Page 5313 - Week 14 - Wednesday, 29 November 2017

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Finally, thank you to my family and friends. I am not sure whether they have seen more or less of me as an MLA than as a candidate, but I have certainly appreciated their support over the last 12 months. I wish everyone in this place a safe and restful Christmas and new year.

Rotuma community


MRS KIKKERT (Ginninderra) (6.39): There are many wonderful people I have come to know and respect during my time as a member of the Legislative Assembly—so many individuals and groups of people who embody what I would call a love for the things that God loves. I have witnessed charities full of good-hearted volunteers providing for our territory’s needy and vulnerable. I have witnessed dedicated people who deliver programs that provide assistance to the weak and the afflicted. I have witnessed, every day, good people doing truly great things.

Some of these people whom I would like to talk about this evening are Canberra’s Rotuman community. Rotuma is a tiny island located about 650 kilometres north of Suva, the capital city of Fiji. Only 2,000 Rotumans live on this island. Although their island home has been a part of Fiji since 1881, the Rotumans have their own language and culture and a distinct history. Despite being comparatively few in number, their drive for excellence and goodness and their love of life and learning have made them a very recognisable minority group in that island nation.

An estimated 1,000 Rotumans live in Australia, only a fraction of whom live here in our beautiful city. But, as is the case in Fiji, their impact can certainly be felt despite their small numbers. Two weeks ago it was a great honour to attend the first ever Rotuma Island night, hosted by the Rotuma Association ACT, an event that attracted 250 Canberrans of all backgrounds to a showcase of Rotuman culture and passion.

I was deeply touched by many things that transpired on this evening. I would like to share one of them with the other members of this Assembly. After all the guests were seated, the master of ceremonies offered a welcome speech on his knees. This was intended as a sign of true humility and a gesture of affection and gratitude to all who were in attendance. This man, who works as an emergency doctor at one of Canberra’s hospitals, was born and raised here in Canberra but is fluent in the Rotuman language and well steeped in his culture through an education that was enabled both by traditional oral transmission of culture and language and years of dedicated study. He is a model of how people can appreciate their cultural inheritance whilst integrating it into a well-rounded modern Australian and global citizenship.

As I mentioned earlier, there are only 1,000 Rotumans in Australia, so it would be easy for them to think they have little or nothing to offer. But that is not the kind of people they are. One of the objectives of the Rotuma Association ACT is to stimulate amongst the people of Australia an informed interest in Rotuma and its people, and to stimulate amongst the people of Rotuma an informed interest in Australia and its people. I can assure you that they certainly pulled this off at their Rotuman night on 11 November.

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