Recurring issues have surfaced during the ongoing consultations in Fiji aimed at shaping the future of the Bose Levu Vakaturaga (BLV), or the Great Council of Chiefs (GCC).
The most recent session, held in the Serua/Namosi province, shed light on these key concerns.
Dr. Jone Baleidrokadroka, Chair of the GCC Review Committee, highlighted significant recurring concerns, one of which is the need for knowledgeable and well-trained individuals with a certain level of education to occupy seats on the BLV or GCC.
Secondly, the call for greater autonomy of the BLV. The push for independence stems from concerns that the BLV had been subject to political influences in the past. Numerous submissions voiced the wish to see the BLV established as a standalone or autonomous entity, free from external interference.
A third persistent issue revolves around the role of the BLV in addressing pressing challenges faced by the iTaukei people today, including poverty, education, and the environment. Participants stressed the need for enhanced oversight from the BLV, considering its custodianship of about 90% of all the land in Fiji and its responsibility for safeguarding the environment.
Preservation of culture and the fear of losing cultural identity were also raised.
Speaking about the ongoing consultations, Dr. Baleidrokadroka highlighted the extensive outreach efforts, stating, “This is the fourth province that we have visited. We will be visiting a total of 14 provinces, and conducting extensive consultations with other ethnic groups, churches, youths, and individuals. We also hope to gather the views of Fijians living overseas.”
Recognising the importance of Fijian youths’ participation, the GCC Review Committee plans to prioritise their input in the upcoming weeks. Many young Fijians Baledrokadroka says are unaware of the purpose and significance of the GCC, making their perspectives crucial to achieve a holistic understanding. Currently, the majority of received views primarily come from middle-aged and older members of society.