The Ministry of i-Taukei Affairs through the i-Taukei Trust Fund Board (TTSB) has opened a Tabua Business Hub in Suva which will allow Fijians, particularly the i-Taukei to purchase Tabua at a reasonable price.
This project was envisioned five years ago and Permanent Secretary for i-Taukei Affairs, Pita Tagicakirewa says the true value of a Tabua is difficult to express in words but can be described as supreme among our valuables.
He said since they received about 136 Tabua five years ago, the Ministry has worked tirelessly to establish a Tabua shop.
Tagicakirewa said the true value of the Tabua is difficult to express in words, but can be described as supreme among our valuables.
“Historically, Tabua were exchanged among chiefs on only the most sacred and important occasions. They were given as gifts in times of reconciliation, as a dowry for marriages, or to strengthen an alliance.”
“To this day, the deep cultural value of Tabua for Fijians has remained undiminished.”
“Tabua we can say is “the price of life and death”, and yet this is inaccessible and a luxury for some, thus we would like to narrow the divide.”
“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 see it being sold at an exorbitant fee,” he added.
The Ministry of i-Taukei in 2010 instituted a quota on the trade and export of Tabua in Fiji.
This was to adhere to or in line with the country’s commitment under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna, or CITES.
Tagicakirewa said together with the Department of Environment, there is a monthly quota on the export on of Tabua and with the Tabua Business Hub; a monthly quota will be enforced.
“This is to support Government’s commitment to limit the trade of Tabua to protect sperm whales – a species 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,” he said.
The Ministry has highlighted that the hub will be fully operational after the General Election.