USP to host the 10th Lapita Conference, a first in Fiji


The five-days 10th Lapita Conference scheduled to start next Monday (June 26th – June 30th) will primarily focus on the discipline of archaeology, the study of the human past, whether distant or recent, using material remains.

Known as one of the biggest and most significant historical and archaeological conferences in the Pacific, the 10th Lapita Conference will be hosted by The University of the South Pacific’s (USP) Japan ICT Centre at the Laucala Campus in collaboration with the Fiji Museum.

Yesterday, Dr Nicholas Halter, the USP Deputy Head of School for the School of Law, Social Sciences (SoLaSS) and Fiji Museum Researcher and Archeologist Mr Elia Nakoro briefed the press on the conference’s objective and other critical information that media personnel need to be aware of in the lead-up to the conference.

Dr Halter said the first Lapita conference was held in 1988, and this is an event that brings together archaeologists, people working in Museums, Linguists, Historians, and anyone interested in the history and heritage of Fiji and other Pacific Islands.

“The exciting thing about this conference is that a lot of the topics that the panel will be looking at would be about how populations have changed in places like Fiji in response to different climates and the changes over time. It is exciting for contemporary society because it will encourage us to think about ways in which Pacific Islanders have adapted over time and link the past to the present and future, which is the theme of the conference,” he said.

He added that the President of the Republic of Fiji, His Excellency Ratu Wiliame Katonivere, will officially open the programme on Monday (June 26th).

“Since we are hosting it in Fiji, I think it would be helpful to acknowledge our star Fijians who worked as archaeologists and tried to find out a bit of Fiji’s history—documenting and surveying some of the sites across the country. There is a long history of Fijian archaeologists doing some exciting work, and this the time to celebrate the good work they have been doing over the years,” Dr Halter stated.

Mr Nakoro also shared that some Pacific archaeologists have collaborated closely with historical linguists, especially biological anthropologists, to seek points of convergence in their interpretation of the past.

He added that hosting the conference in Fiji for the first time is a testament to the great work carried out by Fijians and the Pacific people over the years.

“Fiji was supposed to host the conference in 2000, but it was shifted to the Australian National University in Australia due to political upheaval. We expect many archaeologists, even from Germany and France, and we have a good number from Australia, New Zealand, and others from the region,” Mr Nakoro echoed.

“We have a few Lapita sites in Fiji. To mention a few – one is at Bourewa in Nadroga, the famous Sigatoka San Dunes, some islands in Lau, Moturiki, which also has a famous discovery and Lapita sites for almost 3,000 years old in the provinces of Bua, Cakaudrove and Macuata,” he said.

Mr Nakoro said that to date, around 62 interested individuals have confirmed their attendance and the number is expected to increase as we draw closer to the day of the conference.

Those interested in attending the sessions will pay a maximum fee of $5.00 per day, including refreshments.

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