07 December 2022 Permanent Secretary for iTaukei Affairs and Chairman of the iTaukei Trust Fund Board, Mr Pita Tagicakirewa, today launched Fiji’s first ever Tabua Business Hub, at the Member’s Lounge, iTaukei Trust Fund Board Complex at Draiba. During this launch, Mr Tagicakirewa revealed the birth of the Business Hub.
In 2017, the Prime Minister and Minister of iTaukei Affairs, Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama, urged the Ministry of iTaukei Affairs to open a tabua shop. Confiscated tabuas were earmarked for sale. Since then, extensive consultations were conducted with relevant stakeholder,s including various provinces,the Ministry of Fisheries and the Department of Environment. Through the consultation,s it was highlighted that the exorbitant Tabua prices also made it hard for communities to access. This was conveyed to the Prime Minister during his talanoa sessions over the years.
“The Ministry of iTaukei Affairs, has worked tirelessly in establishing a Tabua Business Hub. The detailed story you hear earlier and I must thank the steering committee – officers from the Ministry, iTaukei Affairs Board and the iTaukei Trust Fund Board – in seeing to fruition the five year plan”, said Mr Tagicakirewa.
Tabua is the most prestigious cultural item ifive-yearsociety. Suspended with a cord of coconut sinnet on each end, Tabua are presented as gifts for ceremonial exchanges maintaining kinship ties and relationships.
“Tabua we can say is “the price of life and death” and yet this is inaccessible and a luxury for some. We would like to narrow the divide. And have everyone enjoy the luxury to which the Tabua affords. You no longer have to search high and low for a Tabua as a dowry for your son, or a Tabua to accord your relative the last funeral rites. Nor will you mortgage one for cash only to return a week later and seeing this being sold at an exorbitant fee. With your support, ladies and gentlemen, the Tabua Business Hub will ensure a level playing field for all Fijians”, says Mr Tagicakirewa.
Representing the Tabua Business Hub Steering Committee, Mr James Mcgoon spoke on the background of the committee and how the launch was not only significant to his team but to Fiji as a whole.
“The Committee set up to establish this business hub, diligently worked towards the common interest of all concerned parties, from the vanua, to the community, relevant stakeholders and even to the market demand”, says Mr Mcgoon.
“It has been a fulfilling experience to set up this Business Hub in trading our most priced Fijian artifact and while I admit that this is the first of its kind, I encourage everyone to make use of this opportunity of purchasing and selling tabua at a price most reasonable to all parties concerned”, he adds on.
Furthermore, the tabua sale would be controlled through a monthly quota system.
“Since 2010, we’ve instituted a quota on the trade and export of Tabua in Fiji, in line with our commitment under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna, or CITES. Together with the Department of Environment, there is a monthly quote on the export of Tabua. With the Tabua Business Hub, a monthly quota will also be enforced”, says Mr Tagicakirewa.
15 tabua will be sold every month to allow for control of the circulation within the community and will also be subject for review over the next few months based on supply and demand.
In his concluding remarks, Mr Tagicakirewa reiterated the continued support of the Fijian Government in safeguarding and protecting not only cultural items but the marine environment.
“The Ministry of iTaukei Affairs will support Governments commitment to limit our trade of Tabua in order to protect sperm whales – a species currently classified as vulnerable. The reality is, while we clearly place enormous value on the cultural importance of the Tabua, our love and respect for our oceans, seas and marine life will always take precedence. Our deep affinity for the sea defines who we are, so we are happy to do our part to protect a species that shares our ocean and that for so long has been an intimate part of our way of life”.
The Tabua Business Hub operates on behalf of the Ministry of iTaukei Affairs, from the office of the iTaukei Trust Fund Board at Lot 87 Queen Elizabeth Drive, Nasese.
The Tabua Business Hub Catalogue is accessible online with details and prices via www.itaukeitrustfund.com.fj