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

Monday, November 5, 2007


She's been a teacher for the past 38 years but Wainikiti Silikomoala is into the final few weeks of her teaching career.

Better known as Bulou Wainikiti, she turns 60 in December and has to retire under new civil servant rules. While she has fond memories of her teaching career, Bulou Wainikiti is sad that she's only had two years as the confirmed head teacher of Namalata Central School in Kadavu. She only wished she were young again, to go through the many exciting challenges she had just begun to experience.

Bulou Wainikiti hails from Tavuki Village in Kadavu. "I received mixed reactions from the locals when I was made head teacher of the school," she says. "For many it was unusual to have a woman as head of the school. Over the years, we've had only men as head teachers.

"But I saw the opportunity as a challenge and carried on with my work. I believe becoming who you are is not about gender but how faithful you can be to what you do and how well you can do it."

Before becoming head teacher, she had been the assistant head teacher from 1998 and acted as head teacher for five years from 2001. The school is a few metres walk from Vunisea, the main trading and government centre for Kadavu province. The school mostly caters for children within the government station and surrounding areas and nearby villages. Despite being head teacher for only a short time, Bulou Wainikiti is content with her contribution to the school over the years.

"I don't have any regrets at all even though being confirmed in this position for two years only. In fact I was able to do more while I was acting in the head teacher's position," she says. She is a firm believer that women can be just as successful as men.

"I believe career women can do more in the society because they are not just there to make a name for themselves, but to take into account issues that concern life and see that improvements are brought about," she said. "I don't consider myself as head of a school only, but a mother also to the students and my staff."

Though it's quite a task to look after rural schools, that has not dampened her spirit. She has been busy working with her staff to improve pupils' academic results and upgrade the school infrastructure. Students can walk properly around the school premises on footpaths and their heads are protected from the sun and rain. They now also have access to a proper water supply and toilets. Parents' support for the school, Bulou Wainikiti says, has also been encouraging.
"I've done my best in educating local children over the years. And being the school head for a short span of time, does not make a difference to me as I'm retiring.

"Age does make a difference to all career people. When you're young you have all the energy and vitality to do what is it you have to do with your career, but as you go along, you gain more experience and you become mature at it. "But sometimes your body tells you that you are not young anymore, but you posses a wealth of experience that people want. "I feel I still have a lot in me to offer to the school, but time tells me it is time to let go and let the young ones enjoy their career.

"In fact I wished I had retired earlier and concentrated on other matters, but I'm thankful I stayed on and contributed to the children's education. "I'm enjoying my teaching days now, with my students and staff and the challenges I face everyday." She teaches the lower classes in school, and finds it more interesting than teaching higher classes. She says in the lower classes children begin learning and it is there that she can monitor how well they could do in higher classes.

"The thing I love about teaching these young ones is knowing they can overcome barriers like learning to read for the first time. This will help them very much in going to the next class."
Bulou Wainikiti is also one of the longest serving school teachers in the school, having spent 20 years at the school, since 1987.

She has taught at only two schools in her teaching career, Namalata Central School and Tavuki District School. The schools are separated by a long stretch of hilly road. Namalata Central is about 15 to 20 minutes by car to Tavuki District School. After graduating from the Nasinu Teachers College in 1968, she was posted to Tavuki District. She spent her first three years of teaching at the school. She was then posted to Namalata Central for seven years and then back to Tavuki District School. She spent a few more years at Tavuki before receiving a posting again to Namalata in 1987. She has been at the school since.

Bulou Wainikiti has had to work her way through her career while raising a daughter single-handedly after her husband passed away when she was in her late twenties. "My husband passed away in 1977 after a short illness. I was 29 years old then. We had only one child, a daughter. I find those times a very hard one. I had my work to concentrate on and also raise my daughter as a single parent."

But she was always comforted at the thought of having relatives near her to help, especially in attending to her daughter as she worked. While she was grateful for their help, she made sure she didn't burden them with her daughter. She would spend every spare moment she had with her daughter. "My whole family was very supportive and that always encouraged me to be strong and enjoy life."

Bulou Wainikiti, was able to send her daughter to Suva for her secondary education at Adi Cakobau School. She graduated with a Masters Degree from the USP last year and is now based at the Office in Lautoka. For her retirement, Bulou Wainikiti, plans to work on her family property on the island and visit her daughter and grandchildren often.

Her advice to colleagues is: "Be faithful and honest to your calling and you will reap great rewards from the children you teach."
Adpted from November 5th, 2007

Saturday, November 3, 2007


Here is an interview with Christine Gounder, who currently work as a Journalist for Pacific Media Networks, Ponsonby, Auckland, New Zealand. Enjoy her story!

My name is Christine Gounder and I’m originally from the one and only gold town of Fiji, Vatukoula. If you’re wondering why my name is strange, that’s because my dad is Indian and my mum is part Fijian, part European. Mum’s paternal family are the Lockington family from Kadavu. My maternal grandmother is the Bailey family from Naitasiri. My family history looks complicated but I love it!

Your primary, secondary and tertiary education
I attended Vatukoula Convent School during my primary years then went to Tavua College for secondary school. I attended USP in 1998 and graduated in 2000 with a Bachelor of Arts with double majors in Literature/language and Journalism. I came over with my family to NZ in 2001 and received the Pacific Island Media Association scholarship to do my Masters in Communication, which I graduated from last year.

Where are you based now?
I now work for the Pacific Media Network news team, that is Radio 531pi and NiuFm. I am the senior journalist for Pacific Radio News, and we are based in Ponsonby, Auckland.

What work do you do and please explain what your work involves?
As a senior journalist, apart from coming up with ideas for news stories, I also supervise the junior reporters and help them when they need it. One has to be very creative to be a journalist, creative with words and have a passion for writing. With radio, I have to write a story using very simple language so that the listener will understand. Apart from writing stories every hour, I also have to do interviews in between.

What are some key points you need to highlight in order for someone to do the work that you do?
In order to become a journalist, you must first of all love writing and love the language. Then because we work on deadlines, in radio it’s every hour, you have to be disciplined and know how to manage your time. You must be confident of yourself because you will be questioning prime ministers etc while on the job. You must be confident enough to walk up to them in public and interview them. You must also like meeting people and love to work, because you’re on duty 24 hours and may be called to do a job anytime of the night.

What are some challenges you face in this career?
Deadline is like the bible for journalists, YOU HAVE TO MEET YOUR DEADLINE. I guess a challenge for me is when there is a breaking story and I have to do an interview, cut up the audio and write the story in say five or ten minutes. Another challenge is finding a story and interviewing someone which other journalists would never think of. There is a lot of competition between journalists and different media and it’s all about getting the story out first as accurately as possible.

What are some of the benefits you gain in this career?
I gain knowledge everyday about people, politics and how the world works. I am also up to date with most news events around the world. You get to know a lot of people, from important people to grass roots. Whenever taking part in discussions, people look to you for an informed, unbiased opinion. And if you write great stories, then you get famous too!

If you have traveled internationally with your work, what place do you enjoy the:
Most and why?
Least and why?

I always enjoy going back home to Fiji. The last time I was there was in December during the 2006 coup when I went to report on it. I would hate to go to a place where I don’t like the food and no one speaks English. I had a bad experience in Korea and hated it.

What advice would you give young ones who want to pursue this career?
Nothing is impossible …whatever your dream is. If you believe …then you will achieve. Perseverance is important, never give up. Pray, talk to your friends and family if you need help. If you want to get into the journalism field, love writing, meeting people, asking the heard questions, then this job is for you.

How did you know about, and if you would like to recommend this site to others, why should you do so? I first heard about it from a colleague at work and only found out who the people behind it were when I interviewed Tarisi for a news story on a different subject. I think it is a great site for keeping the Fijian culture alive. Unity and closeness is a big part of the Fijian culture and Fijituwawa helps make it a reality. Fijituwawa is about us!