Major breach of Fijian protocol in welcome ceremony

By Netani Rika

IN a major departure from iTaukei protocol, the names of Fiji’s three confederacies and the titles of their chiefs were dropped in welcome ceremonies for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. 

Instead of the confederacies, presenters made mention of the 14 provinces, the President and Prime Minister. 

Traditional ceremonies were performed by the Vanua of Vuda in Western Fiji. Some believe the first iTauke landed at Vuda. 

No explanation was given for the change in protocol. But the heads of the Kubuna, Burebasaga and Tovata confederacies are open supporters of the Opposition SODELPA Party.

In the past these ceremonies were conducted by Fiji’s highest ranking chiefs. When Queen Elizabeth visited in 1951 the presentations were made by the Vunivalu of Bau, Ratu Sir George Kadavulevu Cakobau, among other chiefs

The usual form of presentation is to address the guest and then present the gift on behalf of – in descending order – Kubuna, Burebasaga and Tovata confederacies. Mention is then made, if deemed necessary, of the heads of State and government.

Fiji’s Prime Minister Rear-Admiral Frank Bainimarama has had a tenuous relationship with traditional leaders. 

Despite the absence of the usual references to traditional hierarchy, all the correct ceremonies were conducted.