The Attorney-General and Minister for Industry and Trade, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, has urged the iTaukei people to keep their art and craft tradition alive.
He said many countries have lost their indigenous skills but the Bainimarama Government’s Fijian Made-Buy Fijian campaign was aimed to ensure this tradition is alive amongst the iTaukei, in particular.
“In Fiji, we have enormous potential that has been untapped and people have not used that previously,” Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said.
“There are a lot of resources in Fiji, there is a lot of art and crafts and there are a lot of skills that exist in Fiji but it has not been given the recognition.”
Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said besides promoting Fijian made, they are also promoting the particular skills to be passed down generation to generation making it more attractive so people find something they like.
“Apart from that, it empowers people by giving them an economic base and that is critical,” he said.
“As much as we may want to make a lot of baskets, at the end of the day if you can’t sell it, you can’t get the money from it, how will you continue to make more.”
He therefore said Government is trying to ensure the culture, the craft and the skills are preserved and that it provides markets to people for their Fijian made crafts.
The Crafts fair
Mr Sayed-Khaiyum was speaking during the closing of the Western Crafts Fair 2013 at Koroivolu Park in Nadi yesterday.
He further presented 38 crafters with Fijian Crafted licences certifying them as legitimate sellers of ‘Fijian Crafted’ products.
Vendors and artists came from as far as the Yasawas for the fair, but also present were those from Taveuni, Nausori, Nadi, Nadroga and Ba.
Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said there was a time when a lot of handicraft that were sold in Fiji were imported and sold as Fijian made.
He highlighted the problem with this is that tourists do not want to buy something that is not made in Fiji, although they wouldn’t know the difference.
“It is in the same way if we travel to Zimbabwe or South Africa – we don’t want to buy something from there and then come to Fiji and say it’s from there when it is really made in Philippines,” he said.
“When you come to Fiji, you want to buy Fijian products.”
Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said the Ministry of Industry and Trade has got various ways of authenticating whether it is Fijian made or not.
But he noted that obviously not a 100 per cent sometimes can be Fijian made.
“So the shell necklaces that you make, the fishing line may not be made in Fiji but the labour and shells are from Fiji so we certify that as Fijian Made,” he said.
“It is very important that you as various stakeholders that you ensure that when you are giving goods to be certified, that you make sure that it is authentic.
“Otherwise if it is not authentic and we certify it as Fijian made, it will reduce the value of all the products.
“If we have that authentic craft being sold, you get a higher price for it because the tourists want to know how this was made, where this was made and who made it.
“They love to hear about the fact how this pottery was made and this woman when to collect the material from this area – so all of that is story-telling also and that way we keep our art and craft alive.”
(Source: Fiji Sun)