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Why the GCC

Nasik Swami
Monday, August 18, 2014

WHILE many heated arguments have surfaced over the call to reinstate the Great Council of Chiefs, SODELPA believes the chiefly body has an integral role to play in a modern Fiji.

Shrugging aside claims that the GCC was politicised and had lost its essence, party leader Roko Tui Dreketi Ro Teimumu Kepa maintains the council still holds dear the history of indigenous Fijians.

Ro Teimumu said the GCC had never been politicised.

"The GCC is right from the days that the missionaries came to Fiji and started writing the history of Fiji. GCC has always been there in the frontline, whether politics or whatever you want to call it," she said.

Ro Teimumu said the GCC always did the best for the indigenous Fijians.

"If you are looking after a group of people and you want only the best for them and if that is called politics or whatever it's called, that is what the GCC has done.

"In 1874, the chiefs got together and they saw what was happening in the country in terms of the way the land and the resources were being sold. Sometimes large hectares of land were sold for a hat, a pipe or for a mirror or rifle."

Ro Teimumu said the chiefs knew that these valuable, often natural, resources would be lost to them if they did not act.

"So what they did was with consultation they ceded Fiji to Great Britain in 1874. This was the land and the qoliqoli and, in 1970, Fiji gained its independence. The land was given back but not the qoliqoli.

"The land was given back to the chiefs who gave their land in the first place but when it came to qoliqoli, instead of giving it back to the chiefs, it was given back to the government who have the ownership rights until now.

"And that's where their difficulty is in terms of the indigenous population because we know that the qoliqoli is rightfully ours," she said.

Ro Teimumu explained that the qoliqoli was not rightfully returned to the owners from the British.

"The chiefs have been there all throughout the history of indigenous people - looking after our rights, privileges, resources and land. So if you want to call it politics, it's up to you," she said.

She said the party, if elected, would reinstate the GCC because it protected iTaukei history, rights and privileges in a modern Fiji.

She said over the past seven-and-a-half years, indigenous ethos had eroded.

"In terms of the GCC, if it was in place, the erosion that indigenous Fijians have been experiencing over the last seven-and-a-half years would not have taken place.

"GCC is for the protection and the wellbeing of indigenous people and their future."





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