Fiji exhibition

26 April, 2009

Part of the yaqona (also known as kava) ceremony, an important ritual for ethnic Fijians.
Part of the yaqona (also known as kava) ceremony, an important ritual for ethnic Fijians.
Image: Benjamin Healley
Source: Museum Victoria

I have seen the word “Talanoa” around the Immigration Museum. What does it mean?

Talanoa is a Fijian word that is often rendered in English as “storytelling,” but which also carries a sense of “dialogue” and “conversation.” The word currently features in the title of an exhibition at the Immigration Museum that focuses on Victoria’s Fiji community.

Victoria is currently to home to almost 10,000 Fiji immigrants. Although Fijians have been migrating to Australia since the 19th century, many have arrived since civil unrest in Fiji connected to successive coups in 1987, 2000 and 2006.

Victoria’s Fiji-born community is ethnically and culturally diverse, incorporating Fiji Indians, indigenous Fijians and people of Rotuman, Chinese, European and Pacific Islander descent.

Migrant populations do not always reflect the demographic make-up of their source country, and can be ethnically and culturally diverse. This diversity is often maintained after migration, with factors such as language, religion or occupation more important in defining an immigrant’s identity than their country of origin.

Fijian immigrants are a case in point. In 1996, fewer than 15% of Australia’s 37,102 Fiji-born residents were ethnic Fijians, with most of the remainder being of Indian or European descent. In the 2001 census, over 60% of Fijians in Victoria spoke Hindi at home.

The new exhibition in the Immigration Museum’s Community Gallery is the result of an extensive process of consultation between the Immigration Museum and the Fiji community, and highlights the ways in which storytelling and dialogue – Talanoa – can foster strengthened communal ties across and within Australia’s migrant populations. This fascinating exhibition draws attention to a small but growing Victorian community, through their own objects and stories. Entry to the Talanoa exhibition is free with Immigration Museum admission.

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