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Na Vosa Ni Tabua (The Voice of Tabua)

In celebration of Fijian Language Week (3 Oct 2016 – 9 Oct 2016) we have installed four tabua in our Te Kākano display case. Daren Kamali selected the works and wrote a poem in the Fijian and English languages.

Daren Kamali selecting tabua from the Auckland Museum collection.

Auckland War Memorial Museum Tāmaki Paenga Hira

Na Vosa Ni Tabua (The Voice of Tabua)


Tabua is the most treasured yau talei (possession) to Itaukei (Indigenous Fijians)

Na bati vatakei na sui ni tavuto (whale's tooth and bone)

Tabua derives from the word Tabu

In Fijian


Harvested from i bulubulu (graves) of sperm whales

Tabuas are polished with waiwai (coconut oil)

Sometimes rerega (tumeric) for darker colour

Holes drilled: tip and butt of the Tabua


Braided magimagi or ulu ni tamata (coconut sennit/human hair) lashings.

Tabua are not worn but presented with a chord in the figure walu (eight)

Sevusevu (gifted) at na ivakamau, siga ni sucu and somate (marriage, birthdays, funerals)

It has the ability to weigh heavy as a soro (apology) token


The vagauna (occasion) and sevusevu (presentation)

Determines the Tabuas spiritual value

It is vakaturaga (chiefly) to have many Tabua in Viti (Fiji)

Na Tabua is Vaka Yalo (spiritual)

Listen to Daren recite his poem

Tabua (whale's tooth), Fiji

Gift of the Honourable JB Turner, 1925Auckland War Memorial Museum Tāmaki Paenga Hira 13571

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