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Fiji, Host of the 1st Festival of Pacific Arts & Culture

Cover Image: Masthead of Ko Hawaii Ponoi published on December 3, 1873.

Aloha Nūhou Monday!

Dear Reader,

The Festival of Pacific Arts & Culture is the world’s largest celebration of Indigenous Pacific Islanders, bringing together artists, cultural practitioners, scholars, and officials from member nations of the Pacific Community (SPC). This traveling festival is held every four years and was first launched by the South Pacific Commission in 1972 to halt the erosion of traditional practices through ongoing cultural exchange. In June of 2024, Hawaiʻi will host the 13th festival on Oʻahu under the theme, “Hoʻoulu Lāhui: Regenerating Oceania.”

Over the coming months, we will honor each of the previous FestPAC hosts with posts featuring those island nations and their connections to Hawaiʻi’s own history. The 1st Festival of Pacific Arts was held in Suva, Fiji in May of 1972 under the theme, “Preserving Culture.”

In early 1873, Lunalilo ascends the throne of the Hawaiian Kingdom following the death of Lot Kapuāiwa, Kamehameha V. Later that year, multiple Hawaiian language newspapers print letters of condolences and congratulations received by Charles Reed Bishop, Minister of Foreign Affairs, from various international heads of state. Below is a letter addressed to King Lunalilo from King Cakobau of Fiji.

Image: Carte de visite portrait of Cakobau. Bishop Museum Archives. SP 56289

Image sharing on social media is welcome. For all other uses please contact, Bishop Museum Archives.

Image: Carte de visite portrait of William Charles Lunalilo, Honolulu, Hawaiʻi, ca. 1873. Photo by H. L. Chase, Bishop Museum Archives. SP 59986

Image sharing on social media is welcome. For all other uses please contact, Bishop Museum Archives.

Image: “Bau, Fiji. Aperila, 1873.” Ko Hawaii Ponoi, December 3, 1873, p. 3.

BAU, FIJI. April, 1873.

Sire:—Your letter, Your Majesty, dated January 14, telling of the death of King Kamehameha V, was one that I read with the deepest of affection. My Nation is now allied with Yours, Your Highness, in all things related to its enduring welfare, and I trust it will continue on as such, as the steamship lines will soon be initiated in the coming days, allowing each of our subjects to unite with one another in bonds of friendship and to associate in forms of trade, and any sudden events that may befall Hawaiʻi will be given every consideration by myself and my deputies.

The nature of the Constitution, along with the coming together of voices responsible for electing you, Your Majesty, to the Throne, is a serendipity for which I express my delightful enthusiasm, Your Eminence.

With hopes that this brings you loving regards and a feeling a friendship, Your Grace, as I fulfill my duties even in such heavy sadness, I pray that the Lord keep you, Your Highness, in His Holiness.

Sincerely, Your Majesty’s Faithful Friend.
[Signed] CAKOBAU R.
To His Majesty Lunalilo, King of Hawaiʻi.

Image: Fijian dancers. Bishop Museum Archives. SP 50716

Image sharing on social media is welcome. For all other uses please contact, Bishop Museum Archives.

This post is part of He Aupuni Palapala: Preserving and Digitizing the Hawaiian Language Newspapers, a partnership between Bishop Museum and Awaiaulu with assistance from Kamehameha Schools. Mahalo nui loa to Hawaii Tourism Authority for their support. Learn more about this project here.

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