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Archived News: October 2003

From John Bennett in Rotuma (14 October 2003, posted 30 October)

Faguta dancers on Fiji Day

The school bazaar that was held on 9 October went well, with F$5,000 being donated by the Minister for Works and the balance raised on Rotuma amounting to over F$9,000.

Fiji Day (10 October) was also eventful and although there were no sports as on Rotuma Day there was entertaining traditional dancing.

Groundbreaking for the new administration block at Ahau begins next month. I believe funding is now in place and an Indian contractor will carry out the work.

Note from Alan & Jan: When we were in Fiji in June we learned that a company, Rotuma Investments Limited had been formed to develop projects on behalf of the Rotuman people. We were curious about the goals of the company as well as its structure and submitted to its Board of Directors a set of questions with the understanding that their answers would be posted on this website. The Board's answers to our questions are below. The Directors have told us that the Board would be happy to provide additional details or to clarify any issues relating to the Company.

At the time of our inquiry the composition of the Board was as follows:

Paul Manueli, Chair
John Tevita, Secretary and Managing Director
Kafoa Muaror (legal counsel)
Sakaraia Tuilakepa (accountant)
Terence Erasito (engineer)
Victor Fatiaki (shipping)
Dr. John Fatiaki
Gagaj Maraf Solomone (Rotuma Council)
Visanti Makrava (Rotuma Council)
Marieta Rigamoto was attending meetings as an observer

From the Board of Rotuma Investments Limited (24 October 2003)

Questions and Answers about Rotuma Investments Limited

1. What is Rotuma Investments Limited?

RIL is a corporate entity that was duly registered on 20 July 2001 with the Registrar of Companies. Ninety-nine percent of RIL is owned by the Council of Rotuma; the additional one percent is held in trust by the Chairman of the Council.

2. Why was the Company formed?

The Company was formed on behalf of the Council as a vehicle for carefully considering viable commercial projects/ventures for the benefit of the Rotuman people.

3. What are the purposes of the Company?

Through its directors RIL will consider various investment options in the areas of properties, shipping, retail outlets, agricultural, and fishing projects. The Company operates on a commercial basis and will develop business or investment projects that offer economic and social benefit to the Rotuman people collectively.

4. How is Rotuma Investments different from the Seven District Organization?

RIL is a business venture for the Rotuman people that operates on a commercial basis whereas the Seven District Organization is a Committee comprising representatives from each of the seven districts in Suva that is responsible for the welfare of the Rotuman communities living in Suva. To maintain the link between RIL and the Committee, the Chairman of the Seven District Committee attends RIL Board meetings as an observer.

5. Who runs the Company? How is it organized?

The Company is currently managed by a Board of Directors appointed by the Council of Rotuma. The Board regularly meets every two to three weeks to discuss and decide on company matters.

6. How much are the Directors paid?

The Directors are not paid any money for their services and time to the Company. Since May this year, the Secretary is paid a monthly allowance because of the volume of work required.

7. Are there any projects in the works?

The first project to be undertaken by the Company is a proposed office complex on the island to accommodate all the branches of government ministries/departments that are based in Rotuma. The planning and designs for the office complex have been completed and construction is expected to start soon. The building should be completed by the end of the year.

8. Where is the money coming from to fund this project?

The Company has applied for a loan from the Fiji Development Board to finance this office complex in Rotuma. This loan will be serviced from the rent due from the complex. The Company earlier received from Government through the Council a grant of $100,000, which has been deposited with the bank, as its working capital.

9. What long-term plans does the Company have?

As part of its long-term plans, the Company is looking at developing properties in Suva for office accommodation, either on its own or in partnership with other provinces. The Company is aware of the need for a retail outlet in Rotuma to provide regular and reasonably priced goods for the people. It has therefore started discussions with one of the main retail supermarkets here in Suva. Shipping services to and from the island are also under consideration and a sub-committee consisting of representatives from the Company and the Seven Districts Committee is working on the subject.

From Professor Alex Maggs in Sydney, Australia (20 October 2003)

Congratulations to Doctor Peter Faga Loresio Mario!

After three years of intensive research, Dr. Mario graduated on Saturday, 20 September 2003, with the degree of Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) at the Southern Cross University, Lismore Campus, NSW, Australia.

Left to Right: Ms. Lin Turnbull, Dr. Peter Faga Mario, Mrs. Sauhoni Mario, and Professor Alex Maggs.

Graduation day at the Lismore Campus, NSW, Australia

Doctor Mario is the first Fiji citizen and the first indigenous Rotuman to obtain the DBA degree. He is the son of the late Mr. Loresio Mario (Sokraa’s elder brother) from Noatau and late Mrs Marie Luisa from Islepi, Juju, Rotuma.

Doctor Mario’s thesis was entitled "The Relationship between Globalisation and the Financial Services Sector: Implications and Recommendations For Fiji." This study on globalisation and financial services highlighted the urgent need for Fiji to deregulate, liberalise and democratise its financial services sector.

Dr. Mario was the General Manager of the Fiji Reinsurance Corporation Limited for 20 years and is currently the Chief Executive of the Unit Trust of Fiji, the largest Unit Trust company in Fiji with funds in excess of F$62 million.

From Asia Pacific Media Networks (5 October 2003, posted 12 October)

The Pacific Island Media Association presented a Media Freedom Award on 4 October to Freelance cameraman Frank ‘Atu, the former Fiji heavyweight boxing champion, for his coverage of an illegal trade in dolphins from the Solomon Islands for New Zealand’s TV3.

Judged by an independent Auckland University of Technology media panel, this year's awards were presented by Niva Retimanu and JaeD Victor. The judges praised ‘Atu for his "initiative and courage while filming in dangerous conditions" in July 2003, and commended him and reporter Ingrid Leary for their role in exposing a "cruel trade in risky circumstances."

'Atu was attacked and threatened in his attempts to get footage, and both he and Leary were arrested while filming a cargo plane used to transport the dolphins.

From Alan & Jan in Honolulu (7 October 2003)

We would like to announce a competition for the first Alan ma Jan Literary Prizes for Poetry and Short Stories. We are offering cash prizes for the best poems and short stories written by Rotumans. The competition will be annual and will include the following categories of participation:

1. Rotuman Primary Schools
Rotuman Poetry Prize: 1st prize = F$50, 2nd prize = F$30, 3rd prize = F$20
English Poetry Prize: 1st prize = F$50, 2nd prize = F$30, 3rd prize = F$20

2. Rotuma High School
Rotuman Poetry Prize: 1st prize = F$50, 2nd prize = F$30, 3rd prize = F$20
English Poetry Prize: 1st prize = F$50, 2nd prize = F$30, 3rd prize = F$20

3. General Poetry Prize
Rotuman Poetry Prize: 1st prize = US$50, 2nd prize = US$30, 3rd prize = US$20
English Poetry Prize: 1st prize = US$50, 2nd prize = US$30, 3rd prize = US$20

4. General Short Story Prize (in English): 1st prize = US$50, 2nd prize = US$30, 3rd prize = US$20

The general competitions are open to all Rotumans, including those living on Rotuma, in Fiji, or abroad (including schoolchildren) but the first two are confined to students in Rotuma’s primary and secondary schools. There are no age limits for the general poetry and short story competitions.

Our goal is to encourage Rotumans, and particularly Rotuman youths, to reflect on their experiences and to write about them. Vilsoni Hereniko, Susau Managreve, and Ravai Shaw have agreed to serve as judges for the final competitions. A panel of judges on Rotuma will select the five best entries in each of the four student categories. These will then be sent to us to distribute to Hereniko, Managreve, and Shaw, who will select the prize winners.

Those judged first, second, and third place in each category will receive cash prizes. The next two will be awarded honourable mentions. All prize-winning items will be posted on the Rotuma Website and after enough suitable items have been accumulated we will seek a book publisher for the collection.


Entrants must be half-Rotuman or more (at least two Rotuman grandparents).

Submissions should be original, unpublished work. Poems should not exceed 1000 words. Short stories should not exceed 5000 words. No entrant may send more than one submission per category. The themes of the poems and short stories should relate to Rotuma or the Rotuman experience in some way.

Submissions should be typed, double-spaced, with a cover sheet containing the following information: Title, Category, Word Count, Author’s Name and Address, Parents’ Home District/Village on Rotuma, and if applicable, School and Class in which author is enrolled.

Submissions in the general categories should be sent to Alan Howard and Jan Rensel either as attachments to email messages ( or by post to 2499 Kapiolani Blvd. #2403, Honolulu, Hawaii 96826, U.S.A.

Note: the deadline for submissions has been extended until mid-2004; the precise date will be announced as soon as the schools on Rotuma determine what timing would work best for them.

From Alan & Jan in Honolulu (7 October 2003)

The September 2003 issue of Pacific Magazine has an interesting article about the Fijian peacekeeping force in East Timor, entitled "One Salt Water: Peacekeeping Fijian Style." It includes an interview with Captain Ned Taito, who was the contingent's public affairs officer at the time. The article can be read online at the magazine's website.

From Sanimeli Maraf in Rotuma (5 September 2003, Posted 7 October)

Air Fiji didn't come to Rotuma on 27 August as scheduled because of an engine problem, we were told. There was no flight on Saturday either. Then at 9 a.m. Monday morning (1 September) we were told by phone that reporting time is 11 o'clock and that the plane will leave Rotuma at 12:30. The plane was an hour late, and after it arrived it was apparent that something was going on. The pilot said that two people scheduled to leave had to stay back. After a while he said that if two passengers refuse to get off he will return to Suva empty. No one was kind-hearted enough to give up their seat. Finally a Fiji Noa'tau couple decided to say goodbye to their daughter and her husband who came from Mt. Wellington, New Zealand. They had a flight booked to New Zealand the next day, which they were going to miss. It was a sad moment for that family; they told me that they had their booking since January. They were here for two weeks and could not afford to miss their flight back to New Zealand because of special conditions.This kind of thing happens too often here in Rotuma.

At 9:30 a.m. on the same day the Cagi mai Ba anchored at Oinafa wharf. Two assistant ministers from the Prime Minister's office, Marieta Rigamoto, Freddy Susau, and some education officers were aboard. The education officers came to assess the needs of the schools. Assistant Minister Rigamoto and Fred Susau came to explain the new Rotuma Land Act. A land commission will start its work next year, but preparations are already being made, and explanations are being given to the people on Rotuma with the help of the district officer and the leaders.

For Rotumans overseas who know which fuag ri you belong to: if you cannot come next year you can write to your kainaga who are on the island letting them know your views. Äe po la hat ne fa -- haprua se 'ou ö'fa ta ma 'ou ö'han ta 'ou fuag ri ta. The land commission will be advertised in the newspapers, on radio, and television when the time comes next year. Don't think that just because you're living overseas you're excluded. No, but communication is important. Write to your district chief, the D.O., or kainaga from your fuag ri.

Water has been a problem here in Noa'tau ever since we returned from Suva on 13 August. Our pipes are still dry and our water supply is running short. People are now using wells because there has been no rain. The Paptea School is only open half a day, but it soon will have to close down completely according to the chairman of the school, Gagaj Raivai of Paptea.

Parents are still working twice a week--half a day on Tuesdays and Thursdays--on preparing the school grounds for the bazaar on 19 September. The Maragteu ho'aga is working feverishly even though it is another ho'aga's ground. They are working hard to clear the po'oa, jamu'a, pakrava, etc., etc. The D.O. promised them a brush cutter so now the work on Thursdays is a whole day affair because they believe that "many hands make light work."

Miss Eva Emose sends her regards to her kainaga overseas if you still remember her. She still pushes the wheelbarrow every morning and evening bringing water from the well for washing, etc.

Our fa hua'i at Noa'tau Saione Church is Mareko Jione. Litu, his wife, is always punctual in beating the lali at 4 a.m. every morning for our short early prayer meetings. We're praying hard for rain. Wherever you are overseas--north, south, east, or west--please keep us in Rotuma in your thoughts and prayers. God bless.

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