Heritage and Indigenous Knowledge

CAM Museum Education Workshop

In collaboration with the iTaukei Trust Fund Board and Fiji Museum, the Commonwealth Association of Museums organised a 3 day workshop on museum education for commonwealth countries in the Pacific. The workshop was held at the GCC Members Lounge, Draiba complex, Suva, on 14-16 February 2018. Forty-three participants from 12 countries including Australia, Canada, Croatia, Fiji, Japan, Kiribati, Papua New Guinea, Palau, Samoa, Tonga, United Kingdom, and Vanuatu, participated in this historic workshop, the first in the Pacific on museum education with a focus on climate change and resilience.

The museum education workshop aimed to:

  • Collaborate with national, regional and international partners on professional development opportunities to enhance capacity-development for museums in the Pacific
  • Share and exchange ideas, knowledge and experiences on museum education at different levels of society
  • Introduce international and regional organizations that are resourceful and supportive of museum programs for future dialogue and networking; and
  • Showcase indigenous Fijian culture, the contemporary Pacific, historical sites and landscapes and promote cross-cultural understanding
  • Prepare declarations for submission at the 20th Conference of Commonwealth Education Ministers Meeting (20CCEM) held in Nadi, from 19-23 February (2018).

Images below: Workshop Participants from Commonwealth member countries in the Pacific, engaging in dialogue at the Museum Education workshop in Suva

Vanua Fieldworkers Program

The aim of the Vanua Fieldworkers’ Network is to record and document significant aspects of intangible cultural heritage and indigenous knowledge for the purpose of further research and cultural exhibitions. Intangible cultural heritage includes, ritual practices, classification systems, language, details of particular cultural landscapes and sites, and records of historical or contemporary events. The fieldworkers program will involve selected members from each tikina in a particular province to carry out the research exercise. It was launched in November 2017 for the province of Rewa, in which researchers convened for a 3 day workshop in order to identify research areas and be introduced to social research ethics and guidelines. Fieldworkers will be requested to present research outcomes and develop cultural exhibitions. This program is proudly supported by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, as part of Fiji’s Artistic Heritage: Impact and Engagement project. 

Images below: Fieldworkers from the 9 districts of the Rewa province, participating in a 3 day workshop at Nadave

Professional Development – University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK

TTFB sponsored a professional development programme for one of the project officers, Unaisi Manulevu, to master the Arts of Africa, Oceania and the Americas at the Sainsbury Research Centre, University of East Anglia. The program is considered as one of the most practical and skill-based course for museum professionals around the world. It involves learning the art of Africa, Oceania and the Americas, and the ability to interpret them critically and theoretically. Unaisi Manulevu travelled to the United Kingdom in September 2016 and has successfully completed the degree of Master of Arts.

Fiji’s Artistic Heritage: impact and engagement in Fiji

In November 2016, TTFB was invited to attend a training programme in the UK, and work in partnership with the Sainsbury Research Unit on a Fijian Art research project, called Fiji’s Artistic Heritage: impact and engagement in Fiji. The visit to the UK was an exciting opportunity, to view the Fiji: Art & Life Exhibition that was hosted at the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts, University of East Anglia (15 October 2016 – 12 February 2017). Also, it was an opportunity to learn about international museological practices and engage with the Sainsbury Research Centre in Norwich, the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology in Cambridge, the Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford and the Horniman Museum in London. Management and curatorial practice workshops were provided to develop appropriate skills and knowledge in terms of conservation, object care, loan procedures, educational programming and public events. The whole visit was proudly sponsored by UK’s Arts and Humanities Research Council. (Image copyright to the Fiji Museum)

Kamunage Exhibition: the story of Tabua

In collaboration with the Fiji Museum, TTFB was involved in the development and assemblage of a temporary exhibition called ‘Kamunaga: the story of tabua’, which opened on 16 June 2017 at the Fiji Museum. The aim of the project is to exhibit the historical trajectory of tabua or whale’s tooth, which is regarded as the greatest of all valuables used in ceremonies of exchange in Fijian society. The project was proudly supported by the Fijian Art Research Project, and Arts and Humanities Research Council, UK.

Korowaiwai Heritage Research

TTFB is also interested in the protection and preservation of heritage sites and indigenous knowledge. One of the national protected sites under the National Trust of Fiji is the Ring Ditch Fortification site called Korowaiwai, located in Laucala Beach in Suva, and is currently managed by the Laucala Beach Sustainable Society. The site holds a significant breadth of historical information and indigenous knowledge. Hence, TTFB is sponsoring a historical survey to be conducted on the Korowaiwai fortification site through the engagement of a renowned historian and former Fiji Museum Director, Mr. Fergus Clunie.

TLFC Archiving Equipment

In 2014, TTFB sponsored the purchasing of office and archiving equipment for the iTaukei Lands and Fisheries Commission (TLFC), Ministry of iTaukei Affairs. TLFC is a commission of various national registers containing records on land ownership, fishing rights and customary title holders. Proper archiving and digitising equipment were sponsored by TTFB as most of the registers have been manually kept since the 1900s.

(Below images: Sponsored office and archiving equipment, iTaukei Lands and Fisheries Commission, 2014)

Masi Theatrical Production

‘Masi’ is a theatrical collaboration between artistic directors, Nina Nawalowalo and Tom McCrory, legendary British illusionist Paul Kieve and the ensemble of six male Fijian dancers from the Kabu ni Vanua Dance Group. This is a piece that interweaves the meaning of Fijian masi and the love story of a Fijian chief and a New Zealand woman, whose descendants discover memories of their past and trace lines that make them who they are today. In collaboration with  theatre company The Conch in NZ, TTFB sponsored the participation of 6 male Fijian dancers (including the choreographer) and contributed towards scripting the piece. ‘Masi’ was staged at the NZ International Arts Festival in 2012.

Rotuman Fine Mat Weaving

In 2006, TTFB approved the funding of a Rotuman Fine Mat Weaving project at the total cost of $44,500. The project was administered by the Fiji Arts Council in recognition of special weaving skills and knowledge, which are in danger of being lost. Its aims were to raise the awareness of the significance of Rotuman fine mats – their various types, names, sizes, usage and meanings in the Rotuman culture. Revival workshops were held in Suva, Lautoka and Rotuma in order to train young women, and transmit the inherent skills and knowledge of fine mat weaving.