The experiences, images and voices of Fijian Australians are the subject of a collecting project by the National Library throughout 2021 and 2022. Although Fiji is a relatively small nation in the Pacific, migrants from Fiji have made a considerable contribution to Australian society in sports, music, academia and many other areas.
One of the Library’s important responsibilities is to ensure that the histories and contributions of migrants are represented in our collection. Australia is home to more expatriate Fijians than any other country. We are reaching out to Fijian communities around Australia to encourage them to add their oral histories, pictures and manuscripts and published materials to the national collection.
The Fijian Australian community is diverse, reflecting the vibrant nature of contemporary Fiji. The Fijian Constitution defines Fijians to include those of iTaukei (Indigenous Fijian) background, Indian background, Rotuman, European, Chinese or other Pacific Islander background.
The Library already holds several photographs which were taken in the 1970s. One photo was taken at the first meeting of the Fiji-South Australia Association in Adelaide in October 1972. The image below shows members of the association enjoying the traditional drink of Kava, with a Fijian Masi cloth hanging in the background. Do you know any of the people sitting together? Let us know by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org.
There are already some fascinating objects in the collection. In 1967, Fiji presented Australia with a special gift that would encapsulate the links between the two countries. The gift was a tabua, a whale tooth, which was presented to Lord Casey after the disappearance of Australian Prime Minister Harold Holt at sea. This was a timely gift, as one of the major waves of migration between Fiji and Australia occurred in the 1970s after Fiji attained independence from Great Britain.
We would love to record more oral histories from the Fijian Australian community. If you are interested in sharing your story, please express your interest online.
Books and newsletters
In our collection, we also have a copy of Fiji-Baat, a children’s book published in 2020 about an 8-year-old boy from Australia who travels to Fiji with his Fijian mother for Christmas, and connects with his origins. We also hold issues of the Brisbane Fiji-Australia Club newsletter.
Are there other books and newsletters from the Fijian-Australian community we can add to our collection? If you're an author or publisher, you can deposit your electronic publications into our collection using the National edeposit service.
If you have a connection to the Fijian Australian community you would like to share, please contact us.
This project is the first in a series of our collecting activities focusing on how different communities have made lives for themselves in Australia and have made our country richer for their contributions.