Fiji's Hibiscus Festival underway
Fiji's week long Hibiscus Festival is on at the moment and thousands are pouring to Suva to enjoy the funfair, talent quests, beauty pagent and stage shows.
Fiji's week-long Hibiscus Festival is on at the moment and thousands are pouring to Suva to enjoy the funfair, talent quests, beauty pageant and stage shows.
But there is more traditional entertainment on offer too, including races involving traditional canoes.
In the nearby village of Korova, work is going on to revive the art of canoe building.
Many are coming to help with the work, assisted by chainsaws, including a lecturer with the Fiji National University, Joji Marau Misaele.
He spoke to Philippa Tolley.
JOJI MARAU MISAELE: So because we are trying to revive this tradition. We're trying to revive this tradition and at the same time we advocate this sustainable sea transportation in a small way. In fact the people who live here, they try to maintain this culture so there's no other place in Viti Levu, there's no other place you can find around Fiji that are really keeping this tradition but from this village and also maybe a few other islands in the Lau group, that is in Fulaga, Ogea, a bit in Moce Island, part of Vanua Balavu in Lau group but you can see most of the canoes you can find here.
PHILIPPA TOLLEY: Is this the only time of the year that you're building? When did you start these ones?
JMM: These ones, we started building these ones three months ago.
PT: And we can hear in the background you've got a bit of help from a chainsaw.
JMM: Yes yes, actually all these canoes, they were built from other places. You can see those three new ones, this one was built here, that one was built about seven miles away from here and that one about nine miles away from here so last week, we brought it here by truck, getting ready for the race, so all the finishing, final touches are being done here.
PT: So after the race, what happens to them then?
JMM: After the race these canoes will be used for fishing, teaching young people how to sail and in fact this program is also to, you see the construction, you can see a lot of young kids around helping and this is one way, one thing that we are trying to do to teach the young kids to this tradition of canoe building.
PT: Obviously racing is one thing with these vessels but you talked about transport and fishing so are many traditional vessels like this used for fishing very much now or is it dying out?
JMM: This is really dying out, you won't find these kind of vessels anymore around Fiji, except in a few Southern Lau islands, as I mentioned, Fulaga, Ogea and Kabara and Moce and even a lot of people there they don't know how to sail the canoe and they don't know how to build them because for the last fifteen, twenty years most of the islands don't have these canoes anymore.
PT: What is the traditional name for these vessels?
JMM: The traditional name is, we can call it a Fijian outrigger sailing canoe but in fact the Fijian name is vamakao?. It's different from na drua you know the na drua is a double hull one, this one is a single hull with a floater, we call an outrigger so that's what we call these, vamakao.
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