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Fijian community launches new book for Language Week

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

A unique book celebrating language and culture is being launched in Wellington during Fijian Language Week, October 3 - 9.

Voqa ni Veisemati: Vola Italanoa ni Viti e Aotearoa is the result of a series of creative writing workshops led by author and storyteller Moira Wairama and facilitated by Sai Lealea and Losalini Tuwere with support from the Ministry of Education and Read NZ Te Pou Muramura.

The project is part of Read NZ Te Pou Muramura’s Writers in Communities programme, which aims to nurture new readers and writers within a community and help share their stories widely.

In Voqa ni Veisemati: Vola Italanoa ni Viti e Aotearoa, a group of Fijian families in Wellington gather together their stories and poems in both Fijian and English.

Uniquely, pieces from both children and adults appear side-by-side, capturing memories of family trips and holidays in Aotearoa and their homeland Fiji. Accounts of village life and family in Fiji are reflected in the book’s title Voqa ni Veisemati, which can be translated as Echoes of Connection.

Co-editors Sai Lealea and Losalini Tuwere were pleasantly surprised to see the participants enthusiastically take on the initiative and express themselves in writing.

"It was amazing how the children and families were able to capture their ideas and memories in writing and to see the satisfaction when they achieved it," says project leader Sai.

"It has been an absolute blessing to have been part of this project working together as a community to write our stories in both Fijian and English," says Losalini.

"It gave us an opportunity to reflect, create and write - to take our rich oral heritage into a book to share with many. That is very exciting."

Author Moira Wairama says it was a privilege to work with storytellers from the Wellington Fijian community to create this special book and see it reach a wider audience.

"I especially enjoyed the challenge of working with a range of ages and incorporating artwork from younger writers," she says.

"As someone who embarrassingly had little knowledge of one of Aotearoa’s largest Pacific neighbours, I am so grateful to this strong and vibrant community for allowing me to work with them on this project and to learn a little more about Fiji and its culture."

Voqa ni Veisemati: Vola Italanoa ni Viti e Aotearoa will be available, in limited edition, from all good bookshops and libraries or by emailing Sai Lealea:

As part of Fijian Language Week celebrations, the book will be launched at Johnsonville Community Centre, 11:00 am on October 7, alert levels permitting. An online launch will be offered otherwise.

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