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Paula Niukula lecture by Dr Narsey Lecture

April 22, 2009

The Rev Paula Niukula Lecture
In Memory of Rev Paula Niukula (1937-1996)
The Struggle for Just Wages in Fiji1
Lessons from the 2009 Wages Councils and the Continuing Coups
Professor Wadan Narsey
School of Economics (FBE)
The University of the South Pacific
15 April 2009
The lecture this evening is in memory of the life and work of Rev. Paula Niukula – founder of the
Fiji Council of Churches Research Group, which later became known as the Ecumenical Centre
for Research, Education and Advocacy (ECREA). Rev Niukula was also involved in the setting
up of the Citizens Constitutional Forum (CCF) and Inter-Faith Fiji.
At a previous Rev Niukula lecture, Father Kevin Barr rightly paid tribute to him as “one of
Fiji’s most outstanding Church leaders in recent years… a man of great humility, personal
integrity and far reaching vision… Even though his message was unpopular he had the courage
and persistence to speak out with wisdom and authority”.
Rev Niukula believed in the critical importance of looking after the weak and the vulnerable
if there was to be genuine social justice in society. A staunch Methodist Christian, he genuinely
believed in multiracialism. During the difficult years following the 1987 coup, Rev Niukula
showed profound courage in taking a principled position on the equality of all religions, a
position extremely unpopular with the bulk of his Methodist colleagues at the time.
Were Rev Paula Niukula alive today, he would be as strong a proponent for “just wages” in
Fiji as is Father Kevin Barr. But I believe that he would also have gone further. He would have
asked the more difficult question: can the struggle for just wages in Fiji be separated from the
need to support constitutional law and order, the need to oppose the illegal 2006 overthrow of a
lawfully elected government and the attempted 2009 abrogation of the 1997 Constitution, and the
need to support media freedom and the full human rights of all its citizens?
I believe that Rev Niukula, however unpopular it might have made him, would have opposed
the views of some good people of Fiji who have supported the 2006 military coup and are
supporting the abrogation of the 1997 Constitution, because their powerful ambition to “do good”
has taken precedence over their commitment to constitutional law and order: to put it in terms
used before, these good citizens have willingly supported illegal methods, to achieve what they
think are their good causes.
I believe that Rev Niukula, were he alive, may well have agreed with my discourse today,
that tries to explain why support of military coups and unlawful governments is the most
important factor in denying progress towards just wages for the weakest workers in Fiji, while
causing great misery and untold hardships for all the poorest people of Fiji.
Rev Niukula would have asked the good people supporting the 2006 military coup and now
the purported 2009 abrogation of the 1997 Constitution, to search their souls and to draw back
1 The Rev.Paula Niukula Lecture, April 15 2009. Marine Studies Lecture Theater, USP. Rev Niukula died
on 21 April 1996.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. Isalei permalink
    April 22, 2009 7:04 AM

    Prof Narsey has hit the nail on the head for the likes of Kevin Barr and the superficial people at his Ecumenical NGO who are fully supporting what is going on for the sake of a slice of fame, and rubbing shoulders with criminals under the guise of “just wages.” These are the Judases of justice. Thanks to WN for highlighting the eternal truth, that there never be just wage without just laws and just behaviour. Even Yabaki has now gone quiet and his shadow Dakuvula who steadfastly promoted the 1997 constitution are nowhere to be heard.

  2. Ropate permalink
    April 22, 2009 10:10 AM

    I wonder what Arch Bishop Mataca must be thinking now after the abrogation of the Constitution? Pretty embarassed I guessed. It goes to show that those who lie down with dogs will pick up fleas

  3. IslandBoy permalink
    April 22, 2009 11:46 AM

    @Isalei – I loved the fact the memorial lecture series was sponsored by ecrea and he likes of Kevin Barr etc. showed up expecting to be lauded for their work and got nailed between the eye balls.

    Thank you Prof Narsey for your fearless opinion. You’re a true son of Fiji.

  4. April 22, 2009 12:40 PM

    Prof Waden Narsey, you rock!!!

  5. April 22, 2009 12:44 PM

    BTW Ropate,

    catching fleas by lying down with dogs is not a given.

    To catch fleas is to lie down next to a dirty dog or a clean dog lying in a flea infested area. So some within the illgal military juta are sinply ‘dirty dogs’ and some ‘clean dogs’ but have chosen to lie in a flea infested area, that they have become dirty and contagious as well!

    Vina du riki!

  6. Ropate permalink
    April 22, 2009 1:53 PM

    Good one, Navosa. What about the kutu sebe? Au rogoca e levu e tiko vei . . . (llllllllllllllll)

  7. Isalei permalink
    April 23, 2009 6:37 AM

    @IB, yes, that’s what I can’t get over, they must have fully expected the good professor to sing their praises, instead he actually crucified them for having betrayed the cause that Rev Niukula stood for.
    Just shows how critical it is for both the cause and the means to be just and ethical. Which is why I do not see nutty Franky’s cause or vision of a race-less society ever getting off the ground for the sheer weight of the brutish, forceful, bullying means he is using to impose it. Its like screwing to preserve one’s virginity. (it is mindboggling)! And anyway, we all know its just a guise for the deeper darker secrets of murder, lying, corruption, vengeance, greed, envy, jealousy, arrogance and pride!

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