GCC Weigh in On Balancing Cultural Preservation and Financial Challenges

Striking a balance between preserving iTaukei culture and traditions without imposing excessive financial burdens was part of the Great Council of Chiefs deliberations over its two-day meeting, recognising that a significant portion of the iTaukei population lives below the poverty line.

GCC Chair Ratu Viliame Seruvakula said the chiefs discussed the need to find ways to maintain customs and other traditional obligations that cater to the diverse financial circumstances of iTaukei families.

In Fiji’s 2019-2020 Household Income and Expenditure Survey (HIE), 75% of people living in poverty are iTaukei – equating to approximately 29.9% of all Fijians that participated in the survey.

“We touched on topics related to traditions and culture…the itaukei na itovo vakavanua, talking about a good chunk of itaukei population falls under/below the poverty line. There is a need to look into that, to find ways and means of how to, not losing out on our core cultures but at the same time to work within means to for all families for members of the iTaukei community,” Seruvakula said pointing out substantial expenses associated with traditional practices such as those incurred during funerals

“To review the way we carry out our traditional obligations. Of course, they are things that we can’t do away with. But perhaps we could relook at how we conduct funerals and other traditional obligations with the hope that people do not overspend.”

A proposal to shift cultural obligations, such as the oga vakavanua, to Saturdays and Fridays was also discussed. However, concerns were raised that certain denominations that exist in Fiji, worship on these proposed days.

The issue will be reviewed by the GCC’s soon-to-be-formed Governance subcommittee, with recommendations expected to be presented at the next council meeting slated for early November this year.

The GCC meeting that ended today at the Lagoon Resort was the council’s first since the re-establishment of the body in November last year.

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