Against a backdrop of light rain, 3000 people witnessed traditional protocols unfold as the Great Council of Chiefs (GCC) meeting was reconvened on the chiefly island of Bau after more than a decade.
Regarded as the apex of traditional Fijian leadership, the GCC is being established under the People’s Coalition Government.
In his address to the Chiefs before the meeting proper began at 2.30pm today, Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka urged the members of the GCC to remain steadfast in their discussions and decisions.
Prime Minister Rabuka acknowledged and thanked the people of Bau and the Ministry of i-taukei Affairs for the work they had put in to host the meeting on the island of Bau.
He thanked the Chiefs for their patience over the years and for heeding the call to participate and share their wise counsel.
Prime Minister Rabuka went on to explain that the people looked to their Chiefs to answer their questions.
He said the Chiefs had the power to put to rest the people’s questions and concerns.
“Solisoli ni Kalou vei kemuni, nai vurevure ni vuku kei na vakasama.” (God’s gift to you is wisdom and discernment.”
He reminded the Chiefs that not only should leaders look at the concerns of our people, they should do something about those concerns.
Earlier, the Prime Minister told members of the media that he hopes the GCC will assist in the strengthening of iTaukei leadership and also help find ways to lift 75 percent of the i-Taukei out of poverty.
President Ratu Wiliame Katonivere who arrived on the island following a short sail on the Uto Ni Yalo said the Great Council of Chiefs was established to bridge relations between the Vanua and the Colonial Government vis a vis’.
“The GCC was to be the apex of the i-taukei administration charged with the responsibilities of traditional protocols, provincial and cultural matter of the Itaukei… Today we herald in a new dawn, on this new voyage where we have welcomed those who make up out multi-cultural society that have made Fiji their home.”
Among the 3000 people present in Bau today, were also members of the diplomatic corps, faith groups, representatives from the NGO sector, political party officials and business owners.