The leaders of Beqa Island took an unprecedented step of calling a meeting for all Chiefs and YMST delegates to attend. Held at Nawaisomo village on Wednesday 29 May, the meeting focused on setting the foundation for cultural strength and unity between the two Districts of Beqa.
Opened with a word of prayer followed by the ceremonial protocol, the two leaders, Tui Raviravi and Tui Sawau acknowledged all parties and representatives attending. The opening speeches highlighted the Vunilagi (Vision): ‘Ko Beqa me lololo ni yaubula; (Beqa is the storage for resources and livelihoods). Also addressing the value of effective advice to the overarching management goals of the fishing grounds, the land and the culture. Tui Sawau reaffirmed the incredible capacity and unique potential that Beqa has moving forward.
We all recognize great leaders when we’re confronted and both Tui Raviravi and Tui Sawau were not short of this; addressing specifics, including a habitual attitude that de-value conversations – “Sa sivia na qito” – it is time for seriousness in matters pertaining to our Vanua, Lotu and Matanitu. Overall this was indeed a breakthrough meeting – creating a forward and future-minded awareness to exercise opportunities for better living.
As this is the first meeting of this level, which had a historical outcome – creating an Island-wide YMST, combining the two districts, it was agreed by the Chiefs that it will be done in a way that will focus on strengthening the traditional leadership. This will be followed by a series of meetings, engagements, and activities to allow the YMST to become operational under the leadership of the Bose Vanua and advice from the BLI partners.
Attending the meeting, PBF staff Roko Josefa Cinavilakeba and Sefano Moon Katz, both commended the day highly. There’s this saying that ‘what gets measured is what gets done’ – through the Beqa Lagoon Initiative the local communities of Beqa Island were able to create structures, goals and purposeful plans following a shared vision.
Vinaka vakalevu to our partners Fiji Locally Managed Marine Area for guidance and facilitation and donors UNDP GEF Small Grants Programme Fiji and Australia in Fiji through the Direct Aid Program (DAP) for supporting this valuable work to happen.