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Archived News: December 2004

From Fijilive (22 December 2004)

Authorities face whitefly threat

Authorities have blocked the transportation of agriculture products out of Rotuma, as fears of whitefly infestation grow.

The crew of the Sinu i Wasa One, that returned from Rotuma yesterday confirmed this.

Vessel owner Ben Naidu says the crew received special instructions from the office of the District Officer on Rotuma to ensure oranges and other agricultural produce were not taken onboard.

“We were told by the D.O not to bring any fruits or vegetables whatsoever from Rotuma so we made sure we did not bring anything.”

“They found out there was fruit fly infestation in Rotuma, it is contagious and could affect our plantations here. It will affect us very badly especially where our exports are concerned”.

Commentary by Henry Enasio [Commentaries on news stories are invited from anyone wishing to express an opinion about them. This is a new feature that we hope will stimulate a more active engagement of members of the Rotuman community with the Rotuma Website. Send commentaries to]

From Elisapeti Inia in Rotuma (7 December 2004, posted 22 December)

My nephew Pene passed away on the same day (2 December) that Visanti Makrava's body was flown from Suva to Rotuma to be buried, so we had two funerals on one day, one at Oinafa and one at Savlei. When Visanti died in Suva on Monday, 29 November, Gagaj Tukagsau [of Itu'ti'u] died also.

Pene & Elisapeti cutting copra (1998)

On Pene's teran lima Gagaj Kona' caught a big fish which was the kakau sasi to start the day. Breakfast was served in the hall in Savlei at 6-10 am and consisted of bread, biscuits with butter & jam, rice with corned beef, tea and coffee. People brought tefui for the grave, taro, pigs, and kava. The feast included one cow (bought for $900), a large pig (bought for $200), six other pigs roasted in one big koua, and four cartons of corned beef. The feast was from 12:30 - 1:30 pm. Everybody had more than enough and took the remnants home. Everybody in Savlei was there working together; the men making the koua, the women preparing things and hosting the people. It was a lovely day with a lovely breeze, but when the visitors went away, rain fell in the evening and the wind died down. His burial day was also a fine day, but heavy rain poured down for two days after.

Commentary by Henry Enasio [Commentaries on news stories are invited from anyone wishing to express an opinion about them. This is a new feature that we hope will stimulate a more active engagement of members of the Rotuman community with the Rotuma Website. Send commentaries to]

From Henry Enasio in Sydney, Australia (21 December 2004)

My family and I were invited to the wedding of Fereti Semesi and Rowena Langi at the Raffle Tradewinds Convention Centre in Suva on 11 December. The wedding was su re fak Rotuma and it went on for two weeks prior to the wedding day and a week afterwards, with all the traditional trappings performed by both the groom's and bride's relatives on the newly weds. It was huge and very beautiful; more than a thousand people attended the reception. Although there were several other Rotuman weddings held during the year, this must be the Rotuman wedding of the year.

Three men from Rowena's clan were specially brought from Rotuma to assist with the daily preparation of the kouas to feed the hundreds of Rotumans who daily visited the Reverend Dr. Langi's home. As a first cousin of the Langi's, we also frequented their home to enjoy their hospitality, the different fekei and the food that they prepared.

The wedding service was conducted by Reverend Iveni, assisted by several Rotuman ministers at the Churchwood Chapel with the bride looking very elegant and pretty and the groom very smart and resplendent in his British Army uniform.

At the wedding, I saw a lot of dignitaries from the Church, two Government Ministers, and some chiefs from the Rotuma Council. I also met a lot of overseas Rotumans at the wedding; more than a hundred were from Sydney, including the band members.

The maka was the biggest hafa I have ever seen performed by our clan members from Savea. It was a magnificient performance by the group, with several exceptional good performers.

We really enjoyed ourselves there and look forward to seeing Fereti and Rowena's wedding photos on this website

From Fiji Times Online (21 December 2004)

Shipowners await Kaitani

Shipowners yesterday welcomed the appointment of Simione Kaitani as Transport Minister.

Local Ship Owners Association secretary Leo Smith said members were looking forward to working with Mr Kaitani.

"For the past three years, we had written to former minister Josefa Vosanibola about our concerns but not once were we acknowledged," Mr Smith said.

"This is coming from a minister who promised to keep his door open for dialogue but either he was not in the office or his ears were closed when we wrote to him."

Mr Smith said the shipping industry had confidence in Mr Kaitani because he was from the islands and would understand shipping concerns.

"As for the shipping franchise, how does the Government decide which route is not profitable?"

Mr Smith said the franchise was awarded to Kadavu and Rotuma because it was deemed "an unprofitable route".

"How can that be when every time a boat goes to Rotuma, it is often full?" he queried.

"They should license routes instead of a franchise because that way, when a company does not deliver service to the designated area or route, its licence should be taken away," he said.

From Fiji Times Online (18 December 2004)

Fiji TV in $2.7m buyout

FIJI TV has purchased Media Niugini Limited from Publishing and Broadcasting Limited for $AUD2.1million ($F2.7million) and expects to take ownership of the Papua New Guinea-based television company by the end of the year.

Chairman for Fiji TV Limited Olota Rokovunisei announced Fiji TV's takeover at the company's annual general meeting that was held in Suva yesterday.

Fiji TV chief executive Ken Clark said Media Niugini was a free-to-air service and had been operating in PNG for more than 17 years with a national television service and its own satellite content contracts.

Media Niugini reaches 45 per cent of PNG's total population and commands 38 per cent of the advertising share of the total PNG advertising market.

"The sale transaction will be consummated at the end of the year. The integration process will begin immediately after and overall company leadership is expected to be undertaken by the Fiji TV chief executive," Mr Clark said.

Another reason Mr Clark said the purchase was approved by the Fiji TV board was PNG's positive economic outlook.

Mr Rokovunisei said Fiji TV was invited to tender for the sale of Media Niugini and after careful considerations made the move to acquire Media Niugini last month.

"We submitted a binding bid and with some negotiations our bid was accepted," Mr Rokovunisei said.

Fiji TV paid the 20 per cent deposit required to buyout Media Niugini and Mr Clark said this would only strengthen Fiji TV's services. At the general meeting Fiji TV shareholders were also informed of the company's newest television product, SKY Pacific.

This service is expected to cover the whole of the Pacific region, from Honiara in the Solomon Islands to Rarotonga in the Cook Islands and as far South as New Zealand's South Island.

At the moment, Fiji TV's signal covers 85 per cent of Fiji's population but with the introduction of SKY Pacific, Fiji TV's signals will cover the whole of the Fiji Group.

"The introduction of Sky Pacific will be a historic moment in broadcasting history in Fiji - for the first time - all the people of Fiji and Rotuma will be able to access locally relevant television," Mr Rokovunisei said.

Fiji TV hopes this service will boost the company's business and play a major role in aspiring to be one of the biggest stakeholders in the communication industry in the region.

The company's Fiji operations alone has recorded profit turnovers from a mere $700,000 in 2000 to a $4.2million profit this year.

At the South Pacific stock exchange, Fiji TV's shares are now trading at $3.58 compared to last year's price of $3.12.

"We are confident that the present level of dividends will be maintained assuming that the Government adheres to a level playing field if and when new entrants to the television market are licensed," Mr Rokovunisei said.

From Fiji Times Online (12 December 2004)

Champ finds the going tough

South Pacific Games gold medallist and Fiji Powerlifting Federation president Iliesa Irava had to settle for bronze in the 100kg-plus final at the Oceania Championships in Suva yesterday.

Irava who hails from Itutiu, Rotuma, said coming into the competition he had his sights on scooping the gold medal on home soil. However he praised the efforts of his fellow Fiji lifters on their performances in the two-day competition.

"We seem to be heading in the right direction after these games managing six gold and three bronze," he said.

"Most of the lifters who had achieved a medal at this Oceania were first timers in the international circuit. This is an added bonus for Powerlifting Fiji."

Irava said sub junior lifter Lawrence Visanti lifted the Oceania deadlift record of 206 but failed to lock his hold. He added that female new comer Helen Pahulu set new Oceania powerlifting records in her category.

"We have a lot of women lifters but it all boils down to meeting the standards required to participate in the Oceania's," he said.

'Those who were selected to compete at this meet were medal prospects and they did win medals at the games."

Irava said lifters in the juniors and sub junior category were now focusing on the championships in Cape Town South Africa next year. He added on returning from the South African games Fiji would then prepare to host the Oceania Bench press competition. Meanwhile Tahitian Oscar Dexter set a new Oceania bench press record and also an Oceania Total record.

From Fiji Times Online (11 December 2004)

Firms tender for ship plan

Thirteen shipping companies have submitted tenders for Government's Shipping Franchise Scheme. The awarding of the tender is part of Government's plan to better its services to outlaying islands including the Lau Group, Kadavu, Lomaiviti and Rotuma. Yesterday morning the Fiji Shipping Corporation board met to finalise the awarding of tenders. But no announcements were made on the successful tenders.

Board chairman Malcolm Harrison said individual companies would be given a period of time to finalise all the required information necessary for them to be successful. He said the board would award, if possible, the same route to more than one company to help stimulate competition and efficiency.

"It should be noted that any shipping company could service any route even if they are not part of the scheme," Mr Harrison said.

"Once all routes have been finalised the FSCL will hold a press conference to announce the successful companies. This is likely to be during the period between Christmas and the New Year."

Mr Harrison said all successful companies would be expected to start services in January 2005 and by then the current scheme would cease.

"Obviously no announcement can be made on the successful tenders until this process is finalised," he said.

Several shipping franchise contacted yesterday preferred to comment once the tenders have been awarded. Ministry sources said once the franchise scheme was up and running problems like the shortage of fuel on Rotuma and the carting of water to the Yasawa Group would be a thing of the past.

From Fiji Times Online (7 December 2004)

Rotuma will support GCC decision

The people of Rotuma will support the Great Council of Chiefs decision on the nomination for Vice President by the President Ratu Josefa Iloilo.

A member of the GCC from Rotuma, Fred Fatiaki Misau says they will support the nomination endorsed by the Boselevu Vakaturaga, adding it would be an honor if a Rotuman is nominated.

Other representatives to the Council that could be possible candidates include the former Army Commander Colonel Paul Manueli and Gagaj Oseas.

Meanwhile, the Tui Bulu of Sorokoba Ratu Sairusi Nagaga Gavoka said he prefers either Ratu Epeli Ganilau or Ratu Joni Madraiwiwi for the Vice President's post.

He strongly believes the position should be filled by someone who was not involved in anyway with the coup.

Another likely nominee is the Tui Levuka Senator Ratu Kolinio Rokotuinaceva.

Senator Kolinio is a former Police Officer and a prominent chief from the Kubuna Confederacy.

He recently received the Bravery Award during the 2004 Fiji Day Honors.

From Rod Curtis, journalist with The Age in Melbourne, Australia (3 December 2004)

Setanta and Aisake O'hAilpin have been recruited from Ireland by the Carlton Football Club to play Australian Rules football. Their mother, Emeli, now of county Cork, Ireland, is Rotuman, and all her children speak the language fluently.

You can check their progress and find stories on them at
Also, Sean Og, the 27-year-old eldest brother, has just been named Hurler of the Year and is the Cork County Captain - the highest honour that can be bestowed on a hurler in Ireland. For other items about the O'hAilpin go to and

From Bruce Richmond in Las Lomas, California (1 December 2004)



We had Thanksgiving dinner at our new residence in Las Lomas (northern Monterey County).

The photo is from our deck overlooking the Pajaro Valley and features Rosarine Tuitoga, visiting from Fiji, Mika Taito, and the three Richmond ladies: Aitu, Lohana, and Maurea.



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