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Archived News: August 1999

From Fijilive (20 August 1999)

Fiji's task in Lebanon to end

UNIFIL Force Commander, Major General Jioji Konrote believes that Fiji's term in Lebanon could soon come to an end if the Israelis pull out of Southern Lebanon.

Konrote who is here on leave says 21 years in the middle east is long enough, and it has come with high stakes.

The Force Commander says the announcement by Israel's new Prime Minister to pull out of the area is good news.

"It's taken the UN and the UNIFIL 21 years to get to this stage now.

And for the first time the Israelis have indicated their willingness to draw from Southern Lebanon. As far as UNIFIL is concerned that is good news because we can see some light at the end of the tunnel.

What it will mean to UNIFL, until now the situation is still very volatile and unpredictable. Contingency plans have been drawn up, in case the Israelis conduct a unilateral withdrawal.

But the situation on the ground may not permit that, so I think the Israelis may not wish to pull out of Southern Lebanon, unless there's a formal comprehensive peace agreement on the ground.

That would take some time. But at least Ehud Barak has pledged that within one year he intends to pull Israeli troops out of Southern Lebanon."

From Fijilive (20 August 1999)

Blasts worry Konrote

The UNIFIL Force Commander, Major-General Jioji Konrote says the spate of explosions in the country this week should be taken seriously.

Konrote, the first Fiji citizen to become Force Commander of the 21-year-old UNIFIL Peace keeping Force, says explosions in war-torn Lebanon are a daily occurrence.

And the explosions in the capital this week, at the Kasabia Building, two Blueline buses and FEA's Wailekutu sub-station, require urgent and prompt action.

"As a soldier I'm worried about those instances and I'm sure you know the authorities, particularly the police and government, have got the issues well under investigation. But yes, I live in a region where people get killed get and maimed on a daily basis because of explosive. And it really worries me. I'm concerned but I'm sure the authorities are addressing the issue," says Konrote.

From Elizabeth K. Inia in Hawai'i (10 August 1999)

Report on World Indigenous People's Conference on Education, August 1-7 1999 in Hilo, Hawai'i.

The theme of the 1999 WIPCE conference was "The Answers Lie Within Us" (Aia na ha'ina i loko o kakou.). In addition to presentations, discussions, and learning in large groups, we created opportunities for delegates to share their mana'o (thoughts) in their choice of smaller, more intimate settings. Workshops and experiences were planned throughout the island of Hawai'i, which allowed us a unique opportunity to visit rural Hawai'i, to meet the people and share in their rich history and perspective. This conference focused on the past, present, and future of our cultural knowledge practices; the recognition of current needs; ways to strengthen future collaborations; and an exploration of directions and guidelines as we enter into the next millenium.

I am greatly privileged to be invited to attend this important conference. This was the 5th triennial conference and the first on to be held in Hawai'i, and I was so proud to represent Rotuma island, as one of the educators and cultural practitioners who came together from around the world to discuss indigenous education. This gathering offered each delegate an opportunity to gain from presentations, to share knowledge, to engage in learning experiences, and to build collaborations for the future.

All the participants experienced the beauty and cultural richness of Hawai'i and enjoyed the hospitality of these lovely people. The invitation was extended to me because I am keen on writing reading materials in our own language--Rotuman--for schools as well as for adult education, and because I have worked to promote cultural knowledge practices that meet our needs. At first I wondered how come my name was known to the WIPCE committee in Hilo and why Rotuma was among the 20 countries from all over the world taking part with various ethnic peoples for more than seven days of cultural awareness, goodwill, and information sharing. Then my mind clicked. I have friends in Hilo because I attended the Polynesian Languages Forum, which was held in Hilo in 1993; at that time I was accomodated at the University of Hawai'i-Hilo campus. Hurrah! for my second visit to the Big Island! This time I stayed with the family of Talaite Petrowsky from Fiji. Vinaka vakalevu Talaite, for your hospitality, and for the kindnesses of your daughter, Talei, and your son Harlan, not forgetting Saimoni Cama of Lau and Lawrence Fong of Kadavu and their families.

I was really thrilled to be one of the presenters. The topic I chose was indigenous spirituality (Rotuman) and the time alotted for my presentation--one and a half hours--turned out to be regrettably short. I should have requested a three-hour workshop instead. I hope I did not offend any of my spiritual ancestors by talking about them in public. I marvel at the faith of my ancestors, and their spirituality. What they believed and did in the past is a link to the present. Although different peoples have named their gods differently, we are all trying to understand the same truths. And so it was with our Rotuman ancestors. For me the link to the past is guide to the future, into the next millenium.

You would not believe that on the seventh day of the conference I stood at the summit of Mauna Kea, the highest mountain in Hawai'i at 13,796 feet and saw one of the world's most important observatories located there. I thought of Pele, the Hawaiian goddess of fire, and the many other spirits I heard about at other workshops I attended. I thank John and Harieta Bennett and their daughter Hannah for bringing me there. I really felt in a spiritual world where mana was in everything I saw and touched, and in the very air I breathed. Faiaksea Hilo!

Faiaksea 'e hanisi to Alan and Jan for all their love and support. If only I had a thousand tongues to thank them, for without their help I might have had to turn down the invitation and join the WIPCE only in spirit.

From Hawai'i (9 August 1999)

Yesterday (Sunday, 8 August) Tefui Club members attended the wedding of David Manu Breckterfield and Lisa Marie Comtois at Kualoa Ranch on the windward side of Oahu. David is the son of David and Pasepa (Manueli) Breckterfield. The couple met in Texas, where David was attending school, and the Texas contingent, headed by the parents of the bride, was well represented.

The food was scrumptious and plentiful, including puaka, 'a'ana, ikou sipi ma ikou poat kao, and fekei (marama'ana). There was also deep fried fish, chicken curry, beef brocolli, noodles, salad and watermelon, and acres of wedding cake! The entertainment was non-stop, including that provided by our own Mervina and her husband Api Toro; and even our young people performed a hula!

It was a lovely wedding in a beautiful setting, and we all enjoyed the event, made extra special by the presence of Elisapeti Inia and Tupou Taukave.

Pasepa Breckterfield
David Breckterfield
Lisa Breckterfield

Tausie Tarsau & Mark Vaurasi

From Mark Vaurasi in Wellington (6 August 1999)

Out of approximately four thousand in the Regular Force of the NZ Army, there are three Rotumans; two of us were lucky enough to be serving together. Tausie Tarsau (from Ahau) and I were with the 5th Logistic Regiment for two years.

Tausie has recently been posted to the 1st NZ Infantry Batallion in Palmerston North as the Logistics Company Commander. I am still in Wellington, but now posted to the NZ Army Military Career Management Branch in Land Command. There is another young Rotuman soldier in Christchurch whom I will get in touch with and obtain his personal profile; his surname is Fabiano.

I have also found out from my son Jason, who is in the Royal NZ Airforce, that there are two Rotumans in the Airforce as well.

From Daily Post (Thursday, 5 August 1999)

Rotuma gets top govt support

THE Assistant Minister for Agriculture and Forests, Marieta Rigamoto, has been assigned Special Adviser to the Prime Minister Mahendra Chaudhry, on Government's development support for the Island of Rotuma and for the Rotuman Community as a whole.

Ms Rigamoto yesterday said that she's honoured with the appointment.

The Prime Minister has statutory responsibility for the Island of Rotuma.

Through the Prime Minister's Office, Government provides an annual development grant of $150,000 a year for development activities on Rotuma and the Rotuman community as a whole.

In addition, development activities on Rotuma are also supported by other Government Ministries, including especially the Ministry of Regional Development and Multi-Ethnic Affairs, the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forests, the Ministry of Works and Energy, the Ministry of Education and Technology, the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Women, Culture and Social Welfare, the Ministry of Tourism and Transport, the Ministry of Communications and Civil Aviation, Ministry of Commerce, Business Development and Investment, and others.

Students from Rotuma are also eligible for scholarships for tertiary level education administered by the Public Service Commission and the Ministry of Fijian Affairs/Fijian Affairs Board.

Ms Rigamoto is the elected Member for Rotuma and her involvement as Special Adviser to the Prime Minister on Rotuman affairs is to ensure that Government development support for Rotuma and the Rotuman Community in the Fiji Islands is in accordance with the wishes of the Rotuma Island Community.

As Adviser to the Prime Minister, Ms Rigamoto will be consulting closely with the Rotuma Island Council and Rotuman Associations in Fiji.

She would also be working very closely both with the Prime Minister's Office and other Government Ministries.

The Assistant Minister for Agriculture and Forests said her new assignment will also see her working very close with her electorates on the island of Rotuma.  

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