Welcome to The News’ second instalment of its festive series, which looks at how Christmas is celebrated around the world. This week we meet Toro Colati, of Fiji, and Downie Kapalat, of Vanuatu, who have similar customs when it comes to festive celebrations. Both men are based in Alexandra for seven months under the recognised seasonal employer scheme.


On Christmas Eve . . . our family gets together with all our relatives.

Christmas Day is always spent . . . with our entire family. Church is the most important thing we have, to welcome the son, Jesus Christ, during a service. We have special Fijian services about the birth of Jesus Christ. Christmas Day is an important time for our families. We make food first so that everything is ready and all the generations get together fathers, grandfathers, grandmothers

Food we share on Christmas Day includes . . . pork, yams, cassava (a type of root vegetable), kumara, crabs, taro and coconut milk.


On Christmas Eve . . . our family celebrate in similar ways to other places, but we only started celebrating once Christianity came to the islands around the 1800s.

On Christmas Day we . . . do the same things as other islands, such as Fiji. First of all we go to church and have a service to commemorate the birth of Jesus. We also have a big feast and all the families get together. We organise things to dramatise the birth of Jesus and give gifts to the children.

What I will miss most . . . is the family first of all and I’ll miss the food food. I will also miss the warmth of the climate and swimming in the sea on Christmas Day.

One special thing I will do because I am not going home is I will send money home to give my family happiness on Christmas Day. I am also part of a band called Naio, so because of my love of music I will play some tunes to make Christmas Day special in New Zealand.

One thing I am looking forward to about being in New Zealand on Christmas Day . . . is that I will have money to send home.

  • Both men wish everyone in Central Otago a “very merry Christmas and a happy New Year”.

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