Pacific Heritage Sites Lack Funding, Proper Management

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Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai‘i

Fiji workshop looks at strategies to meet management challenges

By Keresi Nauwakarawa

SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, Dec. 4, 2015) – There is a need for continuous funding and the proper management of heritage sites in the Pacific.

Fiji Museum director Adi Meretui Ratunabuabua said this was among issues raised at the regional meeting on the 2nd Pacific World Heritage Action Plan workshop at the Southern Cross Hotel in Suva yesterday.

"The University of the South Pacific used to be the hub for Pacific heritage sites and the key issues now is the need for staff changes and the need for capacity building programs," she said. "Now there is and the need to work together for the next program from 2016 to 2020."

Adi Meretui said although USP was still the hub the funding had been completed although USP would host the program until 2017.

She said another key area of discussions was the development of heritage management courses.

"USP is still going through their processes, but we discussed the idea of the establishment and development of a heritage management course."

The Minister for Education, Heritage & Arts, National Archives of Fiji, Dr Mahendra Reddy, in his opening address, called for more public participation.

"For truly sustainable and long-term social and economic development, we must turn our attention to issues of resource sustainability and public participation and empowerment," he said.

"The conservation of society's cultural capital is therefore a matter of urgent concern for all who are concerned with human development. At the same time, there has been a growing recognition that movable and non-physical cultural properties and intangible cultural practices are an inextricable part of the heritage."

Dr Reddy commended UNESCO for its assistance t to meet new heritage management challenges of the 21st century in the Asia Pacific region.

He said for national heritage conservation to be successful, it must be anchored in the community.

"We need to transform heritage conservation into a grassroots movement which will return the heritage to the communities which created it and which rely on this heritage as the foundation for their future development," Dr Reddy said.

"The strategies to empower local communities in heritage conservation is to ensure participation of the indigenous populations and local communities living within or adjacent to heritage sites in the management and conservation of their sites in a manner that provides them with economic and social benefits, while safeguarding the site and maintaining social and cultural traditions."

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