2020 marked the first time that Gasav Ne Fäeag Rotuạm, Rotuman Language Week, officially joined the Ministry for Pacific Peoples’ Pacific Language Week celebrations. The theme for the week was Putua 'os fäega ma 'os ag fak Rotuma, or ‘nurture our Rotuman identity through language and culture’.
As part of that week, the Museum worked closely with Fesaitu Solomone, a member of the museum’s Pacific Advisory Group to hold two Zoom talanoa that focused on Rotuman language and cultural treasures. This blog expands on the discussion in the first talanoa on one of the treasures, Tales of a Lonely Island, held in the Museum Library.
The island of Rotuma is located approximately 465 kilometres north of Fiji. Although recognised as a Fijian dependency, Rotuma has its own rich and unique culture, heritage, and language. While the island has a resident population of approximately 1600 people, there are strong communities of Rotumans living in Fiji and around the world, including a growing community in Aotearoa New Zealand.
With the renewed community-led efforts to celebrate cultural identities and revitalise Pacific languages spoken among Pacific communities in New Zealand, historic items such as Tales of a Lonely Island provide excellent points of discussion for learners of the language as they often highlight different word forms and can show how the ‘colonial ear’ misunderstands word structure or pronunciation. Moreover, Tales of a Lonely Island serves as a way for today’s Rotuman learners of the language to directly connect back to the words and the voices of their elders.
There are plenty more stories to tell of our Pacific Documentary Heritage collections as we delve into our records and holdings to rediscover treasures that may have been hiding in plain sight all along.
Blog One island, one book, many stories by Auckland Museum Associate Curator, Heritage Publications, Paula Legel and Associate Curator, Documentary Heritage (Pacific Collections), Leone Samu.
Published 19 May, 2020.