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Archived News: April 1997

From Steve Walker in Sydney (25 April 1997)

On 25 April the Rotuman Drummoyne Uniting Church Congregation Choir took part in a Pacific Island Choir Competition.The competition is an annual event organised by the Alan Walker College of Evangelism. This year the competition was again held at the Burwood Methodist Ladies College in Sydney. Pacific Island Choirs from all round Sydney took part: Tongans, Fijians, Cook Islanders, Maoris, PNG, and of course, Rotumans. Like all Pacific Choir competitions there was also a collection -- the main idea being to raise funds. Last year's winner was the Cook Island choir and they again sang this year with great gusto and energy. However the Rotuman choir sang well too, in fact sufficiently well to win. To cap it all off we also raised the greatest amount for the College -- not bad for the smallest Island represented at the competition. Congratulations to all choir members, choir mistress Divuki Atalifo and conductor Fred Pene.

From Sanimeli Maraf in Rotuma (8 April, 1997)

The Chinese government is planning to build a solar plant for electricity on Rotuma as an aid project. Eight men came to survey a site in Ropure, Hapmak, where Sani thinks the plant will likely be situated.

Fiji Times, Friday, April 4, 1997

Thanks to a F$15,000 grant from the French government, Rotuma will have its first ambulance. The ambulance was bought from Automart Limited in Suva, which donated the baland of the amount for the vehicle. The ambulance is "fully equipped with everything that a modern-day ambulance may need."

From Sausemolia & Georgina Pene in Suva

The Suva Itu'muta District Association held its Island Night on Friday 4 April at the Lambert Hall in Suva. According to the spokesmanfor the association, Mr. S. Pene, the dance was a great success with about $2,000 raised. There were some complaints, however, about the curry being cold. Everybody enjoyed themselves and the evening was a success.

From 'Emi Scott in Wellington, New Zealand

NEW ZEALAND ROTUMAN FELLOWSHIP INC. Newsletter No. 1: 11 April 1997
Noa'ia 'e mauri !!!! News from the Wellington Group

First of all a big thank you to Aggie & Kit Kulatea for hosting most of the group's meetings in 1996. The group has already had 2 meetings, 1st at Mark and Karen Vaurasi's homeand 2nd at Arthur & Ravai Shaw's home. The next meeting is planned to coincide with "Rotuma Day" and this will be held on Saturday 10 May, at Chris & 'Emi Scott's home in Masterton. There will also be a taumaka. Ravai Shaw is the "taumaka steerswoman"!!!! Members are invited to an overnight at the Scotts'.Welcome back !!! To all Rotuman/part Rotuman students from Fiji studying here in NZ, especially to those in the neighbourhood and also to Tivaknoa Viki (Kautane Henderson's mother): we look forward to seeing you all and invite you to participate in our group activities if possible. Tivaknoa was an inspiration when we had our taumaka in the past.

Milestones: Congratulations to Craig Vaurasi on his coming of age, 21 years young in April. Many Happy Returns! Congratulations also to John Sheehan (Fesaitu Owen's son) selected to represent the Manawatu Under 15 Boys Hockey Team in the 1997 Nationals tournament. Also to Torika Sheehan, (John's sister) who is involved in horseriding; her main event is show jumping. Keep up the interest... an Olympic or Commonwealth prospect? Good News - Steve is expected home soon from hospital. Kautane is getting the house remodled. All our thoughts are with you and your family.

Died: On Rotuma, 14 April, Munivai, husband of Fansese of Malhaha, father of Tu'e & Savike, both of whom flew over to Rotuma for the funeral.

We in Hawaii have enjoyed a visit from John and Harieta Bennett and two of their daughters (Kimberly and Hannah). John was in Honolulu attending a conference at the University's School of Architecture. John has been Heritage Officer for the town of Levuka since June of last year.

From Brisbane we have received the following email message from our youngest correspondent ever. We thought you would enjoy the youngster's message of greeting. We know that Rotumans are exceptionally smart (in addition to being good-looking) but this kid is really unusual!

Date: Wed, 23 Apr 1997 02:37:14 -1000
From: Andrew <>

Subject: Hello from Baby Lui Kafoa Pene (my first internet contribution!!!)

It has been some time since my dad (Andrew Pene) last wrote to you. I think it was about the 'Rotuman Dictionary'. Since then the biggest development in Mum (Edwina Kotoisuva) and Dad's lives has been my arrival. Ooops, I suppose I had better introduce myself. I am baby LUI KAFOA PENE, and only just arrived into this wonderful world eleven days ago. I figured out this INTERNET thing fairly quickly and quietly crept out of bed tonight so that I could introduce myself, meet all you Big People, and see if there is anything interesting for babies like myself.

I was born at 10:30 a.m. on Satuday, the 12th of May, 1997, at the Royal Women's Hospital in Brisbane. I weighed 3.5 kg and was 51 cm long. I endured an 8 hour labour and was delivered naturally. When I arrived there was Mum, Dad and the midwife who had delivered me. (This world is so much better than the cramped one inside mum's stomach.) Anyway, I then gave Dad the honour of cutting my umblical connection to Mum and I was so happy to be in my parents' world that I couldn't keep myself from crying. I spent three days in Hospital with Mum, waiting for my bowels and feeding to kick in, and then we rushed home (Tues 15/4) to see Dad who had tired himself out from running to and from home.

Mum and Dad have now settled into a somewhat regular feeding and sleeping pattern and are now asleep. They are so inquisitive when they are awake. And while it's so much more peaceful when they are asleep I just can't wait for them to wake up and come around and fuss about my comfort and needs.

I was fortunate that Mum and Dad had not decided on a name for me when I arrived. So last week (Wed 16/4) I derived my first name from the University of Queensland's campus at St. Lucia where Mum and Dad met as students in 1991 and then spent the next six years thinking about me. Mum and Dad were going to call me Luciano because of my lung capacity, but I managed to dissuade them because I did not want to outshine the Big fella (Pavarotti) so soon . Lui had to be the one because it is nice and simple and would remind me of the time and environment in which Mum and Dad made me. My middle name is from my sigoa, Sausemolia KAFOA Pene who lives in Suva and who is my father's big brother. My surname, 'PENE', has come down through my father's family:

  • Mapigas: Sukamanu and Maria Pene; (Itumuta, Suva)
  • Great Mapigas: Ofa (deceased) and Rosarina Pene; (Itumuta)
  • G.G. Mapigas: 'PENE' and Akosita (both deceased); (Itumuta, Rotuma)
  • Anyway, I am going to be circumcised soon and need to know if you are aware of when the Fakpeje (The poem thing!) is used, and if so is there any documented Fakpeje for the Hapagsu ceremony. Dad doesn't know of any and has already written home for information. I believe that each village has its distinctive collection of Fakpejes for the different Rotuman ceremonies.

    Maybe someone on the net might know (directly or indirectly) of someone who is fluent with these things. If so could they email me at my dad's address ( or put it somewhere accessible for the rest of my generation. Is there also any documentation of the procedures and protocol for the different ceremonies???

    I am feeling a bit hungry now so I am going to go and try to wake Mum up. It is quite cold this morning but I am still looking forward to my warm bath at 10 a.m. I will talk to you all again later.

    Baby Lui Kafoa Pene. (Am I the first Rotumanet Baby Contributor???)

    Yes, Lui, I believe you are!

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