UNDRIP Plan And Preservation of Tradition and Language Among GCC Resolution

Fiji’s Great Council of Chiefs outlined its resolutions, after their 2-day meeting this week, chief among them was the endorsement of a draft action plan on the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), and the modification of some traditional practices.

In the case of the former, this follows concerns raised by members of the GCC about the erosion of the iTaukei language particularly among youth, and the current status of the iTaukei culture amidst societal changes including external influences such as social media and drug-related challenges. In the case of the latter, the consideration to modify some practices stemmed from the recognition of its impact and burden on ordinary iTaukei families.

“The biggest concern goes back to the iTaukei on our own traditional cultures. The fact that time has moved so fast, we got social media and all the challenges that we now face and drugs of course,” GCC Chair Ratu Viliame Seruvakula told a briefing after the meeting had concluded at the Lagoon Resort on Thursday.

“It’s not the fear of losing control, but we could be looking at that down the road if we’re not careful. A lot of the discussion centered around preventing, trying to put measures in place so we don’t end up losing control.”

Ratu Viliame said that whilst the chiefs acknowledged that change is inevitable, and as such must implement safeguards to protect and maintain core iTaukei traditions, they were also mindful of the burden of existing ITaukei traditions and customs on ordinary Fijians, endorsing the modification of some of the traditions and customs in a manner that it does not lose their essence.

These concerns and follow-up recommendations have been put back to the chiefs to take back to their respective Vanua to discuss ways to best address and implement these.

“The GCC members are encouraged to take the concern to their respective vanua and to be discussed in the bose Vanua, village council, and various forums at the village level and other relevant forums. Of course, changes will take place. From here the chiefs cannot make decisions on it. Not stuck at the provincial level but goes down to the Bosevanua. The final decisions lie with the respective Vanua, villages and family – the applicability of those decisions.”

The GCC also recognised the need for ongoing collaboration with the government in efforts to ensure the preservation of iTaukei tradition and customs.

iTLTB Update – Review of Outdated Legislations
The GCC also endorsed the update from the iTaukei Land Trust Board, and its proposal to review outdated legislation, which will contribute to poverty alleviation.

Valenibose Complex: Progress Report from iTaukei Trust Fund
The Great Council of Chiefs received an update on the Boselevu Valeniboso Complex from the iTaukei Trust Fund. The report highlighted the start of construction and projected the opening of the complex before the middle of next year.

Formation of Subcommittees to Tackle Key Issues in Law, Education, and Culture

Acknowledging the multifaceted challenges facing iTaukei communities, the Great Council of Chiefs (GCC) announced the formation of three subcommittees. These subcommittees will focus on addressing issues in law and governance, education, and language and culture.

The soon-to-be-formed committees will discuss these and report back to the GCC at a later date.

GCC Nominees on Boards of iTaukei Institutions
The GCC endorsed that their nominees to the iTaukei Affairs Board, iTaukei Land Trust Board and the iTaukei Trust Fund be restored.

Drug Issue
Work with the Government and the church to address this

Village By-Laws
GCC endorsed the use of village guidelines to be used as the framework to develop village by-laws. The issue will be forwarded to the Subcommittee on Laws and Governance for their deliberations.

MOU With King Aotearoa Pending Ministry of Foreign Affairs Approval
The GCC Agreed for an MOU to be signed between King Aotearoa in consultation with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Rewa Province to Pioneer Best Practices from GCC’s China Tour
Following the Great Council of Chiefs’ endorsement of a GCC China tour report, Rewa has been chosen as the pilot province for implementing best practices learned from the visit.


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