2007


ASENA Kauyaca has been a nurse and midwife for 15 years and says there is no other profession of which she would want to be part.
Asena, who is from Bua in Vanua Levu, said even though she was born there, she has lived in Nabua, Suva all her life.
She is married with three children and says her husband is an understanding man and his maturity and tolerant nature has helped steer their marriage through stormy waters.
"The first five years of my nursing career had a huge impact on my marriage but I managed to work things out and save my family," Asena said.
She said she always wanted to be a nurse as a young girl after seeing what nurses did and how they treated the sick and how they behaved toward elderly people.
"When I was small, I used to see how nurses get close to people and how they understood the pain other persons were going through.
"That is when I decided to become a nurse and I have never regretted my decision."
She said the toughest challenge was during her three years at the Fiji School of Nursing at Tamavua.
"It was the first time I left home and there was peer pressure from older people. The students who were strong willed survived the three years and graduated as nurses."
Asena is based at the Maternity Ward of the Colonial War Memorial Hospital in Suva and said one of her best memories was the time she delivered her first baby.
"Helping to deliver a baby is one of the most amazing feelings a nurse could feel because she is the one helping to bring another life into this world.
"It is a special feeling because we are the first ones to see a new human life even before their parents can set eyes on them."
Asena said nurses worked long hours but after after a hard day's work, when she gets home and reflects on the number of lives she helped save and the babies she delivered, it erased all the bad memories of the day.
"When we think back, after coming home from work about the lives we saved, it creates a different mood in us and gives us the satisfaction that we had helped someone."
Asena said there had been cases when she had to deal with patients who were very ill but never in her 15 years had she lost a patient and that was a record she was proud of.
"Nursing requires a lot of sacrifice and dedication and if these two qualities are not in a person, then they might not do justice to the profession.
"Nursing is a profession which requires a person to be committed to the job and to the people they are serving.
"As the years pass by, you will get to feel the pain and sorrow of the patients you treat and you get to value human life more."
She feels that nurses have a lot of potential and senior nurses in Fiji have the knowledge and experience to study to be nurse practitioners.
Nurses who want to be a nurse practitioner have to go back to school and go through an intensive one-year course where they learn more or most things doctors generally do such as refer patients, deliver babies, circumcision and prescribe treatment and medicines for sick people but there is no extra pay.
One of the conditions is that nurses must be willing to be posted to the rural areas or outlying islands when they graduate as a nurse practitioner.
In the rural areas, nurse practitioners can double as a nurse and doctor.
Given Asena's credential as a midwife, she can easily be a nurse practitioner if she wants to.
As for now, the Bua woman is proud to be a member of the order of Florence Nightingale.