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Sunday 2rd October – Saturday 8th October 2022 is Macawa ni Vosa Vakaviti, Fijian Language Week.
To celebrate, we've brought together video interviews with Fijian artists, fascinating blogs, a gallery of Fijian items from our Natural History and Documentary Heritage collections, a colouring-in sheet, and more.
Header image: Davui (trumpet shell) with a small hole cut out to produce sound; AWMM 3998. Photographed by Jennifer Carol.
As we move into Macawa ni vosa Vakaviti, Fiji Language Week, I want to celebrate the strength, courage and determination of the beautiful people of Fiji as they continue to work through the COVID-19 pandemic.
The theme for this year's Macawa ni vosa Vakaviti is Noqu Vosa, Ai Vakadei ni Noqu Tiko Vinaka; My language provides stability to my wellbeing. As I think of how language provides stability to an individual’s wellbeing I am drawn to the intersections of home, memory, identity and veilomani: "the act of loving one another".
Since the COVID-19 pandemic closed borders, I have not been able to return home and be with my family and this has impacted on my wellbeing. Fiji is home. Fiji is where I go to ground myself, recover and connect with language and place - it is my wellbeing. I miss Fiji. I miss the embrace of catching up with cousins in Nadi before the drive from Nadi to Suva. I miss stopping in Sigatoka for a break and then taking the Korotogo back road so I can see our old house and remember all our beautiful neighbours and friends. Throughout the drive I am surprised by all the changes along the way and yet I am in love with what remains unchanged. My heart would race as we approach Veisari, and I would remember swimming at Bamboo, and I knew we are so close to home. I miss the feeling of anticipation as we would reach Lami Town and then go up Nasevou Street - my eyes would fill with tears as my mother would hold me and I would miss my beloved father even more.
The time spent in Fiji would be a celebration of language and wellbeing and especially veilomani, the spaces would be filled with family and friends; with meaningful talanoa between my mother and sisters and all the vakaji from my brother.
I am so grateful for the Fiji family and friends we have in Aotearoa and how they convey veilomani through language and sharing spaces where all our wellbeing is nurtured.
I want to pray for all of Fiji as they move through this ongoing crisis and Loloma levu to all our Fijian families in Aotearoa. I wish you all a blessed Fiji Language Week. I hope you all celebrate the value of language and how it provides stability to your wellbeing.
Vinaka vaka levu sara.
This davui (Charonia tritonis) has a small hole cut into the shell towards the tip which when blown into, produces a loud call that carries over distance.
Used for signalling and on important occasions, the davui generally produces a single note. One variety of davui which are associated with western Viti Levu, have a blowing hole cut into the end of the shell instead of the side and have a small finger hole bored near the mouth of the shell allowing a variation in pitch.
Acquired in 1929, this davui was part of the Edge-Partington collection.
Image: Davui (trumpet shell) with a small hole cut out to produce sound; AWMM 3998. Photographed by Jennifer Carol.
We caught up with Pacific poet Daren Kamali to talk about his upbringing in Suva, his love for poems and songs, his inspiration for his work and the importance of learning languages.
Daren recently wrote and recited 100 poems in support of Fiji, as the nation has battled its current outbreak of COVID-19 for over 100 days. Daren's 98th poem of this series is recited in this video.
Daren Kamali wearing a tabua (whale tooth).
Cavutu mai na dua na yanuyanu parataisi
Era wananavu na kena itaukei
Na veiyanuyanu era māmārau
Au vākasamataka lesu tale
Noqu gauna guiguilecavi drēdrē
Siga vivinaka ni noqu bula
Susugi me sotava na varuvaru leqaleqa qō
Vulica na veikā kece mai yanuyanu
Era vakavulici yau meu sasaga
Bula tiko na yaloqu
Na vakanānanu ni gauna oyā e uluqu
Taqiri vakā na lali
Au vakasamataki ira na wekaqu
Mai na yanuyanu ni veimataniciva
Mai Viti ki Aotearoa i na ciwa rua
Duatani na vanua
Dua na kā vou
Sā sivi e tini ka ciwa na yabaki
Na vakanānanu i vale sega ni yali
Gaunisala balavu au lakova mai
Meu mai vucu serekali nikua
Ena noqu vākāsama
Au rogoca ni ra kaya na tukaqu
Vākaukaua mo kākua ni lako sese
Sāmaka na nomu siga sā sivi
Kua ni guilecava na ivakarau makawa, luvequ
Coming from an island paradise
where the people are nice
the arms are full of smiles
I track back in time
moments of mine
those beautiful days of my life
nurturing me for this world of strife
Learnt all I can from the islands
Do people taught me how to strive
keep my spirits alive
memories of those times in my head
ringing like bells
thinking about my people
back in the islands of pearly shells
from Fiji to Aotearoa in 92
A different land
something you 17 years past
My memories of home still last
I have come a long way
to rap this poetry here today
in my head
I can hear my ancestors say
Try your best to never go astray
try to tidy up on your yesterday
never forget your old ways my son
In a corner of the new Tāmaki Herenga Waka exhibition is a case and interactive with stories and objects relating to the TSMV Matua.
One of the stories is told by Melanie Rands (pictured) about her father, Keva Low, who arrived in Auckland onboard the Matua on April 21st 1946.
In this blog, Dr Andrea Low, Associate Curator, Contemporary World recounts Keva's journey.
Melanie Rands holding a diecast model of the TSMV Matua.
Join us as Fijian dance choreographer Alipate Traill talks to us about his upbringing and wisdom gained from his bubu (grandmother). Listen to his expert description of two items used for traditional meke (dance), understand his reasons for teaching traditional dance to children and how dance is an art form for learning language.
It's no surprise that Pacific Dance New Zealand selected Alipate as its Artist in Residence for 2021 given his full and sustained commitment to promoting Fijian culture.
Albert (Alipate) Traill is an Auckland based tutor and choregrapher of Fijian meke (dance) and culture.
Born and raised in Fiji and attesting his knowledge and skills in Fijian itaukei culture to his Bubu Savaira, Alipate Traill has spent his life totally immersed in showcasing Fijian culture, history and stories through the performing arts.
Studying in Hawaii at the Brigham Young University in Political Science, Alipate refined and extended those skills with costuming, theatre and culture presentation skills at the renown Polynesian Centre in Laie, Hawaii from January 2000 to June 2007.
Back in New Zealand in 2007, Alipate established a Fijian cultural group named Kabu Kei Okaladi which performed at the Auckland’s Pasifika Festival, The Rugby World Cup, Ministry of Pacific Island Affairs and many more places.
In 2016/2017 Alipate was contracted by the Auckland War Memorial Musuem to work as a key knowledge holder/advisor for the Pacific Collections Access Project.
In 2020, Alipate featured in Pacific Dance NZ’s “Transform Series” as a Fijian dance choreographer. He is currently the director of Te Mana Academy based at the Pacifica Arts Centre in Henderson.
His motto: ‘Honouring the Past – Preparing for the Future’
Have a go at more Fijian words and expressions used by our guest Alipate in this video:
vakarokoroko - respect / meke - dance / Itaukei - culture / bubu - grandmother / voivoi - pandanus / bitu - bamboo / vesi - hardwood / sere - song / vakasama matua - wisdom / wakatu - identity / solesolevaki - working together for everyone / vakayalo - spirituality / vakanomondi - silence / veiweikani - relationship / tabua - whale tooth / kakana - food.
Dokai na Veiyavu me Vakaliuci
Tadolava na Veigauna ena Muria
Honouring the past, preparing for the future
Manufactured from bark-cloth (masi) and carefully fringed at the edges, two issues of the Fiji Times dating to 1908 and 1909 presented more questions than answers when they first arrived at the Museum.
Newspapers across the Pacific have never been printed on barkcloth, so what led to these particular papers being printed on such a material?
Here you can explore a small selection of the specimens, and click through to explore even more of the collection.
Bryozoans are colonial invertebrates and while this specimen might look like algae, it’s actually an animal and made up of many tiny zooids.
This beetle specimen is the Holotype, or name-bearer, that carries the scientific name of this species.
Type specimen: AMNZ21831
Cone shells are predatory marine sea snails that are venomous – the Marbled Cone (Conus marmoreus) was the first species of cone shell to be described by Linneaus in 1758.
The Orange fruit dove (Ptilinopus victor) is a stunning orange and green dove which is only found (endemic) in the Fijian forests of Vanua Levu, Taveuni, Rabi, Kioa, Qamea and Laucala.
Masiratu (Degeneria vitiensis): there are only two species in this genus and family both only found in the forests of Fiji.
Booking and Sales Co-ordinator Vasiti Tupou is here to teach you a few phrases in Fijian.
Try your hand at this colouring-in page that features patterns from Fiji as well as the iconic masiratu (which you can learn more about in this blog).
From Sunday 2 October until Saturday 8 October, the Museum will be illuminated every evening in red, white, yellow and blue in recognition of Fijian Language Week.
Visit our archive of Fijian Language Week content from previous years.
Image: Cone shells (Conus marmoreus), MA124583.
Visit the archive