Pacific radio news

Governance board hoping to open Bula Centre after school holidays

By Mabel Muller -

The governance board of the Bula ECE Centre is hoping to re-open the centre in time for the start of the next school term.

It is the only Fijian early childhood centre in New Zealand and is operated by the Fijian Community Association of Auckland (FCAA).

Fiji Prime Minister Voreqe Frank Bainimarama at the Bula ECE Centre in 2016. Photo/ Facebook.

The recent closure of the Bula Centre was a result of a dispute amongst members of the FCAA over the centre's latest ERO report.

Newly-elected president of the FCAA, Voniani Nawaqavanua, alleges that there are members of the association that have tried to change the signatories at the bank, which led to the bank temporarily blocking the account.

"They tried to change the office-bearers and signatures at the bank without our Treasurer and President's signatures. They took their own signatures and started withdrawing the money from the account."

Nawaqavanua says when the executive members of the association found out, they notified the bank immediately.

"It wasn't done in the right way and in the right process so our lawyers had to write to the bank and make a clarification... So the bank decided to freeze the account."

Members of the FCAA held a Special General Meeting in July and Nawaqavanua says that group elected a new executive team which went against the constitution.

"They elected their own office-bearers but they didn't follow the right procedures... Our general secretary wrote to them that their group, calling for the Special General Meeting, wasn't following the right process of the constitution."

Since then the newly-formed group have claimed the Bula Centre's closure is due to the recent ERO report that recommended the Ministry of Education reassess the Bula Centre's license.

However, the Ministry's Deputy Secretary Sector Enablement and Support, Katrina Casey, has confirmed they did not demand for the Bula Centre to close and that it was a decision made by the FCAA, while it resolves its governance and leadership issues.

"The decision to freeze the centre’s accounts was made by the governance group of the Fiji Community Association of Auckland."

The FCAA released a statement over the weekend claiming that an unauthorised request by the other members of the group have been circulating asking for donations to be made to an ANZ bank account for the Bula Centre.

Vice President of the FCAA, Adi Asenaca Uluiviti says the person behind the request for donations is not a member of the Bula Centre's Governance Board and has no authority to solicit funds from the public on behalf of the Bula Centre.

"Robanakadavu is part of the group led by Isoa Soqosoqo, whose illegal and unauthorised actions have led to the freezing of the school's bank accounts and temporary closure of the Bula ECE Centre," she says.

A request for donations to the Bula ECE Centre that's been slammed by the governance board as inaccurate. Photo/ Facebook.

Meanwhile, Nawaqavanua says they are trying to resolve the issue and reconcile with the other members of the group.

"We hope to sit together and resolve this issue and talk about how we can mend our relationship for the sake of our children and grandchildren who are going to be the future of our community," he says. "We are people of the Pacific and we have a common way of dealing with things and we believe in communal living. When things happen like this we just need to sit down and talk and we don't need to involve the media."

The Ministry of Education have given FCAA until October 12 to resolve the matter before their license is suspended.

Tags: Fiji, education,