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Archived News: May 2005

Rotuma Page Tonu

From Richard Tonu in Suva (30 May 2005)

Born to Richard Titifanue Tonu and Constance Hicks Tonu, on 16 May 2005, Rotuma Page Tonu.

Paternal grandparents: Akata Tonu and Tonu Tipo from Lopta, Rotuma.

Maternal grandparents: Ruth Hicks and Clinton Hicks from North Carolina, USA.


From Fiji Times Online (28 May 2005)

Penesio's special yam mix

TIU Mesulame Penesio has never been beaten on yam planting.

The Nakasi High School principal's annual harvest is so much that he has to share it with his siblings and family members. Next month, he has volunteered to feed up to 250 people of his congregation with his yams.

The Davuilevu Division is made up of 14 churches. The heaviest yam weighed 126 kilograms and it is a metre long.

"I plant yams for two purposes. One is for thanksgiving and the other for Ratu Sukuna Day celebrations where competitions are run in different categories," Penesio said. "The Agriculture officials give prizes and nobody has beaten me so far. People lost hope in competing and the competition died away but I continued planting."

He said apart from yams, he planted other crops like pineapple and cassava during his free time.

"Teaching is not my priority. I love planting, my second priority is fishing and then teaching." He said he learnt the art from his father in Rotuma.

"People say I do witchcraft when planting but I learnt this at a young age from my dad. It's something about the fact that when you plant, you'll reap the results," he said. He has mixed Fijian and Rotuman ways of planting and he says there are special skills in planting yam.

From Rejieli Clayton in Sydney (20 May 2005)

The Drummoyne Rotuman Congregation organised a Sports & Picnic Day on Saturday, 14 May 2005 at Silverwater Park, Sydney. The occasion was part of the Congregation's 2005 outreach to all Rotumans living in Sydney but also to celebrate Rotuma Day, which was the day before (Friday 13th).

Activities started at 10 am and more than 130 adults and children turned up. The weather forecast was for scattered morning showers but there were none, and everyone had a fantastic time. There were games for all ages and sizes, and it was a real challenge for those of us who have piled on those excess kilos over time. But everyone participated in the true spirit of the occasion and the atmosphere was filled with fun and laughter. No doubt there were some who were stiff and sore for a few days after.

As usual, a Rotuman social gathering is not complete without the good old game of pasa, and so the 'older' generation played pasa.

Lunch was a smorgasbord of island food, salads and fekei, with fruits and dessert. Thank you for the food contributions.

View pictures of the Sports Day at

From Fiji Times Online (16 May 2005)

ROTUMA will always be considered a special part of Fiji, says the chief executive in the Prime Minister's Office, Jioji Kotobalavu.

Mr Kotobalavu made the comment at an unofficial gathering on Saturday morning in the PM's office to mark Rotuma Day.

"Rotuma will always be considered a part of Fiji and its 14 provinces of," he said.

Rotumans celebrate their day on Saturday

"Their contribution to Fiji is enormous. We have had past and present leaders in government departments from the island of Rotuma. They have played a permanent role in the affairs of Fiji."

The Assistant Minister in the PM's office, Marieta Rigamoto, hosted Mr Kotobalavu and fellow Rotumans in civil service to morning tea at the PM's office.

Fiji High Commissioner to Australia Major Joji Konrote and Ombudsman Walter Rigamoto attended. Labour Minister, Kenneth Zinck, in his celebration speech on the island of Rotuma, urged the islanders to be proud of their achievements in the development of Fiji as a country.

"In the field of education Rotuma has produced a number of great educators and teachers in the likes of the late Senator Wilson Inia, Pat Managrave, Aselemo Fatiaki and Lavenia Kaurasi. In medicine you have great names such as Erasito, Tigarea, Panapasa and recently Jimione Samisoni, Tukaha Mua and Robin Mitchell.

"Rotumans have greatly contributed through their dedicated and faithful service to Fiji in the civil service, private and business sectors, civil society, churches, discipline forces and other organisations.

"The Governmenti is grateful," Mr Zinck said.

Rotuma Day in Suva will be celebrated at the National Gymnasium and Major Konrote will be chief guest. Rotuma was ceded to Great Britain on May 13, 1879.

From Ron and Cheryl Mathewsell in Brisbane (15 May 2005)

Wow! what a great Rotuma Day the Brisbane group had. Our chief guest was Rev Dr Fesaitu & Emily Mareseu. We also invited the presidents of the Fijian, Tuvaluan and Tokelauan Communities. The dancing from all the groups was superb & entertaining. The Brisbane group danced with all heart and pride and to quote Dr Tuicolo's words (Fijian Community), "the group generated so much energy, it was electrifying, we could feel it." The excitement almost got us dancing up the walls but we managed to restrain ourselves.

The youths had a great time and we remain proud of their involvement and achievements in their cultural development including their community spirit.

We had a full house and more, which surprised us. Once again the group catered beyond expectations. The food was island fantastic.

We also give our thanks and gratitude to the communities and families that saw the 'big picture" and donated funds. To the members and friends of the community, thank you all once again for the great team effort you all put into this day.

The community is alive and growing because of your involvement and dedication to the ideals we as a Rotuman community hold: respect for one another, maintaining ones customs and traditions, developing discipline through responsibilities, the spiritual development of individuals, and learning compassion and tolerance in our multicultural world.

There is no room for petty grievances or personal agendas; no looking back now team, the way ahead is clear as was evident during Rotuma Day celebrations. We will all move forward with God's guidance and blessings.

I conclude with the hope and belief that your journey with your community will continue to develop and will benefit us all, so that we may be great Rotumans and Australian citizens. God bless.

Ron and Cheryl
On behalf of the Rotuman Community of Qld Inc.

From Fiji Times Online (12 May 2005)

Family suffers double tragedy

A MAN suffered a double tragedy yesterday when his house caught fire as he mourned his dead wife.

Samuel Mario of Panapasa Place, Namadi Heights left the funeral gathering for the airport with his son Ben and relatives to await his wife's body.

But at about midday the house was totally engulfed in flames and firefighters were battling the blaze.

Relatives said they had just finished preparing food and were sitting in the front when they saw flames coming from the back of the house, which had been extended.

Ben Mario said his mother died in Rotuma.

"We're still not sure what caused the fire. It could be an electrical fault," he said.

The family had been living in the house for the past 15 years.

"We planned to have the funeral on Friday but we are still waiting for two brothers to arrive from California and American Samoa," said Ben.

The National Fire Authority said it worked on the time that police put the call through to them, because emergency calls went to police first.

The cause of the fire was still being investigated. The funeral gathering for Mrs Mario has been moved to a relative's house in Samabula.

From Ron and Cheryl Mathewsell in Brisbane (4 May 2005)

The Rotuman Community of Queensland will be celebrating Rotuma Day on Saturday, 14 May. The group will be dancing in the morning at the Zillmere Multicultural Festival, Zillmere, and will also operate a foodstall to sell fekei and other popular island dishes.

Talking about fekei, at last year's festival we had our stall opposite the Tongan stall. They were amused at the 'grey stuff' we were selling until one of their own came over and bought some and before we knew it the stall was inundated with Tongan men and women who bought all the fekei. Who said the 'grey-stuff' (fekei) wasn't popular? I think the Brisbane group makes the best fekei outside of Rotuma !

Anyway, at 6 p.m. in the evening, the group will be further celebrating Rotuma Day with cultural dancing and feasting with other Pacific Islanders. We encourage all Rotumans and their families in Brisbane and around the country to come and celebrate this occassion with your Rotuman family here in Brisbane.

Celebrations will be held at the Police and Citizens Youth Club on the corner of Zillmere Rd and Church Rd, Zillmere. Come on down, give thanks to the Lord, bring a 'plate', join in the dancing, have a chat, feast up, sing, jump for joy and be proud of your Rotuman heritage.

Further details can be obtained either by e-mail to <> or visit the Rotuman Community of Queensalnd's new web site at: Our site is fairly new and still under construction.

On behalf of the Rotuman Community in Queensland Inc.

From Fiji Times Online (2 May 2005)

Visanti spearheads bench press team

YOUNG Lawrence Visanti will lead Fiji's charge at the Oceania Bench Press Championship in Suva in June.

Visanti, 18, will be joined by Eliesa Irava and veteran Millie Turner.

The lad from Itutiu district in Rotuma will compete in the sub junior 75kg event.

The Fiji Institute of Technology Mechanical engineering student burst onto the scene at the last year's Fiji Games in Lautoka. He competes for the YMCA Powerlifting Club and attended Motusa Primary School and Rotuma High School.

Irava will compete in the 100kg event with Rupeni Fatiaki. On Saturday the powerlifters held their trial at the Rabuka Gym for the bench press championship on June 16-18.

Lifters selected in the Fiji team are to meet 6pm on Wednesday at the FASANOC office boardroom. They are requested to being their birth certificates.

Women: Masters: Millie Turner (90+kg), Men: Sub-Junior: Augustus Lee (82.5kg), Junior Edwin N S (75kg), Paula Peniasi (75kg), Lorance Visanti (82.5kg), Sekaia Nabatini (82.5kg); Masters Ravindra Hansji (75kg), Open Men: Ben Fatiaki (82.5kg), Tento Cakau (90+kg), Eric Jioje (100kg).

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