Expo captures Girmit and a century thereafter

Venkat Raman

Venkat Raman

Auckland, September 30, 2020

Five-day Event in Wellington from this weekend

A panel discussion on the legacy of the Girmityas of Fiji, an interactive session on tracing the roots of Indo-Fijians, films capturing the essence of the Girmit period and a folk music ensemble are among the features of a five-day event scheduled to commence in Wellington this weekend.

Titled, ‘Fiji Girmit Exhibition: 100 Years of Reflections,’ the evening event will be held from Saturday, October 3, 2020 to Wednesday, October 7, 2020 from 6 pm to 8 pm at the Garden Room of St Peters Church, located at 211 Willis Street, Wellington.

                        

                                              Kashmir Kaur, a descendant of Girmityas

Evolution of Girmit

Project Lead Kashmir Kaur said that the Exhibition Project has been designed to commemorate the evolution of the indentured labourer system that was in place in Fiji until 1920.

“It has been 100 years since this system of slavery, called ‘Girmit’ ended in Fiji. This Project will create a timeline for those 100 years. Through the week-long Exhibition, it will display objects and stories of the labourers, the ancestors of a large Fiji-Indian diaspora population that currently lives in New Zealand and spread across the globe,” she said.

She said that the forthcoming event will enable Indians of Fijian origin in New Zealand to reconnect with their resilient nature which can be beneficial during the current Covid-19 situation.

Positive outcomes expected

“The key benefit of this event is Reconnecting, Reclaiming and Restoring Girmit history by Remembering, Celebrating and Advocating Fijian Indian heritage, identity and Diaspora,” she said.

Ms Kaur said that the five-day event aim to create awareness, empowering people through education (b) give a momentum to Girmit history by sustaining knowledge (c) help develop further educational materials like poetry, videos, calendars and photo books for the younger generation (d) instill a sense of pride of their ancestral history among the youth and (e) Re-connection with resilience.

“The Covid-19 pandemic has reminded the Fiji-Indian community about the harder times that our ancestors suffered during the Girmit period. This resilience has been diluted over the time with better lifestyles. This is an opportunity to remember the strength of our resilience,” Ms Kaur said.

She said that the Exhibition and connected programme will also commemorate the Golden Jubilee of Fiji’s independence on October 10, 2020.

“The Girmityas played a critical role in shaping Fiji and hence, organising the event before the 50th Fiji Day is a fitting tribute to our Nation,” she said.

The Sponsors

The five-event is being sponsored by the Indian High Commission, the New Zealand Research Institute, EKTA New Zealand Inc, St Peters Church (all based in Wellington) and Fiji Girmit Foundation Inc  

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