The traditional Fijian man living in the village is still strongly bonded to his traditional cultural ties based on family and community. He is very content within himself despite what we "Westerners" would reflect as his third world living standards. His values lie elsewhere - and that is what makes the Fijian culture so unique - they lie within the truth that the community they live in is valued above all else. While still being in this "time warp" Fijians realise that the dollar brings comforts to their lives that they would not otherwise have and are, therefore, embracing Fijian Village Homestays.
The traditional Fijian woman plays a secondary role in this paternalistic society. She will, without question, look after all the household chores from cooking to cleaning and be subservient to the men in her community. She has little or no role when it comes to the decisions made in the village - this is left to the men who have earned the village's respect. This small group of elders are referred to as the mataqali. In each village there is a chief or a headman who acts as spokesman to the mataqali and who is only accountable to the Provincial Chief who oversees a large number of villages. The Provincial Chief's role is symbolic - his endorsement once a village has reached a decision being accepted without question.
The traditional Fijian children are often raised by their grand parents while their own parents work in the fields or herd the cattle. Fijian children are spontaneous and will embrace children from outside their village as long lost friends - without question...
Money is rarely seen in the village, but its value is now understood. The general village community is supported by a level of team work and infrastructure whose very foundation is based on traditional values and not one's financial wealth. Christianity plays a major role in the recent evolution of the Fijian society with even the smallest villages boasting a church as their central place of worship.
The first impacts that a guest has when visiting a Fijian village is the serenity and peaceful disposition of those living in the community; the respect shown right through all levels of Fijian culture from the smallest baby to the Chief. There is never a voice raised in anger or abuse of members of the community. If a wrong is committed this is discussed at a meeting of the mataqali who have the power to authorise punishment on the transgressor. The whole community learns about the crime and, as a result, this is a very rare event.
The kava ceremony is central to the Fijian way of life with a sevu-sevu being the basis of the traditional Fijian welcome to a guest in their village. When you stay in their village you become "one of them" not a guest. The bond, the relationship, goes much deeper and remains with guests long after they return home.