The Turaga Bale Na Vunivalu Na Tui Kaba, Ratu Epenisa Cakobau is adamant of a positive outcome as Fiji’s Great Council of Chiefs (GCC) reconvened today for the first time after 16 years since its suspension in 2007.

In an interview, Ratu Epenisa stressed the need for GCC to evolve and adapt to the changing times and the diverse population of Fiji.

“It’s a new beginning for Fiji,” Ratu Epenisa said.

“We are not only the GCC for the iTaukei people. We are the GCC for everybody. We are here for everyone, not just for the iTaukei people.”
Acknowledging the changes that have happened in Fiji, particularly in the last decade, Ratu Epenisa said it is necessary for the GCC to reflect these changes and embrace a more inclusive approach.

“Certainly Fiji has changed. The GCC has to change too, change with the time, with everybody now part of Fiji. We have to look at it in a much broader way. Everybody makes Fiji. Since independence, the Indo-Fijians and all of us make Fiji what it is today. So we have to look at it in that way – it’s for everybody, whether it’s the indo Fijian, Chinese or any other race. The GCC has to be much more open to these kinds of things, more modern, very important,” Ratu Epenisa added.

Since its establishment, the GCC which consisted of paramount chiefs and representatives from Fiji’s 14 provinces, previously served as a platform for indigenous Fijian chiefs to discuss and decide on matters pertaining to land tenure, cultural preservation, and political representation.

However, it was abolished in 2012.

The two-day meeting on Bau Island will witness the gathering of over 2000 people, including chiefs from 13 provinces and three representatives from Rotuma, Members of Parliament, dignitaries and senior Government officials.

The decision to exclude a representative from Namosi in the GCC was reportedly made by Turaga na Tui Namosi, Ratu Suliano Matanitobua.

Ratu Epenisa described this gathering of traditional leaders as an emotional occasion, highlighting its significance as the first such meeting in years and the first on Bau Island since 1982.