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By Zane Yoshida

The Ever-Present Kava Bowl: From Politics to Rugby to Surf

Whenever and wherever there is an important event or an esteemed guest arriving in Fiji, a kava bowl won’t be far away. And the more important the guest the larger the kava ceremony.

In the past few weeks, there have been several important events and visitors to the country – and all have received the ‘kava treatment’.

A kava comment causes a stir

First there was the opening of the 2016 World Surf League Fiji Pro tournament in Namotu, Tuvarua. The close relationship between kava and surfing is something that I wrote about previously in this post.

Then the New Zealand Prime Minister, John Key, recently took up an offer from the Fijian Prime Minister, Frank Bainimarama, to visit Fiji.

He was welcomed in Suva by a 100-strong Guard of Honour and a traditional welcoming ceremony, where he drank kava and was represented with a traditional whale’s tooth.

His visit represented the first visit by a New Zealand Prime Minister in the past decade. Despite having their differences in the past, everything was as cordial as expected around the kava bowl. But all eyes were on the Key’s reaction to the kava…

On a previous visit to the South Pacific in 2010, Keys described the taste of kava as a mixture of muddy water and liniment and then, in answer to the question about what he thought of kava from Vanuata, he replied with the following (to every Fijian’s dismay):

“At the risk of offending them, slightly better than the Fijian kava, and on a par with Samoa.”

Fijian kava is known for its high quality, so this comment caused widespread raising of eyebrows around the Fijian islands, and probably didn’t endear Key to the majority of Fijians.

It was good to see that, though he may not be a kava lover, he still downed a shell from the kava bowl on this visit – as you can see by the picture. But he kept his thoughts on the taste of kava private this time!

Rugby balls and kava bowls

Bill Beaumont, the incoming chairman of World Rugby, was also in town for a committee meeting – the first ever in Fiji, since the World Rugby body was established in 1886!

Beaumont met with the Fijian Prime Minister at the Sofitel Fiji Resort and Spa and was treated, of course, to a traditional Fijian welcoming ceremony around the kava bowl.

As you can see just from the past few weeks, the kava bowl is an ever-present fixture in Fiji – from the halls of government, to the rugby field and out on the sea!

Have you had your shot of kava today?

By Zane Yoshida

Fijian Prime Minister Visits Ovalau and Receives Kava

You may have read on this blog about the importance of kava to the island of Ovalau in Fiji. That’s where Zane Yoshida, the founder of Taki Mai is from, and it’s where the kava in your Taki Mai shots, powder, and capsules is grown, processed, and bottled. So of course we take special interest in any comings and goings on the island.

There was big news in September when the Fijian Prime Minister, Voreqe Bainimarama, visited three primary schools in the town of Levuka, Ovalau’s capital.

The visit was part of the Fijian Government’s commitment towards ensuring that all Fijian children have access to education. It coincided with the delivery of desks and chairs, as well as VTSATs to solve the communication problem at the schools.

Many students in the schools are sons and daughters of part-time fishing and agricultural produce workers, which are the main occupations on the island.

Of course, no important visit in Fiji would be complete without a kava ceremony. It is a good measure of the importance of kava to Ovalau that a large offering of dried kava root was presented to the Prime Minister to welcome him to the island. Just look at the size of those roots in the picture above!

The Ever-Present Kava Bowl: From Politics to Rugby to Surf
Fijian Prime Minister Visits Ovalau and Receives Kava