Fijians from Invercargill, Dunedin and Mataura, as well as Central Otago, gathered last Saturday at the Memorial Hall in Cromwell to celebrate Fiji Independence Day.
Hosted by the Central Otago Fijian Community group, children’s games, a church service, guest speaker, singing and dancing, and a meal were organised.
Group secretary Kalisi Tiko, of Cromwell, said the event went well.
“We had about 200 people coming, including a busload from Christchurch as well,” she said.
Glen Christiansen was invited to speak because, in his former role as general manager of The Gate, he had employed many Fijians.
“Most of us in Cromwell had been employed by him and he was someone we looked up to,” Mrs Tiko said.
“He was a good employer and mentor to us.”
The group gathered donations of groceries to give to the Cromwell Foodbank.
A traditional kava ceremony was held and, during the meal, Fijian-influenced Indian and Chinese dishes, as well as puri (fried dough bread), and traditional foods including palusami (taro leaves and coconut cream) kokoda (raw fish in coconut milk) and beef, lamb and pork cooked in a lovo (similar to a hangi), were served.
Seta Ledua, of Roxburgh, spoke about the history of Fiji’s Independence Day.
He said the country gained its independence from Great Britain on October 10, 1970, following 96 years of British rule.
Next’s year celebration will be held in Invercargill.