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Buddy travel

Solomoni Biumaiono
Friday, January 04, 2013

TWO buddying Australians are travelling the country with one using his holiday experience in Fiji as a chance to catch up the places he's studying while for another it is more of a homecoming.

Nicolas Halter, 24, and Adam Laveta, 22, are both students of the Australian National University.

Halter is studying Fiji's modern history for his PhD while Adam originally hails from Yale in Kadavu but was born and bred in Australia.

"I am studying Fiji's history from 1888 to 1941 a period where its contact with Australia was at its height with steamships passing through between the two countries and also this is the period where they had great interaction whereas after that, Australians more view Fiji as a tourist destination than anything else," Halter says.

Halter says he has already read 150 books and travel magazines about this period of Fijian history and is here to visit the places he has read up on.

He plans to travel all over the country to Savusavu, Labasa and Taveuni Island up in the north and also Levuka in Ovalau and recently was also a round trip through the southern Lau Group of islands.

Originally from New So­u­­th Wales, Halter gained his history degree from Wollongong University in 2007 before attaining his Ma­sters with Honours at the Catholic University in 2011.

His interest in Pacific history first started when he spent a year at the infamous Truk Atoll, the Federated States of Micronesia, which was a hub for the Imperial Japanese Navy during WWII.

"I spent my gap year there after finishing high school and ever since then I have always been interested in Pacific history," Halter said.

With him is university colleague Laveta who is on his annual pilgrimage to his ancestral homeland.

"I have been to Kadavu a few times already since I was a kid and this year even though we didn't plan on travelling together we are here.

"My visit this time is to visit my 92-year-old grandmother and I do love travelling too apart from coming home to Fiji," Laveta said.

Laveta is undergoing a four-year degree course in which is he majoring in the Mandarin language, commerce, Pacific history and human resources.

The Nauciwai villager has also travelled to the Solomon Islands and Tonga as part of his studies and also to holiday.

"I want to work in a company which utilises all these skills that I aim to attain later this year and I believe I can put this knowledge to good use and I believe my knowledge in other languages and other cultures will be an asset," he said.

The 22-year-old Sydneysider also knows French and understands a bit of Spanish.

"This is something I think I am good in, understanding foreign languages which I quickly grasp and becomes my second nature," Laveta said.

When asked if he knows the Kadavu dialect, Laveta just laughs and says his family does speak the Kadavu dialect back at their home in Sydney and it is just something he is trying to learn as quickly as his family speaks it.

Both young men, however, do feel that Fiji is very similar to cities in Australia and New Zealand because of the presence of different types of races and people.

"It is a melting pot where you have people from all over the world staying here and I could say that Fiji is definitely one of the most developed countries in the Pacific," Halter said.

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