Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Indo and indigenous Fijians prove they can work together in NZ


The Waikato region's previously divided Fijian community has united in a landmark event with Indo-Fijians and indigenous Fijians agreeing to work together in future.

The two groups have long been divided – a hangover from political and cultural divisions in their homeland.

But representatives from the Waikato Fiji Association (Indo-Fijians) and Fiji Waikato Community (indigenous Fijians) put aside historical differences last week and signed a memorandum of understanding to collaborate on projects to celebrate their culture.

The deal was done under the supervision of Internal Affairs Department community development and funding adviser Jenny Nand, who said the deal was a milestone for New Zealand's Fijian community but relatively simple to negotiate.

"It's about promoting the Fijian culture," she said. "It wasn't that hard to come to a common agreement outlining the key boundaries and the roles each organisation will play."

Waikato Fiji Association secretary Alvin Chand said it took only three or four meetings before they had hammered out a deal.

"The thing is we both want to make the community aware here that there's a Fijian community present and we want to integrate ourselves," he said.

In the past the two groups have put on separate Fiji Day festivals but this year on October 9, they will celebrate together for the first time.

Fiji Waikato Community president Jalesi Nakarawa said the Fiji Day partnership was just the first step.

"The long-term objective is working together and merging the groups," he said. It was something he had never heard of happening in New Zealand.

Mr Chand said he would talk to Waikato Museum about having an area to display traditional arts and crafts during October as a way to make the Fijian culture more visible.
-By Rob Kidd, Waikato Times

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