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SUVA, Fiji (Fijilive, Feb. 28) – Sixteen "tabua" - sperm whale teeth - seized by the Australian Customs Authority has been handed back to the Fiji Department of Environment.

The tabua, perhaps the most valuable cultural artifact for Fijians, was taken into Australia without necessary permits.

The Australian Government presented the tabua to Environment minister Pio Wong and Director of Environment, Epeli Nasome, in a handing over ceremony in Suva on Thursday.

Director Epeli Nasome said the seizure has increased awareness on the conservation of cultural items that are of significant importance to the Fijian Community.

"If a tabua is to be taken outside of Fiji, it is necessary to obtain the required permits and approvals prior to the departure from Fiji."

February 28, 2005



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