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At the forefront of Pacific Language and Culture in Aotearoa since 1978

Fijian language

Breaking the cycle of disconnection from their language and culture has inspired two Fijian language students. Father and daughter Roger Graham and Claudia Jowitt are part-Fijian but admit neither of them knew much about their culture before joining PEC’s Fijian language classes.

“Coming to PEC to learn about my culture and language has been an emotional experience for me,” says Roger. “I was adopted at birth and found out later that my mother was Fijian, so when I went to Fiji for the first time I was 50.”

“For me the vakabula - getting up in front of a group and introducing yourself and your family – gives you real strength in group situations,” adds Roger.

Sharing his new knowledge with his daughter has been a powerful experience for Roger who describes the Fijian language as nature-based and beautiful.

“The joy of the class has been wonderful, the comradeship and meeting people who have other links to Fiji,” says Roger. “I’m very grateful to PEC for providing me with that opportunity.”

As for Claudia, learning Fijian integrates easily into her practice as an artist which she says will leave a legacy for her children and future generations.

“I always knew that I was part Fijian, but I never got to connect with that,” says Claudia. “PEC and their amazing tutors have helped me understand and grow as a person, and it’s affected all parts of my life. When we go back to Fiji now, I can connect with my family and understand them in a way that I wasn’t able to before, so I’m very grateful for that.”

Claudia admits she felt nervous at first because she looked ‘kailoma’ and not very Fijian.

“I felt so ashamed that I knew so little. But I wasn’t judged at all, it was an incredibly embracing environment. If you’re scared of enrolling - don’t be.”
“PEC is a resource that’s really important. It’s something that our Pacific community can pivot around. It brings together Samoans, Tongans, Fijians, Rotumans, everyone.”

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