Mahuta visits Ratu Epenisa to strengthen indigenous ties between the Māori and iTaukei cultures

Mahuta visits Ratu Epenisa to strengthen indigenous ties between the Māori and iTaukei cultures

By Alipate Narawa
Saturday 18/03/2023
New Zealand Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta emotional during the presentation to the Vunivalu Tui Kaba Ratu Epenisa [Image: Fiji Government]

An emotional New Zealand Foreign Affairs Minister, Nanaia Mahuta, paid her respects to the newly installed Na Gone Turaga Bale na Vunivalu, Tui Kaba, Ratu Epenisa Cakobau and also to strengthen indigenous ties between the Māori and iTaukei cultures.

In receiving the delegation, Vunivalu Tui Kaba, Ratu Epenisa thanked the Aotearoa Minister for visiting his island home during her stay in Fiji and stated that Fiji’s connections with New Zealand remains deeply rooted.

The Minister says the visit is significant for Māori because the last time they had someone from New Zealand was when the father of the current Vunivalu passed away.

She also says she felt a particular sense of gratitude and honour that they could go there and acknowledge the installation of the chief, and the hope and opportunity that he provides to his people.

Mahuta adds the island of Bau shares a deep cultural connection with the Māori people, one that dates to when Māori ancestors voyaged Hawaiki and had to find refuge on the island of Bau after their waka Tākitimu (canoe) was met with an unfortunate event.

To show their appreciation to the people of Bau, the New Zealand delegation presented a ‘Mere pounamu’ (greenstone weapon) to Ratu Epenisa to thank his people for their hospitality to the ancestral voyagers.

Mahuta and the Vunivalu spoke on common areas of interest – family connections, history, sports, education, the love of culture, language and traditions and the connections between Fiji and New Zealand.

Minister Mahuta is the first high-level official to visit the Vunivalu since his installation last week.

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