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Archived News: April 2001

From Fijilive (27 April 2001)

3 Rotumans in GCC

Rotuma is to have three representatives in the Great Council of Chiefs. The Fiji Sun reports that this was agreed to by the GCC at its meeting yesterday.

Rotuma's GCC representatives are former Home Affairs Minister Paul Manueli and former permanent secretary Fatiaki Misau.

It was also agreed that a $20 million government grant is to be shared equally among the 14 provinces.

From Tausia Alifereti in Vatukoula (26 April 2001)

At the moment the Noa'tau community members here in Vatukoula, led by Mr Rigamoto Antonio, are brushing up their moves in the Rotuman Hall for the Rotuma Day celebration, which will be held in Suva next month. Their taumaka are being held on Mondays, Tuesdays & Saturdays at 7.30 p.m.

On 10 April one of our oldies celebrated her 60th birthday. She is Mrs Irava Pau'u, who hails from Motusa and is married to Jione Pau'u. Her children and their families organised a small birthday celebration and to her surprise, "Happy Birthday" was sung by the Noa'tau kaumakaga before they concluded their taumaka on the same night. There was lots of laughter when her twin nephews, Vamarasi and Tiu, clowned during the singing of Happy Birthday.

Leaving Vatukoula is Luisa Antonio who was born, raised and schooled here. She is the daughter of Rigamoto and Maluise Antonio. After completing her secondary school studies, she took up an apprenticeship with Emperor Gold Mining Ltd in the automotive field and received her craftsmanship certificate in 1996. Before her resignation to seek greener pastures in Suva she was the diesel technician in the power station here in Vatukoula.

On Sunday, 22 April, the Kor-te-rere Methodist Circuit held a farewell dinner for her; then on Monday, 23 April, the Rotuman M.Y.F. celebrated her birthday and held a farewell dinner for her in Mr Motoava Konusi's residence. The Tieri Club members held a B.B.Q. night on Wednesday, 25 April, at the Rotuman hall and presented her with a gift and a card autographed by all the members.

From everyone here in this small Rotuman community, we would like to wish her all the best in her future endeavours and may our Good Lord's light brighten her path always.

In the photo is Luisa Antonio on her graduation day at the Fiji Institute of Technology. With her is her elder brother, Alfred Arpio.

From Fiji Times (26 April 2001) by Jeetendra Prasad

Hope from the high seas

Rotuma High School will be gunning for its first ever Coca-Cola Games medal when the annual meet starts tomorrow at the National Stadium. The strong 16-member team, which is the farthest traveling contingent, had a good outing at the Maritime Zone meet yesterday. The school finished second overall in the zone meet with an impressive eight gold, six silver and seven bronze medals.

"This is the best result we have had in the zone for many years" said coach Niko Rosei.

"We have thirteen athletes competing tomorrow and this is the largest Rotuma Team ever to feature in the Coca-Cola games."

"And in those days, this team will be hoping to rewrite the history books by winning a medal."

Regarded as the minnows of the most awaited secondary school athletics meet in the country, Rotuma High School athletes are confident that winning a medal this year is possible.

"A lot of time and dedication has been put in by this team to prepare for this two-day meet," Mr. Rosei said.

"Even though we don't have an artificial running track which most Suva schools have access to, we have prepared a very good team all the same."

"A lot depends on the athletes on Friday and Saturday to perform and win the school's first ever medal at the games."

"Winning a medal of any value will mean a great deal to the school and the budding stars, as a medal will boost the sport back home."

"Our students have the ability to make great champions but they lack the confidence."

Rotuma High first took part in the annual secondary schools athletics finals in 1980.

From Fijilive (26 April 2001)

Rigamoto tipped to be new Supervisor of Elections

The secretary of the recently scrapped Constitution Review Committee Walter Rigamoto is highly tipped to be the new Supervisor of Elections by the Public Service Commission.

Caretaker Attorney General Alipate Qetaki said: "While we're re-appointing the members of the CRC we're putting aside Mr Walter Rigamoto's name and we're penciling in a new secretary because it's highly likely Mr Rigamoto will be appointed the new Supervisor of Elections."

He was speaking after the launching of the Blueprint for affirmative action on Fijian education by the President Ratu Josefa Iloilo at Queen Victoria School in Tailevu.

"It's very likely an announcement will be made before the end of the week, and we don't want to be caught off-guard and it's only wise to name a replacement."

Work for the planned August poll has yet to begin because there is no supervisor to lead it. Caretaker Foreign Affairs Minister Kaliopate Tavola has been active soliciting financial and technical help for the elections from his African Caribbean Pacific-European Union (ACP-EU) counterparts.

Some governments have shown a willingness to lend such help which will depend on a financial report for the general elections by the Supervisor of Elections.

Mr Tavola confirmed that ACP-EU member countries were happy with the Caretaker Government's efforts to return the country to constitutional democracy as early as August prompting their offers of technical and financial help.

According to Mr Qetaki one of the first tasks of the new supervisor is to prepare an election budget.

This has been tentatively put at $8 million. People from different segments of the community including money minded politicians have said Government does not have this kind of money.

However Caretaker Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase has said the elections will be in August with or without overseas help. Australia has promised $1 million with some other countries offering technical help.

Mr Rigamoto will be no stranger to the task and its requirements as he is a former Elections Supervisor.

From Fijilive (21 April 2001)

Ramafono makes military history

The first Fijian female officer to undergo a commissioning course overseas has created history in the Fiji Military Forces. Bernadette Ramafono became a second lieutenant (2LT) at the prestigious Royal Military Academy (RMA) Sandhurst in the United Kingdom earlier this month.

Second lieutenant Ramafono is the daughter of Warrant Officer Class I, Josefa Ramafono, the first Fijian to hold the appointment of Force Sergeant Major with the United Nations Transitional Authority in East Timor. Before enlisting in the military in 1999, 2LT Ramafono attended Adi Cakobau School and Suva Grammar, after which she studied three years at the Fiji Institute of Technology. "She was posted to the Regular Force on May 3, 2000 along with 2LT Esira Kulavati. She then attended RMA Sandhurst from May 5, 2000 to April 12, 2001," a military statement said. Serving in the Number 20 platoon of Alamein Company, 2LT Ramafono underwent five weeks of the basic stream (recruit training). This was followed by three 14-week terms - junior, intermediate and senior.

Highlights of the course included the junior team field exercise at Sennybridge, Wales, where they were introduced to operations in the field, and the senior term deployment to Cyprus in March, 2001. Other interesting experiences were the exercises involving the live firing of weapons, being flown in Lynx and Wessex helicopters by the Royal Army Air Corp and being transported during an attack from the sea by the royal marines in rigid raider assault craft. 2LT Ramafono is currently attached to the headquarters Landforce.

[note: Bernadette's father, Josefa, is from Itu'muta]

From Lavenia Emberson-Hickling in Wellington (19 April 2001)

Rotuman Women in Law:

A few week s ago, it caught me by surprise when a lecturer here at the Law Faculty at Victoria University of Wellington asked me if there was a "Rotuman takeover" of the Faculty. The reason for his statement is that the co-president of the Maori Law Students' Association or Nga Rangahautira is Melanie Tarsau and in the recent elections for the Pacific Law Students' Society, Gina Perez was appointed president. I am the Pacific Law Students' Coordinator here at the Faculty so I take care of the students' academic needs whereas Gina, Mel and their organisations take care of the social (yet still educational) needs of the students. Mel's dad is Tausie also of Malhaha whilst Gina's mother, it turns out, is Emily, a member of the Penjueli family. Just as New Zealand's top positions are held by women: The Governor General, the Prime Minister, Leader of the Opposition, Chief Justice, and Attorney General, it is doubly great to be part of the small group of leaders within the Faculty and University knowing that despite our small number in New Zealand, we are not doing too bad ourselves.

Fiji Health Conference:

I later had the privledge of meeting Mrs Emily Perez at the recent Fiji Health Conference held on 7 April 2001 at the Wesley Church, Taranaki Street. The Fiji Health Conference was very informative and Emily and I were very fortunate to be part of a group of people committed to improving the status of our people not only in Wellington and New Zealand as a whole but in Fiji as well. Doctor Wame Baravilala in particular gave us some insight into the situation back home and showed that in terms of hospital funding and delievery of health services, we had much to be proud of despite the obvious need for improvement. We also heard much about the Ruve Group of Auckland and what they were doing to improve the health status of Fijians and Rotumans in New Zealand. It gave those of us in Wellington much to think about, so thank you and keep up the great work.

Our Easter Visitors:

Finally, during this blessed Easter, we were very fortunate when: Arthur ma Ravai Shaw, Tivaknoa Mua ma on mapiag he ta came to visit my mother, Maserine out of the aroha/hanisi and fellowship they they have. Iris hoam te la'a r'au r'au e reko oris hanis ti'u. Gagaja la hanis la alalum'ak la ti se koroa ne aus po.

From Fiji Times (19 April 2001) by Sainimili Lewa

Terrified musician goes into hiding

Musician Freddy Fesaitu says he has gone into hiding because he no longer has faith in the police and the court system in Suva. Fesaitu is charged with 18 counts of forging documents in a major passport scam uncovered by police early this year. Fesaitu said that while he had respect for the law, he was "scared for his life" after the teatment he received he Suva Prison following his first arrest at the end of February this year.

"I was taken in at the Nabua Police Station because I was still being questioned over the charge and at the same time my name was being called out in court. I couldn't be at two places at the same time," Fesaitu said yesterday.

He said that by the time he was taken to court that afternoon, a bench warrant had been issued and he was automatically taken to Suva Prison to reappear on March 16.

Fesaitu's doctor, Dr Virgilio De Asa, confirmed yesterday he examined Fesaitu on March 15 at his home and found him medically unfit to appear in court the next day. Unfortunately, Fesaitu said his medical report was disregarded by the court and a bench warrant issued for his arrest.

"I am on the run because I fear I will be physically confronted and abused if I give myself up. That is why I prefer to have my case heard by Justice Anthony Gates in Lautoka where my constitutional rights will be upheld," Fesaitu said.

He added that it was unfair that he was being hunted while the main instigators of the scam were out free.

Prosecutor Corporal Epeli Talakubu confirmed a bench warrant was issued for Fesaitu last month and the case has been adjourned to August 9.

Issue #5 of Noa'ia Rotuma (22 March 2001, posted 18 April)

This issue includes the following articles:

  • Hia' 'ou ra heta ma hia' la fa'
  • 'Os gagaj ne Hanua
  • Fufu ne 'os matanitu ta 'e terani te 'i
  • Kautauna'iag ne Noa'tau säea hall ne itu'ta
  • Höt 'ahai la kel hanua
  • Fe'eni ma aire la a'hele poag ne 'ot 'amnaki ma pa 'ese
  • Vai'oan paisin al'akiag ma'us ta
  • Teran ne Malha'a
  • Kamatag ne Sarafui
  • Tauna' ag'esea 'on fekau
  • Erasito Consultants Limited
  • 'Af'af ma'oi ne Dr Jiang po la haiasoag se lelea' Rotuma
  • Taf'aga - pa 'es fa ma haian
  • Taf'aga - 'ut ma kikia se rere

 As always, lots of photos accompany the text.

From Sanimeli Maraf in Rotuma (25 March 2001, posted 17 April)

The Wesley Mission Special Events Manager, Reverend Jeff Pope, was here from16-23 March. Last week he met with the Rotuma High School Board members and discussed the library project. While he was here the Malhaha youth invited him to talk with them and to share the Gospel. It was enjoyed by all. On the following night two of the youths came to see him to seek advice.

The high school invited Rev Pope on Wednesday to talk with them and to share lunch after meeting with the Board members. The children performed after lunch. We realised that the children are more and more professional in their dancing. We were told that the real Rotuman dances will be performed when the work on the library is completed in July.

Rev Pope praised the principal of the high school, Mr Jione Tanu of Pepjei; the vice-principal, Mrs Fesaitu Isimeli of Lopta; and all the teachers for their good hard work on behalf of the high school children.

Rev Pope and the district officer left Rotuma together and were met in Suva by Tiu Lilino; this week they will shop for the necessary materials.

The mission team will arrive on 11 June this year and will remain until 6 July. Some Rotumans from Sydney will join the team. The Rotuman congregation in Sydney will celebrate their 25th anniversary on Sunday, 10 June, with a project dedication ceremony, and the mission team will leave the next day for Rotuma, where they will spend three weeks. We look forward to seeing them.

Fifteen Malhaha High School children are leaving on 9 April to Fiji to take part in the annual sports events sponsored by Coca Cola held in Suva. [Note from FijiVillage website: This year's Coca Cola games is expected to be bigger than previous years with over 110 secondary schools expected to participate in the two day meet. Coca Cola has increased their sponsorship from $25,000 to $40,000 this year. Meanwhile the Maritime schools have started arriving into Suva and will take part in their zone next Tuesday.]

Since the beginning of March, the high school has had power restored from its generator.

In Noa'tau today we are sad over the loss of the lovely hifau trees, which were landmarks at Faioa. These trees have been there for such a long time--how long we do not know. Some cleanup people thought to burn the rubbish leaves that were inside the hollow tree trunk. One tree fell on Saturday morning and landed on the verandah of the Fletcher Bible School building, and now half the verandah is gone. The other tree fell down yesterday afternoon, barely missing the church. So now there's a big cleanup to do. We are all sad--Faioa is not the same; there's no shady place to sit and relax and enjoy the breeze. And the birds have to look somewhere else for a home. Luckily no one was hurt, and the lay preachers will have less work cleaning up the leaves than before.

Today a team of skin specialists from Suva will visit the district of Noa'tau. At the moment we haven't a doctor to replace Dr Eric Rafai, who left last December. Dr Taukave has been seeing patients at the hospital and working hard for the people of Rotuma without pay. However, he has now stopped going to the hospital and has opened up his own surgery again, leaving the hospital with no doctor, only the staff nurses and an acting sister.

A famous Rotuman professor, Vilsoni Hereniko of Hapmak, is here with two of his crew to do a trial movie. They will be back in June for the real movie.

Oinafa district finally resolved their dispute over leadership in the district at the end of February 2001 after eleven years. Gagaj Kausiriaf is still the district chief thanks to the mediating efforts of the district officer, Mr Luke Moraivalu, and Tiu Malu from Suva.

Our new Red Cross president in Rotuma is Mrs Ritie Solea of Sauhata. She will be attending the Red Cross course in Suva in April. The new team is doing a good job here in Rotuma. Yesterday Ritie came and we walked from Kalvaka to Vaimasi visiting the unfortunate ones. Joining her in Noa'tau district is Ms Faga Soani, Junior Eliesa, and Ms Valesi Fagmaniua.

From Fijilive (10 April 2001)

Rigamoto back as elections supervisor

Walter Rigamoto is expected to be reappointed Supervisor of Elections.

Rigamoto had been seconded to the Constitutional review Commission which has not been sitting because of an injunction granted by the High Court.

An appointment will be made by the end of the month. Deputy Supervisor Kameli Koto is acting.

Meanwhile Electoral Commission chairman Ratu Josua Toganivalu told the Fiji Sun the Elections Office was ready for the polls, but he wasn't sure if the people would understand the preferentialvoting system which was the centre of much controversy.

He said they would do the best they could, but it was like having a class with 40 pupils and a good teacher which will make it difficult to get a 100 per cent pass rate.

From Rina Antonio in Fiji (4 April 2001)

Rupeni Ravoi, son of Tausie and Tokoara of Lopta, Rotuma, passed away on Sunday, 25 March 2001, at a Church Service at Churchward Chapel, Rewa Street, Suva, Fiji. He is survived by his wife Sumasafu Rupeni, his son and daughter-in-law, Fonmanu and Charlene Rupeni. Attached is a brief history of a wonderful and loving dad, uncle, and a friend:

Education: Malhaha Primary School to Malhaha Secondary School

Employment: Started work as a mail boy when he was 16 years old. He worked through to the rank of "Wireless Operator," including the use of Morse Code.In 1968 he was posted to Rotuma as the Postmaster for the Rotuma Office and returned to Fiji in 1977, where he was promoted to Supervising Radio Telegraph Operator till his retirement from Government in 1987 at the age of 44. On his retirement, he was able to send Morse Code at a rate of 30 words per minute.

In August of 1990 he was awarded the "Second Class Radio-Telegraph Operator's Certificate" and was employed by the Pacific Forum Line. He worked in the Forum Samoa, a container liner, as First Officer, Radio Operator.

In December of 1991 he was appointed the "Officer-in Charge" of the then National Bank of Fiji--Rotuma Branch. He retired in 1995 at the age of 52.


Mrs Sumasafu Rupeni, Fonmanu, and Charlene Rupeni would like to thank everyone for their kind words of sympathy and deeds during the sudden loss of their beloved husband and father. May God richly bless each and everyone of you who have contributed in any way.

This photo was taken during Fonmanu's graduation ceremony in 1995. Left to Right: Sumasafu Rupeni, Fonmanu Rupeni, and Rupeni Ravoi, who passed away on 25 March 2001


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