Thursday, September 11, 2008


YOU cannot take away the stigma of having been in prison but you can always change the direction of your life after prison. This is the message of former prisoner and now a reformed Christian, Naomi Caveti.
Ms Caveti realised her mistake when she sat in the Central Police Station waiting to be transferred to the Korovou Women's Prison in 2006.

Ms Caveti, a mother of five children, is from Ono-i-Lau in the Lau Group. She was sentenced to two years after being found guilty of fraudulently obtaining money from her business partner.Ms Caveti described her life before being prison as one of drinking and being on the wrong side of the law.

"I had this drinking problem and because of that I had previous police cases," she says. "I used to have a bar in my house but my drinking habits never affected my children's life," she stressed.

Ms Caveti had a beche-de-mer business which she co-owned with a Chinese man. "My drinking problem led me to take money from the company and when my partner found out he reported to the police," she said. Ms Caveti said she took $1300 from the company and when she was arrested she even agreed to pay back $700 at the police station. But the officer in charge took the matter ahead and she was eventually jailed for two years.

"I smoked my last cigarette at the Central Police Station where I had to wait to be taken to the Korovou Prison and something happened there which made me rethink my life,' she said. "My mother had brought my clothes in a bag to the station and when I got ready to go to sleep in the station cell that night, I pulled out my blanket and a black book fell out of it.

"My mother had packed packed a Bible with my clothes and when I saw it there I just couldn't hold back my anger. I was angry at myself, I was angry at the world and at almost everyone in my life. "I didn't want to smoke another cigarette and I just sat there and cried because I knew that I was going to a place which was very cold and cruel."

Ms Caveti said she spent her days in prison in solitude and thought about what she had been doing and what went wrong. "I come from a broken family and I was the eldest in my family. I realised in prison that I had been looking for love but in all the wrong places. "But the most life-changing moment was when I received a letter from my eldest daughter who was in Class 5 then. "She told me that I was not to worry about my children because they were praying to God everyday and they were okay.

"She told me to keep my faith in the Lord and to pray everyday even if I was sad." Sitting there with tears in her eyes, Ms Caveti said there came a stage when she just forgot about her children and just did not want to come out of prison.

"But then I began to think of my children and I began to miss them and that was when I applied to serve the rest of my sentence outside the prison. "I was released on good behaviour in October last year."

Now Ms Caveti is a member of the All Nations Church and works with the Pacific Youth Correctional Ministries in Levuka. "I live in Levuka with my children and I teach Bible studies to prisoners at Levuka Prison.

"I know how hard it is for people to come out of prison and lead a normal life but I would still advise them to be honest and lead a life of truth". "I understand that the people find it very hard to accept people who come out of prison but if there is a genuine wish to change for the better in their life then the community and the church should allow the former prisoners to come back into the society."

Adpted from Fijitimes Online.

Monday, August 18, 2008


Proving that anything is possible including cooking, Hibiscus King contestant Aseri Makutu took on the challenge of expanding his cooking horizon.

For some one who has spent years watching others cook while lending a hand with preparations, Aseri was all natural when the request came.
Proud of this one dish he can finally call his own, Aseri like most his age seldom cooks but enjoys helping out in the kitchen whenever his services are needed.

He decided to cook kai vaka soso and the miracle in all this is that he did not need his aunties in the kitchen telling him what to do. The recipe kai vaka soso means mixing something with kai or mussels. In this case, it is frying fresh vegetables with kai topped with creamy lolo and garnished with coriander and grated carrot.

Aseri prepared this rather delicious recipe with a smile all the way through not only because it was going to be his first ever cooked product but for him a tasty meal is one that is made with a happy heart.

"My cousin's wife used to do this so I actually learned this a few days ago. All the ingredients are from Sigatoka, right down to the kumala," he said. "I chose this recipe because it is a fairly simple dish to make and it has health benefits with the vegetables included. "It doesn't take long to prepare and make and it's very tasty. This is one of many recipes with kai in it. "The stock from the boiled kai is mixed with grated coconut to keep the taste and flavour of the kai."

The support from his family was overwhelming especially for a little cooking op like this.
His aunt went to Sigatoka over the weekend to get him the ingredients needed for this dish and mind you the taste of home grown vegetables from the 'salad bowl' of Fiji is like no other. His final touch and presentation of his recipe was flawless and Aseri most definitely would have passed home economics if he took it in high school.

The 22-year old is originally from Cuvu in Nadroga and is a second year student at the University of the South Pacific. Born and bred in Sigatoka, Aseri is the eldest of five and although he wanted to be a doctor when he was younger, he has decided to set his sights on becoming a marine scientist.

"I am doing a bachelor of science majoring in marine science and chemistry. I never thought I would be in an event like the Hibiscus. "I used to be a really shy person but with preparations over the past few months, I have become more confident and open to new challenges. "I thought Hibiscus was all about glamour and just sitting up on stage with lots of people looking at you.

"It is more than that. It is more about people and charity and the whole experience has been an exciting one."

Aseri is sponsored by Lala's Menswear and is grateful for the support received from both his sponsor and family members.

Aseri's kai vaka soso

Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes
Serves: 4 people

1 heap kai or mussels
2 diced tomatoes
1/2 diced onion
1 grated carrot
Crushed garlic, ginger
Diced coriander
Diced celery and capsicum
1 tbsp soya bean oil
3 grated coconuts or ready to cook lolo

* Wash and clean kai or mussels. Leave to boil for 10-15 minutes. Once kai is cooked, pour leftover kai stock accordingly with grated coconuts and squeeze out lolo or coconut milk, strain lolo and leave aside.
* Dice kai into small pieces. Heat a little oil in frying pan, add onions and garlic and fry until golden brown.
* Add and stir celery, capsicum and tomatoes.
* Add diced kai into the pan and fry.
* Add salt according to preference.
* Squeeze ginger juice over mixed ingredients and leave to simmer for about 2 minutes.
* In a separate pot, pour in lolo and leave to boil for about 2 minutes on medium heat. Avoid over boiling the lolo.

Final touch:

* Wash and clean kai shells and place on a plate or in a serving bowl.
* In each shell, place a spoon full of fried kai with vegetables.
* Coat each shell with boiled lolo cream and garnish with grated carrot and coriander.
* Enjoy with a plate of sweet potato or kumala and a glass of orange juice.
Adpted from Fijitimes Online

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


Most people enjoy snapshots of a person's outside appearance, taking clicks here and there. Unlike normal photographers, George Sargun Stephen (pictured with wife May) takes 'pictures of people's insides' or radiography to be exact although the common term is medical imaging.

For those who are not familiar with what radiography is all about, just know it is an X-ray photograph of something, especially a part of the body. George was born on May 20, 1930 and brought up in Votualevu, Nadi. His parents, Prem Masih and Eva Stephen were teachers.

His father was also a marine engineer and a coastal captain but being a teacher was his first profession. Growing up in Nadi, George wanted to become a marine engineer although his mother was not keen on the idea because it meant time away from the family for long periods.
"My father was a headmaster. We were not affluent or filthy rich when growing up. We were no better than cane farmers," he said.

"But my parents worked hard to provide us with a good life. "I was home schooled by my mother in the kitchen most of my life growing up. It was only when I reached Class Eight that I had to sit for the Fiji Secondary School Entrance examination.

"They did not have those for private students." He attended Class Eight at Saint Joseph's Primary school in Naililili before completing his secondary education at Marist Brothers High.

Path to radiography

When his mother did not want him out at sea as a marine engineer, George decided to take on a profession in radiography. He moved to New Zealand where he attained his English membership with the Society of Radiographers of London.

After returning to Fiji, he began work at the Colonial War Memorial hospital where he moved from tea boy to radiographic assistant in the X-ray department. "I used to be clean and mop the hospital too. Being a radiographic assistant was a pre-requisite for an Australian course in the same field.

"I became a qualified radiographer and was the first local in Fiji to attain membership with the Society of Radiographers in London. "For me, this was the highest I could attain in the profession and I am proud of what I have achieved. "My parents supported my education financially and I am very grateful for that."


He was also a radiography lecturer at the Fiji School of Medicine. From an early age, George was adamant and determined to reach the top of his career. He spent his professional life working at the hospital and upon retirement on January 14, 1989, George joined Saint Giles hospital as a volunteer.

At the same time in the early 1990s, he felt he still had much to contribute to Fiji and joined the Diabetes Centre. "After retirement, I volunteered my medical skills to various organisations. I wanted to give back something to the nation.
"I always felt I had something to contribute. "Helping people is where I find joy. I joined the board of visitors of St. Giles and every three months we would tour the hospital and present our recommendations and report to the Ministry of health."

With minimum media awareness on mental health issues, George believes the stigma associated with mental health and those suffering from it should be done away with. According to George, people tend to forget about patients at St. Giles who need a lot of help especially the support of the community.

His interest in caring for the welfare of the sick especially patients at St. Giles is commendable.
If there is one difference George can make to change the perspective of people on St. Giles patients, it is that mental health illness is not infectious and transmittable.

"Mental health is a non communicable disease but if people find their close friends or relatives behaving in an odd way, they should be taken to St. Giles immediately. "The quicker they are brought in the better it is to help them get better." He is married to May and recently celebrated his 50th wedding anniversary.

The father of two believes hard work and determination are the underlying values to anyone's success in life.

10 things about George

* Has an interest in young people playing sports;
* Does not drink alcohol but prefers tea and coffee;
* Likes gardening and fishing in his spare time;
* Loves anything his wife cooks and prepares;
* Considers his parents his role models;
* His older sister inspired him to take up radiography;
* Likes to listen to soft music;
* Was one of three people in a team that conducted the first haemoid dialysis at the Lautoka hospital in 1977;
* He was a volunteer at the Wellington hospital during the polio epidemic in 1956;
* Favourite quote is 'In time take time while time does last. For time is no time when time is past.'
Adpted from Fijitimes Online

Monday, August 4, 2008


Entering the ancient ruins of Naikawakawalevu in Tailevu is like walking into a picture of an old village setting in history books. It takes at least 45 minutes to get to the village from Suva and once there, the outside looks like any other village.

A church hall to welcome visitors sits on the right as one enters. Concrete and wooden houses nearby with vegetation and chicken running around complete the village-type impression.

But this village is different. Originally called Molituva in the days of tribal wars, the area has a lush green environment and hidden relics of what used to be a prehistoric fortified ring ditch where its ancestors sought refuge away from hostile tribes. While those days may be part of history now, the natural village setting has remained to show and tell about the life of the early settlers.


The history of Molituva even received air time on local Fijian television program Na Noda Gauna.
The hope its significance will never be lost is once again rekindled in this feature. Eco tourism
Descendants and villagers of this settlement have kept their dream of turning their historical village into an eco tourism venture.

But like all business ventures, financial feasibility is a much needed asset and something the village lacked to boost their tourism reverie. Government attention turned to Molituva, Kuku in Tailevu, after the story was aired on television and with a new sub program of the Ministry of Tourism called Community Based Tourism targeted at developing tourism projects within local communities Molituva is on its way to becoming one of the first eco tourism businesses under the CBT program.

The underlying focus of the CBT program is to work with resource owners from local communities to develop sustainable tourism related ventures that will provide jobs and opportunities for the unemployed in the area. According to CBT project manager on site, Semi Buwawa, the ring ditch fortitude was discovered in 2004.

Mr Buwawa attended a funeral where the body was buried at Molituva. It was at this particular event where Mr Buwawa inquired about the history of the area and eventually the prospect of turning Molituva into a tourist attraction site was practical. A survey was conducted within the Tailevu South district and Molituva was picked for its abundant natural resources and the villagers' enthusiasm to see tourism thrive.

"Discussions were held with the villagers, the Turaga ni Koro, Roko Tui Tailevu and other stakeholders to turn the ancient village into a tourist site," he said. They were enthusiastic and welcomed the idea. They saw it as an opportunity to revive old cultures and traditions. "CBT is meant to empower local communities, assist villagers in their own development and raise their standard of living.

"A proposal was written after the discussions were held and this was submitted to the Ministry of Tourism for approval. "After we were given the go ahead, we started working closely with the villages. Work started in April this year." Mr Buwawa is the architectural engineer for the tourism site which is located behind the village where the original settlement was established.

He said work was almost complete on the five traditional Fijian houses including the bure kalou (Fijian temple) and five small bure each expected to showcase traditional handicraft like mat weaving, traditional cooking and entertainment.
Beam of hope

After presenting our sevusevu to the Vunivalu (chief) of Molituva, Iferemi Boginitu the tour of the old village began. Apart from the superb bure construction taking place on a piece of land surrounded with a ring ditch, the landscape of the old site where the village was located is amazing.

Clear pathways leading to the left and right lead to dead ends and while the village was said to have been located in the middle of the area, one wonders how villagers got there in the first place. According to Turage ni koro Mitieli Bainivalu, the people of Molituva originated from Verata and settled in Delaidamanu.

"There are a lot of ditches and in ancient times these were used to keep the enemies away. "The ditches were dug almost 10 feet and at the time they did not have machinery or technology so they dug by hand. "Wood spears were stuck inside these ditches which were filled with water from the river.

There were different paths leading to different places and only the villagers of Molituva knew the right path to take to reach the middle." He said the area was now used as a burial site and with the eco tourism scheme underway youths in the area were helping with the cleaning and clearing of forest and overgrown trees.

Mr Bainivalu said the tourism initiative was equally important to tradition as it revived the ancient art of bure building and cultural handicraft, cooking and weaving. He said youths were also able to learn new skills and appreciate the significance of culture and heritage.

Mr Boginitu believes the efforts and collaborative work between government and local communities is a stepping stone to foster good relations in future. He said it was vitally important for people to realise the significance of ancient Fijian villages whose history should not be lost through time. Mr Boginitu said the people of Molituva are proud to have an ancient site

The next step

Work on rebuilding the old village fort at Molituva began in early April and is expected to finish within the next month. Present at the site were youths and men of Molituva working side by side on perfecting the bure kalou which stands a towering 60 feet.

CBT human resources development manager Sakiusa Sokotukivei said five bure building experts were brought in to help the villagers with the construction. Youths in the village are also attending training courses in tour guiding at the Training Productivity Authority of Fiji which will help them show visitors around the place once eco tourism begins.

"I help coordinate and facilitate all CBT training. Youths in the area attended a one-week training session at TPAF and this will be helpful whenever tourists come to the site. "The tour guiding training is mainly targeted for unemployed youths. "The women are also keen on handicraft training and would include women who are not working.

"Some would even be able to start their own small businesses. The youths in particular will learn the importance of team building, communication, assertiveness and self awareness." The main target market for this one-day cultural excursion are passengers from cruise ships, tourist groups and local schools.

Similar projects on community based development by CBT include piggery and vegetable farming at Naduru and the establishment of an industrial kitchen at Vunimono where people are taught how to cook. If there is one point to stress in all this, it is the lesson learnt from turning an age-old village into a booming development where the whole community benefits in terms of tourism, employment, learning new skills and trade.

The most important of all these is reviving long lost Fijian tradition and culture while at the same time appreciating what is left of an era that brought us where we are today.
Leaders express pride

For both the Turaga ni Koro Mitieli Bainivalu and the Vunivalu of Molituva, Iferemi Boginitu, re-establishing the ancient village is not only a boost for the tourism industry but also a memoriam of the lives lost during tribal wars fought on the very same ground.

Mr Bainivalu said he was happy and proud to be part of the eco tourism development because of the opportunities it gave the people of the village. He said they were able to share the stories passed down through generations about the village.

Mr Bainivalu said Molituva was part and parcel of the identity of the people in the area and it was equally important to participate in something that would benefit the people both traditionally and economically.

Mr Boginitu agreed people should learn to appreciate their culture and heritage and felt it was something their ancestors would have wanted. "They want us to succeed. They want us to improve our lives. I am very happy with this initiative and it will benefit our people," he said.

Adapted from Fijitimes Online

Wednesday, July 9, 2008


With the 10th Festival of Pacific Arts approaching, many talented and artistic individuals in Fiji are gearing up to showcase the multicultural essence our country is blessed with. The main theme of traditional dances and songs has widened to include various forms of art and creativity. Reporter
GERALDINE PANAPASA talks to Fiji Arts Council director Letila Mitchell about the festival.
: When did the arts festival start and why?
The idea of a Festival of Pacific Arts was first put forward by the Fiji in the early 1970s as part of the cultural component of the South Pacific Games. Then it was taken to another level by the Conference of the South Pacific Commission (now the Pacific Community) in an attempt to combat the erosion of traditional customary practices.
Since 1972, delegations from 27 Pacific island countries and territories have come together to share and exchange their cultures at each Festival of Pacific Arts. In 1977, at the 3rd meeting of the South Pacific Festival Council (now the Council of Pacific Arts), the council determined that the festival's major theme should continue to be traditional songs and dances and that participating countries and territories should be free to include other activities depending on the resources available to them. The festival was conceived by the SPC's governing conference in an attempt to combat the erosion of traditional customary practices.
It grew out of the desire expressed by Pacific island leaders for the people of the region to share their culture and establish deeper understanding and friendship between countries.
TIMES: What is the purpose of the festival?
MITCHELL: To generate pride in one's indigenous heritage, focus on sustaining the transmission of Pacific knowledge, skills and traditions and united as a region to protect and uphold unique cultures but a common heritage that links and connects all Pacific people.
TIMES: How often is the festival held?
MITCHELL: Every four years
TIMES: How many countries are participating?
MITCHELL: The 27 countries are American Samoa, Australia, the Cook Islands, Easter Island, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, French Polynesia, Guam, Hawaii, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Niue, Norfolk Island, Northern Mariana Islands, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Pitcairn Island, Samoa, the Solomon Islands, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu and Wallis and Futuna.
TIMES: What is the significance of the festival to Pacific islands?
MITCHELL: The festival is recognised as a major international cultural event and is the largest gathering where Pacific people unite to gain respect for and appreciation of one another within the context of the changing Pacific. Visits of Pacific people from one island to another have always been important occasions.
Trade, social visits and exchange of dances, music, food and crafts have served as opportunities for islanders to learn from one another and have assisted in the dynamic transformation of culture. Today, the Festival of Pacific Arts helps maintain a sense of Pacificness among island communities. There is awareness that, although a group of people may reside on tiny atolls far from island neighbours, they are part of a greater Pacific-wide culture.
Recognition of a common Pacific identity can be a strong motivating force for individual communities to revive and cherish their traditional forms of cultural expression. Young Pacific islanders were traditionally raised in an environment that taught them their language, history and traditional knowledge and skills but many ways of passing on the traditions and skills are disappearing.
A realisation of what has been missing in the more westernised island culture is one of the reasons young islanders train long and hard for each festival, seeking to uncover the secrets of ancient music and chants, costumes, body art and language.
To be part of a delegation to the festival is deemed an honour. The festival has no competition and performers do not seek to compete against others but the festival has stimulated a new sense of cultural pride among islanders young and old, generates excitement, pride and promise for the arts and cultures in the region.
It enables young contemporary artists and performers to express themselves and their talent and helps bridge the gap between traditional cultural expressions and the aspirations of our youth.
The festival makes a significant contribution to the evolution of Pacific island identities. For the region, the festival promotes unity by encouraging mutual appreciation and respect for one another's culture.
It also improves political and economic stability by developing a deeper sense of solidarity and unites the geographically isolated island countries and territories, facilitating inter-regional communication.
The festival is also an important instrument in the preservation of the performing and production skills underlying the broad variety of cultural expressions in the Pacific.
Expertise and skills in crafts have been rediscovered and revitalised while traditional and ceremonial performances have been rediscovered, revived and in some cases updated. Tourism and related industries have also benefited, with proceeds often going to local communities.
TIMES: How important is Fiji's participation at the festival?
MITCHELL: Fiji is seen as one the leaders in the Pacific in many areas such as sustainable development, education, technology, etc. Therefore, it is important for Fiji to participate in strength at the festival as part of its responsibility to the region but in its leadership role being committed to uphold and protect its national heritage. It is also important for Fiji to participate in the festival because of the honour it bestows on our artisans and performers who are given the mandate to represent Fiji at the festival.
There is nothing more important than to represent your nation, your province, your tikina and your family. The festival, like the Olympic Games for sports people, bestows this honour on artists who show integrity, passion and commitment to their art form but also to their cultural heritage.
The festival is also a unique opportunity for our artists to network, generate ideas and exchange knowledge with other delegations. It is important for development as well as to show our excellence in the arts.
TIMES: What categories will Fiji's delegation participate in?
MITCHELL: Traditional dance, contemporary dance, theatre, fashion, woodcarving, weaving, masi making, canoe and navigation, heritage art workshops and demonstrations, fine art, symposiums, photography, film, literary art, culinary art and music.
TIMES: How many will represent Fiji?
MITCHELL: Eighty artists have been selected to represent Fiji.
TIMES: How is the trip to the festival funded?
MITCHELL: By the Government
TIMES: Are there awards given for each category?
MITCHELL: No, it is not a competition. The focus is transmission of knowledge and skills
The major theme has been traditional dances and songs. Fiji will participate in contemporary dance and theatre production.
TIMES: Is this the first time to have these categories?
MITCHELL: No, Fiji is one of the countries at the forefront of exhibiting and performing contemporary art. It is still a new component of the festival so Fiji, alongside PNG, New Zealand and New Caledonia has been a pioneer in contemporary art.
TIMES: Are there enough opportunities in Fiji to express the talents and creativity many people have?
MITCHELL: There are many international opportunities but there has been little support in the past for our artists to reach or to be a part of the opportunities. Things are changing as our governments realise the importance and potential of the creative industry.
Pacific art is a natural resource and something that needs to be developed and invested in. With increased investment will come increased potential for income and sustainable careers for all our people.
TIMES: What are some programs implemented by the Fiji Arts Council to develop art and craft in Fiji?
MITCHELL: The five key projects for 2008 are heritage art exhibitions and workshops, fine art exhibitions, breaking barriers program that focuses on developing creative industries in disadvantaged or at risk communities such as prisons, squatter settlements or youths at risk, skills development workshops and programs, strengthening creative industries and international market development and Dance Fiji.
TIMES: What is the Pacific Arts Alliance?
MITCHELL: It is a network of Pacific artists, art organisations, art managers throughout the Pacific who share knowledge, skills and resources to develop the art sector in the region.
It is a network of organisations such as the Fiji Arts Council, GalleryPNG, Siapo Association in New Caledonia, Tautai Trust in New Zealand and many other collectives or organisations and individuals who serve a common purpose to build the Pacific through the arts, to support and protect each other as Pacific people, empower and develop the Pacific as a collective Pacific voice.
TIMES: How important is it for people to preserve and maintain culture and tradition?
MITCHELL: Culture and tradition are like the roots of a tree. If the roots are embedded in the soil the whole tree will be well nourished, strong in a storm and grow to its full potential.
I believe that a person with a spirit strongly rooted in his heritage and focussed on being connected to his land will be a unique person, balanced and powerful.
Without that connection and without our heritage, we become part of the mass and often have nothing to hold on to in a storm. I am a strong advocate of difference.
TIMES: What usually happens after the festival?
MITCHELL: For the most part there is a lapse of four years but we hope that with increased support and investment in art the festival will become a stepping stone for those who participate, that they come back rooted in their culture, inspired and motivated to continue to create and pursue a path of excellence.
TIMES: Any other comment?
MITCHELL: This is a unique opportunity for our artists and I just want to encourage the media and members of the public to lend their support and congratulations to the delegation.
It is a time of honour for our artists and by providing a launch we hope the families of the artists, friends and the various communities that make up our multicultural country come to show them how proud they are of their achievement.


Saturday, June 28, 2008


NAWAKA Village in Nadi yesterday came to a standstill as the people farewelled their chief, the Tui Nawaka, Ratu Apisai Naevo.
Described as a great leader who kept the welfare of his people at heart, Ratu Apisai was farewelled by chiefs from around the country including President Ratu Josefa Iloilovatu.
Before being installed as the Tui Nawaka, Ratu Apisai had an extensive career ranging from the Central Fijian Treasury in 1950, Colonial Sugar Refinery in the 70s and the Ba Provincial Office until he retired in 1995.
Ratu Apisai held the position of Roko Tui Ba from 1984 until his retirement. He was appointed Ba Provincial Council chairman in 1999.
The war veteran, who served with the Royal Fiji Military Force's 1st Battalion in the Malayan campaign, was installed Tui Nawaka in 1995.
Ratu Apisai, a senator from 1999 to 2006, held board posts with Post and Telecom Fiji, Fiji Pine Board, Post Fiji, NLTB, Ba Provincial Council and Ba Provincial Holdings.
Nawaka spokesman Kiniviliame Labalaba said Ratu Apisai's death was a huge loss not only for Nawaka but the whole of Nadi.


Tuesday, June 3, 2008


But if you want to heat up the competition, you have to register by 4pm Tuesday, yes this Tuesday as auditions start on Saturday.
That will be held at the Alliance Fran├żaise, on MacGregor Road and at the Suva Civic Centre on Friday the 13th.
The grand final will be held at Sukuna Park on June 21 as part of the Fiji Music Festival.
In the audition, everyone sings a cappella before planning begins to get the proper soundtrack for the heats.
The final 20 will be backed by a live band. There is no entry fee and everyone will be allowed to sing in their vernacular.
"We've done that because in past years we said English and many people who wanted to sing in Fijian or Hindi missed out," Bhagwan said.
"By vernacular we mean people are welcome to sing in the language they are most comfortable in," he said.
"We're just opening the door to the untapped potential we have ... people can sing whatever they want," he stressed.
Bhagwan expects over 100 entries, most of them making their first outing on stage. And, that's the sweetest part about it all — one does not have to be a professional singer or have aspirations to rock the world.
It is simply about singing and having fun. Who knows the Vocalist Talent Quest may turn up a Leona Lewis and perhaps one day give us a truly global icon to adore and mimic.
The panel of judges includes award-winning composer Saimone Vuatalevu and broadcasters from FM96, FMLegend and Viti FM. Entry forms are available at the Alliance Francaise on MacGregor Road, The Boom Box, Dragon Music and FM96-Legend FM. See entry forms for details, or call the Alliance on 3313802.


Friday, May 30, 2008


THE Suva Civic Auditorium was filled to capacity yesterday as different entertainment groups strutted their stuff to the delight of the crowd at the Dance Fiji Awards.
The Telecom Fiji Limited-sponsored event attracted about 20 groups consisting of choirs, cultural and contemporary dance groups and soloists.
The awards were being held last night but the winners were still to be announced when this edition went to press. The lucky winner will represent Fiji at the Pacific Arts Festival in American Samoa.

Adapted from Fijitimes Online

Tuesday, May 6, 2008



Fiji Women's Society -provides moral , social and financial support to all deserving Fijians requiring medical treatment in New Zealand-humbly requests all Indians living in New Zealand and abroad to donate $1 per person per family towards successful opeartion of miss Deen in Auckland.Total amount required-$35,000

All enquiries to- Spokes person- Pratima Nand on 6272646 or direct credit account of Deen family- 12-3076-0649803

Thank you kindly
Pratima Nand

Saturday, April 19, 2008


Fakalofa lahi atu!

O’kai’s busy Celebrate Pasifika month began with the Pacific Circuit works by Fijians Craig Marlow, Lambert Ho and Letila Mitchell. It ended with the launch of Evotia Tamua’s fabulous photographic stories ‘Pacific Auckland’ and ‘Polynesian Festival’ which you can purchase from the gallery for $35 each or two for $60. They are selling fast so don’t miss out.

This month we welcome home some of Fatu Feu’u works ’05 -07 from a long and successful stay at the Tjibaou Cultural Centre in New Caledonia.

Untitled 2005, Fatu Feu’u

We also have interesting new works from our young Solomon based artists who recently visited Auckland as part of the Pasifika Festival. Riaz Haikiu Maninga, taught by Maori artist John Hovell whose work we also have, shows promise.

Chief from Eastern Solomon’s 2008
Riaz Maninga

Lastly, we welcome Niuean artist Mikoyan Vekula. Mikoyan’s work reflects traditional Niuean forms of hiapo in the detailed etching of his sculpture whilst the bright colour work of his paintings reflect the many cultural influences that contribute to the great Pacific culture of Aotearoa.

Motu Motu Matolu osi – Me, U and Us
Etching on Recycled Rimu, Omaru Stone Acrylic on Canvas

We have an exciting month ahead of us and we look forward to seeing you in the gallery soon.

From the staff at o’kai.

Sunday, April 13, 2008


SURVIVOR of New Zealand's worst boating mishap was devasted yesterday to find out the Fijian man who saved her life is now dead.
Katherine MacGibbon, of Queenstown, in New Zealand, said, "I never got to say thank you for that," she said when contacted late yesterday.
"If I had found him after the incident I would have flown all the way to Fiji just to say thank you," she said. "I feel really sad about this (his death). I feel devastated. I hoped and prayed that he was still alive so that I could say thank you."
Katherine, who is now known as Kate Watson, was only 19 when the inter-island ferry Wahine capsized and sank,taking with it 51 lives, 40 years ago today.
She remembers seeing bodies floating beside her as she and others were saved in rough seas in of the worst storms to have hit New Zealand.
She clearly remembers how she was saved by a "big Fijian man she knew as Eroni Vaceucau".
That man was Ratu Eroni Vakacegu, of Namata Village, Raralevu, Tailevu.
Bau chief, relative and school mate in Levuka Public and later Wanganui College, in New Zealand, Ratu Tu'uakitau Cokanauto, said Ratu Eroni was a "noble man and a good friend".
"He was on his way to Christchurch at the time and was travelling on board the Wahine," Ratu Tu'uakitau said.
"After the mishap he had a tremendous write up featuring his courageous deeds.
"He came back to Fiji and taught at Ratu Sukuna Memorial School and then did some marketing for Cold Power in Suva.
"He was a champion 200m runner and we played together for the QVSOB rugby club with the late Ratu Savenaca Draunidalo and other friends."
Ratu Tu'uakitau said he most probably died in the early 1990s. National rugby fullback Marika Vakacegu is his brother's son.
Today, Wellington Museum will commemorate the disaster. Last week national television in New Zealand featured shots of the young Ratu Eroni and Ms MacGibbon. An artist, now living in Queenstown, Ms Watson recalls her life jacket flipping back over her head when she hit the sea. Ratu Eroni, grabbed and pulled her into a rubber dinghy, directing the 10 people on board to a safe landing at Pencarrow Heads.
"I could not swim at the time so when we were told to get into the water as the vessel was sinking I just jumped in," she said.
"Then he pulled me into the dinghy and started coordinating things from there telling us how to sail the dinghy to safety. Other dinghy's around us capsized and people died in the process but through his guidance we got back to shore. As we got out he went back into the treacherous seas and pulled out a young boy who was sitting on a rock."
Ratu Eroni was later singled out by a court of inquiry for his heroism in "distributing the people in (the life raft) to best advantage, doing much to ensure its safe passage to the eastern shore, and then going back into the surf after reaching the shore to help another survivor".
Ms Watson has made the photo of the pair available in the hope someone might pass on information about the man who saved her life. Until the tragedy of April 10, 1968, the Lyttelton-Wellington ferries were symbols of certainty and stability, part of the Kiwi way of life. The overnight service ended in 1976.
He is survived by his only daughter Adi Tuimatanisiga Maramawale Lalanavanua Vakacegu Kaumaitotoya, an information officer with the State.
Ratu Eroni's school mate and friend Isikeli Varea said was a champion middle distance runner at Queen Victoria School.
"I was in the same form with him at QVS in the early 60s, and he was always a man who would help others without a second thought. He came from a chiefly family and was a chief in the way he lived.
"Sadly, he passed away quite some years ago, but he will always be remembered for his kind and noble character. The story about him rescuing this girl was well known back then among his friends, and we'd comment that that was just like Eroni; never thinking twice to do what had to be done."

Adapted from Fijitimes Online