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Archived News: September 2002

From Lijiana Inia in Suva (7 October 2002)

Rotuma Games 5th – 7th October 2002

The games this year were held in Suva at the Cathedral Secondary School Grounds with Ra'esea Club hosting the Games.

Clubs from Vatukoula (Tieri), Lautoka (Mairo) and Nadi (Granville) arrived in Suva on Friday for the Games.

With the Pool Games kicking off on Saturday, everything went well with the weather being favourable throughout the day.

The netball competition saw the A-Grade defending champion, Sarafui, playing their first game against Moiro; the game went in Moiro's favour.

In rugby both Sarafui and Ra’esea shared the trophy for the A-Grade; the winner for the B-grade was Ra’esea.

In netball, Moiro Girls took both A and B.
The overall winner for year 2002 went to Moiro Club.

Noa’ia Moiro‘e huag fe’eni.

Despite the wet weather condition, everyone enjoyed the games.
Faiaksea and congrats to Freddy Crocker and the Ra'esea club for hosting this year's Rotuma Games. Freddy is the newly elected president for the Rotuma Games and we wish you all the best in your next three years in office.


From Lijiana Inia in Suva (30 September 2002)

Itu'muta Day Celebration

On Saturday 28 September Itu'muta people from all over Viti Levu got together at the Nadi Club in Nadi to celebrate Itu'muta Day.

The last Saturday of of September is a significant date for Itu'muta people around Viti Levu. It is when we get together to celebrate Itu'muta Day. The significance of the day is that it celebrates the first meeting of all the Itu'muta people on Viti Levu, which was in response to a request by Gagaj Fasaumoea some years ago to assist our district and the people back at home in whatever way we could to help develop our district, Itu'muta. The celebration is an annual affair.

This year's celebration was hosted by the Nadi Itu'muta Group for the first time, and was well organised. About FJD$14,850.00 was collected on Saturday, and with many people from the Suva area, Nadi, Lautoka, and Vatukoula attending, the event was quite a success.

Captain Fuata Jione (formerly of Brisbane, Australia, now residing in Suva) gave the opening and closing address and donated FJD$2500.00.

Events of the day
The Suva Itu'muta group left Suva in three buses at 2 a.m. Saturday morning for Nadi and arrived around 6 a.m. and to our pleasant surprise found Muagrave and his people had breakfast ready for us.

Opening Address
The kato’aga started at 8 a.m. with a church service conducted by Reverend Iveni Fatiaki, followed by a welcoming speech by the Gagaj Puer ne Nadi, Mr Muagrave and ö'fa mafue ta Kaitu'u. Gagaj Puer ta 'e Suva, Sukamanu Pene, gave a speech thanking Muagrave and his Nadi group for hosting this year's celebration and congratulated all the Itu'muta people, guests, and friends for their hard work and dedication through the years in helping raise funds for our home district. Because of their hard work and dedication, development has begun with the provision of electricity around Itu'muta district, and a new community hall is on the way.

The host community first presented a beautiful tau'toag hafa, followed by a tau'toag fa performed by Ho’ag ne Niu’oroi. The tau'toag fa was very unique; this type of dancing is hardly performed nowadays. After the tau'toag fa our hosts served a lovely morning tea which was enjoyed by all.

Immediately after morning tea Ispogtotoka Ho’aga performed a stick dance that was very unusual. Their costumes were beautiful and they performed the dance very well. The Lautoka Group also presented a tau'toag hafa after which Ho’ag ne Manua, Tarfata, and Savaea combined to present an island dance. For the finale the Suva Itu'muta Group presented a beautiful hafa, which everyone truly enjoyed.

After the performances lunch was served and the food was excellent—so well prepared. Thank you Muagrave and Raurikue, and the entire Itu'muta Nadi Group, for organising such a successful event. The bus ride back to Suva was really fun after such a satisfying day. We now look forward to next year's event, which will be hosted by Ho’ag ne Niu’oroi in Suva.

And with that note, a message from Gagaj Puer ta ‘e Suva, Mr Sukamanu Pene.

“To all our families and friends of Itu'muta around the globe, we indeed had a successful Itu'muta Day and our best wishes to all. Hugag ‘esea ma haihanisiga la ‘ut’akia Itu'muta se rer ma tape’ ma se ‘os 'atmotu, Rotuma. Hanisiof.


From David Solomone in Suva (12 September 2002)

LäjeRotuma Rotuma High School-Mural Trip (15 July-1 August 2002)

We arrived on Thursday at noon. Since the whole of Rotuma was busy preparing for the Ahau Methodist Conference, we went unnoticed.

It seemed not so long ago I was here on the LäjeRotuma-coordinated Island coastal cleanup in May.

The next day, on Friday, Tevita Fasala, Paul Wong and I went to Rotuma High School to see the principal, John Tanu, to arrange for the High School Programs; we ended up refereeing the P.E. classes for Forms 1 & 3.

From Monday to Wednesday the following week we conducted the High School Program. Although LäjeRotuma had planned to work with Forms 1,2,3 & 5 (the non-external examination forms), such was the interest expressed by the students that the whole school got involved at some point or another.

Forms 1 & 2 produced coloured pictures of sea life and were asked to write the Rotuman names for the different fish portrayed in the pictures. For the upper forms, ideas for their activities were taken from CREST (Coral Reef Education for Students and Teachers for Elementary Level), produced by International Marinelife Alliance in the Philippines.

At first it was quiet scary to be back at our old school, this time grown up and trying to be the teacher up front! We are not trained teachers, so you can imagine how we carried out the environmental programs with the students--fun field activities out on the beach, under the hifau tree, and when it started raining we brought the discussion into the classroom. It is no secret that when the three of us were in school we weren’t the brightest or the most attentive students. So the guys and I tried to make the activities interesting. Personally I’m grateful for the opportunity to relive my student days in those very same classrooms.

The same week, on Thursday and Friday, we went to Paptea District School, where they painted a winning poster. Classes 5 & 6 created the poster and participated in painting the mural with us.

During our stay the Methodist Conference was held at Ahau and we went there to help out with the preparations. We also went on a picnic to Oinafa Wharf with the students from Rotuma High School and went to a youth rally at utut te fa’. It was such a great trip that Tevita decided to stay until the next boat, much to Monifa’s (LäjeRotuma coordinator) dismay.

We must not forget to thank the Rotuma High School family and the students of Paptea School; they made the trip a very fruitful and memorable one.

News from Bruce Tizard-Varcoe in England, 12 September 2002

Congratulations to Fereti Semesi on his promotion to Lance Bombardier. Fereti ('Fred') Semesi, son of Tui and Faga and brother to Karen, Rigamoto and Emelina, has been in the British army now for over two and a half years now. After successfully passing his Phase 1 and Phase 2 basic training, he moved on to his regiment, "The Royal Horse Artillery."

In the Summer of 2001, he spent some time in Canada on exercise and this year it was over to Bosnia for 6 months on peacekeeping duties. Earlier this year he took a three week intensive Lance Bombardier Cadre course.

Over forty entered and only twenty-two managed to pass overall. Fred managed to hold the number one position for two weeks, but unfortunately he picked up an injury on week three and eventually came fourth.

As a result of his success, Fred was promoted to Lance Bombardier and received his stripe while out in Bosnia.

He will shortly be returning to the U.K. to attend a management course and looks forward to seeing his family in Suva and Rotuma when he heads home on leave this Christmas. Photos

Asst Minister Marieta Rigamoto presenting copy of Kato'aga to author, Elizabeth Inia

On 4 September 2002 The Institute for Pacific Studies and the University of the South Pacific launched several books, including Seksek 'e Hatana by Aubrey Parke and Kato'aga: Rotuman Ceremonies by Elizabeth Inia. The books were launched by Mrs Marieta Rigamoto. In attendance were: District Officer Luke Moroivula and Gagaj Irao (Savlei) from Rotuma, Chief Justice Daniel and Martha Fatiaki, Dr John and Sineva Fatiaki, Deaconess Olivia (Dilkusha), Maria Fonmanu (CDU, Ministry of Education), Rejieli Flexman (Australia), and Mrs Susan Boyd (Australian High Commissioner). For the complete online text of Kato'aga: Rotuman Ceremonies, click here.


From Alan & Jan in Honolulu (8 September 2002)

The Tefui Club has been holding taumaka on Saturdays in preparation for a public performance on 19 October honoring Fiji Day. We are pleased to report that most of the dancers are from the younger generation, and that they have been showing a lot of enthusiasm for learning Rotuman dance and culture. John (Pene) Camillo is the man in charge of teaching the youngsters the ropes.

Youths at taumaka
Mafua leading the singing
John (Pene) Camillo

From Pene Vafo'ou in Sydney (8 September 2002)

On 6 April 2002 Alice Lily Ann Vafo'ou (nee Managreve) graduated from the University Of Western Sydney-Parramatta Campus with a Master's degree in Nursing. This was followed by a celebration dinner with family members at Parramatta. She is currently working as a Clinical Nurse Specialist (Mental Health) at the Western Sydney Area Health Service in Sydney, Australia. She has been grateful for the support provided to her over the past years by her close family members, especially her husband, her three sons, mum (Estella), as well as her brother George. 


From Elisapeti Inia in Suva (8 September 2002)

On 31 August, the Rotumans in Suva held a kato'aga at the Lambert Hall to honor the promotion of Justice Daniel Fatiaki to the position of Chief Justice of Fiji. We Rotumans regard this as the highest honor ever bestowed on a Rotuman by the Government of Fiji and we are deeply grateful to the Government for letting one of our sons to have a share of the cake. In the past we had hard-working men like Joseph Rigamoto and Wilson Inia who served Fiji faithfully for years, yet they went to their graves with only eulogies at their funeral kato'agas to honor them. But at the kato'aga on last Saturday,we were able to show our gratitude to Daniel for the high postion he achieved.

The kato'aga started with a ki, sung by a group of young men, to summon strength for the carriers of the Chief Justice and to ask God to grant him the strength and wisdom to serve Fiji justly. The Chief Justice entered the hall at 11:30 a.m. like a king borne by men on their shoulders, with the ki singers following behind. He sat on an apei, a white mat spread on a wooden frame. It reminded me of his ancestor, Teau, the 84th king of Rotuma. Then he was lowered and sat on a chair to await the preparation of his Rotuman traditional Rotuman seat (päega). The päega was prepared by his father's close relatives; it was made from a white mat; ten small mats with woolen fringes of red and blue, like the dancers' sulus (women red, men blue); five mats with a fold (eap ma'on faua), and two large mats (ag rua). The seat was then made by two of his cousins in front of his chair. He took his seat and was garlanded with a traditional Rotuman tefui, together with his invited guests: Chiefs, Ministers of the Church, and Government dignitaries.

The food, which had been brought in an hour before, was arranged in the central part of the hall. It included: 10 roasted pigs, 5 roasted cows, chickens in fekei moa and fekei kopu, supplementary foods and fruits such as kokoda, salads, hundreds of watermelons, pineapples, and sugarcane.

Before the mafua announced the feast the boys placed low tables ('umefe) in front of each guest, with a double-sized table for two in front of the CJ and his wife. Then the kava girls came forward, followed by the food servers (all pretty young women), who sat down facing the guests. The young men brought the fono (food in tauga) to the girls. Each tauga had three baked taro, a chicken, and a fekei. The meat and fruit were added later. Then the mafua announced the feast in a chanting manner. The announcement of food was followed by the manu' kava and a fakpeje. The girls turned up the 'umefe and laid out the food on them in the Rotuman way they had been taught by their elders. While the kava girls were preparing the kava drink, the young men were busy slicing the pork and beef, opening cans of corned beef for the fono, preparing slices of pineapple and watermelon, and opening coconuts for drinking.

Before the kava drinks were presented, Reverend Jione Langi, the General Secretary of the Methodist Church, said grace. The food procession took more than an hour. Eight sets of tables were prepared for others: two inside the hall for additional distinguished guests and six outside the central hall (three upstairs and three downstairs) for friends and relatives. There was more than enough food for everyone to eat and take away. During the feast, Gagaj Markao, District Chief of Itu'ti'u, Rotuma, where the CJ comes from, gave a speech of thanks. It was seconded by Fekau Lui Morris, the CJ's uncle.

After the feast, Seforana Fatiaki gave a speech in Rotuman thanking everyone who took part in the kato'aga. Then Chief Justice Fatiaki delivered a speech, first in Rotuman, then in English, to thank the Lord for the rain, which reminded him of his roots in Tua'koi; the mass in the morning; the ki; the feast; and the dancers who were ready to take the floor. First came the tautoga of maf hanua, all young and beautiful dancers in white and rauvaru skirts with garlands and fui with pink woolen fringes. The performance by the maf hanua dancers (10 rows of six women and five men) was excellent, with well composed songs, well sung, accompanied by exciting actions.

Altogether more than a hundred people were involved in the hafa. The last dance group consisted of 12 rows. They filled up the dancing place, leaving only three meters in front to reach the first row of seats where the dignitaries sat. This group, all closely related to the CJ, sang out their gratitude from the bottom of their hearts. They danced three sua, three tiap hi'i, and eleven tiap forau. They sang one of the eleven as they approached and the last one sitting down, thanking everyone and asking the onlookers' forgiveness for any mistakes they noticed. During the other nine tiap forau the dancers really worked up to a climax. Shouts of Hi'i! Hui Hui! Hia Hie! Hi Ha! Hip Hip Hooray! filled Lambert Hall and rippled through the surrounding area of Flagstaff. "The rain is falling, a blessing for today" was the first sentence of one of the nine tipa, and it was a real blessing to have rain, to keep the dancers cool and happy. The kato'aga came to an end at 5 p.m.

Note: Tua'koi is a village in Rotuma where my father came from, and it is well known on the island that rain precedes every kato'aga held there to provide water for the function. No well can be dug there because of the basaltic rock underneath the sand. From the times of Tagroa to the modern days of Christianity, the promise of rain from our ancestors remains true till today. Te samuga Tuakoi uas'uas!

From Fiji Sunday Times (1 September 2002)

Rotumans hail son in CJ’s Chair

(By Serafina Silaitoga)

…….He has made us proud…..

That’s how the Rotuman community described the appointment of Daniel Fatiaki to Chief Justice during a celebration yesterday.

Organiser John Fatiaki—younger brother of Justice Fatiaki—said it was a way of expressing the community’s gratitude and appreciation for his brother’s hard work over the years.

“We are very proud and happy for him. That’s why we are all here, the community from all parts of Fiji, to celebrate his appointment. We do know that God has given him the post to take up despite criticisms from some groups in society,” he said.

“And we know that since it is a gift and a blessing from God, he will perform his best for the people of Fiji.”

Yesterday’s celebration started with a Mass at the Laucala Bay Catholic Church followed by the traditional ceremony of katoaga.

According to Mr Fatiaki, the ceremony involved the carrying of Justice Fatiaki on a carriage or suaki from his car outside Lambert Hall to inside.

While being carried into the hall, men followed and sang Rotuman songs.

Upon arrival inside the hall, Justice Fatiaki sat on a pile of mats arranged by women.
This was followed by presentations of more mats and food.

The afternoon was occupied by different dancers and singing from various groups as the community entertained guests and relative.

Justice Fatiaki replaced Sir Timoci Tuivaga.

From Daily Post (1 September 2002)

CJ traditionally acknowledged in dance

Naciqa– Waqanidrola

FIJI’s new Chief Justice Daniel Vafo'ou Fatiaki was accorded a traditional Rotuma reception ceremony at Lambert Hall, in Flagstaff, Suva yesterday by fellow islanders.

It was to mark his achievement as the first Rotuman to hold such a high office in Fiji.

The ceremony was last performed in 1986 when the Pope visited the country. Radio personality Francis Herman said the ceremony was performed as it was performed in the old days.

"His achievement is unique and special—it is befitting that he is accorded such a gesture," Mr Herman said.

CJ Fatiaki was carried into Lambert Hall on a platform covered with special Rotuma mats by his family members from his district of Itu'ti'u. The ceremony called the ki which heralded his arrival saw those following the platform, walking slowly, stooping low and chanting.

Colourful mats were presented to the chief guest who by then had joined other guests on the main area.

Among his fellow judiciary workmates, were the Speaker Ratu Epeli Nailatikau, his wife, Adi Koila, deputy Prime Minister Ro Teimumu Kepa, her husband Sailosi, former arbitrator Ratu Joni Madraiwiwi, his wife Lady Raijieli, Attorney General Qoriniasi Bale, Rotuma parliamentarian Marieta Rigamoto, Gagaj Markau from Itu’tiu and Gagaj Kauturaf from Lopta to mention some.

The unique part of the ceremony was the kaufakgagaj (yagona) ceremony which was performed by women instead of men like the Fijians. There was a man who called out to the women serving the drink the name of the person that was to drink after CJ Fatiaki took the first bowl.

Each guest has a specially constructed small table which his or her food was served individually by a woman from a special basket called the tauga.

Every Rotuman household has a tauga because if the family was visited by a chief his food should only be served in one. Then the entertainment came to round off the ceremony. A special dance which is performed to a Rotuman who has achieved such a high office was performed in Rotuman for then Fiji Military Forces chief of Staff, Colonel George Konrote after returning from Lebanon as UNFIL commanding officer during his mission in the Middle East last year.

From Sunday Sun (1 September 2002)

Rotumans welcome new CJ

By Avikash Kumar

All Rotumans around the country held their heads up high yesterday after they accorded their traditional ceremony of thanks giving for the new Chief Justice, Daniel Fatiaki.

Hundreds of people gathered at the Lambert hall at the Marist Brothers High School to celebrate the new Chief Justice’s appointment.

As he arrived at the entrance of the hall, a group of men were ready to carry him in, a traditional ceremony called the ‘Ki’, where only special people were given this treatment. Among those who attended the function yesterday were Ratu Epeli Nailatikau, Senator Adi Koila Nailatikau, former Chief Justice Sir Timoci Tuivaga and Berenado Vunibobo. After the welcoming speech, mats were presented and spread for Mr Fatiaki to sit on and have his meal. Guests were asked to sit on the floor before they were served their lunch.

A great feast was prepared on this historic and auspicious occasion, which is sure to be remembered by Rotumans for a very long time. Speaking in his own dialect Chief Justice Fatiaki thanked the Rotuman community for the initiative they had taken to organise a wonderful ceremony.

Entertainment was provided by the beautiful girls and strong men that had been practicing items for the past week.

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