Thursday, 3 October 2013 9:14 AM

Queensland Families Return to Their Roots

Members of a Queensland family of Solomon Islands descent are returning to the home of their ancestors for a historic family reunion.

Marion Healy, nee Fatnowna, is one of 58 descendants making the trip which coincides with the 150th anniversary of South Sea Islanders arriving in Australia.

Ms Healy says she didn't know much about her family history until she was in secondary school, "we'd grown up not knowing who we were....we didn't know where we actually had come from or heard our stories."

She is looking forward to learning more about her culture although accepts it might be difficult, "we're very European in the way we live and it might be hard yakka to be going over to the village there and learning the old ways but I think many of us are willing to learn that."

Ms Healy admits that she is nervous and a bit frightened about the journey but says that the feeling is like one of coming home.

President of the organising committee in Solomon Islands Enoch Mani Ilisia echoes Marion's feeling of a homecoming, "the last 150 years we haven't interacted or seen each other so this would be an opportunity that most of the people, especially the Rakwana people, who have the opportunity to see their own blood relatives who are living in Australia coming home and be reunited with them for the first time."

He says that there are lot of activities planned which he anticipates will be a moving experience that both groups will enjoy and go down in the community's history.

The Rakwane people of East Fatakela in Malaita come from the family of three brothers and a sister, Fakaia, Dongamaoma, Dedeana and Alatoli. The Australian branch of the family is descended from Dedeana, whose grandson John Fatnouna Kwailiu was taken to Queensland to work in the cane fields.

Kwailiu never returned to his home country while the descendants of the second brother, Dongamaoma, remained in Fataleka and continued to care for the land and culture.

 

Source: http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/international/radio/onairhighlights/solomon-islands-family-set-to-reunite-after-150-years/1196108

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