For the people of the Tikina Noimalu in the upper reaches of the Wainimala River, the Easter Weekend is a time to renew their faith and also a time to reaffirm their bond as one people in a district appropriately described as isolated.
The only means to get to the villages in the district is by foot or by the few horses available. No mean feat, you only have to meander along the river banks and cross the same river 24 times.
But for the people of Noimalu that is the norm. A road built last year is yet to be completed, but this will only go up to Matawailevu village, which is good enough for them.
As of now, vehicles can only go up as far at Korovou village, then it’s between you and the elements to get to the villages upstream.
There is a yearly tradition in the tikina, where all the Christians of the Catholic faith gathered in a chosen village to celebrate the life of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ during the Easter weekend.
The past Easter weekend, Nasava was the chosen village.
Their first such gathering after the COVID pandemic, the gathering culminated in a fundraiser to assist Nasava villagers with the construction of an evacuation center.
It also became a double celebration when the Assistant Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister Hon. Sakiusa Tubuna heeded their invitation and braved the two-hour travel on horseback to be with them on Easter Monday (10/04/23).
Struck by the challenges the people of the tikina face daily, the Assistant Minister couldn’t help but marvel at their respect for one another, the quality of their houses, and the cleanliness of the villages along the Wainimala River.
“I want to thank you for the invitation to be here. For me, this visit is a learning experience and a motivation for me to serve to the best of my ability,” said the Assistant Minister.
“Please do maintain your culture and impart to your children the importance of the iTaukei culture. The mind absorbs well when we are young, and I urge you, the elders, to train their minds to embrace and maintain their identity.”
“Instill in them that there is no place for individualism if we are to move forward as one people.”
“Your ambition as a tikina to support the efforts of your brethren here in Nasava to build an evacuation center is an inspiration for us all and shows the respect and support you have for one another.
The Assistant Minister adds that development is best initiated at the village level and everything will fall into place when done correctly.
“I have served in Government and regional organizations aimed at the development of grassroots people. One thing that I have deduced is that development is best when it is begun at the village or community level before taking a step further.”
“Nonetheless I assure you that the coalition government is here to serve you. As of now, we are working on managing our finances. When we get this right, we can redirect funding for development at village levels.”
“Together we will achieve this and your coalition government is for us all, the people of Fiji.”
Nasava villager and chairman of the Village Council Epineri Baledawa thanked the Assistant Minister for his visit and contribution to their cause.
“Hon. Tubuna, it has been years since a Government minister visited our tikina. We were probably out of sight and mind for the same years and your decision to visit us, on a day when you can be with your family in Suva, is not only a blessing for us but a testament to the new Government’s determination to serve us all,” said Mr. Baledawa.
With 35 households, Nasava village has a population of close to 400. Their main cash crop, as with the other villages in Tikina Noimalu, is dalo and yaqona.
Six villages make up Tikina Noimalu namely, Narokorokoyawa, Korovou, Matawailevu, Nasava, Nasauvere, and Tubarua.