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Headman Upset Wrong Village In ‘Indo-Fijian’ Headman Report

Headman Upset Wrong Village In ‘Indo-Fijian’ Headman Report
Namaqumaqua Village Turaga-ni-koro Iveri Lavo in Serua yesterday. Photo: Ronald Kumar.
April 05
11:32 2017

 

A headman is upset after his iTaukei village was identified as one of those which now have Indo-Fijians as their village headmen.

Iveri Lavo of Namaqumaqua, said he received several phone calls from families abroad about the issue being headlined in the Fiji Times yesterday. The newspaper report had quoted Apakuki Kurisiga, of the iTaukei Affairs Board who was surprised that he named the wrong village.

“Ask the Roko Tui,” he said.

Roko Tui Serua, Seru Ratukalou, confirmed that the village headman was indeed Mr Lavo and not an Indo-Fijian.

Mr Lavo said: “I was the headman in 1992 -2000 and again from 2010 to date, looking after 230 villagers. This position is important to me,” Mr Lavo said.

He confirmed that the main discussion held at a village bylaw meeting in Galoa earlier this week was about the village headmen’s pay.

“This was highlighted by one of the village headmen at the meeting; a proposal for our pay. At the moment, we get around $203 per three months with a three-year term,” he said.

However, he said they were advised that if Government was to pay them, then Government would decide who held the positions. He said this could eventually bring in Indo-Fijians and Fijians of European descent taking up the roles.

Mr Lavo said there were some parts of the bylaw that his village agreed to, but they disagreed with some.

“We have raised our concerns at the meeting with Mr Kurusiga and they need our support and our pay doesn’t match with the work we do.

“The only main point of discussion was about our pay, and I am really disappointed.”

Mr Ratukalou said discussions were raised by the village headmen in Serua that there was a need to be paid like civil servants.

However, he said if this was to be changed, the Government would decide and this would be based on merits.

Fiji Times editor-in-chief Fred Wesley stood by their report.

Mr Wesley said the Fiji Times requested iTaukei Affairs Board deputy chief executive officer Apakuki Kurusiga (in a recorded interview) to provide examples of where this may have happened.

“Mr Kurusiga listed Namaqumaqua as an example and that he had met the village headman.

“There was no malicious intention. We reported the implementation of a policy and the information provided by a key official behind the implementation,” he said.

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