The National Archives of Fiji (NAF) is partnering with the iTaukei Affairs Board to preserve Fiji’s tribal records. This will see NAF carry out scientific archival conservation works on the Vola Ni Kawa Bula (VKB) records to ensure their long term preservation and continued accessibility for Fiji’s indigenous people.
“The VKB is very important, it records all the clans of the 14 provinces of Fiji. If your name is in the VKB records, it established which mataqali (clan) you belong to, links you to the ownership of the land, qoliqoli (fishing grounds) and other resources the mataqali has. You cannot receive lease money (equal distribution) if your name is not in the VKB. You don’t have the right of ownership of land etc. if your name does not appear in these important records,” said iTaukei Affaris Board principal administration officer Mr Tevita Cokanasiga.
In addition he said these records enable the iTaukei Affairs Board to carry out other vital work to safeguard the welfare of the indigenous people. “With these records we are able solve land conflicts, decide on customary title disputes, proceed in the orderly filling of vacant chiefly post, and support sustainable development in villages.”
To date NAF has carried out conservation works on 10 items and returned these to the iTaukei Affairs Board. Director archives, Mr Opeta Alefaio said that while NAF does not usually conserve materials of other organisations, the VKB records are very significant and needed to be accommodated. “We have over 6 kilometers of historical records dating back to 1835, so there is already allot of conservation work to do. However, the archival concept of “distributed holdings” is applicable here. So that even though the documents are owned and in the custody of another entity, they are significant enough that we have a philosophical or moral obligation to ensure their safekeeping. We are very happy to have earned the trust of the Taukei Affairs Board, and jointly work towards preserving this essential cultural resource.”
This strategic partnership has also been flagged by the iTaukei Affairs Board as positive. “Archives is an important ally for us, they are helpful, resourceful, and always willing to spread their wings wide to help in areas related to their field” said Cokanasiga.