Vuna oral history project

Indigenous Conceptions of Landscape, Fiji

Lecturer: Dr Scott Heyes. Assisted by Mr Setoki Tuiteci

University of Canberra students recently visited Fiji for 10 days as part of a Faculty-Led Study tour that was associated with a unit convened by Dr Scott Heyes called Indigenous Conceptions of Landscape 8959. Mr Setoki Tuiteci, a Master of Environment by Research student at UC, and a native Fijian, accompanied the tour and provided valuable insights on the land, geography, language, and political context of Fiji. On Viti Levu, the tour included guided visits to farms, gardens, villages, and informal settlements in and around Nadi and Suva, as well as a guided tour of Lapita archaeological sites at the Sigatoka Sand Dunes National Park. At the University of South Pacific in Suva, students met with a group of professors and postgraduate students from the Oceania Centre for Arts, Culture and Pacific Studies to discuss and better appreciate Fijian ways of knowing and seeing the landscape.

The final leg of the tour included a visit to the island of Taveuni, where students met with teachers and students of South Taveuni Primary School to provide guidance on the formation of an eco-library that has been earmarked for the School. The eco-library is intended to be a cultural centre/documentation centre that will serve the School and the surrounding village of Vuna, with an emphasis on celebrating the important connection that the Taveuni people have to the land, flora and fauna. As part of the School visit, we were welcomed with traditional Fijian and Hindu performances by students, along with traditional feasts and gifts. We were hosted by several of the Schoolteachers and Village Elders, who showed the students the larger context of the area through visits to temples, farms, and sites of cultural significance.