FNU participates in NAIDOC Day

Press Release Posted On: July 16, 2023

Makereta Mua

A Fiji National University (FNU) academic was part of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders (NAIDOC) celebration hosted by the Australian High Commission and Tokani Friends at the Fiji Museum this month.

Every year in July, the significant event takes place to honour the heritage, traditions, and accomplishments of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander individuals. NAIDOC is not limited to Indigenous communities alone; it is embraced and commemorated by Australians across the nation and even internationally.

Makereta Mua, Head of the Department of Ethics and Governance at FNU’s College of Humanities and Education (CHE), was selected to be on the panel through her articles published in her research thesis.

Mua said she spoke about her research work on the diasporic connection between the Torres Straits Islanders and Rotumans. She was given a 1960 recording of the Rotuman-derived Taibobo chants and dances that were taken by the Rotumans to the Torres Strait Islands in the 1870s.

“Some Murray Islanders still practice the Taibobo chants and dances. However, the Rotumans have long forgotten  this form of singing and dancing. I have worked with several Murray Islanders and Rotuman elders over the years, including the late Mrs Elisapeti Inia, to do the transliterations for the chants and to help revive the chants and dances,” Mua said.

“She also spoke about how she connected several Part-Rotuman Torres Strait Islander families with their Rotuman relatives in Fiji.”

Mua also collaborated with Letila Mitchell, the artistic director of RAKO, a cultural producer and practicing artist with Rotuman heritage.

Mitchell was also on the panel and spoke about RAKO’s collaborative work with Makereta to turn the Taibobo Chants and Dances into a full dance theatre production.

“This is a beautiful opportunity to preserve the culture and the identity of the Part-Rotuman Torres Strait Islanders and the Rotumans in Fiji. I am thankful to the RAKO Group for coming out to assist in turning the Taibobo chants and dances into a full dance theatre production,” Mua said.

“This would help the future generations understand the culture and help in passing the information from one generation to another. Cultural heritage can be preserved and upheld through this, ensuring its continuity and relevance for future generations.”

Songhie Tatipata, the Second Secretary at the Australian High Commission, was also part of the panel discussion, while Dr Tukaha Mua was the elder on the panel. Dr Mua revealed that he was named Tukaha, after his great-grand-uncle who travelled to the Torres Strait Islands in the 1870s to do pearling. 

The event was moderated by Larry Thomas, Acting Director, Ocean Centre of Arts and Culture at the University of the South Pacific.

The event was attended by His Excellency, the Australian Acting Deputy High Commissioner, Andrew Shepherd, members of the diplomatic corps, and invited guests.