Auckland Museum hosted Fijian leaders, performers and community members this past weekend to launch the Museum’s Fijian collection project to coincide with Fijian language week.
The Fijian community was welcomed to Auckland Museum on Saturday 1 October to celebrate the launch of a unique project to focus research into the Museum’s internationally recognised Fijian collection.
The project is part of The Pacific Collection Access Project, which is a three year programme to open up access to Pacific treasures, creating stronger connections with Auckland’s Pacific communities.
As part of the launch, Fijian leaders gifted the project an official Fijian name: ‘Nai Yau Vakaviti – Na Ka Marequiti’ (this means ‘Our Fijian Treasures: That are treasured’).
The Fijian collection is the second Pacific island nation to receive focus, following the successful programme of work that has begun for the Cook Islands collection.
Museum staff will now focus on engaging with local Fijian communities and will invite cultural knowledge holders to visit the Museum to share their insights and wisdom.
From L-R Nacanieli Yalimaiwai, President, Fiji Community Association of Auckland; Fuli Pereira, Auckland Museum Pacific Curator; Minister for Pacific Peoples, Hon Peseta Sam Lotu-Iinga; Reverend Atu Lagi & David Reeves, Auckland Museum Director of Research and Collections
We spoke to Tarisi Vunidilo, a Professional Teaching Fellow at the Centre for Pacific Studies, University of Auckland and artist Joana Monolagi who helped come up with the name of the Fijian collection.
"I think for me, Joana and Alapati - we had a couple of key words that we'd emailed to each other a few times and then we ended up with the final 5 and then somehow the words started to morph into one. We were thinking about it individually and then one evening it magically came together and the 3 of us just looked at it and we were like "That's it - thats the name!" It's really nice that it has the word "Yau" which is the word for treasures and then it's got "Marequiti" which is to be treasured so those 2 words sort of come together - Our Fijian Treasures .... To be Treasured" said Tarisi "We also had the Rotumans here today and we always say let us not forget our Rotuman brothers and sisters are part of Fiji and they also have Rotuman artifacts that are in the Collection"
"For me the name had to speak to what was down in the archives and the importance of it and what it means to us as Fijians. It was really exciting especially to know all the different hands that have created these items and that these items have passed through you know? from generations to generations, what they were used for and how it's here today for this young generation to appreciate their heritage" adds Joana
"Yes" agrees Tarisi "to add on to that, Joana touches on a very important point which is our youth, our young people and thats evident today that many of the young people are participating and thats what we want to do with this project. Even though they've been made hundreds of years ago it still has relevance to our young people"
L - Tarisi & R - Joana
The 2 ladies have also given us a phrase to learn for Fijian Language Week: "Au sa marau" = I am Happy!
Vinaka Vakalevu ladies!
Photo Credit: Max Lemeshenko/Get Communications for Auckland War Memorial Museum (Top 2 photos)