Australian High Commission
Mauritius, Seychelles, Madagascar, Comoros, Reunion Island (consular)

Australia and Mauritius Celebrate 50 Years of Diplomatic Relations through Diaspora Links and Launch of “Motherland” Art Exhibition

The Australian High Commissioner HE Ms Jenny Dee and Minister of Arts and Cultural Heritage the Hon Avinash Teeluck, in the presence of the President HE Mr Prithvirajsing Roopun and other dignitaries, today launched Motherland.


This art exhibition celebrates the diaspora links between Australia and Mauritius through the eyes of 2018 Archibald Prize Finalist and 2019 Wynne Landscape Prize Finalist Robert Malherbe.


Motherland, which will be open to the public at the Caudan Arts Centre from 30 January to 16 February, is being organised by the Australian High Commission as part of celebrations marking 50 years of diplomatic relations between Australia and Mauritius in 2020.


Speaking at the launch, Ms Dee said the relationship between the two countries was founded on shared values and common interests as Partners in the Indian Ocean.


“Australia and Mauritius have a long history of people-to-people links with diverse, tolerant and multicultural communities a feature of our vibrant democracies,” Ms Dee said. “This unique exhibition by a leading artist from the Mauritian diaspora in Australia, Mr Malherbe, highlights the diversity of the Mauritian people and its landscape.”


Mr Malherbe, who painted the exhibition in-situ over the last two weeks said “Painting for me has always been a visual memorial to our sensations. I left Mauritius a boy of 7, and I’m now returning as an artist at age 54.” 


“The most exciting part of this return visit is to again see the colours, forms and character of Mauritius but through older eyes, now more skilled enough to make something of it,” he said.


Mr Malherbe’s visit included an artists’ workshop at Pamplemousses Gardens organised by the Ministry of Arts and pARTage with leading and emerging Mauritian figures whose works are also displayed at the Caudan Arts Centre.


Mr Malherbe will deliver a talk followed by a gala dinner at Labourdonnais Waterfront Hotel on 31 January as part of the “Amazing Australia” culinary and cultural week for Australia Day which features an Australian chef and gourmet Australian produce.


Motherland has received support from the Ministry of Arts and Cultural Heritage, Caudan Arts Centre, Partage, Air Mauritius, Address Boutique Hotel, Radio One, l’Express Samedi, Panagora, Adamas, Reynaud Les Halles, PhoenixBev and New Horizon Wines.

Notes for the Editor:

§  Australia and Mauritius formally established diplomatic relations on 25 September 1970.  The Australian High Commission in Port Louis was opened in March 1984.

§  Australia is home to one of the largest Mauritian diaspora in the world with some 30,000 recorded according to 2016 Census figures in Australia.

§  Today, the Mauritian diaspora are making important contributions to the economic development of both Australia and Mauritius across many sectors.

§  There is a long history of movement – goods, services and people – between the two countries.  Formal trade ties were established in 1803.

§  Mauritius is Australia’s 5th largest trading partner in sub-Saharan Africa.

§  In 2018 alone, two-way trade increased by more than 7% from approximately $400 million to more than $430 million. 

§  Australia’s services exports is continuing to grow with Mauritius, in particular through education. Australia remains the most popular destination for Mauritian students overseas. Transnational education partnerships are also expanding with the first Australian university campus (Curtin Mauritius) opened in Mauritius in May 2018. New arrangements have emerged between Australian and Mauritian institutions across education and research with at least 10 Australian institutions have formal linkages in Mauritius.

§  Australia consistently ranks 10th (from 2013-2017) for tourist arrivals in Mauritius.  In 2018, there were 20,949 arrivals from Australia (source: Statistics Mauritius)

§  Mauritian authorities list some 100 Australian companies under its global business arrangements.

§  Two Australian fishing companies (Austral Fisheries and Australian Longline Pty Ltd) process thousands of tonnes of toothfish in Mauritius annually.

§  An Australian Chamber of Commerce (AustCham) was set up in 2018.

§  Australian experts are collaborating with the Mauritian authorities in the areas of financial services, including fintech and in research (health, sugarcane, coastal zone management etc)

§  Australia and Mauritius have growing collaboration in the blue economy, including through the Commonwealth and Indian Ocean Rim Association where both countries share a commitment to women’s economic empowerment and maritime security and safety.

§  Air Mauritius services direct flights to Perth (twice weekly).