‘Village rules still valid’

Tha Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of iTaukei Affairs Naipote Katonitabua. Picture ATU RASEA/FILE

THE Ministry of iTaukei Affairs has clarified that village rules which existed long before the proposed and shelved village bylaws, are still valid. The ministry’s permanent secretary Naipote Katonitabua said that villagers and visitors should abide by these rules when visiting villages.

In an interview with this newspaper, Mr Katonitabua said anyone visiting the villages were bound to respect the rules within the village boundary.

His comment follows concerns from various communities and traditional leaders about the validity of village rules, after Government’s decision to shelve the proposed village bylaws.

Mr Katonitabua said although the proposed village bylaws had been shelved, respective villages around the country could still use village rules that they had agreed to uphold within the village boundary.

The clarification follows concerns raised by people of Namuka about villagers who defied decisions made by elders. In a recent event at Lakeba Village, Namuka, Macuata, villagers asked their chief — SODELPA parliamentarian and Tui Namuka Ratu Tevita Niumataiwalu — about procedures of dealing with such people.

In that brief village meeting, villagers also asked Ratu Tevita whether the village rules could still be used to ensure that everyone participated in village events.

In his response, Ratu Tevita said it was necessary and important for all villagers to abide by the village rules that had previously been enforced, agreed and upheld by villagers.

He said they would need to discuss this issue with other chiefs of Namuka in a bose vanua (chiefs meeting).