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SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, October 1) – Three traditional Fijian canoes were handed over to the Government by builders from Kabara, Lau yesterday.

Melanesian Arts Festival Fiji delegation co-ordinator Semi Buwawa said the traditional canoes – waqatabu - would be used for the 3rd Melanesian Arts Festival.

He said the canoes would carry the government leaders of the Melanesia Spearhead Group countries next Saturday from a certain point to the Suva foreshore and would coincide with a march in the capital city.

"The builders are from Kabara and were the traditional builders for the Tui Nayau and although they are being paid by the Government they still used the traditional skills and as Fijian protocol dictates it was then traditionally handed over to the State today (yesterday)," Mr Buwawa said.

He said 10 men carried out the work on mahogany wood instead of the traditional vesi wood.

He said the mahogany was sponsored by Fiji Hardwood Corporation and voiced his appreciation to the company for their assistance.

The Fijian Affairs, Culture and Heritage Ministry said the unveiling of the canoes was the first three of five to symbolise the Melanesian countries that would participate during the festival.

It said it spent $40,000 [US$23,300] to procure raw materials needed for the job.

October 2, 2006

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