||Meet Peceli Tuisawau
fathers held the land in trust for me,
and I must hold it in trust for my children.
I have to respect the land and the resources there.
It is an
for my family and my people.
I want to
sure that this gift from the land
is enjoyed by many generations to come.
We would like to introduce you to Peceli Tuisawau, chief of the Sema clan.
The Sema clan consists of 43 families, nearly 200 people in total.
About 30% of the clan is scattered around Fiji, but over 70% still in live
in the village or in the communally held forests. The clan territory includes
both coastal and forest land, with the village
near coast. Mahogany logging employs 23 people at this time. Other villagers work in
local resorts, but most rely on subsistence farming and fishing.
Peceli Tuisawau was born in 14 July 1957, in the
countryside of Fiji. His father was a solider as well as the clan
He was the second of 8 children and had
to stop his education after high school because they had no money for him
to continue. He joined the police force in 1975 and served
He left the police to assume the role of his clan's investment counselor.
He wanted to develop the clan resources better, particularly in the areas
of tourism and forestry.
In 1989 he joined a Taiwanese logging company and worked for them for two
years and then moved onto other logging work.
In 1998, he set up the national landowners
association for the development of the Mahogany resources, and headed it until
the fall of 2002 when he was hired by Fijian Hardwood
Corp (FHC) as Landowner Liaison. He was recently appointed a director of
FHC. As Landowner Liaison, represents the interests of nearly 80% of the
Fijian landowners, a very important role.
Peceli is married with two children and has two grandsons. His
eldest daughter works as a clerk, while his son heads to college to study
business. His personal interests include rugby (he once played
against the New Zealand All Blacks as part of Fiji's National team) and
He says that the first priority for using the money from the Mahogany will
be for health care. He says, "we need better sanitation in the
village; clean running water and a septic system. I would also like
to get a doctor closer, or at least to visit regularly. The nearest
doctor is 30km away." He also hopes to repair some of the
communal buildings and houses.
He also promises that some of the money will go towards educating the
village youth. He spoke seriously, "they need more education
then I have. My son will be chief someday and he is going to college
to learn business. This is the new world and they need new and
better skills. We need to educate our children. We have a good
teacher in the village, but without funds, no one will get more education
then the village school."
When asked what message he had to the world, he replied, "Thank you
for appreciating the Fijian Mahogany. The Mahogany will help build up my country and
my village. You can know that it will help at the lowest level. It is not a product
where the profit stays at the top, it comes down to my people and makes a
real difference to the quality of our lives.
"Please come to Fiji and see this for yourself. You are welcome
in our village."
Click here to see pictures of Peceli's village.