Monday, December 31, 2007


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

Adapted from Fijitimes Online

Saturday, December 22, 2007


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

Adapted from Fijitimes Online


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

Adapted from Fijitimes Online

Wednesday, December 19, 2007


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Adapted from the

Monday, December 17, 2007


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Adapted form the

Saturday, December 15, 2007


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Adapted from Fijitimes Online

Thursday, December 13, 2007


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Addapted from the


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Adapted from the

Sunday, December 9, 2007


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

Adapted from Fijitimes Online


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Adapted from Fijitimes Online

Saturday, December 8, 2007


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Adapted from Fijitimes Online


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Apdapted from Fijitimes Online

Tuesday, December 4, 2007


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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