SQUIZ THE WORLD (1400 × 700px)

Squiz the World goes to… Fiji


See the International Date Line on Taveuni: https://www.tripatrek.com/international-dateline-sign-taveuni-island-fiji/
The Fijianas: https://www.rugbyworldcup.com/2021/playlist/736778?video=757561
Kokoda recipe: https://www.bestrecipes.com.au/recipes/fijian-kokoda-recipe/07c7tl98

Each week, we give the world globe a spin, and see where we land. Then we take the kids of Australia on an audio excursion to visit that country and its people.

I’m Amanda Bower, and today on Squiz the World we’re visiting Fiji—a chain of islands that sprawls over two-and-a-half million square kilometres of the Pacific Ocean. It’s also one of the few places in the world where you can have one foot standing in today, and one foot in tomorrow. More on that in a minute.

Strap yourselves into the Squiz Kids Super Fast Supersonic Jetliner as we take a squiz at Fiji.

The 333 islands of Fiji are about 2,700 km east of Brisbane. One of those islands, Taveuni, sits right on the International Date Line. What’s that, you ask? Well, you know how there are different time zones in the world?

Those time zones are created by imaginary lines that travel from south to north on the globe. Cross the line, and you jump forward an hour or so. Eventually, the time has to change from midnight today to 1am tomorrow.

That line travels through the Pacific Ocean, and Taveuni is one of the few places where the International Date Line passes over land. You can straddle the line, and have half your body in today, half in tomorrow. Or, I suppose, you could say that half was in today, and half in yesterday.

Not surprisingly, tourists love to go to Taveuni to do just that. But that’s not the only reason people love a holiday in Fiji. We’re talking bright blue water, white sand beaches, and an annual average temperature of 26 degrees. Plus, Fiji is known as the soft coral capital of the world… so plenty of diving and snorkelling in those warm waters.

About 3/4 of all Fijians live on the island of Viti Levu, either in the capital city, Suva, or the tourist capital, Nadi (pronounced Nandi).

But if you get beyond the tourist resorts, Fiji has its fair share of problems. There are about 900,000 people living in Fiji, and half of them are living in poverty. Poverty means not having enough money to enjoy a decent standard of living—people might struggle to get food, or safe housing, or clean water, or healthcare, or some combination of all of those.

There’s also some tension in Fiji between its different ethnic groups. Back in the 1980s, more than half of the Fijian population were Fijian Indians—people whose ancestors were brought from Indian to work in Fiji back in the 19th century, when both countries were British colonies. These Fijian Indians dominated government and the economy…

Until in 1987, there was an uprising by indigenous Fijians, who took over the government and rewrote the constitution to favour themselves. So many Indian Fijians left the country, that now, indigenous Fijians make up the majority of the population.

Enough politics!

Whenever you travel, it’s important to learn a few words in that country’s language. It’s a great way to show respect. So, let’s….

There are three official languages in Fiji: English, Fijian, and Fijian Indian.

We’ve got Squiz Kid Lex here to teach us some Fijian. Take it away, Lex!

Thank you, Lex! That greeting Lex taught us… Bula… it means “life”, and you’ll hear it wherever you go in Fiji.

Now that we can communicate a little bit, it’s….

Believe it or not, Fijian kids are not required to go to school. About one in five kids—mostly those living in small villages and outlying islands—doesn’t go to primary school at all. And village schools are usually just one room, in which one teacher tries to meet the needs of 20 students of all ages.

Although government schools are required to teach all kids, in practice, there usually ends up being one school that Fijian kids attend, and one school where you’ll find Fijian Indian kids—even though ALL the lessons are taught in English. That’s how deep the split is between the two main populations of Fiji.

Okay, I’m worried we are starting to sound VERY down in the mouth. Let’s lift our spirits with…


In 2022, Fijian women made history by competing in their first every rugby world cup. Rugby is a way of life in Fiji – 10% of the entire population play on a team, and the other 89.999 per cent love to watch!

Although the Fijianas were the lowest ranked team in the World Cup, they beat South Africa in group play – and before the World Cup, they’d actually won the Australian Super W competition, which they had entered as a squad to get experience.

And you’d better believe these women are TOUGH. I’ve put a couple of videos in your episode notes to check out their intense training session running up sand dunes in 30 degree heat. Over. and over. and over again.

The Fijianas are also mentally tough. When they started playing, back in 1999, men would tell them to get off the field, go home and wash dishes. They tried and failed to qualify for the world cup in 2016, but they didn’t give up. They trained harder and harder, won the Oceania championship in both 2021 and 2022, and are now role models for many young women in Fiji.

I don’t know about you, but running up sand dunes is exhausting. I think it might be…

The national dish of Fiji is called kokoda. It’s fresh caught fish that marinates for 8 hours in lime juice, coconut cream and herbs. Yum. I’ll put a recipe into your episode notes – it only requires a few ingredients, and a bit of patience!

There’s also a drink that’s really special to Fiji. It’s called Kava, and traditionally, if you enter a Fijian village you’re expected to bring a gift of a kava root. Everyone then sits in a circle, and the root is pounded to a pulp, mixed with water, and strained. The brew then goes into a coconut shell, and everyone takes turns drinking from it. The village chief goes first: he claps once; takes a gulp; then claps three times. Then passes it on.
Now, kava is a little bit like alcohol, so it’s only for adults, and they shouldn’t drink too much. But it’s an important, 3000 year old tradition… if you’re invited to drink from the kava bowl, you’ve been made welcome.

This is the part of the podcast where you get to test how well you’ve been listening.

Question 1. What’s the name of the line that allows us to stand in today and tomorrow?
Question 2. When Fijian women played their first rugby match in 1999, what did some men say they should go home and do?
Question 3. What’s the Fijian greeting that means “life”?