Matata Settlement, Lami [19/10/23] – In a significant step towards securing the future of Melanesian communities in Fiji, the second consultation for the formalization of Melanesian descendants’ settlements was chaired by the Assistant Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister, Republic of Fiji, Hon. Sakiusa Tubuna, this evening.
The event, held at Matata Settlement in Lami, follows the initial consultation in Wailoku last month and marks a crucial milestone in the long-standing struggle for recognition and security.
Addressing a gathering of residents, Hon. Tubuna reiterated the importance of authentic collaboration between the government and Melanesian communities.
The Assistant Minister emphasized the need to address shared challenges collectively, underlining the government’s commitment to paving the way for a brighter future for all Melanesian people residing in Fiji.
Retired Anglican Priest, Jeke Abonio, spoke on behalf of the Matata community, expressing the profound impact of years of uncertainty.
The settlement, which is home to Melanesian families of diverse backgrounds, has been plagued by misinformation and unfulfilled promises. Mr. Abonio highlighted the community’s ability to coexist harmoniously with iTaukei families, illustrating the strength found in diversity through interfaith marriages and shared experiences.
Mr. Abonio recalled the broken promises that had plagued the community, particularly the assurance of formalized land, which would bring much-needed security and stability to their lives.
“The long-overdue news of formalization has finally arrived, bringing a ray of hope to Matata residents,” said the retired Priest.
Despite previous disappointments, the community is cautiously optimistic about a secure future. Formalization promises legal recognition and a sense of permanence, allowing residents to invest in their homes and overall quality of life.
“We have lived with the fear of being uprooted for far too long. This news is a glimmer of hope for us. We have been patient and resilient, and we hope that this time, the promises made to us will finally be honored.” Mr. Abonio remarked, expressing a mix of emotions.
The excitement within the community is tangible, as the prospect of formalization opens doors to a more secure future. Residents believe that this step will not only safeguard their homes but also enhance the overall well-being of the entire settlement.
Matata residents remain cautiously hopeful as the formalization process unfolds, holding onto the belief that this long-awaited change will mark the beginning of a new chapter in their lives.
Stability, security, and the opportunity for a brighter future are on the horizon, as genuine collaboration between the government and Melanesian communities paves the way for a more inclusive and prosperous Fiji.
Also, present at the Matata consultation was the Permanent Secretary for iTaukei Affairs MR. PIita Tagicakirewa and officers from the iTaukei Land Trust Board, Ministry of Land, Ministry of iTaukei Affairs, and Office of the Prime Minister.
Matata settlement has 43 households with a population of slightly more than 150.
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