Fiji’s National Coat of Arms
Fiji’s National Coat of Arms consists of the images of two Fijian Warriors wearing traditional garb holding handcrafted War Clubs on either side of a shield with the motto “Rerevaka na Kalou ka Doka na Tul” below the shield. These words mean “Fear God and honour the Queen.
The shield from the coat of arms has the image of a heraldic lion representing the colonial power that ruled over Fiji between 1874 to 1970. The Lion is holding a cocoa pod across the top. Sugarcane, a coconut palm, and a bunch of bananas are represented in three of the shield’s sections. The fourth contains the reproduction of a dove of peace, the main feature of the Cakobau Government’s flag before cession.
Above the Shield and between the two warriors is a depiction of the traditional drua (a sacred canoe), a double-hull sailing boat used to navigate between the Fijian Islands.
History of the National Flag 1970 – Present
A detailed commemorative article written in the Fiji Times, the national newspaper, by Sophie Foster pays tribute to Tessa Mackenzie one of the two entrants in the national competition to design the national flag, the other winner of this presidios honour was Robi Wilcock. Tessa Mackenzie received the 50th Fiji Independence Medal for her contribution to the nation. A lifetime of honorable work for the community, and creating the emblem of the nation recognized around the world.
We have partially reproduced this article with a link to the source below, the article details the journey over 50 years ago of the meaning and design of the insignia.
The year was 1970, and across the country, there was a frenzied rush. The Queen had allowed the Fiji Independence Order on September 30th, which would come into effect just 10 days later. It didn’t allow for much time to get ready, but in two aspects at least Fiji was raring to go. One was the new national anthem. The other was the national flag. Just months before, Tessa Mackenzie was one of the thousands who heard about the national competition to find Fiji’s new flag. At the time she was a volunteer teacher in Veiuto, taking an art and craft class with primary school children. The prospect of designing the new national flag excited her, and she set about finding out more about how such flags are designed. Little did she know that her idea would result in one of the proudest moments of her life, watching her design being lifted to signal the start of a new nation. As she thought about what to put on the Fiji flag, Mrs Mackenzie says she wanted to keep something of Fiji’s history in the design she submitted…
Flag Change Proposals (2015-2016)
In 2015, Prime Minster Frank Vorege Brainimarama, signaled his government’s intentions to change the National Flag, by launching a national flag designing competition, very similar to the 1970s model, the reasoning behind this announcement was to refresh the national symbol, replacing the colonial icons, with a genuinely indigenous expression of the countries present and future goals. The government’s aim was to hoist the new flag on 11 October 2015, the 45th anniversary of independence.
The competition captured the people’s imagination, with people from all the different cultures of Fiji, the competition received over 2000 designs, that had to be shortlisted by the designated Fiji National Flag Committee to just 23 entrants (Images Below).
However on 17th August 2016, after several delays, opposition groups, national disasters, and the international sporting achievements of the Fiji Sevens in the Olympics, the government voted against the change, Bainimarama publicly announced that the government was abandoning plans to change the flag.
Bainimarama, who witnessed on-site Fijian men’s rugby sevens team’s Rio Olympic gold medal victory in Brazil, said it has been “deeply moving” as prime minister to see the way Fijians rally around the national flag as the Pacific Island nation won its first-ever Olympic gold medal. As Fijians continue recovering from Tropical Cyclone Winston, which claimed 44 lives and left a path of massive destruction in February, it is “a question of resetting national priorities,” Bainimarama said, adding that the cost of any flag change is better spent at the present time assisting Fijians back on their feet. “I urge every Fijian to display our flag when our victorious sevens team returns to Fiji on Sunday and during our special national holiday on Monday. It is a time to celebrate not only their remarkable achievement but our collective unity and national sense of purpose,” said the Fijian prime minister.