To my Fellow Fijians,
Ni sa Bula Vinaka, Namaste, Ni Hao, Noa’ia ‘e Mauri and a very Happy Constitution Day to you all!
As you all know, we had to think a bit differently about our celebration this year due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. Because Fiji is a COVID-19 contained country and our children can safely attend school, we gave our students the chance to take part in a virtual Constitution Day celebration — one that called on their creativity to answer the following prompt:
“Given the challenge of the coronavirus pandemic, how can all of us work together to uphold every Fijian’s right to health, as enshrined in our Fijian Constitution?”
I want to thank all the students who helped us answer that prompt through essays, videos, poems and short stories. All together, we saw hundreds of submissions. As hard as it was, we have narrowed down all of those incredible contributions to five national winners.
It is now my privilege to announce those students today: Our first winner is Raijeli Sakaria, a Year Eight (8) student from the Bhawani Dayal Memorial Primary School, who gave us all some great tips on how to stay COVID-19-safe ––by including the installation of the careFIJI digital contact tracing mobile application in your mobile phones.
The Year 11 students of Labasa College are among our winners as well –– with a sketch that shows how all of us can work together to keep Fiji COVID-19 contained.
We are also awarding a duo from the Rakiraki Methodist Mission School –– Year Eight students Jone Raibevu and Aminiasi Dalituicama who contributed a short and sweet spoken word performance.
And with a powerful essay, which we have since recorded for the nation to hear, Year 10 student Oswell Morell wrote his winning piece on how and why our constitutional right to health matters for every Fijian.
Last, but certainly not least, Year One student NES Natania Damudamu of the Gospel School of the Deaf has been selected as our fifth national winner for her video showing us, via sign language, how we can all help realise every Fijian’s constitutional right to health by properly washing our hands.
We are grateful to the parents and teachers around the country who helped us make this year’s Constitution Day a success.
I hope you had fun with your videos, and all learned something along the way. Congratulations to our winners, I look forward to hosting you all at the State House.
Happy Constitution Day!
May Almighty God Bless Our Beloved Nation. Thank you!
Following the earlier announcement on the suspension of relevant international flights, and based on requests received to allow guests and foreign nationals to return to their homes and original destinations, Fiji Airways has made additional flights available to cater for this demand as shown below.
Bookings can be made on the Fiji Airways website – www.fijiairways.com or for one of the below flights only, on Reservations phone numbers 3304388 or 6720888, or 9103603.
|From/To||Flight Number||Departure Date||Departure Time (local)|
|1.||Nadi-Auckland||FJ411||Sunday 22nd March||8.30am|
|2.||Nadi-Sydney||FJ911||Sunday 22nd March||9.00am|
|3.||Nadi-Auckland||FJ1415||Sunday 22nd March||9.30am|
|4.||Nadi-Sydney||FJ1917||Sunday 22nd March||11.59am|
|5.||Sydney-Nadi||FJ910||Sunday 22nd March||1:55pm|
|6.||Auckland-Nadi||FJ410||Sunday 22nd March||2.00pm|
|7.||Auckland- Nadi||FJ1414||Sunday 22nd March||2.40pm|
|8.||Sydney-Nadi||FJ1916||Sunday 22nd March||5.05pm|
|9.||Nadi-Honolulu||FJ820||Sunday 22nd March||5.10pm|
|10.||Singapore-Nadi||FJ360||Sunday 22nd March||8.55pm|
|11.||Nadi-Los Angeles||FJ810||Sunday 22nd March||9.40pm|
|12.||Los Angeles-Nadi||FJ811||Sunday 22nd March||11.00pm|
|13.||Honolulu-Nadi||FJ821||Monday 23rd March||2.55am|
|14.||Nadi-Los Angeles||FJ1813||Monday 23rd March||7.00am|
|15.||Nadi-Sydney||FJ1911||Monday 23rd March||9.00am|
|16.||Nadi-Singapore||FJ361||Monday 23rd March||11.50am|
|17.||Sydney-Nadi||FJ1910||Monday 23rd March||1.50pm|
|18.||Nadi-Los Angeles||FJ1810||Monday 23rd March||9.40pm|
|19.||Los Angeles-Nadi||FJ811||Monday 23rd March||11.00pm|
Whilst in Kamaishi, Ambassador Isikeli Mataitoga was also hosted to a welcome reception on Thursday, 6 June 2019 evening. Attendees included the Mayor of Kamaishi city, Mayor of Miyako city, Senior city officials of both cities, and friends of Fiji who all enjoyed the dinner. About 20 attended the two-hour reception.
The evening reception is hoped to inspire others to derive new openings of exchange ties, and in particular to what that can be exchanged between Kamaishi, Miyako, and Fiji. Mayor Noda of Kamaishi while officiating added that “I hope you have the chance to build deeper relationships with the Members of our Rugby World Cup community this evening, and further develop ties with Kamaishi, Miyako, and Iwate ahead of a successful Rugby World Cup”. The Mayor also stressed how the owner of Houraikan Inn experienced significant damage from the earthquake and tsunami but was able to be rebuilt through the great effort of its owner and staff.
The Ambassador, in his remarks, expressed profound gratitude for both the Mayors of Kamaishi and Miyako and Iwate Prefecture as well as all those involved in the building and strengthening the Fiji-Japan relationship in Iwate. Ambassador Mataitoga also underscored his visit to Abashiri, and Sapporo and how rugby a base has also seen Fiji’s genuine connections with other prefectures and cities in Japan. The growing bond between Fiji and the regional part of Japan in recent times, and now with Miyako as the second official campsite and Kamaishi as the official match venue for our team, seals the initial establishment of Fiji-Kamaishi, Miyako and Iwate exchanges. The need to further promote economic, commercial, and people-to-people relations between the two countries was also stressed.
Ambassador Mataitoga flanked by Kamaishi Mayor Noda (left) and Miyako Mayor Yamamoto (right)
Ambassador Mataitoga further thanked Kamaishi and Miyako Mayors respectively for their tremendous support and assistance in molding together a very successful visit itinerary. He also assured the Mayor of the Fiji Embassy Tokyo`s commitment and support towards a successful visit program and the official camp of our Flying Fijians in Iwate Prefecture.
While in Sapporo, Ambassador Isikeli Mataitoga was also hosted to a welcome reception on Thursday, 6 June 2019 evening. Attendees included the Mayor of Ebetsu city, Senior city officials of Ebestu and Sapporo, METI Hokkaido, Australia Consul in Hokkaido, and friends of Fiji. About 40 attended the two-hour reception.
The evening reception is hoped to inspire others to derive new openings of exchange ties, and in particular to what that can be exchanged between Fiji, Australia, and Hokkaido. HC Shimizu while officiating informed of how beautiful Fiji is, and the many opportunities that can be shaped for exchanges. He further extended that people-to-people exchange cooperation for various fields is something that we can develop and is of great importance and benefit to Fiji and Hokkaido, as well as Australia and Hokkaido whose team will be hosted in Ebetsu city, Hokkaido.
(l-r) Ambassador Mataitoga, HC Shimizu with Fiji-Hokkaido Kai members
The Ambassador, in his remarks, expressed profound gratitude for the Honorary Consul and Fiji-Hokkaido Kai members as well as all those involved in the building and strengthening the Fiji-Japan relationship in Hokkaido. Ambassador Mataitoga also underscored his visit to Abashiri, and how rugby today is part of sports Diplomacy, and how this as a base has also seen Fiji’s genuine connections with other prefectures and cities in Japan. The growing bond between Fiji and Hokkaido in recent times following the establishment of Fiji’s Honorary Consulate in Ebestu, and now with Abashiri as the first official campsite and Sapporo as the official match venue for our team, seals the initial establishment of Fiji-Hokkaido exchanges. The need to further promote economic, commercial, and people-to-people relations between the two countries was also stressed.
The resumption of direct flights, Tourism, and Business promotion was also discussed, to which he further advised that the Fiji Embassy Tokyo stands firm in assisting or creating a new strategy that would allow many tourists or businesspeople from Hokkaido to visit Fiji as well.
Australian Consul in Hokkaido, Mr. Ronald Green also remarked on the Fiji-Australia ties, as well as the promising exchanges to be undertaken between Australia, Fiji, and Hokkaido. The preparation of the official camps for both teams, as well as the official match on the 21st of September 2019, will inspire many for future exchanges as well as visit the South Pacific as well.
Representatives of Ebetsu City, Sapporo City, and even METI Hokkaido also commented on how Hokkaido is preparing and looking forward to hosting internationals teams during the 2019RWC. Ambassador Mataitoga once again thanked everyone for the great evening, which was enjoyed by everyone that attended.
On Thursday, 6 June 2019, HE Mr. Isikeli Mataitoga visited Abashiri Elementary School and spoke to a group of about 60 (sixty) Grade 6 students together with teachers and school officials. The Ambassador was welcomed by the Head of the School, Mr. Satoshi Katagiri, Mr. Masaaki Mishima, Superintendent – Abashiri City Board of Education. FS Savu later provided a detail presentation on Fiji’s Overview and the Fiji Embassy Tokyo Outreach Activities throughout Japan.
Ambassador Mataitoga with Grade 6 students of Abashiri Elementary School
Abashiri Elementary School, a co-ed school is known as one of the top five elementary schools in Hokkaido, with 300 students enrolled in the school. The school is also famous for tag rugby, whose students start learning once they’ve reached Grade 4.
At the meeting with Headmaster Katagiri, Ambassador Mataitoga provided a comparison of the Fijian and Japanese school children. He further sought the support of Headmaster Katagiri in developing community-to-community relations between the students of Abashiri and Fiji, through tourism promotion, study tours for school students from Abashiri to visit Fiji. This, after all, is part of the PALM 8 Iwaki Declaration – increasing exposure and people to people exchanges between Japan and Fiji/PICs. Ambassador Mataitoga also cited ongoing successful exchanges between Fiji and Saga, Oita and Akita, and Takanezawa machi of Tochigi Prefecture respectively.
The school headmaster also shared the same sentiments, and further thanked the Ambassador, as well as the Fiji Embassy in Tokyo, for the great support and assistance in visiting his school and informing students directly of Fiji information.
Ambassador Mataitoga also indicated that Fiji is interested in a more long-term exchange opportunity most especially in the areas of sports, cultural and educational exchanges. The need to look into areas of collaborations with Fiji, and that hopefully Abashiri Elementary School can consider was further noted.
(l-r) Mr. Inomata, HC Shimizu, Ambassador Mataitoga, Headmaster Kitagiri and Superintendent Mishima
Ambassador Mataitoga thanked Headmaster Katagiri and his team for the overwhelming discussion and hospitality by the school and looks forward to having further discussion on a variety of areas of collaboration. It is noted that the school visit will inspire ideas for exchanges to be undertaken between Abashiri Elementary School and Fiji.
WEDNESDAY, 5 JUNE – ABASHIRI CITY, HOKKAIDO – Ambassador Mataitoga pays courtesy call on Abashiri City Mayor
On Wednesday, 5 June 2019, HE Mr. Isikeli Mataitoga paid a courtesy call on His Worship Yoichi Mizutani, Mayor of Abashiri City in Hokkaido. The call is aimed at encouraging both parties to work cooperatively for the promotion of the 2019RWC and its exchange opportunities.
Ambassador Mataitoga opened the meeting by relaying his appreciation for the Mayor`s invitation and the Fiji Rugby Union (FRU) and Abashiri City`s preparation for the 2019RWC. Abashiri is the first official campsite for the Flying Fijians, and for the last few months through the support of the RWC Secretariat and FRU, have been preparing the required training ground, training facilities, indoor swimming pool, etc. for the Fiji Team. Also, the City, together with its line sports agencies, have been working hard in preparing the citizens of Abashiri in welcoming the Fiji Team this year, September 2019.
It is noted that the most prominent industries in Abashiri are fishery and agriculture related. Agricultural activities mainly include dairy farming and the cultivation of a variety of crops, whereas Fish processing has grown to be an important secondary industry. Forestry is another important industry in Abashiri and is supported by a rich supply of natural resources, together with Tourism for its beauty of the lakes, the landscape, and the Sea of Okhotsk, with the drift ice it carries to shore each winter (mostly in February), are all very attractive sites which the Ambassador later visited.
Speaking further, Ambassador Mataitoga pointed out that Fiji is interested in a more long-term exchange opportunity, most especially in the areas of sports, cultural, and educational exchanges. He further seeks the support of Mayor Mizutani in developing community-to-community relations between the people of Abashiri and Fiji, through tourism promotion, study tours for school students from Abashiri to visit Fiji. This, after all, is part of the PALM 8 Iwaki Declaration, and in particular, increasing exposure and people to people exchanges between Japan and Fiji/PICs. Ambassador Mataitoga further cited ongoing fruitful exchanges between Fiji and Saga, Oita, Akita, and Takanezawa machi of Tochigi Prefecture respectively.
Fiji’s interest in attracting tourists from Abashiri was noted, particularly given the resumption of Nadi-Narita direct flights from 3 July 2018, Fiji needs the regional connections to be made in such a way that will allow an increasing number of visitors from Japan. Ambassador Mataitoga further stressed the required Tourism PR of Fiji`s delicious food, culture, tourist spots, etc.
Both sides agreed on the need to keep track of the impact of climate changes and their effects, particularly on the agriculture, fisheries and tourism industries. Helping rural communities who are dependent on fisheries for their economic livelihood, etc. were also discussed.
Ambassador Mataitoga thanked Mayor Mizutani for the excellent discussion that has transpired and looks forward to having further discussion on a variety of areas.
Following the meeting with Mayor Mizutani, Ambassador Mataitoga visited the Drift Ice Museum, which provided an opportunity to learn about the amazing natural phenomenon drift ice and also see the effects of climate change. It is noted that watch year ice forms near the mouth of the Amur River in Russia and is carried southward by current and wind until it eventually rolls onto the coast of northern Hokkaido. Drift ice varies in its shape due to the effects of wind and tide.
Also, close by is the Abashiri Prison Museum, in which the Ambassador was advised of the history of the prisoners and the role they played in the development of Abashiri. About 800 prisoners from throughout Japan are said to be detained in this prison.