Paula Tabakinabou's passion for Fijian culture and tradition shone through in the way he weaved a traditional basket using coconut leaves among curious onlookers.
Those onlookers, some below the age of 12, were among about 50 Fijians that gathered at the St John's Church Centre on Kamo Rd in Whangārei to celebrate the Fijian Language Week designated by the Government.
Fijian families from as far away as Paihia, Dargaville, and Kerikeri took part in group learning, weaving traditional baskets and mats, and having lunch - acts Tabakinabou said typified the Fijian way of life.
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The Corrections officer said the Government kindly provided teaching resources while local Fijians brought materials used to make traditional wares.
"Since we are far away from home, this is one way to keep us focused and grounded. Culture is about family so when we're out there striving in education and work, events like the Fijian Language Week takes us back to our roots," said the president of the Northland Fijian Community.
Those present for the day-long event sat with their legs crossed on mats weaved from pandanus leaves, as is done on social occasions in Fiji.
There are about 150 Fijians living in Northland and some are eligible to vote in Fijian elections.