31 May, 2006

Fiji lifestyle publication hits the streets

A new magazine, Living in Fiji, hit the streets yesterday showcasing a different side of life in the islands. The quarterly publication is dedicated to lifestyle in the Fiji and sets a new standard for local publications. The magazine's creative director, Shiri Ram, said that "All too often in the local and international media, the focus is on two different Fijis - one is the tourism industry ideal of beautiful sandy beaches, and the other is the developing country with pothole-ridden roads and rampant crime. Some in the midst of this lies another Fiji that the people living in this country have carved out for themselves. This other Fiji is the one that the magazine highlights in its pages. The first issue of the magazine includes features on interiors and architecture, fashion and beauty, fishing and motoring, cuisine and wine, as well as local success stories. Mr Ram believes its general interest stories will speak to both men and women from different backgrounds. The artistic cover features a model wearing accessories from Fiji's two main cultures and represents a coming together of both. It also mirrors fusion of different cultures, tastes and points of view that is reflected in the magazine's coverage. In keeping with the aim to create a world-class publication with 100% local lifestyle content, Living in Fiji has maintained a high standard of quality in photography, design and writing. Living in Fiji emulates the feel of high-end coffee table publications. The magazine is targeted at the 20 plus career professional and available for F$7.75 through MH stores and Mobil service stations.

University of the South Pacific launches new Islands and Oceans Faculty

The University of the South Pacific, Laucala Bay, Suva, launched a new Faculty of Islands and Oceans at the campus last week. On hand to add to the celebratory mood were dancers from the Oceania Centre for Arts and Culture. With drinks pouring and food being served, guests were treated to some contemporary Pacific Islands entertainment. The Oceania Centre dancers will be performing at next Saturday's World Music Festival Fiji to be held at the Post Fiji Stadium, Laucala Bay.

Fiji to play Junior All Blacks in Suva this Saturday

Fiji will be playing the Junior All Blacks in Suva this Saturday. The game, which is part of arrangements to develop Pacific Rugby, will be played at the Post Fiji Stadium on Saturday, 3 June, starting at 3pm, local time.

30 May, 2006

Tourism looks positive

The tourism industry is confident tourist numbers will pick up towards the middle of the second quarter, despite a low turnout in the first quarter of the year. The Fiji Visitors Bureau said visitor arrival numbers were down 2% compared to last year which saw low hotel occupancy in hotels. The Bureau said that June is now looking extremely positive with airlines seeing some renewal and a boost in bookings. It said there were a number of reasons for low visitor arrivals, which included the implementation of a bed tax (later changed to a turnover tax) and the build up to the general election that drew the attention of many the world over with a misconception of the security situation in the country.

Ratu Sukuna Memorial School plans to be centre of celebrations next year

Ratu Sukuna Memorial School (RSMS), the school named after the late statesman, public administrator and scholar, plans to be the centre of Ratu Sukuna Week celebrations next year. This year, the school hosted his neighbouring Indian schools at the school open day held at the school at Nabua, Suva, last Thursday. On Friday, other Fijian schools, Ratu Kadavulevu School, Queen Victoria School, Adi Cakobau School and Nabua Secondary School was at RSMS where they made a fine display of mekes for other students and parents alike. Ex-students of RSMS had fundraising BBQ with materials donated by the ex-students themselves. Following that a meeting of the Suva Association was held together with a "soli" which was organised in Houses. Funds raised from the BBQ and soli was around F$1,700.00 which is to be directed to equipping the Science Laboratory at the school. The next event planned for the Suva Association is a soli in July where all ex-students have been requested to bring along their F$100 subscriptions for the year. This will be kept and then directed to projects that are mutually agreed too by ex-students. At the AGM last Friday, a new Committee was appointed. These include : Vatimi Mateiwai, President; Arieta Seruvakula, Vice President; Luisa Cabealawa, Treasurer; and Vika Cabenalevu, Secretary. In the meantime, the National Organising Committee for Ratu Sukuna Day also plan celebrations on a wider scale next year. The Committee said that this was in line with its aim of profiling the chief and stateman who had done so much to further indigenous Fijians.

29 May, 2006

Home Rental Available for Southern Winter

Winter has just set in here in the Southern Hemisphere. The southern winter period runs from the period between late May to mid August. During this time, families and couples from Australia and New Zealand usually book their holidays in Fiji to escape the cold for some sun. If you are planning such an escape, why leave in an hotel and spend more when you can live more affordably in a two bedroom home with self catering in Suva? A personal computer with Internet access is optional the rates for which would be USD80.00 a night, otherwise, it is USD55.00 a night for the entire home. The rate covers guests up to a limit of 4 people. Come on, get up and spend your southern winter in the sun in Fiji. For more details on the property, please click on the links at the right hand side of this blog or visit www.holidaylettings.co.uk/rentals/Suva/8469. You can view our availability calendar at http://www.rentors.org/calendar.aspx?propertyid=65223. Contact us through the e-mail template on the advertisement on www.holidaylettings.co.uk/rentals/Suva/8469 or through telephone number +679 3396427 or e-mail gilbert@connect.com.fj.

Fiji 7th on tourists ranking

Fiji is ranked the seventh best tourist destination in the world after Italy which was ranked as the number one destination in a recent global survey. The survey results were showed by the University of Queensland academic, Doctor Jeff Wilks, at the 50th Fiji Law Society annual convention. Dr Wilks, who is in the country to review its Tourism Industry Master Plan, said it was really impressive that Fiji was able to attain a high rating from tourists around the globe. He said the ratings were based on available statistics about airport arrivals, capacity, a global survey and future forecasts from tourism experts all over the world. The top destination countries were Italy, Australia and the United States.

Pacific artists gathering in Suva in July

One of the biggest gatherings of Pacific Islands artists, musicians and scholars is set to take place during the first Pacific Epistemologies Conference in July. Hosted by the University of the South Pacific at its Laucala Bay Campus in Suva from 3 to 7 July, the conference dubbed Vaka Vuku-Navigating Knowledge, brings together 150 delegates from New Zealand, Australia, Europe and the Northern Pacific region. Aside from the presentation of papers, a Pacific film and arts festival will be among the highlights of the week. Conference director, Larry Thomas, said the idea emerged in 2004 when former head of USP's literature and language department, Professor Subramani and other academics raised the need for a forum to discuss issues relevant to the Pacific. Assistant director, Josefa Tuwere, said the event would allow Pacific scholars to discuss different ways and manners of approaching Pacific knowledge as compared to European knowledge. The forum sponsored by NZAID will coincide with the Pacific Arts and Film Festival. A play called Vula, directed by Fiji New Zealander Nina Nawalowalo and a film, No 2 by Samoan New Zealander writer and director, Toa Fraser, will be shown along with other Pacific-based films. Malanga, a music by Samoan New Zealander Igelese Ete which explores religion, identity and movements in a creative style will also be among the highlights. Note from GV : Those that require accommodation in Suva, can book a two bedroom furnished home by clicking on the links at the right hand side of this blog or contacting +679 3396427 or e-mail gilbert@connect.com.fj.

Korean Nurse thrilled to be in Fiji

Taken from an article in the Fiji Times. Coming to Fiji is a first-time experience for 27 year old Maeum Cho and she thinks it is a great country to be in. She has just spent two days in the country and is already in love with it. Ms Cho is one of the Korean Overseas Volunteers from the six-member team who are in the country to render volunteer services to respective Government ministries. The Korean Overseas Volunteers (KOVs) are being dispatched under the Government of the Republic of Korea's Cooperation Program for 2006. The program's main objective is to contribute to the well-being of developing countries by promoting friendship and sharing skills and knowledge with people in developing countries. Ms Cho will start work at the Colonial War Memorial Hospital in Suva in the middle of July. She will be helping in looking after cancer and chemotherapy patients at the hospital. At present, she is being briefed and trained to mix around with the local people and get to understand the local culture. She is staying with a Fijian family in Suva. "I feel the people here are very kind and friendly and I am looking forward to tasting the local food. I am also looking forward to becoming part of the Fijian culture", Ms Cho said. She said it was not awkward at all when she tasted yaqona for the first time but she had to try it out or she would not know. She said that the family she is living with in Suva has been good to her. Ms Cho will spend the next two years working in Fiji and can extend her time if she wants.

26 May, 2006

Ratu Sukuna Day Program for Saturday Concert

This is the program for the Ratu Sukuna Day concert to be held at the FMF Dome on Saturday, 27 May 2006 :
  • 5.00pm - Opening entrance to patrons;
  • 5.30pm - Tomasi Mawi & Friends / Marika Nakete;
  • 6.00pm - Arrival of Chief Guest, Minister for Fijian Affairs, and Welcome speech by Ratu Josefa Nawalowalo, Committee of Organisers;
  • 6.10pm - Theme Song;
  • 6.20pm - USP Orchestra;
  • 6.30pm - Oceania Dance Group;
  • 6.45pm - Seni Ua ni Ucuinaqarawai;
  • 7.00pm - Fiji College of Advanced Education;
  • 7.15pm - Sailasa Tora "Sisi ni Lakeba" - A Tribute to Lady Liku Sukuna;
  • 7.30pm - Kadavu Vucu;
  • 7.45pm - Domo ni Savu;
  • 8.00pm - Voqa kei Waikasinaura;
  • 8.15pm - Bill Masi;
  • 8.20pm - Shobna Chanel Group;
  • 8.35pm - Gilman Lasaisuva;
  • 8.50pm - Delana Cultural Group;
  • 9.05pm - Mua i Gau;
  • 9.25pm - Jale Mareau & Arts Village Group;
  • 9.40pm - Waikoula kei Tavua;
  • 10.05pm - Vakatasuasua - Gilman Lasaisuva, Laisa Vukakoro, Puamau Vulakoro, Domo ni Savu, Jale Mareau;
  • 10.10pm - Winners announcements

Tickets are F$5.00 per adult. Children under 12 can enter free.

25 May, 2006

More on the celebrations to commemorate Ratu Sukuna

On Sunday, there will be a special service at the Centenary Church, Suva, to commemorate Ratu Sukuna's life with celebrations culminating with a march from the Flea Market in Suva ending up at Albert Park. At the park, there will be speeches and performances by various cultural groups. Ratu Sukuna is considered by many as the father of modern Fiji. He was a chief, scholar, soldier and statesman being the first indigenous Fijian to have furthered himself in all these fields. Ratu Sukuna fought in the French Foreign Legion during World War I and was the first Fijian to obtain a University degree. At home, he laid the groundwork for self-government by fostering the development of modern institutions in Fiji, like the Native Land Trust Board. Although he died years before independence from the United Kingdom in 1970, his vision set the course that Fiji was to follow in the years to come.

Vucu and Meke Concert

A concert featuring traditional singing and dancing will be held this Saturday as part of the celebrations to commemorate Ratu Sukuna. In the meke competition, groups will perform items about the life of Ratu Sukuna. Performances will also feature Alan Alo and the Oceania Dance group, Shobna Chanel's group, Davui Ensemble and the 10 best groups of last year's Indigenous Music Competition. The concert will start at 6pm at the FMF Dome at Laucala Bay, Suva.

Fiji Fact Soccer Tournament this weekend in Suva

The annual Fiji Fact Soccer Tournament will be held in Suva starting from today. It will run over the weekend with the finals to be played on Monday afternoon. The tournament is one of the highlights in the local soccer competition series where teams from all major towns/cities compete. It will held at the Post Fiji Stadium at Laucala Bay in Suva. The first game between Ba and Labasa will start at 5pm.

Ratu Sukuna Celebrations

Ratu Sukuna Day this year will be different because most of the celebrations will be local. It will provide people around the country the chance to mark the memory of Ratu Sir Lala Sukuna with local touch and flavour. It will be celebrated from today to Sunday with the theme "Land is Wealth". The theme marks the 70th anniversary of Ratu Sukuna's address to the Bose Levu Vakaturaga in 1936 where he urged the chiefs to agree to the setting up of an institution to administer the leasing of their land. The focus of the celebration will be students and the centre of celebrations will be schools. School items such as oratory and essay competition, singing and meke will be organised by various schools throughout the week. The centre of celebrations will be Ratu Sukuna Memorial School in Nabua, Suva, where participating schools from Suva and Nausori will meet for a day of intellectual, cultural display and open day for intellectual, cultural displays and an open day for vocational training. Ex-students of the school have a day set aside for them tomorrow. They will selling BBQs and T-shirts from their stall at the school and have a "soli" in the afternoon. All funds raised by their efforts tomorrow will be for equipping and upgrading the science laboratory for students at the school. All former students of the school are asked to contact me if they wish to send their contributions which will be forwarded to Committee members. My contacts are : telephone +679 3396427 or e-mail gilbert@connect.com.fj.

19 May, 2006

Qarase sworn in as Prime Minister

Laisenia Qarase was yesterday sworn in again as Prime Minister after securing a majority of seats in the 2006 Fiji General Elections. Mr Qarase commands a 38 seat majority compared to the Fiji Labour Party coalition's 33 seats in the 71-seat House of Representatives. In accordance with the Constitution, Mr Qarase has offered 7 cabinet positions to the Fiji Labour Party in a 17 member cabinet. Response from the Labour Party is now being awaited before Qarase announces his Cabinet later Sunday. During the election period, we have been putting in posts on progress during the elections. As this has now been concluded, we will return to the focus of our blog which looks at promoting Suva as a tourist destination. Any readers that wish to have information put up on the blog or wish to talk about their experiences in Suva can do so by e-mailing me their contribution to gilbert@connect.com.fj.

18 May, 2006

Kava consumption on the high during the elections

Look around you over the past two weeks and you will find most people with blood red eyes while some seem to spot much drier skin, a result of drinking kava during the election period. While elections and party officials have been consuming kava during the election process, consumption was on a high during the counting period at the party sheds outside the election centres and also at homes around the country while the members of the public awaited election results. The dry and cold spell which is starting to set in seems to have made a contribution to the early set in of dry lips and skin - an obvious result of the consumption of kava in significant quantities. During the period, kava dealers have said that there was brisk trading in their businesses. Two more things that would sell well now would be skin moisturisers/coconut oil and lip balms. Only in Fiji!

Laisenia Qarase plans new government

All vote counts are almost complete now with Laisenia Qarase's SDL party winning a majority of seats and looks headed to forming the new Government. In an interview in today's Fiji Times, Mr Qarase said that he would be speaking with the President today before he takes the next step of forming the new Government. Mr Qarase said that if all goes well, he may be sworn in as Prime Minister this afternoon. During vote counting, an evident trend that emerged was that most indigenous Fijians voted the SDL party while the majority of Indians voted for the Mahendra Chaudhary led Fiji Labour Party. This trend has been interpreted by some as an indication that voting is still done on racial lines in Fiji. Read this blog over the next few days as the new Government is formed.

15 May, 2006

Young Collectors Exhibition

The theme of this year's International Museum Day is "Museums and Young People". The Fiji Museum, located in Suva, is calling all Young Collectors - children and teenagers from 6 to 18 years old - to bring their own collections to the museum. The best eight will be chosen with all young people submitting their collections to receive a small prize for their efforts. Items chosen are to displayed to the public for a month at the Museum.

Vote counting begins

Counting of votes began this morning despite a hectic night verifying postal ballots. The Central Division's Returning Officer said the team was ready to take up the actual counting process with verification not expected to take up too much time. Over 298,000 voters voted during the elections out of 496,000 that had registered. Of these, around 107,000 turned out in the Central Division while around 18,600 voted in the Eastern Division and 131,200 in the Western Division. Around 41,600 votes were cast in the Northern Division. The Returning Officer in the Central Division said that out of the 28 constituencies in the Central Division, the Fijian communal constituencies recorded the highest number of votes compared to the open and other communal constituencies. This was a big change compared to previous elections. In the meantime, the Commonwealth Observer Group believes that shortcomings in the voting process over the past week are not big enough to undermine the credibility of the 2006 General Elections. The comment was made in a statement by the Commonwealth Observer Group chairperson. The chairperson said "we are not struck not so much by what went wrong during the voting but by how much went right". The Group said it would not be able to make a statement on the entire general elections until later this week.

13 May, 2006

First Election results out on Monday

Counting will start on Monday morning with the first results expected by that evening. 343 ballot boxes had been delivered to the count centre at Suva Grammar School after last Saturday's first day of voting. The total number of boxes collected over the first four days of polling for the Central Division was 1,481. Counting will also held at other centres including Labasa College in the Northern Division.

12 May, 2006

New term music, dance and yoga classes

At the Suva Multi-Ethnic Cultural Centre, enrolment has commenced for the new term, starting Monday, 15 May. The following classes are offered :
  • Kathak, Thursdays, 4.30pm to 6.30pm; Fridays, 4.30pm to 6.30pm; Saturdays, 12pm to 2pm, 2pm to 4pm and 4pm to 6pm;
  • Bharata Natyam, Saturdays, 10am to 12pm; Sundays, 9am to 11am;
  • Vocal/harmonium, Mondays 5pm to 7pm; Saturdays 10am to 12pm;
  • Sitar, Wednesdays, 5pm to 7pm;
  • Tabla or Dholak, Saturdays, 10am to 12pm; Sundays, 8am to 10am;
  • Keyboard, Thursdays, 4.30pm to 6.30pm;
  • Yoga, Mondays and Wednesdays, 5.30pm to 6.30pm; Fridays, 1pm to 2pm; Sundays, 7.30am to 8.30am.
Fee is F$30 per subject for 2 hour classes. Telephone +679 3300050.

Local artist shows talent

The paintings of homegrown talent, Fred Whippy, will be on display after 21 years. The exhibition will be at the Alliance Francais today. Born in Lautoka, Mr Whippy's first exhibit was in the United States in 1964 and the last one in the country 25 years ago. With no formal artistic training, Mr Whippy became the country's best known artistic talent to date. In 1964, he was the only exhibit internationally with his pastel cuts travelling around North America where every single piece was sold. In 1971, French airline sponsored a showing of Mr Whippy's work in oil in Los Angeles. When he returned a year later, there was a queue of collectors waiting for his pastels with his experiment on oil. Mr Whippy won second prize at the Smith Art Prize in 1972 and the Carlton Brewery Fine Art Award in 1973, 1980 and 2003. He captures the essence of Fijian village life with women doing pottery, fishing, woodfire cooking and meke.

11 May, 2006

Fiji Airlines Limited applies for domestic routes

Fiji Airlines Limited, the new player in the domestic aviation market, has filed a notice of application for licences to services the domestic routes of Sun Air, including three new routes. Sun Air was bought by Air Pacific in a bid by the national carrier to enter the domestic market. Besides applying to provide regular service to a number of routes, Fiji Airlines has also applied for a licence to provide a general charter air service. It hopes to start operations by July 1. The routes applied for include :

  • Suva/Savusavu;
  • Suva/Kadavu;
  • Suva/Rotuma;
  • Suva/Taveuni;
  • Suva/Labasa;
  • Nadi/Suva;
  • Nadi/Labasa;
  • Nadi/Vatulele;
  • Nadi/Yasawa;
  • Nadi/Kadavu;
  • Nadi/Savusavu;
  • Nadi/Taveuni;
  • Nadi/Malololailai;
  • Nadi/Mana;
  • Labasa/Taveuni;
  • Taveuni/Laucala;
  • Savusavu/Taveuni.

10 May, 2006

F$45 million market for city

The Suva City Council has embarked on a F$45 million development project for the Suva Market and the adjacent bus station. The planned building for the market would also include a stop shop with retailer outlets. The proposed developments to the bus station would ease traffic flow.

08 May, 2006

Open Water Swimming Course in Suva

Two large Coach/Technical Official Education events will be held in May. The first is an Olympic Solidarity funded Open Water Swimming Course for Technical Officials which will be held in Suva from May 15 to 20 and will incorporate a test. The second will be the first workshop tour of the 2006 Swimsafe Schools Project which is designed to equip school teachers with the skills to include basic swimming into their curriculum.

Fiji's General Elections starts

The General Elections 2006 began in Fiji last Saturday. On the first day there were a few hiccups as polling stations faced some delays with getting themselves ready for the flow of voters coming in. This is expected to improve over the next few days as polling stations and clerks get used to their routine. Elections observers from international agencies are in the ensure that election is fair and procedures are followed. Fiji residents working overseas have been casting their votes at the Fiji embassies abroad while those serving in Iraq have cast their votes last Saturday when two polling clerks from Fiji got through to them. The elections proper will end on Friday with counting to begin on Friday night and throughout the weekend.

04 May, 2006

Mothers Day

Mothers Day is coming up on Sunday, May 14. Have you figured out what you're going to give that special woman? Mothers Day should be just an occasion for giving her gifts and tell her in your own words how much she means to you and how much you appreciate her love. It is a special day in which we celebrate our mothers and to remind them just how beautiful and valuable they are in our lives. Appreciating our mothers and what they have done for us from the day we were born to what we've become today, is a gesture, which not only should be reserved for Mothers Day, but in fact every single day of her life. Mothers Day should be really the day we remind ourselves again just how special and unique she is. Cook for her, pamper her, take her out, serenade her ... whatever, but don't forget the big hugs and kisses and your feelings of love and cherishment of her will make any mum happy. Try out some of these shops for gifts : Deojis Footwear for shoes; Comsol near the roundabout at Knollys Street for computers, TVs and DVDs; Brijlal in Cumming Street for home appliances; Rowell at Downtown Boulevard for the latest DVDs on hire/sale, DVD/MP3 players or TVs; and Boomerang at Thomson Street for jewellery.

03 May, 2006

Local singer, Jese Mucunabitu, launches CD

Well-known local singer, Jese Mucunabitu, launched a CD made up of old Fijian songs at the United Club last Friday night. The singer, whose voice is distinctly known over the radio without the need of mentioning his name, celebrated the launch of his latest CD with family and close friends. This is Mucunabitu's 6th album. Mucunabitu said that the CD was made up of old songs which have been given an upbeat and modern tempo to liven them up. The CD was played throughout the night as guests got first dibs at listening to the new CD before members of the public got a chance. The CD can be bought directly from The Floating Restaurant in Suva where Jese Mucunabitu performs. We will provide a bit more detail on the songs available on this CD and the price in a later post.

South Pacific Bowling Carnival to be held in June

Over 300 bowlers from New Zealand, Australia, Hong Kong, Papua New Guinea and Fiji will be competing for the F$10,000 in the South Pacific Bowling Carnival. Organisers of the annual carnival which gets under way on June 3 are confident of another successful event. Entries for the event that celebrates its 50th year will be confirmed later today. The organisers said that the event is a prestigious one as it entertains singles, pairs and fours entries. The organisers said that they will entertain the first 300 entries as it was a manageable number not only for the committee but for the three greens as well. The competition proper runs until 17 June. Note from GV : For those that may require accommodation in Suva, a two bedroom furnished home is available for rent at F$95.00 a night for the entire home for a maximum of 4 people. Access to Internet can be provided with a new Personal Computer if required. This option will require a rate of F$140.00 a night for your stay. To see details on the property, photos and to enquire, click on the links on the right hand side of this blog or e-mail gilbert@connect.com.fj directly.

Coca Cola Games begins today in Suva

The annual secondary schools' athletics competition, the Coca Cola Games, begins in Suva today and will run over two days. Being a regular event on the Fiji sporting calendar for the last 25 years, the event will feature the country's best students competing in the track and field events. Close to 2,900 athletes from 152 schools have made it to the Fiji Finals this year, while more than 20,000 fans are expected to show their support for Fiji's young sporting talent at the games. Reigning champions, Marist Brothers High School and Adi Cakobau School remain the teams to beat. The games will open with the arrival of the torch that has been touring the country. Relay teams of students from around Fiji have been moving the flame from district to district, town to town and school to school. It is expected that this year's games will be the largest ever staged. Police have appealed to students to compete in a sportsman like manner and avoid any aggressive behaviour. Meanwhile, top sports commentator, Graham Eden, will take this year's games into homes around the country as he covers the games for Fiji Broadcasting Corporation (FBC). Eden rejoins FBC after moving to competitor FM96 in 1987.