Noa Masitabua and Akeai Waqa of Nacamaki Village in Koro at the coconut oil factory in Walu Bay.
The use of diesel fuel will be a thing of the past for the people of Koro Island because they will now rely on coconut oil as its suitable replacement.
This means that all vehicles, generators, outboard motors and other machinery on the island will depend solely on bio-diesel extracted from coconut oil, which will be produced locally at Nacamaki Village.
The initiative is part of the efforts to introduce renewable energy for rural people who find it hard to cope with the rising price of diesel fuel.
As part of a long-term plan government has brought 15 villagers from Nacamaki to Suva to train them how to use the Modular Bio-Diesel Processing Plant which will be installed in the village early next year.
The $30,000 plant will be able to process other bi-products such as edible oil, soap, and fertiliser.
Department of Energy spokesman Vilimoni Vosarogo said the new processing plant would be the first of its kind to be introduced in Fiji and the Pacific. He said government has planned to install similar processing plants in Lau, Kadavu, Rotuma and other parts of Fiji.
Mr Vosarogo said villagers of Koro would have to build their own shed to accommodate the new plant while government would provide them training.
He said the new initiative would help ordinary villagers financially.
Nacamaki villager Leone Manu said the new project would create employment for the villagers. He said carting diesel fuel to the island was an expensive exercise.
He said villagers had given up selling dried coconuts to Savusavu and Suva because of the associated costs.
"Now that our coconuts will be sold on the island, it should help us financially in many ways," he said.
Biofuels - liquid fuels derived from plant materials - are entering the market, driven by factors such as oil price spikes and the need for increased energy security.
Biofuels provided 1.8 per cent of the world's transport fuel in 2008. Investment into biofuels production capacity exceeded $4billion worldwide in 2007.
New religious groups will be banned from Serua province if they do not follow the traditional protocol.
The issue was discussed in length at the Serua Provincial Council meeting at Vunibau Village.
Council chairman Ratu Samuela Waqanaceva told the Fiji Times that some new charismatic churches caused widespread division within the province because their beliefs contradicted traditional customs and beliefs.
"Some of these new churches do not agree with certain things we do in the village especially on traditional matters. While we respect their beliefs, it is becoming a worry because it contradicts our tradition and customs," Ratu Samuela said.
"Any religious group that wishes to enter the province will have to get an approval from the Commissioner Central's Office, likewise the provincial office," said Ratu Samuela.
He said there was an alarming increase on a number of charismatic churches in the province and the provincial office would want to see that they adhere to protocols to avoid any problems.
A number of new charismatic churches had been very vocal on traditional matters such as the consumption of kava which they viewed as contradicting their Christian beliefs, he said.
Meanwhile, delegates at the meeting unanimously supported the idea of establishing a Provincial Development Board to oversee the overall development within the province.
Commissioner Central Lieutenant Colonel Mosese Tikoitoga told the meeting that the new board would work closely with the government on all development matters arising from each province.
The names of those who will join the new board will be finalised this morning.
Ratu Samuela said the new initiative should avoid the bureaucracy within the government system.
"Hopefully the new board will speed up the whole process in getting our message across to the government," Ratu Samuela said.
President and the Taukei Naisogolaca Ratu Epeli Nailatikau.
Stories about the new President (Fiji Times November 5 and 6 2009) make for interesting reading but your readers may have been a bit confused by the new President's Tongan connections. His distinguished Tongan connection is well known and given his recent elevation to Fiji's highest office, a reminder of the ancient relations between Fiji and Tonga might serve a useful purpose. It also serves as a reminder of how often our circumstances (now and future) are determined largely by forces outside our control.
Ratu Epeli Nailatikau's well known Tongan connection is perhaps too well known for the Mataqali na Tui Kaba. Like anyone else, he had nothing to do with the way his pedigree panned out. Some might explain it in the stars, others the waywardness of the heart.
His grandmother, Adi Litia Cakobau, was the daughter of Bauan Ratu Timoci Tavanavanua and Tupoutu'a of the Veikune family of Vava'u, Tonga. The story goes, in 1908, when the lovely Adi Litia was visiting Tongan relatives, she was seen and approached by the impetuous Tongan king, Tupou II.
The product of this brief romantic encounter was Ratu Edward. He was born in Bau in 1908 and was the second son of Tupou II, the oldest being Vilai, born in 1898.
Ratu Edward was given the Cakobau name from his maternal great-grandfather's side. When he visited Tonga for the first time in 1934, he was nicknamed Tungi Fisi in recognition of his high rank in Tonga. Queen Salote Tupou III and Princess Fusipala were therefore his half-sisters, and his son, Ratu Epeli, is therefore a cousin to the late king of Tonga, Tupou IV. The current king, George Tupou V, is the great-grandson of King George II. This material is available in Elizabeth Wood-Ellem's Queen Salote of Tonga, The Story of an Era 1900-1965, published in 1999.
On the other side, Ratu Epeli's great-grandfather, Ratu Timoci Tavanavanua, is of the Mataqali Tui Kaba of Bau, one that has been under siege from within since November 25, 1989.
The Tongan connection also runs deep in his wife's pedigree. Adi Koila's paternal grandmother, Lusiana Qolikoro, was one of eight striking daughters of a Tongan Wesleyan church minister and his kai loma or part-European wife of the Miller family. These and other intriguing details are told by Deryck Scarr in his Tuimacilai a Life of Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara launched in October by Papua New Guinea's Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare and our region's elder statesman.
Ratu Epeli's elevation to the highest office is important in another way - for what it signals about transformative changes taking place in Fiji. His appointment by the Bainimarama government in some ways represents a revolution, a quiet one yet nevertheless a revolution.
Why "revolutionary" your readers might well ask? Because the constitutional author of such appointment, the colonially instituted Great Council of Chiefs has been disregarded. In a tit for tat, the GCC had rejected Ratu Epeli's nomination and in turn the GCC has been shown, if Bainimarama is correctly reported, the "Mango Tree".
But more than that, for the first time since independence, a Fijian Head of State has been appointed without a vanua title. Not that being without vanua title can prevent an appointment, and although Ratu Epeli's genealogy is impeccably aristocratic, his appointment marks a significant shift in Fiji's social arrangements.
Under the imprimatur of the GCC, the past four heads of state have maintained the principle of equity among the three 19th century Confederations. The first was Ratu Sir George Cakobau, installed as the Vunivalu na Tui Kaba title and titular head of Kubuna. The second was Ratu Sir Penaia Ganilau, the Tui Cakau titleholder and titular head of Tovata. The third was Ratu Sir Kamiese Mara, bearers of Tui Nayau and Sau ni Vanua ko Lau titles of Lau, again of Tovata but undoubtedly taking cognizance that his wife, Adi Lady Lalabalavu Litia, was Roko Tui Dreketi, the eminent chieftain title of the Rewa-based Burebasaga.
Right to his grave, the enigmatic Sakiasi Butadroka of Rewa, decried his chieftain's being cast in the shadow of her imperious, towering but lesser ranking husband. The principle of rotating the office of head of state among the titular heads of the three confederations appealed to the vanua sense of history and fairness.
The fourth and recently retired President was Ratu Josefa Uluivuda Iloilo, Tui Vuda, a major district chief from the chauvinistic Yasayasa Vakara in the West, the fourth confederacy, with close affiliation to Burebasaga. Through Ratu Josefa, Burebasaga got its full tenure of government house!
With the principle of rotation established in this way, would Ratu Epeli Nailatikau's appointment been confirmed in the next appointment by the GCC?
The appointment of Ratu Epeli as the current and fifth head of state, returns the position to Kubuna. However, the recycle marks a radical departure from the established practice. Not only is he the first without the blessing of the GCC but he is also the first without a vanua title. Could he be setting a pattern for future heads of state or is his appointment merely an anomaly that will be corrected in time? He has the Naisogolaca inheritance and vasu to the Qaranivalu of Naitasiri and his Tongan royal family connection. Will Fijians regard these connections as sufficient in themselves? This change may appeal to modern oriented Fijians. Unfettered by a vanua title, will this make the President more accessible to ordinary citizens from all walks of life? He seems so.
Since 1987 to 2006, the word 'normal' has acquired many meanings for Fiji, and current high political appointments reflects social stresses in the local establishment. Whether these appointments will endure beyond the military regime remains to be seen. Furthermore, whether the chiefs as a collective form will ever respond, as with the currently fragmented Methodist Church, also remains to be seen. For the moment, the shift within the local tectonic plates provides interesting movements for readers.
* The views expressed in this article are that of the author and not necessarily the Fiji Times or the University of the South Pacific where he lectures history.
Lord Ashcroft www.fijitimes.com - Sunday, November 15, 2009
There are, I have always believed, two types of valour: spur-of-the-moment bravery and what I call cold courage, which involves planning.
I've nothing but admiration for those decorated for impulsive bravery: a serviceman who, in the heat of battle, risks his life to save a wounded comrade.
Many such men have rightly been awarded the Victoria Cross, Britain's top military bravery medal.
But my new book, Special Forces Heroes, deals with those awarded medals for acts of premeditated courage.
It takes a special kind of valour to go undercover behind enemy lines or to be part of a small, elite unit on a hit-and-run mission against a far larger force.
If it goes wrong, he knows that, at best, he might be captured and kept as a prisoner of war for months, even years.
At worst, he might be seized, tortured, mutilated and killed.
Not everyone mentioned in my book was a member of the Special Forces, but one account chosen here relates to the SAS.
The first - the Battle of Mirbat in Oman in 1972, which saw a handful of SAS men fight off 250 heavily armed, rebel fighters - is not well-known, but is considered by a growing number of military historians to be the regiment's finest hour.
The second involves what must surely be the most celebrated moment in the regiment's history - the storming of the Iranian Embassy in 1980.
Battle of Mirbat
(JULY 19, 1972)
Trooper Sekonaia Takavesi
Distinguished Conduct Medal
Oman, a long-standing ally of Britain, is a forgotten war - not least because the SAS's involvement in protecting the country's sultan from the Communist rebels of the People's Front for the Liberation of the Occupied Arab Gulf (PFLOAG) was top secret.
Not even the families of those fighting knew where they were.
But by July 1972, the regiment had been training and advising local troops in the small Gulf state for a year.
Operation Jaguar, designed to consolidate their positions, establish new ones and disrupt rebels lines of communications and resupply was going well.
Then, at dawn on the morning of July 19, the rebels hit back, with 250 of their elite fighters attacking the small town of Mirbat on the Arabian Sea.
They were heavily armed and their aim was to overrun the town and slaughter everyone in their path.
In the town's garrison were just nine SAS soldiers, equipped with one 25-pounder field gun from World War II, one mortar, a 0.50mm machine gun and a few general purpose machine guns.
When the adoo (Arabic for enemy forces) attacked, all the SAS men were in the British Army Training Team (BATT) house, 500 yards from the gun pit containing the 25-pounder.
But when they heard mortar rounds and machine gun fire from an outlying observation point, they moved swiftly.
A Fijian trooper called Talaiasi Labalaba ran to the gun pit and, though it normally took a three-man team to operate it, managed to open fire by himself, sighting the gun down the barrel and firing into the advancing rebels at near point-blank range.
Mirbat castle: Scene of a ferocious battle in Oman which is considered to be the regiment's finest hour
But when Labalaba was wounded, hit in the chin by a 7.62 mm round from a Kalashnikov rifle, it seemed only a matter of time before first the gun and then the garrison were over-run.
But for the decisive action of his fellow Fijian, Sekonaia Takavesi, it probably would have been.
Known as 'Sek' or 'Tak' to his friends, he became - in the words of his Army superiors - 'a legend in his own time within the SAS'. Grabbing his rifle and a few magazines, he sprinted to the gun pit and found his friend badly injured, his jaw smashed, but still continuing to fire the gun. Realising they needed more support, Takavesi left the gun pit, running to a nearby building to persuade an Omani gunner, Walid Khamis, to join them. Now there were three: Labalaba and Khamis operating the 25-pounder, while Takavesi used a self-loading rifle (SLR). But as enemy fire pounded the gun pit, Khamis slumped backwards. He had been shot in the stomach and was writhing in agony. The two Fijians were on their own again, with Takavesi helping his friend, time and again, to remove the hot shell case, ram in a new one, close the breech and fire.
Soon it was Takavesi's turn to take a bullet, which threw him backwards on to the sandbags. He was in great pain and losing a lot of blood, but he remained conscious.
Labalaba propped him up and handed him his SLR. Labalaba, who was peering down his rifle sights picking off the advancing enemy, realised he was almost out of ammunition for the 25-pounder.
As he tried to reach a 60mm mortar positioned nearby, he was shot fatally in the neck.
In the BATT house, Captain Mike Kealy heard the 25-pounder fall silent and became worried the position had been taken. With a volunteer, Tommy Tobin, a trained medic, the commanding officer dodged bullets and ran to the gun pit, where they witnessed a gruesome scene. The dead body of Labalaba lay face down on the ground, Khamis was lying on his back, bleeding profusely.
The only one still able to fire was Takavesi, who, still propped on the sandbags, was also seriously wounded. Every time he fired his SLR, he grimaced with pain as the rifle kicked back into his body.
As Tobin turned to get his medical pack, he was shot in the face and fell to the floor mortally wounded.
Pete Scholey, a former SAS man and author of SAS Heroes: Remarkable Soldiers provides an account of what happened next. 'Tak called to Captain Kealy for more ammunition and the two men began to battle for their lives. An adoo popped up at the edge of the gun emplacement, ready to shoot Tak, and Kealy blasted him with his SLR.
'Another appeared from a ditch close to their position and Kealy cut him down, too. Kealy took out adoo gunmen as they slunk round the walls of the fort and Tak concentrated on those coming from the direction of the perimeter wire. The adoo were close enough to sling grenades, which were bouncing and exploding close to the walls of the gun pit. Kealy froze for an instant as a grenade landed inside the bunker right in front of him. Mercifully, it failed to explode.'
Just as the situation appeared hopeless, the two men and their comrades had two strokes of luck.
First, the low cloud lifted high enough for two jets from the Sultan of Oman's air force to fly over the scene, strafing the adoo with cannon fire and, at one point, dropping a 500lb bomb on the by now retreating rebels.
Takavesi, who was later involved in the storming of the Iranian Embassy, would later describe the scream of those jets as 'the best sound I ever heard'.
Kealy was unaware of the second stroke of luck, which resulted from his early radio message to SAS headquarters that Mirbat was under attack. His men, B Squadron, had been due to go home on the very day of the attack.
This meant their replacements from G Squadron were at Um al Quarif, just 65km west of Mirbat. G Squadron was ordered into action.
Twenty-two men, along with their equipment, were taken by trucks to the airstrip at Salalah. Once the mist had lifted, they were airlifted in helicopters to the beach on the edge of Mirbat.
As Kealy used a lull in the fighting to tend to his men, G Squadron, led by Captain Alastair Morrison - another SAS hero who would go on to play a vital role in the successful storming of a hijacked Lufthansa jet at Mogadishu airport in 1977 - fought its way through the town.
The adoo were in full retreat, leaving 40 dead and ten wounded.
It had been an incredibly close run thing, but thanks to the bravery of men such as Takavesi, Labalaba and Kealy, it proved to be a decisive turning point in the sultan's battle with the rebels.
The Battle of Mirbat is an extraordinary story and I share the sense of anger among SAS men that the bravery of the solders involved has never been properly recognised.
As a result, I have sponsored the Battle of Mirbat Memorial at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire.
The valour of men such as Takavesi, Labalaba (who many believe deserves a posthumous Victoria Cross) and Kealy - three of the great Special Forces heroes - should never be forgotten