To'abaita Authority for Research & Development (TARD)

[P.O Box 13, Honiara, Solomon Islands/ Email: Tel:+677 7424025]

Welcome to the TARD Homepage...{Sore lea tale oe uri fula lamu mai la biu ne'e TARD}...TARD is To'abaita's rural voice on the web

Friday, March 31, 2006

Election Officials in Malaita threaten to resign

Source: SIBC Online News

There is a threat that the national election may not take place on Malaita Wednesday next week.

This is because the 14 Returning Officers on Malaita have threatened to resign from the election.

A spokesman for the Returning Officers, Charles Oge, says they are giving the Electoral Office up to four o'clock tomorrow to decide on the payment for the 741 Presiding Officers and Polling Assistants who will be manning the 247 polling stations on Malaita.

"We do not like Presiding Officers and Polling Assistants harassing them for the money due to them for their work during the election. This is the first time payments are being made direct to bank accounts of the workers. The new method of payment is unrealistic for people who live in the mountains areas of Malaita who do not have easy access to banking services".

Mr Oge says the Returning Officers want the 741 Presiding Officers and Polling Assistants to be paid immediately after the election closes at five o'clock in the afternoon on election day.

He says the Returning Officers have informed the Malaita Election Manager of the concern and would be submitting a petition to the Electoral Office in Honiara on the issue.

SIBC News has not been able to get the Chief Electoral Officer to comment.

North Mala Wants Fair Development Assistance

This has been an issue that TARD has voiced its concern on in the media last year, where we urged the government to balance its development strategies throughout other province. Fair development assistance is vital in order to reverse the current migration pattern which contributed to the formation of the recent ethnic tension.

By MOFFAT MAMU (Solomon Star Online News)

North Malaita leaders have called on the government and RAMSI for fair development.
The local chiefs raised their concern during a visit by a RAMSI delegation led by the Special Coordinator James Batley to Malu’u last Friday.

Speaking at the occasion one of the chiefs said people from the northern region have tried over the months to submit proposals for projects to a number of organisations for assistance but most of these applications were not successful.
The chief added that most of the people have felt the impact of the social unrest and since evacuated back to their home provinces they are still struggling to make a living.

He therefore called on the government and NGOs to assist them in whatever ways.
RAMSI Development Coordinator Blair Exell told the local leaders that there have been a lot of applications received through the Community Sector Programme but not all of them will be approved.

However, he assured the local leaders that like CSP, there are other donors willing to assist those affected and in need of assistance as part of the rehabilitation programme in the country. A number of donors have been assisting the country through development projects such as Australia AusAID programme, New Zealand, European Union, Japan grassroot scheme, and Taiwan.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Monitoring the Pollution in Suva Harbour, Fiji

This is another report from Edward regarding a field trip that was carried out this week within the Suva Harbour.

This trip was aimed at analysing the level of pollution on the bottom sediments and water quality in Suva Harbour. The increasing level of pollution in coastal areas is becoming a major concern for most Pacific Island countries, including Solomon Islands. The current level of pollution in Suva Harbour is alarming that even responsible authorities are trying to take steps to minimise it by forming a group known as "Save the Suva Harbour Foundation". The University of the South Pacific is also taking a leading role in the continuous monitoring of pollution in Fiji waters.

During the trip, students engaged in measurements of hydrogen sulfide in sediments and water quality parameters such as temperature, salinity, dissolved oxygen, pH etc which will assist them to determine the current level of pollution. This trip was part of a Marine Pollution Course.

Pictures from Edward

Summary of a Geography Class Field Trip

Last week, one of our To'abaita students was priviledged to go on a Geography Class Field trip to various parts of Viti Levu, one of the two main islands in Fiji. One of the main aims of TARD is to publishize what our students are undertaking either in a field trip, overseas tour, personal achievements or other related volunteer events. This is aimed to enlighten our fellow wantoks elsewhere of the latest developments in Fiji, but more importantly to encourage our fellow students to work harder.

According to Edward Danitofea, the geography field-trip was aimed at studying how the concept of "Resources Management" can be put into practice as well as analysing the benefits and challenges. As a result they visited the Naboro Landfill near Suva, and the Kula Park near Sigatoka.

The Naboro Landfill is a new project that was implemented to manage domestic wastes and other form of rubbish in an effort to reduce organic pollution into the coastal areas. The population of Suva have been using the Lami Rubbish Dump for the past years but due to the high pollution being emitted onto the Suva Harbour coupled with the daily stinging odour it gives to nearby settlements, the initiative was eventually implemented in 2004.

The Kula Park is a major tourist attraction near Sigatoka Town which conserves wild-life ranging from birds, reptiles, corals and fishes, and other animals which are near extinction or currently being threatened by human activities. Without sites like this, most endangered species will be lost. The trip covers a whole day. Till then we look forward to posting more student field trip reports once they come into hand.

Pictures & report by: Edward Danitofea

Malaita voters want leaders with bottom-up approach to development

The TARD volunteer group supports the call made by rural Malaitans whereby a leader that we need to elect in the North Malaita Constituency should have vision and committment towards a bottom-up approach to development.

By Joseph Inomae (SIBC)

People in the rural parts of Malaita province have expressed the need for a bottom-up approach to development.

SIBC's Joseph Inomae reports from Auki that various people, including some candidates who are contesting the April five elections say its time the people of Solomon Islands do things for themselves.While acknowledging the help from development partners to Solomon Islands, Mr Inomae says the people want to see leaders who have a vision to start developments that would improve and sustain their livelihoods.The people cite the Central Kwara'ae credit union scheme and related developments as an example of people doing things for themselves.They say its good to see community based developments taking place in the province.

News source: SIBC

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Traditional Marriage (Luma'a) Arrangements in To'abaita

To'abaita is a region in Malaita Province that regards traditional marriage, "Luma'a", as a very important cultural norm or practice. Traditionally, marriages are arranged in To'abaita. This means that the father (Maka) and mother (Thaina) of the boy (Dara) would shop around for a girl (Thari)for their son without him knowing about it. In special cases, baby boys and girls born around the same time are fixed to marry when they were old enough. However, nowadays boys or girls are allowed to choose their partners through other avenues beside the traditional arrangement alone.

With regards to the traditional arrangement, when the parents of the young man found a girl they would inform the girls parents about their intention. Both parents would then discuss and an initial agreement on a bride price is set. Once a deal has been made, both parents will inform their son or daughter about the arrangements. In most cases the girl would say yes because she is obliged to agree with her parents. The girl's parents are the final decision makers in this arrangement. Later, normal arrangements for marriage and wedding would go ahead with news being passed to other relatives of both the bride (Kini fungao)and the groom (Fungao). The boy's relatives would then contribute the bride-price including Tafuliaes (Malefo), taro (Alo), pig (Botho), dolphin teeth (Lifia), and other goods, as requested by the girl's relatives.
Contribution of Tafuliae for the bride-price

On the wedding day, the boy's parents and relatives will travel to the girl's village and make a traditional presentation of the bride-price collected to the girls relatives. If the girl's relatives are satisfied with the bride-price, the bride will be led away to the groom's village. This is done by the groom's mother and another respectable woman holding onto both of the bride's hands.

Traditional presentation of a bride-price at Roso Village

When the group is about to reach the boy's village, women will line the road with traditional mats (Kaufa) so that the bride will walk on it as a token of respect towards the bride and her family. During that time there will other boys and girls from the bride's side that will accompany her (Kwai Abetaia) to help her carry out the house chores and other work in the gardens for the first 1-2 weeks. The hive of activities during this period often resulted in new relationships that will create new marriages. Boys accompanying the bride during a marriage in Roso

After the 1-2 weeks period, the gathering will be dissolved and the bride and the groom will be allowed to stay together as husband and wife.

Pictures provided by: Edward Danitofea

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Men get jail terms for manslaughter

[Submitted by Moffat Mamu on 28 March, 2006(Solomon Star)]

Land Dispute is one of the issues that hinders new development in North Malita. TARD supports the "Family Tree" idealogy because it has a great potential for minimising land disputes whilst promoting new investments into the To'abaita region.

Four men accused of causing the death of an elderly man in North Malaita six years ago pleaded guilty to manslaughter at the High Court yesterday. Justice John Brown sentenced the four men according to their degrees of involvement in the incident.
The men pleaded guilty to the unlawful killing of Augustine Okai, an elderly man of Mana’abu village, near Malu’u, North Malaita.

They also pleaded guilty to the unlawful assault occasioning actual bodily harm to two other elders taken from the village on the 31 January, 2001. The oldest accused, 55-year old Andrew Tonowane was sentenced to a total of three years and five months for manslaughter and assault. Two other accused men Hudson Saeni and Olson Seda were sentenced to a total of three years and nine months each for their guilty pleas. The fourth accused, Patteson Saeni who led the group during that time, received a total of four years and four months for manslaughter and assault.

The four men had served most of those jail sentences since 2003 when they were arrested and remanded in custody after the arrival of RAMSI. The court heard that the killing of the victim and the assaults on the survivors apparently sprang from a suggested land dispute between two North Malaita clans over a proposed airport project. The accused men were armed during that time but no arm was used in the killing of Mr Okai. However, the court heard that the victim was beaten to death when he was taken by the men. Two others survived the beatings and were later treated at the Malu’u health center soon after.

The accused men had also held a traditional reconciliation ceremony with the families of the victim and a compensation of 10 shell money and goods were paid to the family of Mr Okai. The ceremony was held in the presence of chiefs, church leaders, peace monitors and family members of the warring parties. The reconciliation ceremony is one of the mitigating factors raised by the defence when asking the court for lesser sentences on the accused men.

Malaita Premier tells people to vote wisely

[Submitted by Moffat Mamu on 28 March, 2006(Solomon Star)]

Malaita Provincial Premier Ruben Moli has urged Malaitans to vote wisely come April 5. The premier made the reminder while speaking at an open forum at Auki last Friday attended by RAMSI officials.

Mr Moli told the gathering that if they are concern with the leadership of this country they must now think and vote wisely. He was contributing to an issue raised by a member of the public about the quality of leadership in Solomon Islands and corruption.

"If you think that corruption starts at the political level then April 5 is the time to make a change by electing good and honest leaders". Mr Moli pointed out that politicians are the national leaders of this country and they should show good examples to their people. He told the crowd that the ballot papers that are going to be cast on April 5 will determined the type of leader that will lead the nation for the next four years.

"You have the power to elect leaders who will represent us in the parliament so think carefully," he said.

RAMSI Special Coordinator James Batley also shared similar thoughts.
He said Solomon Islands is a democratic nation in which the people have their rights to choose and vote for who they want but they must think and vote wisely.

North Malaita Chiefs applaud RAMSI’s work

[Submitted by Moffat Mamu on 28 March, 2006 (Solomon Star Online News)]

Local leaders in North Malaita have applauded the work of RAMSI so far in the restoration of law and order in Solomon Islands. Speaking to the visiting RAMSI delegation at Malu’u last Friday, a local chief Tom Stranger said since the arrival of RAMSI people who have once lived in fear are now enjoying their freedom again.

"There is now peace and order in parts of the northern region and we thank RAMSI for their dedication and time to come and help out. "Mr Stranger said he was held at gunpoint during the crisis and being a victim he was really happy with RAMSI’s presence.

"During the crisis there was no access to medicine and people have suffered, but now we have hope for the future. "There were negative reactions about RAMSI’s presence but the work you have rendered has improved and changed the lives of people in this country especially those of us in the grassroot level," Mr Stranger told the visiting RAMSI delegation at Malu’u. Therefore, he called on RAMSI on behalf of Malu’u chiefs to continue with their good work and help revive the economy of the country before they leave.

Speaking in response to Mr Stranger, RAMSI special coordinator James Batley said RAMSI would ensure Solomon Islands is able to stand on its own before it could pack up and go home. At the moment, he said there is still a lot of work to be done in the country’s recovery process. Mr Batley told the chiefs that Solomon Islands has the potential to develop given its resources but it would take time.

Malaita Premier Reuben Moli on behalf of the Malaita Province also applauded the work of RAMSI over the years and thanked the delegation for their visit to the province on Friday.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Distribution of Migration Patterns in North Malaita Constituency

Data reported in this news was obtained at a SIDAPP Workshop in April 2000, and may not neccessarily represent the current migration patterns in North Malaita Constituency.

The number of people that went out from Ward 7 during the last five years was 762. Most went to Honiara either in search of employment or for educational purposes and the rest either went to Guadalcanal, Western Province or to other parts of Malaita.

Of the total population that went out from ward 7, 677 people came back, mainly from Honiara and Guadalcanal. That represented about 88.8 per cent of the total population that went out.

The number of population coming in to Ward 7 over the last few years was 158. They came from other parts of Malaita namely, Lau Baelelea, South Malaita, Kwara'ae, and Fataleka. A few of them came from other provinces, especially Isabel, Western Province, Tikopia and Temotu.

In Ward 8, the total number of people that migrated to other parts of the country and the province was 300. About 65 per cent went to Honiara and the rest went to Auki and Western Province.

The number of people that came back was 368. This indicated that some families may have new children whilst away. Most came back from Honiara. Also, the number of new settlers coming in was 262 due mainly through inter-marriages and the unrest on Guadalcanal.

Ward 9 experienced the least number of people that migrated during the last several years 181 people. About 75.7 per cent went to Honiara, 16 per cent to Guadalcanal and 8.3 per cent to other parts of the country. Out of those that went out, 164 came back mainly from Honiara and Guadalacanal. The number of population that came into the ward was 82 most of whom from Honiara and other parts of Malaita.

Source: PF Network

Call for arrest of "Big Fish"

By MOFFAT MAMU (Solomon Star Online News)

Questions have been raised as to why only the “small fish” are being arrested while the “big fish” are still free.

This concern was raised during open forums at the Auki Market and Malu’u, Malaita Province, last Friday when a RAMSI delegation led by Special Coordinator James Batley visited the areas.

It was alleged certain leaders who have been implicated in corruption cases and allegedly masterminded criminal activities are still in power and enjoying freedom.Among concerns raised in the forum about corruption, law and order and economic developments, was the arrest of the so-called “big fish”.

“There were no arrests of the ‘big fish’ although their actions have been seen and heard in the public arena,” a concerned member of the public stated.However, Mr Batley said both RAMSI and the local police are still investigating some of the leaders implicated in various corruption and criminal activities occurred in the country over the past years.

“We are gathering information on these leaders,” Mr Batley said.He also told the crowd in Auki and Malu’u that so far six ministers have been arrested.

“This is a great achievement given the number of ministers who have been charged for their unlawful acts committed years ago and while holding on to power.”However, he said there is still a lot of work to be done.

Deputy Commissioner of Police and PPF Commander Will Jamieson said more concrete and hard evidence is needed to prove the wrongful deeds of these leaders in order to have them arrested and charged.“We need more information and evidence over these allegations and unless we have them our officers cannot make any arrests.But the police are working hard to get these information and evidences in,” he said.He appealed to the public to help the police by coming forward and give any information and evidence about any of the leaders whom they thought did something wrong.

North Malaita Chiefs want $5m reimbursed

By MOFFAT MAMU (Solomon Star Online News)

Leaders in North Malaita want the $5 million allegedly stolen from the province by ex-militants reimbursed by the National Government. The $5 million, which was paid to Malaita Province by the Central Government, as a form of compensation during the tension period, was allegedly taken away at gunpoint by commanders of the disbanded MEF.[Click on News Title to read more]

A local chief from North Malaita meets Special Coordinator James Batley after the meeting at Malu’u.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Brief History of Settlements in To'abaita

In Malaita legend, the first settlement on the island began around 3,000 B.C at a place called Siale. The settlement was founded by Hammer Rosa who had two sons, Beltigao and Beltirosa. From there, the population spread to other parts of Malaita.

It is believed that the people who first settled in the To'abaita region came from Morodo in Baegu. The story has it that 3 men from Baegu came with their wives; one settled at Furi'i, the second settled at Afuikafo both in ward 9 and the third settled at Nofe in ward 8. Each had 8 sons.

The descendants of the man that settled at Furi'i spread from Kwai River to Silolo. Those of the one that settled at Afuikafo spread from Kwai River to Adaua in Lau/Mbaelelea region. The eight tribes of the man that settled at Nofe spread through-out wards 8 and 7.

In the olden days, Nofe was believed to be the central place for all the people in To'abaita. When pagans as far as Fo'ondo or Furi'i wanted to offer sacrifices to their spirits or ancestors they had to come to Nofe to burn the sacrifices there and not in any other place.

Source: PF Net

Past Cultural Practices and Beliefs in To'abaita

Pregnant Women
In the past To'abaita men always spent most of their time in the "Biu" (Boys House). Our culture does not allow men to associate a lot with women as this would make them unclean and their powers will be lost. This mindset has resulted in pregnant women being disallowed from the village. This is an anecdotal record about that.

When a woman is 6 months pregnant, the husband or both would build a hut known locally as "Angaru'u" separate from the main village in the bush for her. A month before she delivers the baby, she would collect firewood, food, water and other things ready and put them in the hut ready for when she delivers. The husband can go to the hut with her but not allowed to go close as it will bring bad luck on him or his family. Only the woman's sister-in-law or mother-in-law are allowed to enter the hut.

After she gave birth, according to tradition, she has to shave all her hair off and live in her hut for 3 months. Only her female in-laws can visit her during that period bringing food, water and fire wood. If they are not available, the husband can perform those tasks but he is not allowed to talk or meet his wife. He will take the food, water or fire wood leave them some distance away and shout to his wife who later will come and collect them after her husband left. During those 3 months she is not allowed to follow the foot path that the public use, go to the village or close to gardens or go close to Tambu sites.

The new born baby will only be wrapped in leaves and tree barks. The only thing that would make them warm is a fire in the hut. If the mothers want to go out to colect food, water or firewood she has to either carry the new born with her into the bush or leave the new born baby alone in the Angaru'u.

After 3 months, she may now go back to the village with her baby because according to local tradition she is now considered clean. Three days after she went back to the village if the baby is a boy, the mother will present him to the grandfather in the boys house known as Biu. The grandfather will dedicate the baby by chewing betel nut and put sprinkles of the mixture on the baby's mouth. The pagan priest will then make a sacrifice with a pig as an offering to the devils and spirits of the father of the baby. This is to let them know that the household is now clean and that the baby can now be accepted into the family.

Boys from 9 years and above must live in the Biu and the father and older men will pass on all the cultural teachings to him. For a girl she stays with the father and mother and it is the responsibility of the mother to teach her household chores and norms and prepare her for marriage later in life.

Texts from PF Net

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Good turn-up at first TARD Meeting in 2006

The first meeting for TARD members at USP, FIT and FSM in 2006 was held over the weekend on saturday afternoon. Regardless of the fact that some To'abaita students were out on school field trips whilst others were not aware of the meeting, the turn up was impressive. This shows that our students are serious about what we are planning to achieve and the only thing that we need from our elite leaders and the beautiful people of To'abaita is your support and encouragements.

The meeting was held to welcome our new To'abaita members as well as discussing some of planned activities for this year. We are hoping to be involved in some rural activities this coming christmas thus we need to raise funds in order to achieve our goals.

The main agendas that were agreed up are as follows:
1. We will be seeking student contribution of FJ$20 in semester 2 2006
towards the christmas activities of the group.
2. Encouraged students to fully utilise our website, email, and private box number
Our private postal address is P.O Box U40, Suva, FIJI.
3. The group will be openning a cheque account with ANZ
Bank this week to enable us to raise money for planned
programs this christmas.
4. We are planning to organise a To'abaita fundraising in semester 2
2006 in Fiji and another one might be held in Honiara at the
end of the year.
5. We will be forwarding appeal letters seeking finacial assistance from our
business and corporate houses in S/Is and to our MP
and other working To'abaita people in Honiara and overseas.
6. Students who face personal or academic problems to discuss it with us so that we will arrange for them to get assistance from the appropriate authorities.

Pictures provided by: Rodney Suibaea

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Osilangi Tribal Reconciliation in North Malaita

ARAO, North Malaita (PF Net News) - A reconciliation ceremony was held at Arao Village, in North Malaita on Wednesday 15th March 2006. CLICK ON NEWS TITLE TO VIEW MORE DETAILS.

This is a good sign for North Malaita towards future development plans. The TARD group believes that unless all communities and tribes in North Malaita have reconciled, development prospects will be hard to achieve.

Tribute to a unique traditional musician from To'abaita: Dores K.F. Kelesia

The To'abaita region has lost a unique traditional musician in Dores Kenisubua Fokomalefo Kelesia who passed away a few week ago.

The late Dores played the bamboo flute, or SUKWADI really well. She was believed to be among the last few people from To'abaita who knows how to blow the 'Sukwadi'. She even went a step further to promote the traditional tunes of To'abaita culture with the 'Sukwadi' when she recorded some of her music at the Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation (SIBC) a few years ago. She hailed from a village in the bush near Taba'a and was married to Mr Kelesia in the Walo area. Even though she was gone her unique music will live on, thanks to SIBC. Sukwadi tunes are unique because they are capable of soothing the soul if you care to reminisce about To'abaita heritage.

A To'abaita Reporter with SIBC (Joseph Inomae) who did an interview with her some years back admitted that the interview and her unique music is something that he would treasure. Inomae also stated that another To'abaitan (Michael Maelibaea) also recorded some of her music including the bamboo flute, chants, and songs last year. The only word that To'abaita people who heard her songs can say about her music is that "IT'S FANTASTIC". To date, Michael and one of Dores' sons are still trying to get an overseas buyer for that unique music.

To'abaita region is rich in real traditional music particularly the Sukwadi (bamboo flute), the Kwadili(Jews Harp), the pan-pipe, bamboo band and the unique string band music of Suava Bay. We still have some our traditional unique music to be recorded. Reports from SIBC also confirmed that a group from Anikweikei, in the mountains of Taba'a led by Daniel Maetoa did some recording at SIBC last year but were not able to produce an album due to lack of funds. However, the master recording is still with SIBC.

With regards to religous tunes, we have witnessed some real prolific composers of religious music in recent years from To'abaita. Adam Ulufa'alu of Lathalu, near Malu'u is a classic example. His songs seemed to be coming from a production line in the hundreds. Ulufa'alu and other religous artists' songs now grace every service, fellowship and gathering in most SSEC churches of Makwanu, Malu'u and Fo'ondo Districts. Their music is so spiritual, up-lifting and moving that tears can be hard to hold when you meditate upon the words.
Kalabau boys singing to the tunes of these unique To'abaita Ukuleles

We the future leaders of To'abaita would appreciate if there is anyone out there who can help preserve these unique recordings of North Malaita.

Reports from: Joseph Inomae (SIBC)

Monday, March 20, 2006

Knowing the History of Solomon Islands Government

As we draw near to the D-Day on April 5 2006, it is important to reflect on our past leaders who have led the country through independence and strived to maintain Solomon Islands as an independent and sovereign nation. This is an account of the important positions in government prior to and after independence (Courtesy of Joeblog).

1. Solomon S Mamaloni (Sept 1974-1976)
2. Sir Peter Kenilorea (1976-1978)

1. Sir Peter Kenilorea (1978-1980, 1984-1986)
2. Ezekiel Alebua (1986-1989)
3. Solomon Mamaloni (1981-1986, 1989-1993, 1994-1997)
4. Francis Billy Hilly (1993-1994)
5. Bartholomew Ulufa'alu (1997-5th June 2000 through a coup)
6. Manasseh Sogavare (2000-2001)
7. Sir Allan Kemakeza (2001-2006, ???????)

1. Sir Baddley Devesi (1978-1988) 2 consecutive terms
2. Sir George Lepping (1988-1994)
3. Sir Moses Pitakaka (1994-1999)
4. Sir Father John Ini Lapli (1999-2004)
5. Sir Nathaniel Waena (2004-current)

1. Silas Sitai (Governing Council, before independence)
2. Sir Frederick Osifelo (1978-1979)
3. Sir Maepeza Gina (1980-1988)
4. Waeta Ben Tabusasi (1989-1993)
5. Paul Tovua (1993-2001)
6. Sir Peter Kenilorea (2001-current)

1. Daniel Maeke
2. Isaac Qoloni
3. Frank Pororara
4. Sir Peter Kenilorea (Before being appointed Speaker of National Parliament in 2001
5. John Smith Pitabelama (current)

I hope this piece from the past will help to appreciate those Solomon Islands leaders, some of whom have died. The country has lost former Prime Minister, Solomon Mamaloni; former Parliament Speakers, Silas Sitai and Sir Frederick Osifelo and former Ombudsmen Daniel Maeke and Isaac Qoloni. WE SALUTE THEM ALL.


Friday, March 17, 2006

The Traditional Hierarchy in a To'abaita Society

During the heathen days all the people in To'abaita lived in the highlands (Tolo) of North Malaita in order to worship our dead ancestors (Koko'o) and gods (Thufa abu). In our traditional belief, we thought that by staying close to our ancestral spirits (Akalo) we would be blessed with wealth (inotoa), good health(to luka la), and power (ramoa)to fight against our enemies (Ma'ali mae). Therefore it was important to have a traditional community structure in order to fulfill these beliefs.

At the top of the hierarchy, there is the Aofia or the 'Big Man'. In To'abaita tradition, to be an Aofia, one has to accumulate a certain amount of wealth. Wealth comes in many forms such as having more shell money (tafuliae) or having many pigs (botho) or having big gardens of food (o'ole), marrying several wives etc. In the local expression people say "you have to show yourself" to be called an Aofia. He is the 'chief' of the tribe so to speak. This is a very influential person in the tribe. He can order the 'Ramo' (warrior) to kill someone whom he dislikes or can solve problems in the tribe or stop quarrels. He is a very important person in society because he has wealth.

Next in-line is the Wanenifoa or the pagan priest. He is the one who communicates with the devils about events in the tribe (kule'e wane). He burnt sacrifices to the devils, usually a pig, before warriors go to war. Or, if someone is sick, that person will go to the Wanenifoa to find out why the devils are angry in causing the sick. In our traditional belief, peoples lives are guided by super natural beings. If someone disobeys them, they will make that person sick or bring bad luck to him or her.

Third in the strata are the Ramos or warriors. These are the people that provide security and protect the tribe from outside aggression and enemies. They also have Ramo leaders, like commanders in modern military battalion. However, the Ramo and Wanenifoa only follow what the Aofia says. Finally,under the Ramo comes the ordinary people of the tribe. Their primary role is to provide support to the above three important people.

Source: Partial texts from PF Net

A note on the Shell Money (Tafuliae) that is used in To'abaita

The traditional Langalanga shell money, called 'tafuliae', which is used widely in North Malaita for brideprice (Rau) and compensation (Keketoa) is made up of 10 strings of shell disks threaded together in particular patterns made up of a mixture of red, black, white and brown colours. These strands of shell range in length from 1.8 to over 2 m. The 'tafuliae' is the end product of a long, labour-intensive process that has many steps.

There are four different types of shells used to make the red, black, orange and white disks in the tafuliae. A red-lipped rock oyster called romu (Chama pacifica) provides red coloured disks. Applying heat to a small white shell known locally as kee (Beguina semi-orbiculata) makes orange disks. Black disks are taken from large horse mussel shells called kurila (Atrina vexillum). Thick white disks are obtained from a ridged cockle known as kakadu (Anadara granosa). Occasionally a fourth shell, kekete, which is very rarely used, is interchanged with kurila.

The above picture is a detail of old, finely cut, 'tafuliae' shell money with turtle shell spacer from North Malaita. Each of the ten strands is about 30 inches long (76 cm). Cultural groups have different configurations and names for these types of shell strings.

Strings of shell disks or beads are often valued by the fathom which equals 7 feet or around 2 metres. Each string of shell disks at 7 feet length would value at around SB$60 (US$8)and the whole 'tafuliae' would be around SB$600 (US$80). Regardless of that, the 'tafuliae' and other traditional valuables are still required for ceremonial payments in North Malaita.

Sources: Solomon Islands Peoplefirst Network (Honiara)&
Pacific Regional Environment Programme (Samoa)

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

The Legend of "Maru'u" in North Malaita

Long time ago a pagan priest accidently cut one of his fingers so he put a shell under the wound and let the blood dropped in it. The pagan priest had only one son named Gwauliua. He told his son to take the shell with the blood inside and leave it near his worshiping place or Biuabu in To'abaita language. He also told his son to watch the shell for eight days and note any changes. On the 8th day the son saw a tiny shark in the shell in a pool of water instead of blood.

After three days the father and his son took the small shark to the sea. As soon as the shark hit salt water it became alive and stayed close to the rock next to the pagan priest's worshipping site. He told his son that he will no longer worship his ancestors but only the shark.

The first worship he made he killed a piglet and gave half of it to the shark. Later, he gave one full piglet at each meal when the shark is big enough He continued feeding it until the shark was very big. The shark became the guard of Maru'u and no other devils or people wondered close to the area. The name of the shark was Bulagwau.

The story goes that one day, a shark from Aruma in Lau area came to kill Bulagwau. On that day, Bulagwau went out in search for food so the enemy entered his sea cave. The shark faced out to sea and opened its mouth ready waiting to swallow Bulagwau when he returns. When Bulagwau returned to Maru'u after hunting for food, he sensed that there was an enemy in his cave. Bulagwau quickly transformed into a tiny fish and swam into the cave to the tail of the Aruma shark. Whilst in the cave, Bulagwau changed back into a very big shark. It opened its mouth and swallowed the tail of the Aruma shark and they began to fight. In the struggle, the two sharks made a hole in the rocks at Maru'u point which can be seen until this day.

To continue with the story, Bulagwau closed its mouth and tore the enemy's body in half and then, they began to chase each other. They first came to Bita'ama, then
Fifilu, thirdly at Basakana Island and fourthly at Malu'u. From there, the two sharks swam to Lau and according to the legend, they created the Lau Lagoon entrance at URASI during the chase. At Urasi, the Aruma shark got away and Bulagwau decided to return home. On its way home, Bulagwau saw four other sharks from Lau who wanted to kill him. Again, it transformed into a tiny fish eluded the enemy and returned safely home.

The legend had it that the pagan priest who owned Bulagwau came from Ramos Island or Anogwau Island as known in North Malaita. In mid 1960s, the Malaita Provincial Government decided to built the North Road from Auki to Fouia. Two men who worked on the road, the late Dausina and a man named Willy from Lord Howe Island were the ones that dug the rock where the pagan priest used to worship to clear the way for the road. When they dumped the rock into the sea below, very surprisingly, the rocks floated out to sea. The onlookers saw two sharks came and carry the rocks on their backs to Anogwau or Ramos Island.

Source: Solomon Islands People First Network

Who will be our People's Choice?? Meet our Candidates.

After April 5th 2006, our people will elect a leader amongst the nine intending candidates to represent the North Malaita Constituency in Parliament. The elected member will our representative voice on important issues that are threatening the livelihood of To'abaita (North Malaita) people, both locally and internationally. Therefore, it is vital for a committed and accountable leader to be elected to represent us in Parliament. We are pleased to introduce our 9 intending candidates for the North Malaita Constituency, and we wish all of them GOOD LUCK!!!

1. Daniel Enele KWANAIRARA- Outgoing MP for North Malaita who won the seat in the last by-elections in December 2004. He is from Darawarau Village near Malu'u Station.

2. George WALENENEA- A businessman. He is part Langa Langa and To'abaita (Malu'u).

3. Ronnie FAIGA- Former Bank Personnel for NBSI. He hails from Malathawa Village near Silolo.

4. Benjamin Laefanaomea RIIGA- A graduant from Japan. He is part To'abaita (Manakwai Village) and Mbaelelea (Uluga Village).

5. Starling DAEFA- Director of the SICHE Marine School in Honiara. He is from Roso Village near Fo'ondo.

6. Michael IRO- Outgoing Provincial Member for the Bita'ama area. He hails from a village around Bita'ama substation.

7. Jemuel William LIOBANA- A building constructor who won the tender for the construction of the SIFF Sports Academy in Panatina. He is from Makokoa Village near Loina.

8. Moffat Steven GANISUA- A former police officer. He comes from Manakwai 1 Village near Malu'u.

9. Rev. Michael MAELIAU- A former MP for North Malaita and he is also a church leader. He comes from Suidara Village.

May God Bless our People to choose the RIGHT LEADER...

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

A Look Back at To'abaita Student Achievements in 2005-2006

Looking back at year 2005-2006, we can proudly say that To'abaita students have attained various achievements that created a good image and reflection of our region rather than the bad picture and impression that To'abaita was renowned for in the past. These achievements include students that completed their programs, students that won writing competitions, external student training, and students continuing their programs of study in 2006.

To'abaita students that completed their peograms in 2005:
1. Peter Fairamoa (Diploma in Geography Information Systems)
2. Salome Kwaiga (Bachelor of Arts-History Politics and Socialogy)
3. Hilda Maeda(Bachelor of Arts-Management and Economics)
4. Darlyn Ramo (Bachelor of Education-History Politics)
5. Exsley Taloiburi (Postgraduate Diploma in Marine Science)
6. Rosemary I'ilu (Diploma in Environmental Health-FSM)

Students that won writing competitions in 2005:
1. Alwyn Danitofea-Pacific Plan Essay Competition winner. He received FJ$5,000 and also attended the Forum Leaders Meeting in Port Moresby in October 2005.
2. Exsley Taloiburi-Fiji wide Motibhai story winner. He received FJ$1,000. He also went as a chaperone for Alwyn to the Forum Leaders Meeting in Port Moresby.

Student external training:
1. Exsley Taloiburi-Represented Solomon Islands and USP at the University of the Sea Marine Research Cruise 2006 from Auckland-Noumea-Sydney. The trip began on 6th Feb and ended on 28th Feb 2006. He also received a Diploma from the University of Sydney for his participation.
2. Ruby Kahui-Fairamoa-She is currently undertaking her practicum training at Honiara High School this semester as part of her program requirements.

New and Continuing students from 2005-2006:
We had a 100% rate of continuing To'abaita students who passed their courses last year and have returned to continue this year. This is a clear reflection of the seriouness and committment that our students have towards their study. We also welcomed some new To'abaita students to USP, FIT and FSM that have worked really hard in the Solomons and attained good grades to get scholarships from SIG, NZAID,and ROC-PIF.

Our students will strive to excel again this year and lift the name of To'abaita.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Confirmed list of other To'abaita students in Fiji-2006

We are priviledged that the number of students from To'abaita at USP and other institutions in Fiji has increased dramatically since 2000. From 2000 we only had about 5 To'abaita students at USP and about 2 students at FSM. Since then the number of To'abaita students attending universities in Fiji has risen to around 30 students in 2006. We believe that the same trend is also true for other regional institutions in PNG, Vanuatu and Samoa. Our students are the cream and future leaders of our To'abaita region. Therefore the responsibility is on individual students if they are to fulfill the dreams of their families, communities, To'abaita region and even the Solomon Islands. The TARD concept aims to foster friendship and close relationships among To'abaita students and leaders so that we can assist each other in the near future towards the betterment of Toa'baita region.

A confirmed list of new and continuing To'abaita and part-To'abaita members in Fiji this year are as follows:

USP (Laucala Campus)
1. Joy Maealatha (Bachelor of Education-Secondary)
2. James I'ilu (Bachelor of Education-History Politics)
3. Stephen Filiomea (Bachelor of Science-Maths and Physics, while waiting for Pilot studies in Australia)
4. Andrew Liolea (Bachelor of Science-Physics and Information Systems)
5. Trevor Maeda (Bachelor of Science in Marine Science)
6. Robert Iromalefo (Bachelor of Science-Maths and Physics)
7. David Suirara (Bachelor of Education-History Politics)
8. Fiona-Peupelu (Bachelor of Education-Food and Textiles)
9. Joyce Konofilia-Maetoloa (Bachelor of Arts-Tourism and Hospitality)
10. Alfred Maebiru (Bachelor of Education-Primary)
11. Flickson Faea Samani (Professional Diploma-Legal Practice)
12. Catherine Liolea (Bachelor of Science/Graduate Certificate in Education)
13. Lilian Faerua-Danitofea (Bachelor of Science in Marine Science)
14. Doreen-Baselo (Bachelor of Education-Food and Textiles)
15. Muriel-Dakamae (Bachelor of Arts)
16. Ruth Ramoifuila (Bachelor of Arts)
17. Douglas Aitorea (Bachelor of Arts-Marine Affairs)
18. Rachel-Aitorea (Bachelor of Arts)
19. Simon Mau (Bachelor of Education-History Politics)
20. Lenny Olea Konamauri (Bachelor of Science)
21. Joyce Galo (Bachelor of Arts-Land Use Planning and Real Estate)

Fiji School of Medicine (FSM)
1. Linly Galie (Diploma in Medical Laboratory Technology)
2. James Fanagalo (Bachelor of Pharmacy)
3. Alice Siuna (Bachelor of Medicine/Bachelor of Surgery)

Fiji Institute of Technology (FIT)
1. Lemuel Liolea (Electronics&Instrumentation)
2. Joachim Loka'a
3. Paul Ramson
4. Andrew Dakamae

This list aims to give our To'abaita leaders, students and other interested parties a fair idea of the number of To'abaita students who are studying in various institutions around Fiji in 2006. We also welcome inputs from our students in PNG and Vanuatu as well as elsewhere so that we can create a To'abaita database of our human resources development.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Founding members of TARD

The TARD concept was launched in August 2005 by about 14 To'abaita scholars at the University of the South Pacific in Suva. Two prominent leaders from To'abaita who were on a business visit to Suva also witnessed the launching of this Think Tank Taskforce. It is expected that several new To'abaita students at USP will join the group this year in 2006.

The founding members of TARD are:
1. Simeon Ri'iagalo (Bachelor of Environmental Science-Earth Science and GIS)
2. Hubert Baselo (Bachelor of Education-Economics)
3. Alwyn Danitofea (Bachelor of Science-Information Systems and Management)
4. Peter Fairamoa (Bachelor of Science-Information Systems and Geography)
5. Edward Danitofea (Bachelor of Environmental Science-Chemistry)
6. Darlyn Ramo (Completed a Bachelor of Education-History Politics)
7. Ruby Kahui-Fairamoa (Bachelor of Arts/Graduate Certficate in Education)
8. Hilda Maeda (Completed Bachelor of Arts-Management and Economics)
9. Anne Kwaimani (Bachelor of Arts-Management and Geography)
10. William Abuinao Fikutoa (Bachelor of Arts-Marine Affairs and Tourism)
11. Wilfred Atomea (Bachelor of Arts-Marine Affairs and Management)
12. Rodney Suibaea (Bachelor of Environmental Science-Earth Science)
13. Exsley Taloiburi (Master of Science in Marine Science)
14. Eddie Konairamo (Bachelor of Education-Economics and Geography)

Two To'abaita Witnesses:
1. Mr Leliana Daowana Firisua
2. Mr Michael Maena

Monday, March 06, 2006

About TARD

This group which is known as the To'abaita Authority for Research and Development (TARD) is a volunteer group that was formed by young To'abaita scholars at the University of the South Pacific in Suva (Fiji) in August 2005. The principal goal of TARD is to pursue potential development aspirations of the To'abaita region as well as raising community awareness on vital issues particularly during christmas holidays. The authority has taken initial steps in establishing a secretariat in Suva with a private mail bag, a website, a phone contact, and an email contact as necessities for future plans of the group.

To'abaita is currently threatened with pressing issues such as overpopulation, less land for food security, depletion of natural marine and land based resources, and unemployment. The group aims to support development initiatives in To'abaita especially the improvement of socioeconomic parts of the region by pursuing potential development projects in To'abaita along the pipe-line. A think tank taskforce was also formed to analyse various developments that discourage urban migration so that employment is created in rural areas. Other future goals include the acknowledgement of other development plans in To'abaita whilst reviewing and developing a blue print where necessary that is reflective of past reports.Main areas in which the think tank taskforce is planning to develop include food security and fisheries related projects, environment and sanitation, access to financial services and credit, education and health improvements, and beautification projects.

The Think Tank Taskforce at USP welcomes any constructive feedback or criticism from To'abaita scholars, leaders and grassroot people elsewhere either to contact us or by voicing your concerns in the discussion forum.

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