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148 tabua to be stocked with iTaukei Affairs

The Ministry of iTaukei Affairs has been tasked for the safe keeping of the 148 tabua (sperm whales teeth) that were returned from the New Zealand government yesterday. New Zealand
30 May 2017 11:25
148 tabua to be stocked  with iTaukei Affairs
Fijian warriors from Nawaka with part of the Tabua which were handed over the Fijian Government today. PHOTO: DEPTFO

The Ministry of iTaukei Affairs has been tasked for the safe keeping of the 148 tabua (sperm whales teeth) that were returned from the New Zealand government yesterday.

New Zealand High Commissioner Mark Ramsden presented the tabua to Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama in a special handover ceremony in the iTaukei and Maori languages at the Double Tree Resort on Sonaisali Island in Nadi.

“The ministry is present here today and after the handover the ministry will now be responsible for the safe keeping of the tabua,” said iTaukei Affairs Permanent Secretary Naipote Katonitabua.

The tabua that were seized in New Zealand points of entry were returned to Fiji because “New Zealand recognises these tabua for what they are – precious cultural items which are of chiefly value and we reconise that,” Mr Ramsden said during the ceremony.

“New Zealand is strongly committed to the protection of endangered species.

“The legislation enquires anyone bringing an item made from protected species- including a tabua – into NZ from, to have a permit.

“Repatriation of seized items is an unusual transaction – so this is indeed a special event.”

Mr Ramsden said the close links between Fiji and New Zealand with many people travelling back and forth was important that awareness of this fact was raised.

“Tabua can have an important role in Fiji in facilitating conservation in communities. This is important as communities have a critical role to play in conservation,” he said. 

“It is perfectly fine to bring tabua with you, so long as the travellers have the appropriate permits from both New Zealand and Fijian authorities. However there is no contradiction in the use of the tabua in Fiji for cultural purposes and the survival off the sperm whale in the wild. To honour the handover they were farewelled from NZ with a karakia (Maori prayers) on behalf of the Aotearoa’s tangata whenua (Maori people).”

Edited by Rusiate Mataika

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