Chiefs are now ‘toothless’ tigers, GCC review team told

Ratu Kalokalo Loki with other chiefs during the GCC Consultations in Vunidawa, Naitasiri last week. Picture: MERI RADINIBARAVI

The respect that should be accorded to our chiefs has disintegrated in the past 16 years, says former Vuna/Naitasiri Provincial Council district representative Seveci Tavaga.

Speaking during a Great Council of Chiefs review consultation at Vunidawa, Naitasiri last week, he said the equal distribution of land lease was a perfect example of that.

“The confusion in the past 16 years resulted in the lack of clarity on who our traditional leaders are,” Mr Tavaga said.

“Our chiefs are alive, but they are, what we call in English — toothless. They were born as chiefs, raised as chiefs but they do not have any say now.

“Lease monies are now distributed equally and so having the status of chief is now meaningless.”

He said other issues that came up in the past 16 years was the giving away of the iqoliqoli (traditional fishing grounds) without the clan leaders’ knowledge.

“Nowadays, a few people will sign the paperwork and the iqoliqoli is given, our i Taukei resources are being used without our knowledge and consent.

“It is sad because the voices of the chiefs are not heard anymore.”

The equal distribution of lease monies to all members of a landowning unit was introduced by the Bainimarama government in 2011.

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