I read the Age newspaper article )from a week ago) about the current Fiji exhibition at the Immigration Museum in Melbourne and it is rather lacking in details. I really don't think the out-migration from Fiji is overwhelmingly because of the various coups since 1987. Some took the opportunity to move away then but most of the Fiji people I know came to Melbourne for a host of reasons, perhaps mainly through marriage to an Australian person. Anyway this is the article and I would challenge the stats a bit. I'm not having a problem with the exhibition which was very interesting and the launch was great but there is an over-emphasis on the coup stories I think.
Exhibition unites Fiji's diaspora• Jewel Topsfield
• May 13, 2009
UNTIL the 1987 military coup in Fiji, Richmond Uniting Church was a focal point for Fijians living in Victoria. Indigenous Fijians, Fiji Indians and Rotumans would come together to celebrate Christmas, the Hindu celebration of Diwali and the Muslim fast of Ramadan.
But when 80,000 Fiji Indians fled discrimination and violence after the coup, racial tensions reverberated 4000 kilometres away in Victoria.
"After 1987, there was a slow pulling away from some communities, and it ended up with Richmond becoming only a church for (indigenous) Fijians - we lost all the others," Reverend Eseta Waqabaca-Meneilly said. "Because of the political upheaval in Fiji, fragmentation applied in Victoria and has been there for at least 20 years."
Ms Waqabaca-Meneilly said it was Talanoa, the Fijian word for storytelling and the name of a new exhibition at the Immigration Museum, that has finally brought the disparate ethnicities back together. The exhibition explores the lives of the 10,000 Fijian people in Victoria, most of whom migrated following the civil unrest that followed the coups of 1987, 2000 and 2006. The community includes Hindus, Christians and Muslims and shares its traditions through dance, art, and, of course, rugby, virtually a religion in itself. Ms Waqabaca-Meneilly said working together on the exhibition had inspired future collaborations. "That's why we are so much on a high - it has reminded us of pre-1987 days and how much we used to do together."
Ironically, Talanoa has opened at the Immigration Museum as Fiji's military strongman Frank Bainimarama, the self-appointed prime minister following the 2006 coup, has tightened his grip on power, sacking the judiciary and cracking down on the media.
Ms Waqabaca-Meneilly believes the exhibition has come at an opportune time, as new waves of Fijians are likely to come to Victoria. "I think we know more than we knew before. We can receive them and keep them together as a Fijian community … and continue the trust and way of life we had in Fiji."
Hindu Foundation executive director Pandit Abhay Awasthi says Talanoa explores the paradox of why 10,000 Fijians left a Pacific island nation which evokes a paradise in the minds of many Australians.
Talanoa: Stories of the Fiji Community will show at the Immigration Museum until July 19.