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Fiji Time: 6:37 AM on Tuesday 2 September

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Early settlers have no regrets

Maciu Malo
Friday, December 14, 2012

ABOUT 30 families from the Solomon Islands whose forefathers settled in Navutu were relocated to Drasa on the outskirts of Lautoka about 10 years ago.

According to the settlers, the relocation came about because of the government's plan to develop Navutu and its surrounding areas.

Sixty six-year-old Jeke Isake said his forefathers settled in Navutu when they were brought to work for the then Colonial Sugar Refinery (CSR) now the Fiji Sugar Corporation (FSC).

He revealed that his grandparents were among a few Solomon Islanders brought in by the government.

Mr Isake said over time most of the Solomon Islanders married indigenous Fijians, a practice that continues to this day.

"Both of my grandparents were from the Solomon Islands and they were among the first settlers at Navutu," he said.

"I was born and bred at Navutu and that place has many historical links for me and my forefathers. There were many Solomon Islanders back then in Navutu compared to these days as some new families have resettled there."

He said the relocation to Drasa was a traumatic and emotional experience for his people.

"The late Ratu Ovini Bokini was the Land Minister at the time when we were first told that we were being relocated.

"At first we didn't want to move because Navutu was our home but since the government had initially brought our forefathers here it was appropriate for us to listen to what the government wanted. So after a meeting of the Navutu community, a few of us decided to move."

He said there were 50 families from Navutu residing at Vanuakula settlement in Drasa.

"Of the 50 families, close to 30 are Solomon Islanders or descendants of the Solomon people.

"We have heard that some new families have moved into Navutu since our relocation.

"We are not sure of their plight but for us we will continue to listen to what the government decides because they brought our forefathers to Fiji," Mr Isake said.


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