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Sloggs' Travel Blog A journal of my travels in 2008 & beyond...

Building foundations & pulling people together on Vorovoro.

FIJI | Tuesday, 16 September 2008 | Views [2278]

Geoff, Tui Mali & the carving

Geoff, Tui Mali & the carving

For Geoff. Sorry it has been so long coming.

On Tuesday 16th of September something very special happened on Vorovoro. Tribe Manager Amy's parents, Mary and Geoff had been on Vorovoro for some six weeks, to visit their beloved daughter and to experience this wonderful place, of which they'd heard so much, for themselves. Today was to be their last chance to express to Tui Mali and the tribe as a whole just how much Vorovoro meant to them and to present Tui Mali and Team Fiji with a special Tatau.

Geoff and Mary have lots of artistic flair and skill and during their time on Vorovoro they both got heavily involved in all aspects of village life, including Geoff having a major hand in the design and construction of the new shower project. During their stay they took every opportunity to learn about the Fijian culture and the history surrounding Vorovoro itself.

To this end Geoff began to create a carving from some very old driftwood found on the island, which he would present to Tui Mali on this day. Below is a transcript of Geoff's speech that day, and Tui Mali's response which I recorded on my camera:

Geoff: "Tui Mali. Mary and I would firstly like to present a tatau in our thanks to you, team fiji and tribewanted for our unforgettable stay here on Vorovoro.

You have all accepted us into your hearts, your culture and homes. We have experienced many excursions in our six week period in Fiji having originally booked for a two week stay. We do not want to go back but the taxman calleth! (We think you know what we mean)

We have had so many memorable times and had an open house welcome every time. We have been to the depths of your people and at times been where none other than Fijians have trod.

There have been weddings, birthdays, school trips even passing out parades, painting trips and the important 2nd anniversary celebrations all within this time. This has also been a time to work and learn from your Team Fiji on the developing projects and again they have taken us to their hearts. We take our hats off to these talented members of the tribe. Wonderful memories and some things money can't buy.

Thank you for letting us come to your beautiful island and this is only a small token of our appreciation. We also would like to thank you personally Tui Mali, and as you know we came here to enjoy some wood carving, and collecting driftwood is one of our families occupations as you may have heard. We were hoping to extend our time with yourselves and would have liked to passed on some tips from my fine furniture and woodturning experience to the team here but Fiji time has been on fast forward and the chance never came to show the tribe some of the techniques in order that they might like to take up a sport other than rugby or volleyball.

So this is a gift to you, to personally thank you for your kindness, your people and your island. I would like to tell you a story... one day in September 1824, rough seas founded a boat carrying Fijian people here on the reef and broke into pieces which drifted onto the island.

The people also came ashore and felt that this was their chosen land. As the boat was washed up onto the shore so to did this piece of driftwood (Geoff presented a large piece of driftwood planking) found on sagosago beach, which represents that day. The head man, Ratu Apinisa Bogiso, a fine young man and chief, set up his home and family here on Vorovoro, which translates into 'broken pieces'.

Tui Mali, this carving represents your great great grandfather who first came here and forms that broken bond. (Geoff presents his carving, beautifully wrapped in coconut leaves)

Today we join a new vision for your Vorovoro. The base was cut yesterday to represent that new beginning as Tevita predicted 'people will come to this island'. People have come and I would like to ask you to join me in planting the new vision with your ancestors in bonding Team Fiji firmly with Tribewanted. A gift that we hope you will treasure not only of the thoughts of past but to your future and the future of Vorovoro and Tribewanted.com. So so Ratu, may god bless you and your tribe". (Tui Mali & Geoff placed the carving into the cut base together).

Geoff then presented some tools for Team Fiji and explained to Tui Mali and everybody how he made the carving using them, including using English tea to make the stains. Tui Mali recieved the tatau in Fijian before addressing everybody in English afterwards and presenting Geoff with a chief's mat to take home with him...

Tui Mali: "The Fijians believe that some of our ancestors are still here and still around us and some times they watch and hear. This afternoon on behalf of Vorovoro and the family, you know the family here in Vorovoro is all over the world, there is a mat, from Vorovoro to be given to you. Vinaka Vaka Levu, thank you very much for raising up Vorovoro together, and we hope that Vorovoro is going up to where the world will see and I hope when you go back, you'll go and tell them the story about Vorovoro, and this is our gift to you, Vinaka Vaka Levu".

It was a touching moment indeed.

There are many things that happen on Vorovoro which one could put down to coincidence, and the timing of this could have easily been construed in such a way. The giving of this perfect gift not only represents the bringing together of the old traditions here in Fiji and the new era represented by Tui Mali and Tribewanted, but also serves as a reminder to everybody connected with the project that we must pull together and make a firm binding to each other in order to best understand one another and to be strong for our future together. This is something that Ratu Tevita himself told me the previous morning when I was low, that we would be reminded soon that we must all remain strong and pull together on Vorovoro, the chief, the team and Tui Mali together.

A fitting parting gift indeed, and a fitting sentiment for everybody connected with the project.

Thank you so much Geoff for the inspiration that this brings... every time a new tribe member sees your sculpture, the story will be told again and again... another fine legacy on Vorovoro.

Lets all keep pulling together in the same direction for a good future both on Vorovoro and around the world as one community.


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