The Head of  the Kubuna Confederacy, Turaga Na Vunivalu, Na Tui Kaba (Ratu Epenisa Cakobau);
The Head of the Burebasaga Confederacy, Marama Roko Tui Dreketi (Ro Teimumu Kepa);
To my kinfolk of the Tovata Confederacy;
The Head of Government, The Honourable Prime Minister;
Your Excellency’s, Members of the Diplomatic Corps;
The Heads of Religious Organisations;
Distinguished Members of the Great Council of Chiefs;
Distinguished Guests;
Ladies and gentlemen, youths and school students, and those following this opening ceremony this morning via Livestream.
Miau sa bula re!
I am reminded by the opening remarks of the late Statesman, Ratu Sir Lala Sukuna at the opening of the Queen Victoria School:
“When the Captains and Kings have departed and the scene is again normal, today’s impressive ceremony marks the forward march of the Fijian race!
The Great Council of Chiefs was established through the vision of the then Governor, Sir Arthur Gordon and the first sitting of the Great Council of Chiefs was convened in 1875.

The intent of the Great Council of Chiefs (GCC) in being established was to bridge relations between the Vanua and the Colonial Government vis a vis’. The GCC was to be the apex of the iTaukei Administration charged with the responsibilities of Traditional protocols, Provincial and cultural matters. In 1904 the GCC was dissolved by the then Governor, Sir Everard Ferdinand imThurn, before it was reconvened 6 years later.  
Today we herald in a new dawn; on this new voyage we welcome those who make up our multicultural society and have made Fiji their home.
We are Chiefs in our own right – we have subjects, we are inheritors of our land, sea, and its flora and fauna. As we meet, we bring with us the hopes and the needs of our people and our land that depend on our vision in unifying our wise deliberations that shall lead to inclusive decisions that encompasses all that we treasure as a people and a nation.  
As it reconvenes, the GCC must focus on two principles:
Firstly, we need to be conscious of the existence of those who will challenge the status quo; and
Secondly, to encourage our people to work together for our advancement as a people, where no one is left behind.
It is my profound duty to remind us all of the words of the late Ratu Sir Lala Sukuna, “The Title of Chief is not an ornament”. An ornament is adorned to be marveled and admired, or as a fashionable wear, rather as chiefs we are bound by duty and responsibility that require our intentional and undivided attention.
With this new beginning, it is paramount that we reflect on our traditional ties with one another as iTaukei, to the Government of the day and to the church. It is crucial that the reconvened Great Council of Chiefs delivers on the very purpose with which it was initially established, for the preservation of our land, our marine and natural ecosystem, guided by relevant legislations. The Great Council of Chiefs is duty-bound to safeguard, defend, liberate all-encompassing matters of all Fijians respecting the rule of law.
We revive the memory of our great Statesman, the late Ratu Sir Lala Sukuna; the epitome of progressive change and advancement of the iTaukei.
Ratu Sir Lala Sukuna was born in 1888, he was educated on Bau island, before completing his primary education at Wairuku Indian School, at which time his late father Ratu Joni Madraiwiwi who served as Roko Tui in the Ra Province. He furthered his education at Whaiganui, New Zealand, before completing his studies at Oxford University, in the United Kingdom. He was predestined for leadership that included military training and was awarded the Croix de Guerre for his gallant role in World War I under the French Foreign Legion. The preordained life of Ratu Sir Lala Sukuna became the gateway to his life of servitude to his people, the land and the crown.
These are traits that the late Ratu Sir Lala Sukuna was renowned for, a visionary, decisive and intellectual leader that is indicative only of a leader who is divinely anointed.
These traits allowed great changes that have been ingrained in Fiji’s society:
He proposed and supported the Native Lands Trust Bill in 1940. This was passed in Legislative Council in the same year, this was the formation of the Native Lands Trust Board now known as the iTaukei Trust Board;
He strongly advocated for the implementation of the demarcation of unclaimed land, that these be exempted from being leased;
He was instrumental in the formulation of legislation that focussed on ensuring that leased land is allowed to be utilised for commercial use;
Influenced the preservation of the history , of the iTaukei, by establishing the Native Lands Commission; 
He was instrumental in the formulation of legislation and enactment of the Fijian Affairs Act, which included the Tikina regulations and Village regulations; and
It is therefore crucial that the Great Council of Chiefs, establish and build on its previous accomplishments and embark on a new vision and mission to be able to better navigate the new changes and developments as we chart our way forward.
Our role as leaders remains to be the fiercest defender of our natural resources both on land and at sea, particularly with protecting our frontier from the current effects and impact of Climate Change.
Our role equally lies in encouraging our fellow itaukei and people to contribute to growing the economy and to promote economic empowerment and stability to better enhance their livelihoods.
Should we want a better Fiji, it is pertinent that our younger generations are groomed in iTaukei protocol, leadership and all mannerism befitting a servant leader.
The Great Council of Chiefs is now challenged more than ever in our decision making as traditional leaders to safeguard, collaborate and promote inclusivity in the dynamics of our evolving Fiji.
In this regard the Coalition Government has taken the decision to re-establish the Great Council of Chiefs and to restore the remembrance of the visionary leadership of the late Ratu Sir Lala Sukuna. This bold step is acknowledged and commended.
I am reminded that just last week, our nation celebrated and remembered the lives of the Girmityans, who share our common hopes and aspirations despite having different stories.
To conclude, it is my humble duty this morning to extend our collective acknowledgement to the Turaga Bale na Vunivalu na Tui Kaba and the Vanua of Kubuna on behalf of the Great Council of Chiefs and the Coalition Government for hosting this year’s revived GCC meeting here on the chiefly island.
I wish to also extend my appreciation and acknowledgement to the GCC Review Committee on the enormous and important work done in the past few weeks. We eagerly await the recommendations and suggestions collated during consultations that shall be submitted to Government. It would be remiss of me not to acknowledge the Minister for iTaukei Affairs and the Ministry for all the work done to allow this celebration to come to fruition.
I pray that winds of change lead us on our journey that have embarked on, to a better Fiji. 
It is now my profound honour to declare the Great Council of Chiefs meeting open and the launching of the weeklong celebrations in remembrance of the legacy of Ratu Sir Lala Sukuna.
May God bless Fiji and may our sovereignty continue to reign!
Vinaka Saka Vakalevu!