Wainunu District in Bua, Fiji Islands has formed a committee called Wainunu Resource Owner’s Committee [WROC]. The committee comprised of key district Chiefs and heads of landowning unit clans [Turaga ni Yavusa, Turaga ni mataqali] and landowners whose land have deposits of Bauxites and other aggregated minerals and resources.
The role of this committee is to act as a body to provide direction, training, education and voice for the people of Wainunu in terms of development, conservation and utilization of their resources. Also and most importantly are the interests of Resources owners and how these resources are managed for survival in both shorter and longer terms keeping in mind the future generations of Wainunu and the neighboring districts in Bua.
WROC and various other Resource owners disagreed with the article regarding Bauxite mining in Wainunu on Fiji Times, Wednesday 9th of September this year made by District Chief – Ratu Orisi Baleitavea. Resource Owners in Wainunu were really shocked when they read it in the Fiji Times because there was no consultation with landowners done and there was no landowners meeting [Bose Vanua] was held regarding this issue. In realty and the truth none of the Chinese Company that was mentioned in the Fiji Times has conducted consultation in Wainunu in regards to Prospecting Exploration licenses.
At the moment the Committee is conducting consultation and awareness regarding this issue in Wainunu and gathering all relevant information which will assist them to put in place a Natural Resources Management Strategies.
Though Wainunu may have the largest Bauxite deposits and of the highest quality, Resource Owners will not be easily moved to give up their land for mining because all deposits are located in the interior and on the ridges and there are many creeks and tributaries that feed the Wainunu River.
Wainunu people depend a lot on the land and water resources for survival. We are core yaqona and dalo farmers and if we give up our land for mining it will have an adverse impact on the sustainability of our farming areas, rivers, fishing grounds and source of drinking water. Also fishing grounds of neighboring two districts Kubulau and Nadi will also be affected and landowners do not want to take the risks. Apart from Agricultural Farming Wainunu Resource Owner’s Committee have explored other avenues of sustainable alternative livelihoods and some are already in place.
Presently Land Owners said NO to Bauxite Mining and in the future if any statement to be published in any media outlet of company regarding Bauxite mining and other aggregated resources or any development programs in the area, it has to come from the Wainunu Resource Owners Committee – WROC and no one else.
We, the Land owners have experienced in the past that Developers and their consultants made false promises. Developers use their resources to make profit and consultants filling their pockets leaving landowners with no benefits. So to avoid all these deficiencies, any development to take place in the area should go through the Board of Wainunu Resource Owners Committee for the benefit of their future generation.