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Ratu Qiolevu warns of retaliation if kicked off his land

By Frederica Elbourne

SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, June 12, 2008) – A claimant of the Qaranivalu title has warned half of Suva to prepare for eviction if he is removed from land he claims is his.

[PIR editor’s note: The Qaranivalu exercises direct chiefly authority over the villages of Navuso, Tamavua, Kalabu, Vuniniudrovu, Kasavu, Nacokaika, Naganivatu, Nakini, Natowaika, Deladamanu, Waitolu, and Drekeiwaila, and is considered the overlord of the Roko Tui Vuna, the traditional ruler of the villages of Sawani, Navatuvula, and Colo-i-Suva.]

Ratu Loco Qiolevu lives at the top of Cunningham junction and yesterday claimed he was being evicted from his land by a disgruntled faction of his tribe.

"I am the head of this tribe, the Matanikutu, and they dare ask me to leave?" he asked.

An eviction letter signed by lawyer Akuila Naco served to him this week gave him 21 days to vacate. If he does not go, he would be charged with trespassing.

Ratu Loco claims he took a sworn oath during an inquiry by the Native Lands Commission in April 1997 where he became the legitimate holder of the title Turaga na Qaranivalu which is bestowed on Naitasiri's paramount chief.

"There was an objection period of 90 days after I took the sworn oath but no one objected so I settled here. But 11 years later, there is objection. In my ancestral lineage, I come from the head of the tribe of the Qaranivalu.

"I am a direct descendent. I am the turaga i taukei, turaga ni matanikutu in the district of Naitasiri. I am the paramount chief of this place. If anyone wants to evict me, they have to prepare to move themselves because I am the boss. This is my land. If I move, they move too. All the embassies in Suva should prepare for eviction if my detractors are prepared to evict me. All the businesses, Tamavua hospital, radio telephone satellite, all will go when I go because I gave them this land."

Ratu Loco said those bent on evicting him were jealous of him.

"These people have their own traditional duty. One tribe mixes my grog, another cuts firewood and so forth. They don't know what they're doing and don't know who they're dealing with. They don't even know who they are. They need to study themselves and my background to understand where I come from."

Ratu Loco said he raised his concern with the interim Prime Minister's office yesterday and was assured the matter would be dealt with.

A spokesman for PM's office said Ratu Loco met with them.

Meanwhile, Mr Naco said last night the NLC had affirmed and installed Ratu Inoke Takiveikata as the Qaranivalu.

NLC chairman Ratu Viliame Tagivetaua said Ratu Loco was residing on land which belonged to Kalabo.

"Ratu Loco's land is in Navuso."

Ratu Viliame said he would comment further on the matter today.

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