||Meet Sakiasi "Rocky" Rokovucago
"I wanted to be involved from the
It was important to be at the forefront
of the landowner movement.
I offered my resources for the learning curve.
I may not get the highest profit now
because we are still learning so much:
learning how to cut, grade and process,
but the profit will come for all of Fiji and
come back to my clan in the years to come,
based on what we learn from this program now."
Sakiasi "Rocky" Rokovucago is head of Matigali Toga Clan of the Nukurua
Station and oversees the well fare of 16 families who mostly survive
through subsistence farming. Rocky was born in the Sote Village of the Nukurua Station
where his father was a school teacher, as well as chief. His father
was one of the first chiefs in Fiji to offer his land to the government
for the original Mahogany plantations. Rocky and his clan now
maintain the largest single Mahogany planting, 2635 acres..
Rocky continued his father's tradition of long term thought, and was the
first landowner to start commercially harvesting Mahogany with 100 acres of plantation for the government and SFI to being trial
harvests. These trials began in 2002 and they have already
taught all involved a great deal about the special qualities and
characteristics of the Fijian Mahogany.
The Mahogany not only provides direct income for the clan, but also
employment. 18 people are involved in the felling of the logs and transport.
Rocky is also working to set up a cooperative work exchange with other nearby clans
He said, "I want my people to gain skills, not just money for
trees. I want them to be involved in harvesting even when their land is not being logged.
We need to have not just sustainable harvesting, but sustainable
employment as well."
Rocky is a retired 747 captain who flew commercially for Air Pacific from 1969
until 2002. He says that he loved flying because it brought him
closer to heaven. He said one of his closer calls when he was in
the air on his way to Los Angeles on Sept 11th. He was told halfway
there that the American airspace was closed--and he had just enough fuel
to make it back to Fiji. He has six siblings, six children and five
Rocky received a scholarship to Oxford University and says that,
"Education is my priority. We have a village school with 8
classes and a total of 50-60 kids, supervised by 4 teachers. The Fiji
government pays for education until the child is 13, after that its privately funded and
we need the money to put the kids into high school. Also, even the
early quality of education depends in part on fees, so they need funds to
improve even the younger grades. And I want to do more adult
education--my people need more skills training, and more training in financial
management. I want to build up self-reliance."
"I would also like to upgrade the housing, water, and sanitation conditions
in the village. I'm over 60 now, and I'm preparing for the end of my life. I want my family, my people to be fully skilled, trained and experienced for the future. I want to leave my village and the world in better shape and prepared to face the future. My father left us the Mahogany and I need to use that Mahogany to prepare my children for the future."