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Archived News: December 2003

From The Council of Rotuma (11 December 2003, posted 24 December 2003)

The Council of Rotuma's Minutes for the meeting of 11 December 2003 (in the Rotuman language) are available in PDF format for downloading. Download PDF file.

Note from Alan & Jan: We have been urging the Council to send us copies of their Minutes for posting on this website so that Rotumans everywhere can be kept informed about what is happening on the island. Hopefully this is the first in a steady stream of such submissions. They will be posted verbatim, without alteration.

From Alan & Jan in Honoloulu (18 December 2003)

Last evening we were priviledged to see the final edited version of The Land Has Eyes. It is a stunning film that ranks with the best that Hollywood can produce. In the course of telling a compelling story it shows a lot about everyday life on the island, and the sheer beauty of Rotuma comes through brilliantly. Hearing the Rotuman language spoken was a real treat. The acting performances by Sapeta Taito (who plays Viki, the heroine), Dr John Fatiaki (who plays Poto, the villian), and Elisapeti Inia (who plays the han mane'ak su at a wedding) are particularly notable, but all the performances are stellar. The film is receiving a great deal of attention in the press (see yesterday's article in the Honolulu Star-Bulletin), and invitations are arriving from all over the world for the film to be shown at other film festivals.

From Jeannette Paulson in Honolulu (16 December 2003)

The organizers of the Sundance Film Festival have arranged for a special showing of The Land Has Eyes in Salt Lake City at noon on Wednesday, 21 January. This will be a community screening for the Pacific Islands community and free of charge.

From Monifa Fiu in Suva (11 December 2003)

In an effort to raise funds to support its initiative to sustain the school outreach programme on Rotuma during 2004, LäjeRotuma is selling tote bags and T-shirts that should appeal to Rotumans everywhere. In addition to supporting the LäjeRotuma Initiative, these items will communicate pride in Rotuman heritage. They will also make great gifts for any occasion.

From Jeannette Paulson in Honolulu (10 December 2003)

The world premiere of The Land Has Eyes in the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah will be on 16 January at 4:30 p.m. at the Holiday Village Cinema in screening room #1. The two other screening dates in Park City, Utah, are: 3:00 p.m. on Tuesday, 20 January at the Yarrow Hotel in screening room #1 and again on Saturday, 24 January at 3:30 p.m. at the Holiday Village Cinema. Should any Rotumans plan on coming to Park City and wish additional information, we encourage them to e-mail our Sundance coordinator for The Land Has Eyes, Holly Paulson. Her e-mail is: She will be staying in Park City at the Prospector Square Lodge and is coordinating Rotuman participation in the screenings and the party.

From George Penjueli in New Zealand (7 December 2003)

The New Zealand Rotuman Fellowship Annual Meeting - October 2003

The New Zealand Rotuman Fellowship (Inc) Society held its Annual General Meeting over the weekend of 24 to 27 October at Te Aroha Racecourse, Te Aroha town, about 2 hours drive south of Auckland. This year our meeting was hosted by the Waikato/Bay of Plenty Group (WBOP).

Friday, 25 October
Two of the WBOP families gathered together on Thursday night to prepare for the weekend. Members of the Fellowship started arriving at Friday noon. This is usually a time that people look forward to because many have not seen each other since the previous annual meeting. I must stress that sleep was of very low priority during the weekend because many of us “just did not want to miss anything…”

Dinner comprised of a delicious boil up of meaty bones - beef and pork with cabbage and silverbeet (in place of vati), chicken chowmein, poatkau sua faraoamafa, tapiko and rice - all so very delicious!

Some members of NZRF

Saturday, 26 October
The day began with a short devotion conducted by Toma Vaurasi. Breakfast followed with a menu consisting of cereals, fruits, toast, fresh bread, fresh full creamed milk (compliments of Carswell farm) and various accompaniments. Next on the programme was introductions, when new members/friends were introduced.

First workshop was on Rotuman Language, led by Ravai Shaw:

  • the Rotuman alphabet was introduced/taught
  • the use of punctuation marks with vowels to form different sounds
  • word construction

Second Workshop was on Rotuman Dancing, led by Rosarine Penjueli

  • The pride we should have in our Rotuman dancing
  • The important role of a purotu

Third Workshop was on Garue 'on Fa, led by Jione Inia

  • The men’s session focussed on the conducting of certain Rotuman protocol in regards to the role that men play; it continued with instruction on the preparation of koua and making fekei.

Lunch followed with a huge buffet of cold cuts, salads, bread and accompaniments -- so yummy and so very healthy! As always everyone enjoyed the spread) and WBOP cooks were kept on their toes replenishing the table.

The sports programme was next and the young people were out in full force enjoying themselves in volleyball, touch-rugby, etc. whilst some of the not-so-young took up the pasa challenge. A few choose the more relaxing option of resting and having hanuju sessions.

Dinner was a grand affair -- the WBOP members once again served a large buffet consisting of island food delicacies that included fekei mara ma ‘a’ana and moa ru tahroro. It was a splendid meal and afterwards everyone could only think of sleep rather than performing, which was scheduled to follow.

For this year's cultural night, the host group, Waikato/Bay of Plenty, decided that the theme for the evening would be: "Other Cultural Influences on our Rotuman Culture."

Meke Iri performed by the women from the Waikato/Bay of Plenty Group

Each group was requested to perform a dance from a culture of their choice. It was excitingly different from past years. The concert was opened by the host group under the tutorship of Rosarine Penjueli -- a Fijian fan dance (Meke Iri) performed by the women. A good effort and beautiful costumes made for it. The fans, the tapa material the women wore, together with their cowrie accessories were brought from Fiji. Fai'aksia Rosie Inoke and your Aunty Sa for work well done!

Auckland group Cook Island dance performance

The Auckland group performance followed and their tutor was Naomi Strickland and her sister Patricia. On this night, they performed a very beautiful Cook Island dance. Almost all members took part, young and old, which was so good to see. So many hidden talents we noted, especially in the not-so-young category! The costume was very beautiful and the envy of many of the spectators, especially their spectacular mother of pearl accessories. These were also brought in from Fiji.

The Wellington group next performed a Kiribati dance under the tutorship of Christine Teianiang. Please note, in Kiribati culture, married/elderly people do not perform together with single/young people. Because of this, and the Wellington members being few in number, they decided to have only their haharagi (young ones) perform whilst the elders were the ha’i for the dance.

Kiribati dance by Wellington Group

Traditional wear couldn’t be obtained from Kiribati in time, so under the guidance of Christine, Wellington members improvised and came out tops! The performance was excellent and spectators raved on with praises for the rest of the weekend on the fineness of the dancers. Toni Tuatoko stole the show. The last time we saw a good Kiribas dance by the men was when the Taratai landed in Rotuma in 1977. This night, Toni brought back memories. Ae mar pau!

Fijian students from Waikato University who joined us for the evening took their turn and performed a few beautiful dances.

Youth ready for the tautoga

The last performance of the evening was by the NZRF haharagi. The haharagi danced a tautoag soko under the guidance of Rosarine Penjueli. The haharagi decided to wear a traditional Rotuman costume, so their titi was none other than tofua. All the tofua were specially weaved in Rotuma and sent over. The costumes and performance were A1++ and as a result they took the overall prize for the evening. The young people did us all proud, not only because they performed our traditional dance excellently, but because they, of their own efforts, had the commitment and unity to pull this off. Of course acknowledgement is accorded to the manatu and purotu, Rosarine, Ravai, and Ema, for their hanis uan mafu.

Note for Aunty Elizabeth Inia: As we thought you would be with us, our first sua was in your honour, Hanisaka ma Roso Helav, but you were not there to hear and see it performed by our youth. Bad luck Aunty Betty.

Dessert/night cap was served till late.

Sunday, 27 October
The breakfast menu was the same as Saturday’s with some left overs reheated -- very Rotuman!

The church service today was led by Visoni Munivai. Fesa’itu Vaurasi gave a brief talk on garue ‘on haina.

Lunch was another spectacular session to be enjoyed. Spit-roasted pork, chicken curry, fupagmasi, kokoda, poatkau, roast chicken, large selection of salads, fekei farkakai, ‘a’ana, tapiko & rice.

The Annual General Meeting followed.

The Chairman welcomed everyone present. The three group leaders presented their reports on activities during the year and it was very pleasing to note the achievements of the young people at university, tertiary institutes, school, and in sport.

Election of Office Bearers for the next year took place with the following results:

  • Chairperson - Fonmanu Kitione
  • Deputy - Patricia Strickland (daughter of Susau Strickland)
  • Secretary - Tausia Solomone (daughter of Gagaj Maraf and the late
    wife Feagai)
  • Assistant - Torika Quiapon (granddaughter of the late Gagaj Mos
    of Malhaha)
  • Treasurer - Stephanie Konrote (daughter of Fatnefau and Joyce Konrote)
    Assistant - Lillyane Kitione Viki
  • Youth Leader - Darlene Penjueli (daughter of Rosarine and the late
    Amoe Penjueli)
  • Assistant - Colleen Konrote (elder sister of Stephanie)

Following the meeting most people retired to the sleeping quarters to either catch the odd forty winks or hold further hanuju sessions. The intensity of the weekend activities was beginning to take its toll. Some still did not want to miss anything!

Dinner was a rather low-key affair, raising suspicions that many people had given lunch a "real go." The rest of the evening was generally spent sharing stories and singing songs.

Monday, 28 October
Devotion was followed by breakfast. Speeches of thanks were given by several people, followed by the singing of “Rotuma ‘Otou Hanuet ne la Mou se Gou” & “Atumotu Heleva” with everyone linking hands.

Finally, but very reluctantly, farewells were said and promises given to meet again next year, and the Auckland and Wellington members started on their long trips home.


To Rosie Inoke and her mother, Marseu, for helping with the Waikato/Bay of Plenty group's costumes -- Fai'aksia 'e hanis uanmafu!

To Raurikue Elaisa of Nadi for helping with the tefui for our youth.

To Voi Mosese and the women in Rotuma who made the youths' tofua.

To Valesi Tigarea for being our messenger regarding the tofua.

May God Bless You All! (more photos)

The Honolulu Star-Bulletin (5 December 2003)

The Honolulu Star-Bulletin today featured an editorial congratulating Vilsoni Hereniko for having his film, The Land has Eyes, selected for the Sundance Film Festival.

From Alan & Jan in Honolulu (3 December 2003)

Vilsoni Hereniko has completed the final editing of his film, The Land Has Eyes, which is scheduled for its world premiere at the very prestigious Sundance Film Festival, in Park City, Utah, from January 15-25.

Vili and Jeannette would love to have a strong Rotuman presence at the opening, so if any of you Rotumans out there can get to Utah for the event it would be much appreciated. If someone could organize a tautoga to accompany the film that would be even better.

This is a major event in the history of the Rotuman people. The Land Has Eyes will be seen by thousands, if not millions, of people worldwide. It is a wonderful feature film that not only tells a compelling story; it also highlights the beauty of the island and its culture. Most of the dialogue is in the Rotuman language (with English subtitles). Don't miss the opportunity to see it when it comes to your neighborhood!

Note: Although Vili and Jeannette intended to premiere the film on Rotuma this December they are unable to do so and plan on bringing it to Rotuma in July 2004.

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