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Archived News: January 2005

From Mata Inoke in Fort McMurray, Canada (28 January 2005)

A Rotuman Community in Fort McMurray, Alberta, Canada

Greetings: Noa’ia ‘e mauri, te’ ne gagaj ‘atakoa. ‘Airot’ak ne ‘amus mauri ne’ne’ ma kikia la fak ma se ‘amis ‘e te’i ‘e Fort McMurray. Gagaj ‘Aitu noa’ia ma ‘os mauri noh af’ak ma kikia ‘e te’ ne ava, ‘e reko ‘On hanisi.

Introduction: Where is Fort McMurray? We live in a city that is surrounded by sand; however, there is more oil than sea. Fort McMurray is a mining city that has the largest oil reservoir in Canada. The oil is stored in the sand and is generally known as “tarsand." The largest and the oldest Oil Sand plants in the world are located here. Fort McMurray is in the northern part of one of the provinces of Canada., called Alberta.

What is life like here?
Because Fort McMurray is so far north, in Canada, we are blessed with a mild comfortable Summer, 20-30 deg C; cool Spring, and very beautiful Autumn season, when leaves of trees change to an array of colors before falling off. Winter months are cold with lots of snow. Cold temperatures of minus 30 – 40 deg C are common during the winter months. But how cold is the minus 30-40 deg C? If you could imagine water dripping from pipelines freezing in mid air, prior to touching ground, then you may have a glimpse of understanding of how cold it can get. Hey, but life goes on; people still go to work; kids go to school and shopping has to be done. We would love to welcome any of you to come and experience the 4-season life style here. It is fun; it is foreign and it is also unforgettable.

Rotumans in Fort McMurray
Here we are:
1. Terani ma Marie Peters; lele’a ma ma’ma’piga
2. Rocky ma Saverina Peters; lele’a ma ma’ma’piga
3. Fereti Samson; ‘on le’ rua – ‘Emi ma Sam
4. Hensasiga: Harold Mani ma Saga’itu Antonio
5. Homer ma Mary Bentley
6. Mata ma Nina Inoke; ma lele’a

Fort McMurray hafa, 7 January 2005

This year will always be special to us. The Rotuman community started 2005 with a traditional celebration by performing a hafa to commemorate the first anniversary of the passing away of Tupou Kiji Mani. This is a first for most of the community to perform a tautoga and for the children to learn to sing in their mother tongue--how exciting it was for all. The role of purotu was chorographically put together by Nina & Saverina; the taumaka was well attended but like all such events, re mane’a was always part and parcel of the get-together.

Back row: Harold, Sam ma 'Elesa, Vince in front

We have a group of musicians--the likes of Homer Bentley and Fereti Samson, with the backing of Sam, Harold, Saga’itu, and Mata--and a repertoire of songs that were specifically composed for the celebration. We hope to be able to share the tunes with you at a later date, via a CD.

I have included some pictures, hoping to portray a much clearer picture of our life style in the cold winter during Christmas & New Year.

Fu’amus ‘e hanis ‘on Gagaja -- Mata Inoke

Additional photos of Fort McMurray Rotumans

From Mika Taito in Big Sur, California (25 January 2005)

Last Christmas & New Year Pedro Rigamoto & family from Stockton, California were happy to host George & Lilian Pene & family from Sydney, Australia. George and Pedro were shipmates many years ago and Lilian is a cousin to Mika. It was a nice opportunity for the children to get to know each other.

The family from Australia stayed in Hawai’i for few days, where they took the children to the Polynesian Cultural Centre at Laie. It was a good opportunity for George & Lilian's children to have a taste of various Pacific Islands culture in the aloha state.

In California they visited many San Francisco Bay Area sites. The photo of the family is from Alcatraz island (the location for the movie "The Rock". The Golden Gate Bridge can be seen in the background.

The following article, entitled "Holding Onto Fijian Success: Who is a Rotuman becomes a side issue to FHL's phenomenal growth," by Samisoni Pareti, appeared in the January 2005 issue of Fiji Island Business.

Does anyone know who or what a Rotuman is? At the very least 10,000 of Fiji’s citizens consider themselves as being Rotumans. This is not good enough for Fijian Holdings Ltd, a highly profitable public company, which allows only registered Fijians and Rotumans to be its shareholders.

As it sees it, Rotumans don’t really exist until it is given a satisfactory definition of who a Rotuman is.

The answer to that question is holding up the transfer of Fijian Holdings shares to the Rotuma Island Council and to the country’s 14 Fijian provincial councils.

These class B shares, as they are described in FHL, are being held in trust by the Fijian Affairs Board (FAB) on behalf of the island council and the provinces until a definition is struck.

The shares were with a free gift of $20 million in taxpayers’ money fixed up by the then interim government of the late Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara in September 1989.

While the FAB is ready to transfer the shares to the 14 provinces and Rotuma Island Council, it is obstructed by the Rotuman Act’s definition of who qualifies to be a Rotuman.

“We at the board find the current definition too broad,” explains FAB’s deputy secretary, Adi Litia Qionibaravi, who is also the FAB’s representative on the FHL’s board of directors.

“We’ve asked the Rotuma Island Council to come back to us with a more defined definition are we’re still waiting.

“The last thing we want to do is to jeopardise the value of shares of the other 14 provinces because of the confusion about who really qualifies to benefit from the share transfer to Rotuma.”

Rotuma Registry
Qionibaravi says part of the problem lies in the absence of a Rotuman registry, an equivalent to the indigenous Fijians’ Vola-ni-Kawa-Bula (VKB—roughly meaning ‘register of Fijians who are alive’).

She says the board hopes a current review of the Rotuman Land Act will arrive at a precise definition.

The current definition of a Rotuman has also been questioned by the Fijian Education Scholarship board, says Rotuma’s elected member of the House of Representatives, Marieta Rigamoto, who is an assistant minister in the office of the Prime Minister.

She says the Rotuman Act prescribes a Rotuman as being anyone who can trace his or her lineage to Rotuma. This means anyone who can trace their ancestry through a Rotuman father or mother.

Rigamoto agrees the current definition is too broad but says it will be amended only if Rotumans desire to do so.

“At the moment, a review of the Rotuman Land Act is underway, which will precede the conveinign of a Rotuman Lands Commission. Nothing has been said about the review of the Rotuman Act and the definition of who really is a Rotuman.”

Lyle Cupit, chairman of Fijian Holdings Limited, is aware of the hold-up over the Rotuman issue but says it is a matter for FAB and the Rotuma Island Council to sort out.

Commentary by Lilino Vaurasi, Commentary by Henry Enasio, Response from Samisoni Pareti, Rejoinder to Pareti by Henry Enasio

From Alan & Jan in Honolulu (14 January 2004)

Our copy of the CD Fara Songs of Rotuma, recorded by Savea Khan & the Kelepis, arrived yesterday and we are really impressed with the wonderful quality of the recording. This is a CD that everyone who loves Rotuman music will want to have. We highly recommend it.

From The Council of Rotuma (posted 14 January 2004)

The Council of Rotuma's Minutes for the meeting of 22 November 2004 (in the Rotuman language) are available in PDF format for downloading. Download PDF file.

From Pam Nataniela in Rotuma (12 January 2005)

We finally finished building our house in Tarsua, making us the sixth family living in the village. I was pleasantly surprised when my next door neighbor had twelve family members come to visit over the holidays, and some were from Lalavi band, who charmed the island with their wonderful music.

This year, the large number of visitors were more "visible," several busses taking people around, and I am extremely happy to say that the sight of drunk people staggering on the road or driving on the road was something I did not see. This has to be one of the best holiday times I can remember ... many visitors had not been back to Rotuma for so many years.

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