“There were two or three excavators in the water, smashing through the reef and digging it out to create a massive channel. There was hydraulic fluid spilling into the water… it was shocking."
A couple of years back, BeachGrit reported on the legendary stoush between a couple of surfers from Angourie and a monied Chinese developer, and all centred on the Fijian island of Malolo in the Mamanuca chain.
Real pretty joint. Volcanic. The same place you see in the background of those lineup shots of Restaurants.
Forty minutes by speed boat from the mainland, same to Cloudbreak.
Six years ago, the pair from Angourie threw their life savings on a 99-year lease on an acre of land there. A third share went to a Fijian pal Ratu Jona Joseva, who gets his bread ferrying surfers to Cloudbreak and whose family is one of the three that own land on Mololo.
Their little patch of dirt looked straight out onto Tavarau and Namoutu, two joints the pair love to surf.
“We had a vision of putting a few bures on there and just enjoying the place for what it was. Letting friends and family come over and use it and have a bit of a creative space and a relaxing getaway,” he said.
Then they got word that a Chinese developer, called ironically enough Freesoul, had bought the land adjacent with plans to build a 370-bure (hut) resort and casino.
Their side of the island is real hard to get to except the developer, says Nav, got the excavators and chainsaws in.
“There were two or three excavators in the water, smashing through the reef and digging it out to create a massive channel. There was hydraulic fluid spilling into the water. Another excavator on the land was covering the beautiful little beach on our land with the material from the reef to build a hard zone. It was shocking. We knew they didn’t have a foreshore lease and what they were doing was illegal,” Nav told Newsroom, NZ.
Now, two years after the developers started tearing hell out of the joint, Freesoul is going to face the Suva Magistrates Court on a raft of charges.
The decision by the Fijian government to take Freesoul to local court instead of the High Court was a surprise to many given the max fine there is around $US25,000 compared to the High Court where you can get hit for $US400,000 and ten years in the pen.
Said Nav, “The battle we’ve found ourselves in has become a landmark case for Fiji and its Pacific neighbours, the world is watching to see if (Fijian PM) Mr Bainimarama’s Public Prosecutions Office and courts will uphold his strong stance against environmental vandals.”
And, it don’t end there for Freesoul.
Two hundred investors from mainland China who were emptied of $US25 mill after paying upfront for their yet-to-be-built bures are launching a class-action lawsuit against the developer.
The episode has had its moments of levity, howevs.
Click here to watch as one of the developers’ henchmen engages Nav in a rough game, though not necessarily enjoyable, of ass play.