Our folly over Fiji

I have repeatedly blogged about the country of my birth, Fiji, and how New Zealand through utter hypocrisy has treated them. Along with Australia our successive governments have decided to wag our collective fingers at Fiji and tell them how they must behave.

Instead of helping and assisting a return to democracy we have hindered. We placed sanctions on travel, on advice and then coerced the Pacific Forum to give them the cold shoulder. All we have done is show the welcome mat to increase Chinese hegemony in the Pacific.

Shortly we are going reap what we have sowed with Pacific nations who have looked on as Fiji didn’t collapse, rebuilt their infrastructure and all the time thumbing their noses at the bombastic nature of the Australian and New Zealand. The Pacific nations have patiently waited until the embarrassment of what they are about to do would be maximised.

New Zealand and Australia face diplomatic embarrassment in Auckland this week, with the Pacific Forum set to give Fiji military strongman Voreqe Bainimarama a ringing endorsement – even without him being here.

Prime Minister John Key, who will chair the 40th edition of the Pacific Forum, faces a Melanesian and Micronesian rebellion over his hard-line on Bainimarama, who seized power in a military coup in 2006.

Pacific leaders will be handed evidence of overwhelming multi-racial public support in Fiji for Bainimarama and his martial law decrees which are seen as keeping order in the coup-prone nation.

The data comes on top of a WikiLeaks diplomatic cable revealing a top Australian politician telling the United States that “Bainimarama will either be shot or we’ll have to do business with him”.

The forum, in its 40th year, was intended to be a celebration for the organisation which first met in Wellington in 1971. From then until 1996 it was united in condemning French nuclear testing, but since then Fiji’s woes have been the central focus. When Bainimarama failed to keep a promise to hold elections by April 2009, the country’s membership in the forum was suspended. Bainimarama has said elections would be held in 2014.

Wellington and Canberra have maintained “smart” sanctions since 2006, hoping to force elections, believing it is the will of the majority of Fiji’s 837,000 people (57% Fijian and 37% Indian).

However, remarkable data to be released to the forum, seen by the Sunday Star-Times, reveals strong support for Bainimarama and mounting public anger in Fiji toward New Zealand. Over two-thirds of both races support him, according to the data. There is even overwhelming support for his moves against the indigenous dominated Methodist Church.

A senior political figure admitted there was no surprise in the information. “We have expected it, but it does make it hard to decide what to do next.”

All this could have been avoided, but our government insists on listening to the out touch morons in Foreign Affairs and continuing a policy of seclusion for Fiji that we don’t similarly apply to other non-democratic nations like China, or even Libya.

I fear though we are too late to reverse the situation. Ironically our government position may have strengthened Fiji’s resolve. I am yet to meet a Fijian, or Fijian Indian who has a bad thing to say about the remarkable turn around in Fiji. Bainimarama has removed corruption, destroyed the power of the Great Council of Chiefs and is now bringing the hopelessly corrupt and politically active Methodist Church into line. Fiji has new and better roads, a better port, a infrastructure building programme and most importantly still dominates Pacific tourism.

Anyone who has holidayed in Fiji knows that the news reports breathlessly shown here about Fiji could almost be fiction.

It is time New Zealand dropped its failed Fiji policy and stepped up tot he mark to actually help return Fiji to democracy.


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  • Adolf Fiinkesein

    You are right on the mark Whale.

    The only mob to perform worse than MucCully and his team is the BlackCaps.

    I’m sitting by the pool in Beachside Resort at Nadi as I type.

    The Cook and I have been here for two and a half weeks and the resorts I have visited have 70% occupancy, a far cry from the 15% of a couple of yars ago. The flight up here was fully booked.

    The Nadi Denarau road is being rebuilt with funding from Malaysia,

    Nadi is bustling with an excellent sugar harvet in progress.

    Oh yeah, yesterday saw the first showers since we’ve been here with maximum temperatures ranging from 27 to 33. No need for air conditioning, just big ceiling fans.


    nz has blindly takied itself out of any serious influence in the Pacific, exept for the fact that we ar a wonderful destination of those who wish to be paid good money for doing little work.

  • Oswald Bastable

    Are the powers-that -be pissed at the fact that Fiji has demonstrated that people can actually sort their own problems out without our interference…

    • thor42

      Agreed. It’s time for the NZ and Aussie governments to swallow their pride, eat a big slice of humble pie and completely restore links with Fiji.
      For f**k’s sake – we’re about to send the Slack Caps to ***Zimbabwe,*** which has done a shitload of nasty stuff, and yet we still have this snitch about dealing with Fiji!

  • diabolos

    Some questions …

    – If fijians are happy – why are they living here and still arriving at a fair rate of knots – why did the exodus surge after the most recent coup?
    – What is or should – be their accountability to Aussie and NZ given the millions of dollars in Aid given previously
    – Apparently the tourism side of things is booming – is this because its now so cheap .. i am told that Fijians have left in droves because the wages are mega low over there

    Im well aware that China and other Asian nations are keen to invest and have already. But are you endorsing dictatorships and coups?

    Just a question or two –

  • Mr Blobby

    “Smart” sanctions. These are the sanctions you use when you want to be seen doing something, but don’t want to do something, designed to achieve little more than a tokenism.

  • Guy Threllfell

    Cameron, Fiji maybe the country of your birth but you obviously have not visited us for a while. You make it sound fantastyic in Fiji at the moment and it may be a great deal for tourists at the moment but for the locals it is anything but.

    1- The roads are worse than they have ever been. There is some development going on but all with borrowed money and at quotes that make them all the most expensive roads in the history of Fiji. Why are they so expensive? Into whose pockets is the extra money going or is the country just being ripped off.
    2- You obviously have not may Fijians of any races lately. I live here and aart from people who are paid directly by government I do not know anybody who says a good thing about the Regime. Five years ago there was support, Three years ago there was support. Now there is none.
    3- The Michael Field article you quote talks about hard evidence and data showing support for the regime. I would be interested to see it because no one I know has seen or been part of any large scale polling.
    4- In five years Bainimarama has broken countless promises, resorted to violence, used the Government machinery to destroy innocent people, corrupted the judiciary.
    5- In NZ after 5 years you could have voted him out. Here in Fiji we just have to say Io Boso and get on with it.

    If you really care about Fiji come and find out the true picture before you spout uninformed opinion

    • You need better friends

    • Avatar

      Hey Guy,

      I live here too! What you are saying is a lot of bulldust! Have you tried driving to Matavatacou? Do you know where that is?. Have you tried driving up to Waito and onto Nayavu and beyond? Do you know where that is?

      Last week I drove to Denarau and they are repairing the roads there. So whats wrong wth a Malaysian company funding the roadworks? Fijian soldiers gave their lives in Malaysia and the Malays are returning Fiji the favour with favourable loan arrangements to fund upgrade to a busy road into one of Fiji’s busiest tourist corridor. Whats wrong with that?

      Last week at the Shangri La they were reporting a 91% occupancy rate. Too right they were, coz I was there…Black Marlin Bar is the place to be. Just go ask my mataqali “Kuli” , one of the waiters there! (Bula vinaka na wekaqu. Totoka na nomudrau veiqaravu).

      I would encourage you to return to NZ. If you dont like what is happening here then you should return to NZ or wherever. You have nothing to offer Fiji but bulldust.

  • Uncle Popo

    Bainimarama and Kaiyum must go, NOW!!