FIJI LANGUAGE WEEK: “My language sets me apart from other cultures”

Fijian Language Week ends today on a high note as it celebrates the 50th anniversary of Fiji’s independence from British colonial rule.

Clinical Nurse Director and senior member of the Pasifika Medical Association (PMA), Abel Smith, says this is the perfect time to not only celebrate the language but to also reflect on how the Fijian culture and language has progressed over the past fifty years.

“Today, there are 450,000 people who speak Fijian as their first language and 200,000 where Fijian is their second language. One of the things we don’t want to happen is to lose the language and that’s why today’s celebration is extremely important. To remind us of our history and our home.”

Auckland based Abel has been involved with many cultural celebrations throughout the week and will spend today in the Northland town of Russell to commemorate the occasion with the local Fijian community.

Abel moved to New Zealand from Fiji in 1997 to continue his studies and to find work. He says the Fijian community in New Zealand is growing and not just in the major city centres.

“There’s a lot of activity that showcases our language and culture that is celebrated in both the main cities and smaller towns.

It is great to spend time in Russell to support smaller centres and acknowledge the Fijian community in these areas. It shows that we are everywhere and spread out all over the country.”

He also says that many of his non-Fijian work colleagues have tried to use simple Fijian greetings around him during the week.

“There is a familiarity with our language and that’s wonderful. The premise of these weeks is to not only celebrate the language but to also engage and connect with each other, That’s what has happened over the years.”

Abel’s favourite Fijian proverb happens to be the theme of this year’s language week: ‘Noqu Vosa, N006Fqu iSema Bula’ which translates in English to ‘My language, my living link’.

“This proverb resonates with me because my Fijian language is what sets me apart from other Pacific cultures.”


Date: Saturday 10 October 2020