Thelma is the Youth Worker for the Pacific Youth Reconnection Project, which is based within the Cultural Collections and Community Engagement team at the Australian Museum. 

What was Sydney Fiji Day 2012 all about?

October 13, 2012 saw Wyatt Park, Lidcombe as the gathering ground for the Fiji Independence Day Celebrations, with over 15,000 in attendance throughout the day. The event featured Pacific food, craft, fashion, kava drinking tent, community awards ceremony, sports and many cultural and contemporary performances. The Australian Museum stall featured an array of Pacific objects from the Cultural Collections.

What happened there this year?

The official opening commenced at 10:45am with the VIP welcome ceremony or the ‘veiqaraqaravi vakavanua’. Young males from the Fijian-Australian community were lead by an elder during the ceremony whereby the VIPs were welcomed, a tabua (whales tooth) was exchanged and kava mixed in a tanoa (wooden bowl) and presented to the guests of honour. The tanoa used in the ceremony was loaned from the Australian Museum’s Cultural Collections team, and was acquired by Dion Peita at the recent Pacific Arts Festival in the Solomon Islands, from Mr.J.Cama of Fulaga, Lau Group, Fiji islands.

Later in the day, Mr Dion Peita was interviewed by Dr.Jioji Ravulo one of the MC’s for the day, informing the community about the existence of the Pacific Collections at the Australian Museum and the importance of community visits. The interview and mentions of the Australian Museum stall encouraged a steady flow of people.. My hip hop performance skills were also utilised on the day, encouraging the audiences to visit us.

What were the highlights of the day?

Highlights of the day included seeing the tanoa being used for the first time in a traditional ceremony and meeting young people that had previously visited the collections.

See more photos of the tanoa being carried to the ceremony on the Sydney Fiji Day Facebook page.

Thelma's position is funded by the Vincent Fairfax Foundation and Australian Museum Foundation.

For more information about this event and the Pacific Youth Reconnection Project, please contact Thelma Thomas.