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Archived News: October 2004

From Fiji Times Online (31 October 2004)

Water woes grip remote island

Water has been restricted to three hours daily for people living on Rotuma as a fuel crisis grips government stations there. An island government official said they were digging into their own pockets to pay for fuel because Government-supplied fuel had run out. "Government stations operate normally during the week, it's only those who live in government quarters and those offices that use computers that are affected," the official said. "Because there's no more fuel after hours, we have to pay for the fuel from our own pockets," he said.

The official said if fuel was available they would get electricity from 6 pm to 10 pm. "If the electricity was needed after these hours, then we would have use torches or kerosene lamps," he said. He said he was not sure about other villages because when it became evening, he would see lights. He said it could only be that the government stations were affected and not the villages. He said the problem was not new as it had been reported too in the media, but added that nothing was done about it. He said the Cagi Mai Ba would arrive in Rotuma tomorrow hopefully with fresh supply of fuel.

A resident on the island said the fuel and water crisis was a big problem. She said the water problem had drastically affected domestic chores in a home. "I have a big pile of washing and I can't do it because of the water. Because we are not informed when the water will come, I just wake up in the morning and put buckets under the taps. The water problem is really affecting us," she said. She said they had been told that there was something wrong with the reservoir, which was causing the problem. She said the problems had been happening for weeks and nothing had been done to rectify it. She said they were looking forward to the coming of the Cagi Mai Ba, which would bring much needed relief.

Works Minister Savenaca Draunidalo said their operational people were dealing with the problem. "This happens every year because of the shipping service, but our operational people are working on it," he said.

From Alan & Jan in Honolulu (26 October 2004)

The accolades keep coming in for Vilsoni and Jeannette Hereniko's film, Pear ta ma on Maf: The Land Has Eyes. At the Cinema Paradise Festival in Honolulu (17– 23 September 2004) Vilsoni won the Hale Ki'ioni'oni Award (also referred to as the Hawaii Filmmaker Award), and at the ImagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival in Toronto (20-24 October 2004), where the film was screened on opening night, The Land Has Eyes won the Best Dramatic Feature Award. Vilsoni, who attended the Toronto screening, reports that the film was given a standing ovation when it ended.

From Rejieli Clayton in Sydney (11 October 2004)

The Drummoyne Rotuman Congregation hosted "Tropicana" at the Ryde Civic Centre on the evening of Saturday, 25 September 2004. It was a complete sell-out and the hall was packed to a capacity of over 460 people.

The group holds this social event annually as part of its fundraising activities for the Church. The overwhelming response we get every year is just incredible.

We pride ourselves in putting on such functions which cater to all tastes, as our patrons are a good mix of nationalities. Over the years, we've identified that the fekei and kokoda (and roti) are the most popular dishes and this was no exception at this year's "Tropicana".

We are small in number but we are a close-knit group and we all work together to plan, organise, and deliver to everyone's complete satisfaction.

Pictures of the evening can be seen at

From Ron Mathewsell, On behalf of the Rotuman Community of Queensland, Inc. (11 October 2004)

I want to take this opportunity to introduce myself and the Rotuman Community of Brisbane, Australia. Briefly, I am a Rotuman from Malhaha (mother's place) and Juju (father's district). I was recently honoured to be elected as president of our Rotuman Community here in Brisbane. The group was founded in 1987 after a visit from Rev Dr Jione Langi to Brisbane. Mr Kepieni Manueli was elected president at the time and served the community selflessly up until his recent retirement in June 2004. We are an incorporated non-profit community organisation that was formed to nurture the cultural and spiritual needs of our Rotuman families and Fijian friends here in Brisbane.

As their recently elected leader, I am proud to promote faith, commitment, and respect in the Rotuman community in Brisbane and admire members who have shown resilience in the face of adversity, and who continue to uphold our Rotuman customs and traditions. Perhaps all Rotumans in Australia need to re-visit that famous Australian word "mateship" to understand its true meaning.

At the moment we have about 50 members and are hoping to build from this number to a vibrant, healthy, and respected community group. We are presently setting up a website for the group here in Queensland; when it is up an running we will announce it on the Rotuma Website.

Milestone: We recently had a Rotuman member, Tivaklelei Kamea being inducted into the Golden Key International Honour Society chapter of the Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, for his academic achievement. He was the only Pacific Islander among the select few. QUT has approximately 26000 students. He is doing a double degree majoring in Law & Policing and Legal Administration. We proudly salute his achievements and hope to inspire him to greater academic heights. For those Rotuman around the globe, Tivaka is the son of Kamea Marselino and Akanisi Fafao of Savlei.

From Elisapeti Inia in Suva (August 14 2004, posted 9 October)

The week of the [Methodist] Solevu was very wet. The rain fell from Friday 20th to Saturday 28th and the ground was very muddy, but the weather did not stop the choirs from singing anthems of praise.

The launching of the 40th anniversary celebration of the Church Conference (1964-2004) and the opening of the Solevu, 2004, was on the 20th of August in Cicia. I took part in the service in prayers of thanksgiving (as the wife of a past vice-president). Wilson was the third VP from 1972-1978. The wife of the first VP, Tulia Koror, is bedridden and the wife of the second VP is dead; therefore I was called upon to come and I was greatly honoured. Since 1964 there were fourteen presidents of the Church, sixteen vice-presidents, and fourteen general secretaries, including Rev Dr Jione Langi, who assumed the position in 2002.

Our Choir (Motusa) came first in our anthem (best conductor, class 5 or circuit); the combined choir of Rotuma & Churchward Chapel (division combined choir) came second; the male choir of Churchward Chapel came first in singing, first in na te and was awarded best conductor; the woman's choir of Churchward Chapel came first in na te. So this year in the competition Rotuman choirs won two trophies for singing, two trophies for na te, and two for best conductor (Samuela Taukave and Mehu Valu Bula, who conducted the Motusa choir in singing the anthem; he is married to Betty of Farema, Malhaha, and is fa hua‘i at Ahau). The money collected throughout the week of Solevu was two million Fiji dollars.

The Conference is over and the first news is Fekau Langi has been elected president. The other news about appointments next year concerning our Rotuman fekau is as follows: Rev Voi Taukave (superintendant) will go to Vatulele Island and will be replaced by Rev Maiu; Rev Merevalesi Panapasa to Malhaha Circuit while Rev Irava Fatiaki moves to Motusa. Rev Atalifo Faktaugon will take Rev Merevalesi's place at Pacific Harbour in Navua. All these transfers will take place in January 2005.

From The Council of Rotuma (posted 9 October 2004)

The Council of Rotuma's Minutes for the meeting of 29 September 2004 (in the Rotuman language) are available in PDF format for downloading. Download PDF file.

From Fiji Times Online (2 October 2004, posted 4 October)

Island faces fruit fly bright

THE Agriculture Ministry has banned fruits from Rotuma entering Fiji because of a fruit fly outbreak on the island.

Principal agriculture officer Kamlesh Prakash said the verbal ban was imposed on fruit like pawpaws, kavika, dawa, wi, oranges, breadfruit and guavas.

"If the fruit flies enter our shores it will affect our trade with New Zealand and Japan where we export pawpaws and eggplants for millions of dollars a year," he said.

Mr Prakash said the islanders were informed about the situation a few years ago and the Quarantine department was still working on legislation to place a ban.

"While the legislation is being sorted out the Rotuma Island Council has advised islanders to stop transporting any fruits or planting material to Viti Levu and Vanua Levu," he said.

Mr Prakash said there were two types of fruit flies on the island — B Kirki and B Obscura — believed to have arrived from Samoa 15 to 20 years ago when the ship Wairua was servicing the islands.

"These fruit flies are bigger in size to normal flies."

He said two staff on the island had advised all islanders and visitors of the fruit flies and the implications it posed if the warnings were ignored and the fruits taken off shore.

Mr Prakash said research and extension staff were monitoring the situation, which was not serious at this stage.

From Fiji Times Online (29 September 2004, posted 4 October)

Airline upgrade fleet

Air Fiji has upgraded its fleet with an additional two Banderante and one Harbin Y12 aircrafts while some old aircrafts has been retired from the fleet.

Airline chief executive Sialeni Vuetaki said the new aircrafts would boost Air Fiji's capacity on its major routes and the frequency would be reviewed as and when necessary.

"The company would lease the aircrafts from overseas for a year starting in the next two weeks before they become the company's property,'' he said.

He said in their strive to serve their customers better, a new daily service would commence between Nadi and Labasa at convenient times.

He added a new freight centre has been open at Grantham Plaza in Raiwaqa to provided convenient point for their freight customers.

Mr Vuetaki said the freight would be transported at scheduled times for loading to all destinations on their network and a dedicated freighter service would connect the four major ports of Suva, Savusavu, Labasa and Nadi.

"This daily freighter service will greatly increase the freight capacity between these ports while a dedicated freighter service will also be introduced between Suva and Rotuma, for the first time in Fiji,'' he said.

He said they would also introduce a frequent flyer programme called "Inner Circle''.

Mr Vuetaki said the company would reward frequent travellers with points that they would be able to redeem for free flights to any destinations on the network.

Mr Vuetaki said the members would enjoy:

Priority on waiting list;

Discounts at a number of hotel, resorts, restaurants and rental car company Fiji wide;

The use of the VIP lounge at Labasa and shortly at Nausori and Nadi airports; and

q Security car parking at Nausori and number of other benefits would be offered in the future.

However, the company has also appointed Parnam Singh as their business development manager. Mr Vuetaki said Mr Singh was highly competitive and customer focused in the retail sector having worked with Courts Homecentres in the marketing, advertising and public relations arena with considerable experience at the Fiji Islands Trade and Investment Bureau.

From Fiji Times Online (29 September 2004, posted 4 October)

Islands' grant details not done

Grants from the Prime Ministers Office that were disbursed directly to the Rabi and Rotuma island councils in 2003 had not been acquitted.

To account for grants, the Rotuma and the Rabi Councils are required to submit statements of acquittals detailing the manner in which the grants for the previous month or quarter had been utilised.

Scrutiny of the island council files by the Auditor-General found that the Rotuma Council had not provided the PM's Office with its audited financial statements from 1994.

The statements of acquittals are the only means in which the PM's Office monitors the utilising of grants, the report stated.

The Auditor-General's Report said it was evident the PM's Office played no role in ensuring that all grants were fully and properly acquitted before the disbursement of the subsequent month's grant.

In its comments to similar issues raised in the 2001 and 2002 audits, the PM's Office agreed to improve procedures to ensure accountability, the report said.

However, the 2003 audit did not find any improvement as the grants were disbursed without the provision of acquittals by the recipients.

"The financial statement, which should be audited annually to ensure fair presentation, would be a more reliable mechanism for acquitting the grants," the Audit Report said.

"The latest audited financial statement for the Rotuma Island Council was for 1993 and the audit for 1994 and 1995 is currently in progress. Audit could not ascertain the latest financial statement of the Rabi Island Council."

From Fiji Times Online (28 September 2004, posted 4 October)

Jacob Pa'u returns home to farm the land

This item has been transferred to the Life Stories section of the website

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