The first Fiji association
In 1977 the Fiji Association was established in Auckland. It organised sporting and cultural events and sponsored Indian dancers and musicians from Fiji and India. The association has collected funds for hurricane relief in Fiji and to assist Fijians requiring medical treatment in New Zealand. It has also made submissions to public bodies in New Zealand on issues relating to Indian cultures and religions, immigration and education.
Other Fijian community groups
A myriad of community groups sustain Fijian culture in New Zealand. They tend to be ethnically divided, although the Fiji Club of New Zealand, founded in 2003, is not. The pro-democracy movement, which arose after the military coups of 1987 and 2000, is also multiracial. In the main centres Fijian community associations address common advocacy and welfare issues and offer sports and cultural programmes. Many community groups have also provided generous assistance to people in Fiji.
Fiji clubs have long given social support for Fijian university students, with the University of Auckland Fiji Club dating back to the 1960s. Indigenous Fijians have formed associations based on regions in Fiji. There has in addition been competitive fundraising between different Fijian confederations within some larger Fijian church congregations.
In 1996 the Fiji Women’s Society was founded in Auckland as a practical support group for women experiencing problems with domestic violence, immigration, children and legal matters. The Fiji Women’s Ruve Group, founded in 1995, connected health professionals with Fijian women and their families. The Naitasiri Women’s Group is an example of an organisation based on provincial and kinship links with Fiji that provides assistance to people both in Fiji and in New Zealand.
Fijian identity in New Zealand
Although Fijians in New Zealand have varied ethnicities and political agendas, they share a common national background. This identity remains important in New Zealand, but it is uncertain whether it will endure. Ties with Fiji remain strong, but are lessening among Indo-Fijians as more families emigrate. Indo-Fijians have specific cultural traits, but most tick the ‘Asian’ ethnic box in the census. Indigenous Fijians have greater kinship, cultural and land connections with Fiji, but these may weaken as the proportion of New Zealand-born Fijians who are not confident in their language grows. Yet some Fijians in New Zealand are now exploring their heritage and forging a new collective identity through religious, sports and social organisations.