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Tēfui are the unique garlands of the Pacific Island, Rotuma. They are made by tying multiple "fui" ("täntäne" leaves (polyscias) and sweet-smelling flowers in the shape of a star), with modern adaptations using wool or ribbon. The number of fui used is dependent on the situation. The Rotuman tēfui is used primarily as part of traditional ceremonies and celebrations (kato'aga), both happy and sad.

Rotuma Island dependency of Fiji

Rotuma is a Fijian dependency, consisting of Rotuma Island and nearby islets. The island group is home to a large and unique indigenous ethnic group which constitutes a recognisable minority within the population of Fiji, known as "Rotumans". Its population at the 2007 census was 2,002, although many more Rotumans live on mainland Fijian islands, totaling 10,000.

<i>Polyscias</i> genus of plants

Polyscias is a genus of flowering plants in the family Araliaceae. They bear pinnately compound leaves.

Kato'aga is a broad term in the Rotuman language summing up all the intricate ceremonies and gatherings of Rotuman culture. In particular, it refers to the ceremonies involved in celebrating the achievements of people of high rank, or identifying their elevation to important positions of authority within Fiji or internationally. In the past fifteen years, kato'aga have been held for Chief Justice Daniel Fatiaki upon elevation to being the head of Judiciary of Fiji, and to Major General George Konrote when he became Commander of UNIFIL.

Uses of the tēfui

Similar to the Hawaiian lei, presenting an individual is a sign of affection, given with the intent of indicating their emotional or social value. They hold particular importance within the context of traditional Rotuman ceremonies (collectively called kato'aga), adorning individuals, such as the recipients in the installation of chiefs or traditional welcoming ceremonies, or things such as graves or headstones after traditional death ceremonies. When adorning individuals, the tēfui will consist of 5 or 7 fuis, irrespective of whether the recipient is a man or woman. Alternately, in the instance of a grave setting, fui are arranged in rows around a grave site, with poles holding the rows of fui up. This is done on the "teran lima" ("fifth day" in Rotuman), referring to the fifth day after a death, when the major mourning period is meant to end.

Native Hawaiians ethnic group

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Gagaja[ŋaŋatʃa] is a Rotuman word denoting the position of "Chief" or "Lord". This could be a formal chiefly position in one of the seven districts or a village chief as well as to anyone else, such as the Chairman of the Rotuma Island Council to whom respect and deference is owed based on their own skills and attributes. Unlike in many other Pacific cultures, the official chiefly positions are not allocated according to any strict primogeniture, but rather are elected from all eligible males within certain kạinaga to whom the chiefly title belongs.

Rotuman, also referred to as Rotunan, Rutuman or Fäeag Rotuma, is an Austronesian language spoken by the indigenous people of the South Pacific island group of Rotuma, an island with a Polynesian-influenced culture that was incorporated as a dependency into the Colony of Fiji in 1881. Classification of Rotuman is difficult due to the large number of loan words from Samoan and Tongan, as a result of much cultural exchange over the history of the Pacific. Linguist Andrew Pawley groups the language with the West Fijian languages in a West Fijian – Rotuman branch of the Central Pacific sub-group of Oceanic languages.

Tēfui are also used as part of the costume in Rotuman dances, particularly the tautoga, with the numbers of fui varying between men and women. In the case of male dancers, their fui will number 5 or 7, whereas the female dancers where one singluar fui, tied around their neck with a leaf of the Cordyline australis . A tefui has mainly 7 fuis which represent the 7 districts of Rotuma.

Dance in Rotuma

Dance in Rotuma refers to the traditional and modern dance styles performed by the people of the island of Rotuma, which became a dependency of Fiji in 1881. Despite Rotuma's political and historical links with Fiji, the island's culture shows strong Polynesian influences, particularly from Samoa and Tonga, which, along with Fiji, feature strongly in the history and traditions of the Rotuman people.

Tautoga genus of wrasses

The tautoga is considered the most formal and restrained style of Rotuman dance, usually seen performed in large festivities or ceremonies, or in public opportunities to showcase Rotuman culture. The tautoga style can be seen as comparable to the Tuvaluan fatele or Tongan lakalaka, and the "toga" [ˈtoŋa] sound to the word alludes to such an origin.

<i>Cordyline australis</i> species of plant

Cordyline australis, commonly known as the cabbage tree, cabbage-palm is a widely branched monocot tree endemic to New Zealand.

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