Australian Women’s Weekly NZ

Pacific pride

“I do what I love, and it hasa great effect on communities that I care about.”

When a young Robert Oliver and his family moved from New Zealand to Fiji in the 1970s, he describes it as going from a life of black and white to a life of pure colour. The sights, the smells, the food – it was the beginning of a love story that would last a lifetime. The food you grow up with, Robert says, is part of your make-up – who you are, where you belong. It’s the food your mother made you. But the world has done Pacific Island food an injustice for decades, and it has become the life’s work of many, including Robert, to reverse the tide.

Being told the food you grew up with is worthless is both “culturally and spiritually destructive… it’s basically systemic suppression. Colonialism isn’t just land, or politics, it’s the soil, the plants. It’s what people eat and their mind-sets,” says Robert. “And because tourists didn’t know about Pacific Island cuisine, the tourism food

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