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Fiji Time: 11:02 AM on Saturday 26 July

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Cultural identity

Tevita Vuibau
Saturday, February 16, 2013

ITAUKEI cultural icon Manoa Rasigatale has called for parties involved in the attempt to trademark the 15 traditional designs to work with the vanua to find an amicable solution.

Mr Rasigatale, who is renowned throughout Fiji for his knowledge of the iTaukei culture, explained that the 15 traditional kesakesa were more than just designs and motifs.

He said the designs or vakamata in the iTaukei language were the identity of a people and when worn on traditional garb such as masi to traditional ceremonies they would identify the province the person was from.

Speaking in the iTaukei language, Mr Rasigatale said iTaukei ancestors had their own laws to govern their lives although these were unwritten.

"One of these laws was that people had the right to make their own clothes, however, when they put vakamata or designs on them, the design immediately became the property of the vanua, unique to the people of that place," he said.

Mr Rasigatale said once this happened, no one was allowed to take the vakamata anywhere else.

He said individual vakamata had stories behind them showing traditional links between villages and provinces.

Mr Rasigatale said it was the responsibility of Air Pacific to work with those who had traditional rights to the designs in order to find a proper solution to the problem of trade marking the designs.

"What I think is that Air Pacific needs to speak with the vanua and if they are able to come to an agreement or arrange monetary compensation then all well and good, but they need to follow proper channels," he said.

"They need to honour the work of the people of the vanua and the work of their ancestors."

Airline spokesman Shane Hussein declined to comment on the issue.


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