Na Turaga na Tui Waidau;
Gone Turaga na Ratu i Bureta;
Yavusa Waidau Members;
Esteemed Resource Owners;
Ladies and Gentlemen.
A very good morning to you all.
I am extremely proud to be here today as we celebrate this important milestone in history. The Yavusa Waidau is 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. This land had once been alienated by our colonizers, but now it is yours again, and by law it cannot be alienated again.
Many of you here remember when you made the decision to seek Government assistance to buy these two freehold titles—473 acres of land. It was a serious commitment for your future and to the future of your children. And because you had a good plan and you worked hard to execute that plan, you took title to this land 11 years early—in 19 years instead of 30. You will be an inspiration now to other communities who want to take full possession of their freehold land titles, and to all Fijians who have big ambitions and are willing to work hard and work intelligently to achieve them.
Fiji may be a small country in the Pacific, but we are an ambitious people. We contribute more than our share to the world, and we are proud. We Fijians want to make our own destiny, in a world where our children can grow healthy and strong. We take a back seat to no nation. And that ambition begins here at home, in every community, in every small business and in every planted field.
Like all good people, we want our children to have a better life than we have had. And we do that by giving them opportunity. Opportunity is the legacy you are leaving to your children.
You have declared to the world that you will determine your own destiny. You will build your future. And you will pass something of lasting value to your children and grand-children—because you are not just giving them land. You are giving them opportunity.
You are teaching them that they can make their own future if only they have the intelligence to recognize opportunity and the courage to seize it when they do.
This Handover Ceremony is not the culmination of the dreams you had all those years ago. It is the beginning of the dreams you have today and the future you will build tomorrow.
You have started the process of building your wealth by increasing the size of your Yavusa allotment (ikanakana). As you grow, your people will have a guarantee of a sustainable livelihood. Your toil to fulfill your financial obligations to Government is now over, and you can direct your efforts to building the future, to decide how you will use this land.
You will face many challenges as you go forward into the future.
You will have to watch how the economy changes and how our country grows—because that is where you will find opportunities for your own growth. If you work together for the common good, your future is secure.
My message to the young generation of Yavusa Waidau is that I urge you to build your talents and abilities so that you can help build this community. Study hard, help your elders, and speak up with your own views. Our responsibility as Yavusa elders is to make sure that your voices are heard and your point of view is considered in all the decisions we make. This is the way we honor the values we all share as Fijians—to respect the land, to be self-sufficient, and to be strong together, leaving no one behind.
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.
Use the land efficiently and sustainably. Look to access the many opportunities my Government has made available to you. And always keep your eyes open to new possibilities—because we learn from the past, but we see possibilities in the future.
To the Yavusa Waidau—to all of you, the Naividagunu, the Vakavanua and the Tukoroi—I offer my congratulations and my admiration. You have made your future. Now seize it.
Thank You – Vinaka Vakalevu.