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Archived News: June 2003

From Konousi Aisake in Surrey B.C. (30 June 2003)

On 21 June, the first day of summer in Canada, our Hugag’esea Club was hired by the University of British Columbia`s Museum of Anthroplogy to perform a traditional Rotuman dance. For us to perform in front of 500 plus people for the first time was no problem. It went really well, and everyone was talking about it. I’m very proud of our youths for the help they have given me in promoting Rotuman art, which is alive well in Canada.

From Marlon Isimeli in Suva (29 June 2003)

The games opened on Saturday to a cold, rainy welcome, and Rotuma was represented by a contingent comprised of volunteers from each of the seven districts. They performed an abbreviated hafa, focusing mainly on the tiap hi. It was great to watch and kudos to the group for their performance.

Rotumans are taking part in several sports, including canoeing, cricket, netball, swimming, touch rugby, shot put, discus, basketball, weight lifting, power lifting, and bodybuilding.

The official website for the South Pacific Games is at

Photo by Lepani Naulumatua, courtesy of Fiji Times

The Fiji Times (24 June 2003) featured a front page article on Jolyn Buadromo, whose father is Fijian and mother is Tipo Faktaufon from Motusa. Her grandparents are Sapeta and Makrao Faktaufon.

At 12 years of age, Jolyn is the youngest member of the Fiji team. She is in the eighth grade at the Veiuto Primary School.

She will swim in the 50, 100, 200 meters breast-stroke and the 400 meters medley.

Jolyn is quoted as saying that she wants to achieve the best time and the goals she has set for herself for each event.

From Arnold Jacob in Lautoka (24 June 2003)

14 June 2003 saw the blessing and official opening of a newly built church, "El Elohe," here in Lautoka. Dr Rev Jione Langi, who is the General Secretary of the Methodist Church in Fiji and Rotuma, officiated at the opening. Gathered for the celebration on this historical day were our relatives and friends from Suva, Nadi, Vatukoula, and Rotuma. It was a day of feasting, entertainment and catching-up with all the kainaga from across the country. Everyone, young and old, was dressed for the day.

The day began with a church service conducted by Rev Langi and the circurt superintendent Rev Uluiqarau. Rotuman-style morning tea with a koua (pork, chicken, fekei, dalo, etc.) was provided for everyone.

The Sunday school children and the youth then began the entertainment with a tautoga. It was encouraging to see children as young as 4 yrs being part of the tautoga. I believe such participation by the young is a good form of teaching our children the fine art of tautoga and its values. Late lunch was another koua.

The excitement of a long day of feasting, dancing, and hosting a big celebration in Lautoka for the first time was not noticed as the congregation was overjoyed that this project, which had taken 13 months, was complete.

Labour on the church was voluntary, with Josefa Epeli, Tomasi Penjueli, and Cameron Gibson overseeing all construction work. During the course of construction the men, with the help of Manafa Wasele, initiated the formation of "The Altara Singers," who serenaded guests with their specially composed songs for the day.

More photos

From Sunday Times (15 June 2003)

Rotuman Methodists build church for West followers

MORE than 300 congregants will no longer take the six-kilometre drive to church following the opening of the new Lautoka Rotuman Methodist Church yesterday.

The church, which is the first Rotuman Methodist Church to be constructed in the Western Division, was described as a blessing and the result of ten long years of continuous planning.

Church assistant steward Arnold Jacobs said the opening was a huge relief for all mem-bers of the congregation and particularly those who had to travel all the way to the Natabua Methodist Church.

Mr Jacobs said the church was a necessity because their congregation had increased over the years.

"We always wanted to construct our own church and that is why all our church elders are very happy," he explained.

"Our congregation began with 50 people but we now have more than 300 members."

The development was a huge convenience to members too.

More fundraisings are expected for the congregation because of the need to build a larger chapel.

While opening the new church, Fiji Methodist Church general secretary Reverend Jone Lagi thanked members for their commitment and tolerance during the construction.

Mr Lagi said it was good to see the Methodist Church continuing to grow within Fiji and he urged more members of the congregation towards God.

From Agnes Hannan, Townsville, Queensland, Australia (6 June 2003)

Last month my partner Andrew and I attended the Rotuma Day festivities in Brisbane, Australia. I am doing my doctorate in history at James Cook University in Townsville, Australia, and I felt very priviledged to be a special guest at the gathering amongst other extremely special guests like Jioje Konrote, High Commissioner from Fiji, and his wife Sarote, and the Reverend Fesaitu Marseu. We dined in great style in the traditional way with the food presented to us by the Rotuman men and women of Brisbane. Andrew took all the photos while chatting to all the other guests and finding more people for me to interview!
The koua was set up outside the Police and Citizens Club in Zillemere, a suburb of Brisbane, and the men worked hard from early morning to have it ready. The fekei was delicious, as were the pork, beef and vegetables.

After the meal the dancing started with a group from Tuvalu and then the Rotuman group, including a number of young people -- one as young as 4 years -- put on a stunning display.

A lull followed as all the guests mingled and dinner was made -- curries and salads -- then it was disco time and we partied till after midnight.

After a good night's sleep with all the special guests bunking down at Kapi and Aggie Manueli's we arose to a huge breakfast of bacon and eggs and the preparations for the lunch after church proceeded apace. Much to my chagrin I was not allowed to help but watched as the magic of Rotuman cooperation resulted in a huge chicken curry and several baked fish. A second koua was in the making at the church with all the men from the previous day turning up early again to prepare and look after it.

The church service was very moving with beautiful, harmonious hymn singing in Rotuman and the service was conducted jointly by Reverend Marseu and Reverend Whyte. The High Commissioner also spoke with feeling about the contribution being made by Rotumans in Australia and the need to continue to maintain the Rotuman culture and to support Rotuma itself into the 21st century and beyond.

All in all the weekend was fantastic for me as I learnt more by witnessing the Rotuman culture and way of life than I could in any number of books. Now I'm looking forward to going to the island in July and learning a lot more.

In closing I'd like to thank Kapi and Aggie Manueli and Marie Howard in Brisbane for making our stay there so comfortable.

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