PM on the roll as he brings good tid­ings to mem­bers of Yavusa Waidau in Ovalau

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Mem­bers of the Yavusa Waidau woke up yes­ter­day to the be­gin­ning of a his­toric chap­ter in their lives. The bearer of good tid­ings was the Prime Min­is­ter Voreqe Bain­i­marama who was on the is­land to cel­e­brate an im­por­tant mile­stone in his­tory.

The Yavusa Waidau has be­come one of the four suc­cess­ful landown­ing units in Fiji to re­ceive full free­hold ti­tle un­der the Free­hold Buy-back Scheme that Govern­ment in­sti­tuted many years ago.

The Bri­tish colonis­ers had alien­ated this land. Un­der the Buy-back Scheme, the land has now been re­turned to the orig­i­nal landown­ers. Mr Bain­i­marama says now it is theirs again and by law it can­not be alien­ated again.

The 473 acres of two free­hold ti­tles were among a num­ber of land parcels in Fiji ac­quired by the colonis­ers.

The de­sire to get the land back came from the Yavusa mem­bers and they sought Govern­ment as­sis­tance to buy it. Mr Bain­i­marama de­scribes it as a se­ri­ous com­mit­ment to se­cure the fu­ture of their chil­dren. As a re­sult they re­ceived the ti­tle 11 years early – in 19 years in­stead of 30 years.

They have set a new bench­mark for other iTaukei

landown­ers who want their land back un­der this scheme.

It’s great to have a de­sire to achieve some­thing pos­i­tive but it must be ac­com­pa­nied by hard work, com­mit­ment and sac­ri­fice.

The Yavusa mem­bers are fine ex­am­ples. Mr Bain­i­marama and his Fi­jiFirst Govern­ment must be com­mended for cre­at­ing this ini­tia­tive and em­pow­er­ing iTaukei landown­ers to get back their land.

We can ar­gue about the cir­cum­stances sur­round­ing the ac­qui­si­tion of this land but it won’t get us any where. These are now ti­tled pieces of land that are le­gal. That’s what the landown­ers have got and that’s what counts.

Land is one of the coun­try’s most valu­able re­sources. Yavusa mem­bers are leav­ing be­hind a legacy for their chil­dren and the fu­ture gen­er­a­tion. The land opens up a whole range of op­por­tu­ni­ties for them. Mr Bain­i­marama notes that the landown­ers have started the process of build­ing their wealth by in­creas­ing the size of their Yavusa al­lot­ment

(ikanakana).

The fo­cus now is to de­velop the land for eco­nomic ben­e­fits.

The PM says land is a scarce com­mod­ity, and our Con­sti­tu­tion and our laws now pro­tect the Fi­jian com­mu­nal lands more strongly than ever.

“This land can never be taken from you. It is yours for­ever. So use it well, as our an­ces­tors have taught us and as mod­ern knowl­edge re­veals new truths,” he adds.

These are words of wis­dom from a leader who had worked so hard to im­prove the liv­ing stan­dards of

iTaukei and other races, con­trary to what some politi­cians claim. In the past weeks he has been to the Ya­sawas and Vanua Levu. This week he is in Ovalau. He is on the roll.

His mes­sage of hard work and com­mit­ment ap­plies to all of us.

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