In the past couple of years ICAS has been taking on many projects in the capital town of Suva, Fiji. It is nice to see how the capturing and telling of Fiji’s history, as well as the importance of safeguarding archives is becoming a hot topic throughout the country. With each visit to the nation’s capital, I am starting to get a real sense that there is much enthusiasm for the collaboration of sharing their culture. I have no doubt that this enthusiasm will only continue for years to come.
ICAS’ latest project took place from June 20 to July 1, 2016 in Suva, Fiji. Feel free to read the full report by accessing it here.
The two main projects in Suva were working at the National Archives of Fiji (NAF) and the archives at the Oceania Marist Province (OMPA), respectively. The NAF have made great strides since my first visit three years ago. It now boasts a staff of more than thirty employees in five archival sections that include, Archives Administration and Advisory Services, the Sir Alport Barker Library, Microfilm and Photocopy Unit, Conservation Unit and the Digital Continuity Unit. Their Facebook page has over 27,000 followers and is growing every day, and the archives has just recently created and launched a new Website. Today, through their vision and mission, the NAF has become the premiere archival institution in Fiji for collecting and safeguarding authentic records, supporting evidence based governance and inspiring Fijians to explore and share their history. The archives has also become very active within the community as well as with the communities of the outer Fijian islands to promote their collections and services. They eagerly and enthusiastically conduct outreach services at Open days, road shows, conferences and festivals throughout the islands and the region.
The OMPA, on the other hand, is a much smaller archives than the NAF that contains a rich history of the Marist’s mission in the Pacific Islands region. The collection dates back to when the Marists first arrived in Fiji in about 1844. The archives also contains documents created by Marist’s work in other islands such as Papua New Guinea, New Caledonia, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Vanuatu and Wallis and Futuna. The archives is safeguarded by one person who works part-time which in the archives field would be known as a “lone-arranger.” Fortunately, over the years volunteers have created a stable environment for the records and easily accessible collections.
Other highlights of my time in Suva included participating at the NAF during their International Archives Day festivity and having meetings with colleagues at the University of South Pacific (USP). It always amazes me how much work, collaboration, outreach and fun can get done in just two weeks! Of course, no trip to Fiji is complete without enjoying a lovo (underground oven) with friends on a lazy Sunday afternoon.
ICAS would like to graciously thank Opeta Alefaio and the staff at the National Archives of Fiji, Father Roger McCarrick and the members of the Oceania Marist Province, Jason Flello and the staff in the USP Records Management Department, Javed Yusuf and his staff at the USP Multimedia Department and Paulina Navuku and her family for their wonderful hospitality.
I look forward to working with all of these people and organizations in the near future.