Pacific Islanders in Sydney

Though few realize it, Sydney has been a South Pacific city for some time, since its very inception, in fact, in 1788. South Pacific Islanders were crew on ships calling at the town and some stayed on for varying periods of time. Peter Cunningham, in 1827, for example, observes:

In the streets of Sydney … may often be seen groups of natives from various South Sea islands, with which we trade, in all their accompanying of costume … Melted with the wilde melody of an Otahitian love–song from one ship and have your blood frozen by the terrific whoop of the New Zealand war dance from another (Peter Cunningham. 1828. Two years in New South Wales. London. Vol. 1, pp. 57–9)

Today, amongst the many populations in Sydney, there are sizable groups of Tongans, Samoans and Fijians. As with other migrant groups, restaurants and shops have emerged to cater for the special tastes of these communities.

In the Newtown and Enmore areas, there are two restaurants specifically dedicated to the South Pacific. The Restaurant Fijiana is managed by Bob Chauhan (543 King Street, Newtown - Telephone 9517-1051) and has been open for about five years. Fijiana features dishes from the Indian and Fijian communities, providing also a unique "Findian" cuisine which imaginatively combines the two. The other is of more recent vintage and is located on Enmore Road.

People from the South Pacific may open a restaurant more referring to their ethnic group, rather than their country of origin. This is the case with some Indian establishments that have emerged in the last few years. An early example, featuring lovo (coconut milk) dishes and other Fiji specialities is the Hing Ham Café (367 Darling Road, Balmain - Telephone 9810-3055). Another is the Fijian Curry Hut, 25 Dixon Street, City (Telephone 9281-1428).

Located within a few blocks of each other on King Street, Newtown, there are two shops stocking products from the South Pacific. The oldest by a few years is The Fiji Markets (591 King Street, Newtown — Telephone 9517-2054). Both establishments carry a large stock of root crops, such as taro, yam, sweet potato and casava, as well as tinned products from the Island countries, as well as many Indian spices and specialities. The Markets also sell a variety of newspapers, published in Australia and Fiji, about Pacific Islanders.

Six of the governments of the South Pacific are represented in Sydney by consulates:

Fiji Consulate–General

225 Clarence Street

SYDNEY NSW 2000

Telephone: 9290-1615

Nauru Consulate

10 Martin Place

SYDNEY NSW 2000

Telephone: 9233-8044

Papua New Guinea Consulate–General

100 Clarence Street

Box 4201 GPO

SYDNEY NSW 2000

Telephone: 299-5151

Consulate–General of Tonga

158 Pacific Highway

NORTH SYDNEY NSW 2060

Telephone: 9929-8794

Tuvalu Consulate

46 York Street

SYDNEY NSW 2000

Telephone: 9262-1344

Consulate General of Kiribati

35 Dover Road

ROSE BAY NSW 2029

Telephone: 9371-7808

As well, there are missionary and commercial organisations related to the South Pacific, all of which may be found in the telephone directory, and many of whom will be willing to assist you in your researches.

South Pacific Islanders themselves tend to form their communities around their respective religious organisations. Sunday morning on Church Street features Samoans and Tongans at services said (and sung) in their languages. There is a monthly service in Rotuman at the Wesley Centre. Again, the telephone directory can be of assistance for locating those congregations by their islands of origin.


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