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Archived News: October 2008

From Fiji Daily Post (29 October 2008)

More reps needed at dialogue: Beddoes

UNITED Peoples Party president and ousted Opposition Leader Mick Beddoes has suggested more representation at further political leaders' meetings and the proposed President's Political Dialogue Forum.

He said he would be sending a request to the interim Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama this week, suggesting that a representative of the Rotuma Island Council or their elected member from 2006, George Konrote and Independent member Robin Irwin be invited to join the forum.

"Based on the 2006 election results, three parties who did not feature in the 2006 elections, are included in the forum and six other parties who received 498 votes in total between them with one party's total vote being 18 are represented," said Beddoes.

"Konrote received 1,983 first preference votes, while Robin got 629 which is significantly higher than seven political parties participating in the forum."

"There is a case for the PM to consider their inclusion and would be communicating this to the interim PM this week.

Beddoes said like the minority community in Fiji, the Rotuman community must also be part of the process and he would be requesting that this be done.

Meanwhile, Beddoes said the political leaders' meeting on Monday was "a positive first step" towards improving the Fiji situation.

He commended the meeting saying "it was now up to the organisers to demonstrate its intent to the people by way of the level of urgency and the frequency of further meetings."

Fiji Daily Post Editorial (29 October 2008)

Let the peoples' representatives in

Mick Beddoes suggestion that political parties and independent members successful in the 2006 General Election to be included in the political leaders' meeting and President's Political Dialogue Forum should be taken on board. Democracy and nation-building has always been inclusive of the voice of the people, especially those who have exercised their right to vote for which party or candidate they have put their trust and hopes on.

The absence of the Rotuma representative George Konrote and Independent Robin Irwin, seems odd when considering that they can each claim to have lawfully and fairly acquired the confirmed consent of voters. The two members of parliament's 'representative' status is unquestionable, unlike some of the small parties and other interests that participated in Monday's talks.

It's baffling that people whose representativeness have been given credence to and tested by the electoral process, were being left out of the talks. The interim government's People's Charter for Change, Peace and Progress claims to be a document that is inclusive of all of Fiji's people, yet the people of Rotuma appear to have been sidelined in the whole process of dialogue and on-going discussion. Already their voice risks being snuffled out by the Charter's proposed electoral system.

Many ordinary citizens exercised their rights at the ballot box in 2006 with political parties and candidates of their own choosing. Although we've had the military takeover of government and the dissolution of Parliament, the voice of the people still remains paramount. Their choice candidates or politicians in 2006 cannot be wholly disregarded simply because of the political events that have occurred since then.

If there is one reference point to be used to gauge the popularity or otherwise of our politicians it should be the 2006 General Election. That was the only legitimate and legal platform on which our political leaders had gained their endorsements. Those political parties and candidates who had been able to acquire votes at that election deserve to be at the leaders' table. They have proven themselves to be the preferred voice of their respective constituents and by being at the forum, they are representing the voice of their people.

Beddoes' suggestion must be seriously considered by the interim regime and organisers of the proposed forum. Moreover, the talks should have inclusive of non-political interests too. It appeared the meeting was a convention of old men and tired politicians. No wonder the women's groups were crying foul over the gender imbalance. Interests groups and civil society organisations that do command the consent, respect and support of the broader section of the community should be included to.

Any efforts at national recovery and restoration of democracy and civilian rule must have the participation of all groups beyond the political establishment because representative democracy in the 21st century is no longer the monopoly of politicians. Hopefully the interim regime and the architects of the road to a new Fiji recognise this.

From Rejieli Flexman in Sydney (24 October 2008)

[Rejieli and her husband Shane were in Fiji for the wedding on 20 September of their son, Hifa (see report and photos). After the wedding Rejieli flew to Rotuma for a week. Here is her report.]

I stayed with uncle Mekatoa’s family because my parents [Faga and Saverina Panapasa] were still in Fiji. It was moea fava and I feasted on fava everyday and all day. The fava tree at Matakese ‘e ufa ‘e Lopta was at its best. I went with my cousin Rigamoto (uncle Mekatoa’s daughter ) and other cousins to jau fao (see photo). It was quite a sight to look up to the sky and see the rain of fava falling down. It was good fun. I left the picking of the fava to my cousins while I filled my stomach. Everyday while I was there except for Sunday, there was jau fava somewhere and everyone was invited to join in.

Collecting fava in Lopta
Uncle Mika is holding a pisini full of fava

The day after I arrived, the village celebrated the first birthday of fa hua'i Ravai’s son. Ravai is from Losa. The sigoa is Rosarine and Voi Manueli from Noa'tau. Rosarine baked and decorated that beautiful cake. She is the home science teacher at Rotuma High School.

Rosarine and her daughter holding the birthday boy about to blow out the candle

It was also maf sulu fishing at night and I had plenty of fresh fish and lobsters. It's a real home treat to wake up to the smell of fresh fried fish and steamed lobster for breakfast. Oh how I missed that. The saddest thing for me on this trip was missing several of our village people. It’s been four years since I went to Rotuma. Several people have passed away, and others have taken residence in Fiji and may not be returning, leaving some of the houses vacant when they once had been very good homes. I think it is happening in many places around Rotuma where good homes have been left unoccupied and neglected, which is rather sad.

I was invited by Rev. Geraldine Varea to spend a night with her at Malhaha where she is circuit minister. She is doing very well and being kindly looked after by Anaseini and Sukamanu Tigarea and the ho'aga of 'Else'e. I visited Malhaha Primary School with Geraldine and had a friendly session with the teachers before my meeting with the Principal of Rotuma High School, Mr John Tanu. We met in the Wilson Inia Library and I was very impressed with the state of the whole set up. Thanks to Mrs Elisapeti Inia and her children for the kind donation of desks and chairs which enabled children to utilise the library well. The library van has been returned to the school and is in fine condition and they hope to get the Mobile Library going again. John invited all the staff members to a combined morning tea which was very nice and they even had some coconuts for me to drink. I was very pleased to see the high school buildings looking very clean. It was obvious that much repair work had been done to give the school a much needed face lift. The compound always looked clean because every morning the children pick up the rubbish--mainly leaves--before school starts. Sadly for the children and Rotuma there are no more buses, none at all for transport. School children are being driven to Malhaha by trucks and cars, but they still have to pay as they did when there were buses. Hopefully things will improve, but in the current political climate in Fiji only time can tell.

From Fiji Broadcasting Corporation (23 October 2008)

Good outcome expected from Rotuma

When Adi Finau and her People’s Charter team arrive on Rotuma next week, they may find a few questions awaiting them.

The draft charter was distributed to everyone on the island two weeks ago and they’ve been looking at it ever since.

Speaking from Rotuma this morning, Island Council chairman Tertarani Rigamoto says a clear outcome on whether or not to support the charter will be determined by Rotumans; they will make their own decisions.

He says they distributed charter booklets to all the villages on the island and now await the arrival of the charter team from Suva, which is scheduled to leave for the island next week.

The charter team will be conducting two workshops on the island, a door to door charter consultation, and a people’s forum.

From Richard Tonu in Anchorage Alaska (21 October 2008)

There are only three of us Rotumans in Anchorage, Alaska: George Lino, Munue Tavo, and myself, Richard Tonu. Once or twice a month we get together at our home and my wife, Connie, will cook 'ikou (palasami), tapiok (casava) and ia' fekei (fish in lolo) so we won't forget the taste of the island. We also met three Fijians, two of whom are at the US army base at Fort Richardson, five miles away from our home.

This year we celebrated Fiji Day and our daughter Sa'ora Tonu's second birthday at our home in Eagle River, Anchorage, with Tom Green, Sireli Koroi and Sela from Fiji, a friend from Micronesia in the US Army, and Munue Tavo.

Sela and Micronesian friend
Tom Green, Sireli Koroi and Munue Tavo
Sa'ora and Rotuma Tonu
Sa'ora with birthday cake

Whoever wants to come to see Alaska e-mail me at You would be welcome.

From Ana Alfred in Smithfield NSW, Australia (20 October 2008)

On Saturday, 18 October, my husband Henry and I attended the MTA Motor Industry State Awards-2008 Auto Achievers. We were finalists for three categories: NSW Mechanical Repairer of the Year, Green Stamp Environmental Member of the Year, and MTA Metropolitan Member of the Year. The award ceremony was held at the Hilton Hotel in Sydney. It was an enjoyable night and also gave us an insight of how well the motor industry recognises small businesses and their achievements for the year. The awards ceremony was sponsored by, Valvoline, Capricorn Society Ltd, Commonwealth Bank and was presented by the MTA-Motor Trade Association of NSW.

We are a small family business that has achieved a lot since we started, and has demonstrated what small businesses can do in the industry."

[Henry Alfred is the grandson of Jieni and Fagmaniua Fabiano from Maftoa, Itu'muta, and Faga and Matapule Alfred from Itu'muta and Noa'tau.]

Ana and Henry Alfred at Awards Ceremony
Henry with Award Certificates

Automotive Engineering Specialists
Unit 29/72-80 Percival Road
Smithfield NSW 2165
Ph: (02) 96096916
Fax (02) 96092814

From Sylvia Joe in Brisbane (7 October 2008)

The Vailala Rotuman Catholics of Brisbane held an Island Night on 27 September to raise funds for renovations to the Sumi and Upu Catholic churches in Rotuma.
I am pleased to report that we exceeded our initial fund raising target of F$14,000 and that our final accounts will show a profit in excess of F$25,000. Committee members have received many direct approaches, phone calls and e-mails from people offering their thanks and congratulations for a most enjoyable Island Night function. That so many were prepared to open their wallets and purses on the night to support the raffle, the auction etc. is testament to the fact that they were enjoying the function and what we had to offer.

We had kainaga and friends who attended from all over Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Rotuma and Canada. So on behalf of the committee and of course on behalf of the Sumi & Upu parishes, I write to say thank you very much, vinaka, noa'ia for the part you and all our sponsors played in this most successful event.

God Bless!

Sylvia Joe, Treasurer
Vailala Rotuman Catholics -- Brisbane


Katrina Sefeti

From Treasure Island Online (1 October 2008)

An addition to the team is our Environment Officer, Ms. Katrina Sefeti who hails from the beautiful isle of Rotuma (one of the Pacific's hidden paradises).

Being the first environment officer/supervisor for Treasure Island, Katrina has taken on this challenge with vigour and has conservation at heart.

With her Bachelor of Applied Sciences in Environmental Studies, she has been able to focus on her passion for conservation by educating both staff and guests on major environmental issues that are dear to her.



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