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Archived News: May 2003

From Australia (30 May 2003)

Rejieli Paulo and Duncan Shepherd announce the birth to their second daughter, Isabella Hanisi, on 21 May 2003.

The photo shows the newcomer getting her first bath.




From Daily Post (20 May 2003, posted 26 May)

Rotumans receive farming tools

by Shamae Fatiaki

The Ministry of Agriculture distributed about $80,000 worth of farming equipment to farmers on the island of Rotuma as part of the Government’s blueprint for indigenous Fijians and Rotumans.

Commissioner Eastern Misieli Naivalu said that 54 farmers who applied through the council and the District Officer’s Office have all received their farming tools which consisted of forks, spades, fencing wire, weedkiller and spray.

Meanwhile, the remianing $20,000 worth of farming tools to the island will be distributed in the near future.

The council has also resolved that Rotuma will not accept any dalo or agricultural plant brought in from Fiji or any other place to be planted in Rotuma.

This decision follows the advice by the Ministry of Agriculture not to unnecessarily import foreign plants into the island to ensure that foreign pests affecting dalo and other agricultural plants are not brought in along with the plants. Mr Naivalu thanked the council for taking the precautionary measures on foreign plants brought into Rotuma.

From Daily Post (20 May 2003, posted 26 May)

Council wants revolving funds for farmers

by Shamae Fatiaki

The Rotuma Island Council has called on the relevant authorities to establish a revolving fund for copra farmers on the island to assist them financially.

Council Chairman Visanti Makrava says that the coconut industry has been down in Rotuma for the last 30 to 40 years because “basically no one has the cash flow to pay for the green copra from the farmers on a continuous basis.”

He added that another problem was that although the coconuts were growing in abundance, farmers couldn’t produce copra because it cannot be paid in time.

“ I am suggesting that the Government do something to help the Rotuman farmers on the basis of setting up of a revolving fund which could be managed by the council and lent out to the copra buyers based on their irrevocable assignment of the proceeds of the copra coming back to the council,” Mr Makrava said. He said that in this way, the money would always be directly in the hands of the buyer which could be Punjas or Copra Millers who would give it to back to the council which would in turn, re-lend it again to the farmers as an onward process to help the farmers cut copra on a daily basis if they wished to.

“At the moment, the few copra buyers here in Rotuma do not have the cash flow to maintain this buying spree which can only last for a couple of days a week and sometimes not at all right through a month.”

From New Zealand Army News (20 May 2003, posted 26 May)

Maj Gen Jerry Mateparae and Mark Vaurasi

The Chief of Army was on the receiving end for a change at a presentation ceremony in Army General Staff on 6 May 2003. Major General Jerry Mateparae was pleased to accept the Inter-Services men's, women's and master's touch trophies from Mark Vaurasi, New Zealand Army Sports Touch Code Chairperson. Maj Gen Mateparae said sport was a very important part of the fabric of a military force encapsulating service, loyalty and courage. He said the trophies would be displayed in Army GS but would also be taken around the Army for people to see.

Mark was appointed Army Touch Chairperson in May 2002 and represented the New Zealand Army in 1998, 2002, and 2003, and Wellington Province at the New Zealand National Masters Touch tournament in 2002 at Palmerston North and 2003 in Wellington. He also represented Army in Rugby, including The Royal New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps from 1978 - 1990. At an age where most sports people would have retired, Mark continues to play rugby for the Trentham Army Camp President's team and enjoys watching his children playing netball, hockey, basketball and rugby league. His recreational interests include gym workouts, and activities that are family inclusive.

From Sanimeli Maraf in Rotuma (15 May 2003, posted 24 May)

Our Rotuma Day celebration was on Monday, 12 May, at Ahau. The French ambassador to Fiji, Jean-Pierre Vidon, attended. He is the first French ambassador to visit the island. The tautoga were performed by men only; the men from Motusa, Malhaha, Oinafa & Noa'tau danced. There were a few sports: tiak parafa, copra cutting, basket making, etc. It was a nice day for the sports people. The ambassador presented a French medal to Gagaj Maraf and the chairman of the Rotuma Council, Visanti Makrava.

The Naitukulau government vessel brought the ambassador and also a team of government officials from the Northern Development Committee, including Fred Susau. It was good to have people from the different branches come to explain the type of work they do. The celebration was a one-day affair.

The next day the Sumi Catholic Mission did a mamasa for Monsieur Vidon. During his speech he gave a history of the French Catholic priests who first visited Rotuma and how the church was built. It was very interesting. After the mamasa Juju and Pepjei performed a Rotuman hafa. The ambassador and other visitors from Fiji enjoyed the day. Plenty of kava was drunk afterwards and we didn't get home until 9 p.m. Father Low, who is the mission priest, and the district officer, Luke Moroivalu, were given French medals. Many thanks to Gagaj Titofag and the people of Juju and Pepjei for a well-organized kato'aga.

From Daily Post (20 May 2003, posted 26 May)

Rotumans deserve better: Council

by Shamae Fatiaki

The Rotuma Island Council is disappointed with reports submitted to the council by the visiting Government delegates led by the Commissioner Eastern Misieli Naivalu.

The delegates, Mr Naivalu, Divisional Planning Officer Eastern Fred Susau, and members of the Rotuma Island Council met at the Council Office in Ahau, Rotuma, to discuss ways in which the lives of the Rotuman people could be enhanced in terms of education and health.

Speaking on behalf of the council, Chairman Visanti Makrava said that the meeting could have been a very fruitful one if issues brought forward were properly cleared.

“The council is very disappointed with the delegates as it was clear that most of them did not know much about the issues put forward and as a result we were not able to discuss the issues properly and hence come to a resolution,” Mr Makrava said.

Mr Makrava noted disappointing examples from delegates on issues regarding health, police, Public Service Commission, agriculture and social welfare. He said the council could not get the answers it wanted and this was very disappointing, as the council was looking forward to the meeting.

“It was obvious by the reports submitted by certain delegates that they were last minute reports and most of them did not know what was on the reports,” Mr Makrava said.

He said that this showed a lack of concern on the government ministries concerned as it was clear that instead of sending someone of authority who had relevant knowledge of issues to be discussed, the ministries sent officers who were, to say the least, unprepared and who did not know much.

Mr Makrava said that the isolation of Rotuma must not be used as an excuse for the delay of development in Rotuma.

“We, the people of Rotuma, are not asking for special treatment; however, we are asking that the needs of Rotuma be looked into with precision and care as we are quite isolated from the developed regions and it is difficult to get across to the concerned departments when the need arises.”

“Therefore, such meetings must be well prepared as they do not occur very often and they are important meetings where issues concerning the betterment of the lives of the people of Rotuma are discussed and resolutions are made,” Mr Makrava added.

From Daily Post (20 May 2003, posted 23 May)

Rotuma hospital needs upgrading

by Shamae Fatiaki

The Rotuma Hospital, which is in a terrible state, will close down if the Ministry of Health does not attend to its needs as soon as possible, says Doctor Ane Atalifo.

Dr Atalifo, the only doctor at the hospital, says the condition of the hospital, which was built in 1910, needs major upgrading and renovating.

Several attempts to get the ministry to send over funds for the renovations of the only hospital on the island seem to be falling on deaf ears, she said.

“Last year, the hospital was issued with improvement notices by the Ministry of Labour to have their X-Ray and Dark Room improved but to date the Ministry of Health has yet to provide the funds for the renovations,” Dr Atalifo said.

The hospital cannot operate without the X-Ray room and Dark Room. "We have written to the Ministry of Labour to extend the improvement notice time frame so the Health Ministry could provide the funds for renovations," Dr Atalifo said.

A big concern for Dr Atalifo and the Rotuma Island Council was the delay in the extension of Rotuma Hospital. Rotuma District Officer and Council Secretary Luke Moroivalu said that the Council was not satisfied with explanations given by the Ministry of Health representative at the council meeting.

From Daily Post (20 May 2003, posted 23 May)

PWD to move office

by Shamae Fatiaki

The Rotuma Island Council is not pleased with the most recent move by the Public Works Department in Rotuma as it has pulled down its office and garage at Ahau Government Station to allow for the construction of a new building and garage.

At a meeting with delegates and council members in Ahau, Rotuma, council chairman Visanti Makrava said that the council members are already negotiating a new complex to be built in Rotuma, so as to allow Government to rent office space to generate income for the council.

“If PWD wants to construct a new office and garage now, then the council will lose out on the office space,” Mr Makrava said.

PWD representative to the council meeting Meli Tiko told the council that this was an issue that needed to be clarified with the Ministry of Works and that it would be very inconvenient for them, as they would have to bring in their heavy machinery.

“This heavy machinery would be very disturbing and it needs a separate location because of the sound and air pollution the machine will generate,” Mr Tiko said.

The PWD staff is now sharing the Water Supply Office before a new one is constructed and the council has resolved that they will have to renegotiate with the ministry on this issue.

From Fijilive (22 May 2003)

Rotuma yet to get school funds

FOR the past nine years Rotuma High School has not been able to get its complete funding from the Ministry of Education because the financial accounts of the school have not been audited.

Chairman of the Rotuma Island Council Visanti Makrava said that the funds have always sent by the school’s financial accounts to the Auditor-General’s Office.

“To date, nothing has been finalised on the grants issued to the school and the last time the Auditor-General visited the island was in 1994,” Mr Makrava said.

He said sending the documents to Suva was not real auditing as for real auditing to take place, you must touch and feel the assets and the real thing.

“All these years we have been requested to send the documents and we have received queries which to me, are unrelated at all.”

He said if the school continues to go without this funding from the Ministry of Education, then someone would have to make the decision whether to send the funding on the basis of the papers sent through the ministry and forget about the Audit Department.

From Mika Taito in Santa Barbara California (20 May 2003)

Noa'ia 'e mauri!
Rotuma Day 2003 is over in California with great success. Our former Chairman Monsieur Sopapelu Susau wishes to extend a message of gratitude & thankfulness to everyone present last Saturday May 10th at the Rotuma Day Celebration. 'Os temamfua 'ea, "Moa ta pulou ka 'uaf ta pulou tape'ma." This was in comparison to the celebration last Saturday hun se 'on keleag lelei ma helav ne kato'ag ta.

'Ua'ua'aki leuof se te' ne Gagaj Rotuam 'atakoa ne po ma teag'esea 'e kato'ag ta.

Honorable Gagaj 'Uafta Versoni (Islepi, Juju)
Madam Tausia Tigarea (Fuli'u, Lopta who opened the celebration & lead us in prayer)
Alan Howard & Jan Rensel from Hawaii
Sister Leotina Fesa'itu & Sister Vienna from Hanford, California
'Ana, Elizabeth Kamilo & family from Las Vegas, Nevada
Madam Sarote Wesley Tolo from Utah
Viki, Ryoya & Riyana 'Atu from Kaneohe, Hawaii
Myra Tolo Timoteo from Las Vegas, Nevada
Moana Jeremaiah, Daniel Manueli, Rejieli Vaurasi & Kapani Elaisa all from Los Angeles
Tifare Sosefo & family from Sacramento, California
Jacob 'Urvaru from Nabua, Suva

Also we would like to thank other Pacific Island Communities who were present at the Celebration...Fijians...Tongans...Samoans...Fiji Indians; also to anyone present but not mentioned.

Tape'ma 'ua'aki leuof se members ne Seven Stars of Rotuma ma se hensasiag Rotuam ne po ma haiasoagan kato'ag ta.

Moeva & Betty Osotonu family from Vallejo
David & Vini from San Francisco
'Eliesa & Dorothy Osotonu from Antioch
Aitu & Bruce Richmond from Santa Cruz
Makereta & Pedro Rigamoto family from Fremont
Nikolas Mario from Vallejo
Mereana & Joel Gibson, Maureen Tolo, Makrao Mario all from Sunnyvale
Lili Albert & Tarosila from Woodside
Brigitte & John Kafoa from Los Angeles
Margaret Susau & family from San Francisco
Emeli & Bill Hay family from Lake Tahoe Nevada

Se te' ne Gagaj Rotuam 'atakoa ne Mereke ma rante' ne kat po ra la teag'esea ma 'amis Seven Stars of Rotuma 'e fau te' 2003 hun se popot ne agtau ma 'omus mauri, 'amis 'omus hensasiag ne noh 'e California 'airot'ak ne 'is la po la teag'esea 'e May 2004. See you there!.

Just a reminder Motusa Village fundraising will be held on Saturday May 31st se home 'on Pedro & Makereta Rigamoto 'e Fremont starting at 2 p.m. Also to all members ne Seven Stars of Rotuma our next meeting will be held on Saturday June 7th se home 'on Chairman fo'ou ta 'Eliesa Osotonu in Antioch.

Faiaksea ma fu'amus!

Note: Jan and I attended the kato'aga and we would like to congratulate members of the Seven Stars Club for putting on a splendid event. The food and entertainment was great, and so was the sense of good fellowship. When leaving the hall at Martin Luther King Park in San Mateo, where the even was held, we met the groundskeeper and he made a point of telling us that this was the nicest group he had ever come across. We could have told him that! See photos.

From Alan & Jan in Honolulu (20 May 2003)

The newly elected officers of Hugag'esea

Frank Samuelu, Aisake Avaiki
Pena Tivao Elissalde, Konousi Aisake

After attending the kato'aga in San Mateo we journeyed up to Victoria B.C. where the Hugag'esea Club was hosting a celebration of Rotuma Day on 17 May. It, too, was a splendid event, with great food and entertainment. What a treat to be able to eat koua puaka, a'ana, and especially fekei for two weeks in a row! Both events were attended by close to 200 people.

On the following day the Hugag'esea Club held a meeting at the home of Saunoa & Janet Molia and elected the following officers:

President - Frank Samuelu
Vice President - Aisake Avaiki
Secretary - Pena Tivao Elissalde
Treasurer - Konousi Aisake

It was a great pleasure for us to see the enthusiasm of the youths in both places, and their willingness to take on leadership roles. It's clear that the future of Rotuman culture is in excellent hands.

The Hugag'esea Gang

More photos

From Lijiana Inia in Suva (20 May 2003)

Rotuma Day Celebration 10 May 2003

This year’s celebration was held at the National Gymnasium in Suva, and hosted by the Suva Itu'ti'u Community. It was a Charity Princess event. Each district was represented by a princess and the district that collected the most had its candidate declared the charity princess for the year 2003. It was agreed that fifty percent of the amount collected by each district would be refunded to the district at the end of the celebration, while the other fifty percent will go toward funding projects already in the pipeline sponsored by the Seven Districts in Suva.

The day’s events started with a church service conducted by the General Secretary of the Methodist Church in Fiji, Rev Jione Langi. Chairman of the Seven Districts in Suva Dr John Fatiaki presented a welcoming speech followed by a speech from the Chief Guest, the Chairman of the Great Council of Chiefs, Ratu Epeli Ganilau. Present on the day was the Chief of Itu’ti’u, Gagaj Markao and Mrs Markao, who came from Rotuma to attend the celebration. Guests of the day were Government Ministers and officials and members of the Diplomatic Corp. Each District presented a tautoag hafa. Refreshments were served during and after the performance by the first two districts.

The day concluded with the anouncement of the Charity Princess which was taken by Miss Itu'muta District represented by Miss Fautarau Pene, daughter of Rejieli and Fonmoa Pene of Itumuta. The Suva Itu’muta Association collected nineteen thousand, eight hundred and sixty five dollars (FJD$19,865.00). The seven districts in Suva collected the following amount of money.

Noa’tau District - $ 1,337.00
Oinafa District - $ 3,330.00
Itu'ti'u District - $10,560.00
Malhaha District - $ 6,005.00
Juju District - $ 700.00
Pepjei District - $ 3,030.00
Itu’muta District - $19,865.00

Invited Guests collected about six hundred Fijian dollars (FJD$600.00).

The Celebration came to an end at about 4 p.m. in the afternoon with a thank you and apology speech by the host district and assistant chairman of the Seven District in Suva, Mr Mareko Kuna'u, after which everyone enjoyed the lunch prepared by the host.

Noa'tau hafa
Miss Itu'muta (Charity Princess Fautarau Pene)

Extract from letters to the editor – Fiji Times (16 May 2003, posted 20 May)

Rotuman Paper

Recently we celebrated Media Freedom Day and then Rotumans gathered at the National Stadium to celebrate Rotuma Day.

However, we also note that a prominent Rotuman leader had once branded his people as lazy. Therefore, Rotumans need to redeem themselves of this self-inflicted branding and injury.

I would urge some Rotuman leader to stand up and ponder the lack of any media dedicated to Rotumans, despite so much talk about affirmative action. Somebody should question why the first Rotuman paper that was given to its people by an Indo-Fijian was unceremoniously dumped, with little or no protest from the Rotuman community.

As publisher of the Daily Post, with the help of some visionary Rotumans, we started Noa’ia Rotuma, which was dumped when I was dumped from the Post. The issue facing the Rotuman community is why are they deprived of their own language newspaper, and when will those who profess to walk their talk on affirmative action, revive Noa’ia Rotuma? It is too late for the community to demand its fair share in the promotion of language, culture and arts through their own language Noa’ia Rotuma, and demand its revival.

Thakup Ranjit Singh
Former publisher
Daily Post,
Noa’ia Rotuma.

From Fiji Times (16 May 2003, posted 20 May)

Vidon at island party

By Moira Vilsoni

The French Ambassador, Jean-Pierre Vidon, was chief guest during Rotuma Day celebrations on Monday on the island. Mr Vidon, who returned to Suva on Wednesday, was invited by the Rotuma Island Council to be chief guest.

He said he enjoyed travelling around the island and he noticed a lot of developments. “I am really surprised with the many developments that are on the island expecially when it is very isolated,” he said. “The Rotumans are very proud of their culture and heritage and that was what I emphasised when I was on the island--to be proud of one’s culture.” Rotuma Island Council chairman Visanti Makrava said the presence of the ambassador lifted the spirits of the people during the celebrations. He said advances in the development of Rotuma were witnessed by the visiting delegation from Suva that accompanied the ambassador. “We have some other government officials who are also here who have witnessed the island’s progress in terms of development,” he said. “The ambassador has already left Rotuma and we hope that we would be able to invite other expatriates in years to come.”

From Fiji Sunday Times (11 May 2003, posted 20 May)

Islanders celebrate day of cession

By Marvin Poonan

Every year on May 13 Rotumans around the world celebrate to mark Rotuma’s cession to Great Britain. This year’s Rotuma Day celebrations held at the National Gymnasium in Suva. Yesterday was special for many reasons. And for the first time in the history of the celebrations, a non-Rotuman, Great Council of Chiefs chairman Ratu Epeli Ganilau, was invited as chief guest. The message for the celebrations conveyed to all Rotumans by the chiefs was clear. “Huagagesea ma fe’eni la po la utakiof se rere” (unity of purpose and hard work will raise our land to greater heights).

Doctor John Fatiaki, the chairman of the Suva Rotuma Seven Districts Committee, said that the message, although expressed over a hundred years ago was still applicable not only to present day Rtoumans but to every Fiji citizen. “It serves well as a uniting theme as we endeavour to make Fiji truly the way the world should be,” he said. Among the guests were French Ambassador Jean Pierre Vidon and other foreign diplomats, who seemed spellbound by the maka (dances). In the true spirit of competitiveness, all seven districts smartly dressed in their separate uniforms sporting scented tefui took to the floor one after the other.

From Elisapeti Inia in Rotuma (2 April 2003, posted 1 May)

The Methodist annual meeting for all circuits, namely Motusa, Malhaha, Oinafa, and Churchward Chapel in Suva (21 representatives) starts this Sunday afternoon, 6 April, at the Oinafa circuit in Noa‘tau. Then the Conference will be held on 11 April, also at Noa‘tau. The Noa‘tau fishing ground fapui will be lifted and all will enjoy the hagota. Gagaj Marekao of Itu‘ti‘u will lead the hagota with his Tuakoi men and their nets. The Suva people who came for the annual meeting and attendees from all parts of Rotuma can stay back on Thursday to join in the hagota to drive the fish to the nets. Those who don't want to fish can go home to rest and come back on Friday for the na te and maka.

A plane landed here last week with engine trouble. Three New Zealanders were on board on their way to Tuvalu.

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