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Archived News: January 2000

From Fijilive (28 January 2000)

Why Rotumans on island want out

A RIFT looms between Rotumans in Fiji and those on the island over severing ties with Fiji.

Former Chairman of the Rotuman community in Suva Dr Tukaha Mua, who hails from Malhaha District, says the case of independence has been an issue long-standing.

"This has come up 100 times and 99 percent of Rotumans do not want this.

"Where will we all fit and what will all these teachers, doctors, lawyers and other Rotumans employed in Fiji do on the island," he said. Dr Mua said it was going to be a case of overcrowding if the Rotumans from Fiji went back home.

However, a senior member of the Rotuma Council of Chiefs said from the island yesterday that the issue has nothing to do with Rotumans in Fiji. "It has only to do with Rotumans on the island and is long overdue.

"What is wrong with change? We want change and we want it fast," he said.

It was reported this week that moves are underway to draw up a new constitution for the islanders by an American millionaire--resulting in Rotuma being declared a republic.

It is believed a Nadi-based businesswoman and a Rotuman man took the American to the island.

They are also reported to have returned to Nadi early yesterday, where the American left for Sydney.

Minister for Immigration Ratu Tevita Momoedonu said they suspect the man fled the country.

"I have considered the issue very seriously and have decided that we will be issuing a 24-hour deportation order if he is found in Rotuma or Fiji," he said.

Meanwhile, the senior chiefs council member said any right-thinking person would do what's best for the future of his children and grandchildren.

"These Americans have brought good tidings to our people," he said. "They promise to build better schools, wharf, power station, efficient water supply and an advanced hospital. "The governments of Fiji has failed to fulfil its promise to the islanders.

"A tour by a Government delegation last year assured the islanders that facilities on the island including roads would be upgraded. "But to date nothing has happened. No word has been forwarded to the people," he said.

Meanwhile, the Rotuma Council meeting last week saw former National Bank of Fiji Chief Manager Visanti Makrava elected its new chairman. He replaces Juju chief Gagaj Titofaga.

From Fiji Village Online (27 January 2000)

Rotuma wants to be a republic

The government is trying to arrange a meeting with seven Rotuman chiefs asking them not to consider signing the island's so called new constitution drafted by an American.

Home Affairs Minister, Joji Uluinakauvadra says he has received reports from the Assistant Agriculture Minister, Marieta Rigamoto and some other people that some Rotumans want the island to be declared a republic. Uluinakauvadra says the American, Colen David claims to be a political consultant and is in Rotuma on a visit. He says David's actions are not in accordance with his travel permit granted by the Fiji government.

From Fijilive (27 January 2000)

Rotumans want out

GOVERNMENT is investigating reports that a secessionist group on Rotuma wants the island declared a republic and all ties with Fiji severed.

The reports claim the group's activities are being engineered by an American tourist, David Koran, who is in Rotuma on holiday.

Home Affairs Minister Joji Uluinakauvadra said last night that the American visitor has put together a constitution for the proposed Republic of Rotuma.

And supporters have encouraged the chiefs and people to sign documents to split Rotuma from Fiji.

"This American is on the island with a visitor's permit and we know that he is involved in activities that are not allowed under his permit," Mr Uluinakauvadra said.

He said "the American is trying to get the proposed constitution approved and signed by the chiefs". "My ministry got this information while trying to assess the security situation in Rotuma.

The news about this man broke out then," he said. To check out the situation, Assistant Police Commissioner Crime Moses Driver will leave for Rotuma with a team of police and immigration officials once the weather clears.

"They were to have left earlier but due to weather conditions, all flights to Rotuma had been cancelled," he said. Prime Minister Mahendra Chaudhry said he is aware of the breakaway efforts and has been briefed by the Home Affairs Minister.

"The Home Affairs and Immigration are dealing with the situation and I have had a report from Mr Uluinakauvadra," he said.

Mr Chaudhry said if Immigration officials feel that the American has breached the conditions of his permit, he will be deported. Little else is known about Mr Koran's proposal.

But it is not the first time that such a move has been suggested. It was mooted by members of the Malmahau clan of Rotuma, headed by Gagaj Sau Langfakmaro in the early 1970s and after the military coups of 1987.

It was also not clear last night whether Mr Koran's proposal is an extension of the Malmahau clan's activities.

Meanwhile, Rotuma MP and Assistant Minister for Agriculture Marieta Rigamoto and Minister for Regional Development Manoa Bale are expected in Rotuma soon to look at the development needs of Rotuma.

They were to have left on Tuesday but deferred their tour because of the bad weather.

Note: If you are interested in learning more about David Koran (David Korem) and the organization he represents consult the following websites:

We invite anyone who has opinions about these circumstances to contribute to the Rotuman Forum. To express your viewpoint send an email message to

Condolences to the Konrote family (posted 10 January 2000)

We, and Rotumans everywhere, offer our condolences to the Konrote family on the death of Kava Konrote, age 50, during the New Year's weekend.

Major-General Jioje Konrote, his brother, writes: "Kava's death was a great loss for all of us... but let us be thankful that the Good Lord is so merciful and kind .... life goes on so we should be ever grateful for his love and care. He was buried last Wednesday, 5 January, and it was a very sad occasion for another gathering of the kainaga."

From Elisapeti Inia in Suva (26 December 1999, posted 5 January 2000)

The seven a.m. service today at Churchward Chapel was conducted by those who came from Sydney for Rosemond Pene's wedding to Frank Samuela on 11 December. Fred Pene started the service, Eric Fatiaki prayed, Colleen Fatiaki read the Bible verses, Divuki Toko and Kava Fonmoa did the addressing.

Rosemond's wedding was a big one and the Lalavi Band played very well--the best performance at a wedding I have attended in Suva. The singing started at 5 p.m. and lasted till midnight. Everything went well and everybody enjoyed dancing because of the good music and good singers. Rosemond's younger sister, Darlene, who acted as her bridesmaid, was married to Jiare from Losa on 24 December at Churchward Chapel.

The third wedding of the Pene family is in the new year. Reverend Emotama Pene's niece, Baolinda, daughter of Lily and Visoni Erasito of Farema, is marrying the best man of the groom, Frank Samuela. Another wedding in the new year is Varea, daughter of G/Poar & Fanifau of Oinafa to Laurence, son of Etike & Margie (Hapmak & Itu'muta).

On the 22nd of December the Tevite family celebrated the graduations of their daughters, Sukafa and Kafoa. Sukafa completed six years of study at Fiji Medical School and will begin work as an M.D. at CWM hospital. Kafoa completed a five year course in architecture at Victoria University in Wellington. It was a fine day and there was plenty of food on hand. We had two päega for them to sit on with their tofua & tefui. Rev Voi Fasaumoea & Deaconess Olovia officiated the thanksgiving service first, then the päega were made and the girls seated.

After several speeches, Akata's granddaughters, Margaret, Jennifer & Rachael danced to them; then everybody ate dinner. Gagaj Kauteraf, Dr Faga Panapasa, Jioje Konrote, Fred Pene, Minister of Health Isimeli Cokanasiga, and many others--Rotuman, Fijian, Chinese, Koreans, etc. came and the place was full of visitors.


Sukafa Tevita

Kafoa Tevita

In Rotuma, Filipe, Visanti & Susana Makrava's son married to Rigamoto, daughter of Mekatoa & Manava from Lopta, on the 10th of December. Two other weddings in Oinafa this December: G/Sautiak's daughter Rosalind and Rev Aiveni's son's wedding (Viliama & Rosarina of Noa'tau) on the 29th, so the young holiday visitors will have a lot of time to enjoy Rotuman functions on the island.

The installation of our new chief in Itu'ti'u was the best I've come across. There was no voting at all. The hall was full of the kainaga and several candidates were mentioned who are all good, capable people-- three men and a woman, all married. All the elders of the clan agreed that Vaurasi be made the new district chief because he is good all around--a farmer, a fisherman, has a good family, etc. It was a good meeting and the plans for the jöl niu the next day were confirmed and we went away contented and happy. Everything went off without a hitch and both days were very fine. He took the title Markao.

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