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Yaqona holds vital significance in cultural context

Matilda Simmons
Thursday, September 15, 2016

NO CEREMONY of any importance can take place without yaqona being drunk, and it is seldom absent even in casual meetings and discussions, describes acting principal administrative officer of the Ministry of iTaukei Affairs Simione Sevudredre.

Explaining its cultural significance, he said the place of yaqona in the cultural life of Fijians was so central that it was referred to as the wai ni vanua (drink of the land or of the people).

"It has also been adopted by the European, Indian, Banaban, Solomon Islander and other communities that have made Fiji their home," Mr Sevudredre said.

"It is truly the national drink of Fiji. How much kava a Fijian consumes is a personal issue that boils down to every individual's decision and choice."

He said while village bylaws had yet to be implemented around the country, villagers sometimes made the decision to ban kava on their own accord because of over consumption at times by villagers.

"As a ministry, our role is primarily policy advice and capacity building on key strategic areas as aligned under national plans.

"Village governance runs on its own but reports to the various provincial offices. Its focus is not on micro-managing taboos, it's more or less principles and guidelines for village councils to make decisions and regulations from.

"Yaqona (kava) has been used for thousands of years as a ceremonial and social drink in many Pacific Islands. Although its use has declined considerably in Eastern Polynesia (Hawaii, Tahiti etc), it is still used in much the same way as it has since time immemorial in Fiji, Rotuma, Tonga, Samoa, Futuna, Pohnpei, Kosrae, and Vanuatu."

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