Vakatabu Conference

Vuca: Our Context of Decay and Birthing

A gathering of thinkers, doers and voices of the Vakatabu. The conference in Suva, Fiji runs from July 31 to August 2, 2023. 

Why the Conference?

Vuca: Our Context of Decay and Birthing

How shall we, as a community, a nation, tackle the effects of climate and cultural change today? What shall we leave to our children, something of value, which honours the memory of our Pasifika elders? What are the tools we have today that will help us to honour this duty, to the past and to the future?

The conference is organized around the iTaukei Fijian concept “Vakatabu” and its application processes: pause, decay , settling, healing, renewal, rejuvenation and growth. The concept is used in reference to the distilling processes in coconut oil making and cleaning of wells, and the processes of replenishing of marine life, and the rehabilitation of land. While these concepts give an air of ‘inaction’, there is an active natural process of decay, healing, renewal and transformation occurring. These traditions are deliberate non-human intervention into the natural world, allowing nature and humanity their respective spaces to renew, transform, articulate and action new development paths. These are negotiated spaces between humans and the natural world, to liberate themselves – the natural world from the extractive nature of humanity, and humanity from itself.

The  conference deliberately uses this concept and its processes to stress our human duty to renew the things it creates – politics, economics, theology, development – in these negotiated spaces. This means, therefore, that we must include indigenous knowledge and culture in the Pacific development discourse. This is to emphasize the importance of the need to change our development story and the transformation of our lives.

The guest speakers, highly experienced and steeped in the spirit and memories of their forebears’ wisdom and traditions, will take us on a journey of what we have and which givse us resilience and agency,  excite us with new possibilities, and will challenge us to imagine the impossible. The plenary panels will be structured as conversations between the old and the young – asking and answering the questions they pose of each other – and organized like talk-show sessions. Each will be hosted by a guest moderator. These sessions will be livestreamed.

So, register to listen, participate and reimagine a new world together!

Indigenous Voices

Voices of the indigenous Fijian communities sharing their indigenous technology exemplifying a deep connection and understanding of the natural world is part of the conversation. Pictured are young women of Rewa province at Nalase village with the Nana technology.
There are 12 presenters (8 from Fiji and 4 from the region). Fiji presenters include Professor Unaisi Nabobo Baba from FNU (Fiji National University); Associate Professor Frances C Koya Vaka’uta from SPC (Pacific Community); Dr. Sereima Naisilisili and Dr. Ledua Waqaliti; Professor Joeli Veitayaki; and Dr. Eci Naisele. The regional presenters. include Professor Kabini Sanga from the Solomon Islands; Rev. Dr. Faafetai Aiava from Samoa; Associate Professor Seuula Johansson-Fua from Tonga, Mr Albert Seluka from the Pacific Community and Professor Jonathan Osorio from Hawai’i.

Archbishop Dr Peter Loy Chong

Catholic Archbishop of Suva, Fiji

He explores the vulnerability of our world today. He asks the questions “what is God saying to us today”, and how shall we discern God’s will in our vulnerability”? There is strength in our vulnerability, he argues. He then proposes a theology of vulnerability.

Professor Unaisi Nabobo-Baba

Acting Vice Chancellor of the Fiji National University

She talks about the resilience of her people and the traditions that gave and give them meaning and purpose in times of crisis. She argues the traditions sustains and strengthens their resilience  and counters frames that because we are vulnerable, we lack resilience.

Professor Jonathan Osorio

University of Hawai'i, Hawai'i Studies

He argues from a Hawai’i perspective; throughout history during moments of vulnerability, we’ve developed a language, survival strategies, an ability to understand and weave these moments into our cultures. Our resilience is our knowledge and a refined sense of being that persists to this day.​

Check out the full list of speakers

Diverse voices from Pasifika
Share why you are attending the conference in the message box


    Contact For conference

    The Institute for Mission and Research is open on Monday – Friday from 8am – 4pm except on holidays.

    78 Vuya Road, Suva, Fiji

    Phone : +679 3311100 or 8901174
    Email :

    Frequently Asked Questions

    Where is the programme?

    The three day programme of the Vakatabu is framed around the Vakatabu process. Access the programme here.

    Is there a registration fee?

    There is no registration fee. The conference is aimed at promoting and creating awareness about the Vakatabu.