Oz flavor descends on Majuro

Australian Ambassador Brek Batley and his wife Prue were joined at the Australian Day event by President David Kabua and First Lady Ginger Kabua and Sea Patrol advisor LCDR Andrew Nicholls. Photo: Wilmer Joel.

In an event filled with kangaroo salami, trivia questions, a goosebumps performance of the Australian and Marshallese national anthems by Loata Turaga, gold and green wear worn by guests and VIPs as well as adornment of the swimming pool at Marshall Islands Resort by model crocodiles, the Australian Ambassador to the Marshall Islands Brek Batley and his wife Prue Palmer hosted a function to commemorate Australia Day, the official national day of Australia.

Observed annually on 26 January, it marks the 1788 landing of the First Fleet at Sydney Cove and raising of the Union Flag by Arthur Phillip following days of exploration of Port Jackson in New South Wales.

The Majuro event was emceed by Jasmine Loeak Henry an alumni of Bond University in Queensland, Australia, where she studied law.

“This is an event to celebrate our indigenous history, our modern colonial and federation history, and ultimately our bright future ahead,” said Ambassador Batley. He emphasized the rich history of Australian Culture including the flag, food, music, animals, and other features about Australia.

“The Embassy here is something we truly cherish and value,” said Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Casten Nemra.

The celebrations, which were sponsored by Australian company Sunrice, included iconic Australian music, indigenous Australian culture, and the best of Australian fare, including lamb, kangaroo salami, sausage rolls and lamington cakes.

Adding to the special atmosphere, the Marshall Islands Resort was a sea of green and gold, with all guests dressed in Australia’s national sporting colors. The sounds of Australia’s famous laughing Kookaburra birds also echoed out during the night. The talents of young singer Loata Turaga were clear for all, with her beautiful renditions of the national anthems and Australian songs like My Island Home. The Lomor 3 was also moored just offshore, sparkling in full dress lights.

In a recorded message, Australia’s Minister for International Development and the Pacific Zed Seselja noted the importance of strong values as the corner stone of Australia’s future and wished he could have been there. Foreign Minister Nemra also reflected on Australia and RMI’s close partnership and congratulated Australia’s Pacific Step-Up.
Starting a new tradition at the event, Ambassador Batley gave a ‘local hero’ award to local teacher Apiliasi Koroi for his energetic work with school kids.

“Australia Day is about bringing all Australians together, to reflect, respect and celebrate,” the ambassador said. “We’re so pleased to now be able to do this every year in Majuro. Our Embassy team says a big kommol tata for the incredibly warm welcome we’ve received from our Marshallese friends and resident Australians for our first Australia Day event.”

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