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Archived News: November 2008

From Fiji Times Online (30 November 2008)

Rotuma: Taking two giant steps back in time

by Geraldine Panapasa

As I sat on the wooden seat waving good-bye to my mum and sister at the Suva wharf on November 12, a rush of excitement and anxiety ran up my spine.

I was going to brave two nights and a whole day at sea onboard MV Iloilovatu bound for my motherland Rotuma.

It was my first time on a vessel like the Iloilovatu and my first trip to Rotuma, to cover stories for the fourth phase consultation and awareness on the draft people's charter for the National Council for Building a Better Fiji.

But the trip meant more for me than I suppose any of the other passengers. Not only was I going for work purposes but I was given the opportunity to set foot on my ancestral land after 21 years.

For someone who has adapted to urban life as the ‘only way of life' for anyone, I had to take two giant steps back in time to live the slow-paced life on the island.

The trip was truly an insight into the struggles and difficulties faced by many farmers, businesses, school students, teachers, nurses, doctors and the list goes on.

But the experience made me appreciate, treasure and value my heritage as a Rotuman. More importantly, the trip meant a close inspection of development on the island.


From Fiji Times Online (24 November 2008)

Islanders back charter

THE People's Charter is good for the people and the path to building a better nation, says Pepjei chief Gagaj Mora.

His comment followed a successful fourth phase consultation and awareness program in the districts of Juju, Pepjei and Oinafa by the NCBBF last week.

Work resumed at midday on November 15 after a stay order was granted on a stop order issued by the High Court the day before.

"The way the NCBBF team explained the aims and objectives of the charter was clear and I feel it will be good for the people," said Gagaj Mora.

"They came with the teams from the department of agriculture and fisheries to help instigate export ventures between Rotuma and Tuvalu.

"I believe this will benefit a lot of people but the only challenge we face when it comes to farming for export is lack of proper farming machinery and equipment."

NCBBF team leader to Rotuma Karalaini Waqanidrola said support for the charter was overwhelming.

She said 75 per cent of the charter focused on development and majority of the people on Rotuma expressed interest in developing the island.

From Fiji Broadcasting Corporation (24 November 2008)

Consultations first of its kind in Rotuma

Rotuma Island Council chairman Tarterani Rigamoto says no national consultation of this depth and breath had ever taken place in the history of this country.

Rigamoto made the statement while opening the first ever People's Forum at Ahau Government Station in Rotuma.

The NCBBF through its outreach teams earlier covered over 1,000 villages and settlements and also communities in all urban areas.

"This included communities in our smaller islands as well the reports received indicated that the ordinary man and women in our communities are receiving the people's charter initiatives as a once in a lifetime opportunity to participate in building a better Fiji."

Rigamoto added the National Council of Building a Better Fiji has been undertaking its mandated task, formulating the Draft Peoples Charter through a comprehensive, forward thinking process based on the findings and recommendations contained in the SNE report.

From Fiji Times Online (22 November 2008)

Charter support

THOSE opposing the People's Charter are threatened by the implementation of such an initiative, says the charter's eastern division coordinator, Karalaini Waqanidrola.

Her comments came in response to school teacher Tausie Fasala's question about why there was so much opposition towards a positive document like the People's Charter.

He was raising questions at the NCBBF fourth phase consultation and awareness program in Oinafa, Rotuma, this week.

"The 2006 coup is the best coup ever done in Fiji because of the developments that have been pouring into the country, especially Rotuma," said Mr Fasala. "And I'm thankful to the interim Government."

Mrs Waqanidrola said the document no longer sold ideas to the people like previous governments.

"For people to be opposing the charter, I feel it is a threat to them. But the charter is a people-oriented document that future political parties will have to align their manifestos to," she said. The four-member NCBBF team returned to Suva on the MV Iloilovatu yesterday.

From Fijilive (21 November 2008)

Fiji PM announces tax free zones

Economically depressed northern and maritime island regions have been declared tax free zones to encourage investment.

In announcing the 2009 Budget today, Fiji’s acting interim Finance Minister Commodore Voreqe identified Vanua Levu, Rotuma, Kadavu, Taveuni, Levuka, Lomaiviti, Kioa, Rabi and Lau as “tax free regions”.

The TFR will be effective from January 1, 2009.

“TFR incentives will include 13 years tax holidays for new companies and import duty exemption on raw materials, machineries and equipment for initial set up,” Bainimarama adds.

“In addition, companies that start new projects with at least 25 per cent equity participation involving indigenous Fijians will be granted an additional five years tax holiday, that is, a total tax free status of 18 years.

“Such incentives shall be proved to new companies investigating at least $2 million.”

Interim Attorney-General and Minister for Public Enterprise Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum [said] the whole purpose of having these tax free regions...was to provide incentives for new businesses to be set up there.

He said this would be complimented by the allocation of infrastructural budget for those areas.

Rotuma has been allocated about $2.2 million for the Rotuma Airstrip to be completed since it has recently been declared a port of entry.

“There are planes that will be able to go and land in Rotuma and then go onward to Tuvalu for example. It generates the economy in those places,” Sayed-Khaiyum said.

From Fiji Times Online (21 November 2008)

Island filariasis fears

Rotuma has recorded a high rate of lymphatic filariasis.

Dr Eric Rafai, from the National Center for Scientific Services for Virology and Vector Borne Diseases, revealed this at a workshop in Rotuma last Saturday.

Dr Rafai said the high infection rate comes despite tablets been distributed to the people.

Dr Rafai said the purpose of the workshop was to enhance the knowledge on filariasis in Fiji.

"The workshop was also for community health workers to reach out to the community and teach them on the dangers of the infection."

The Ministry of Health has set a goal that by 2010 all filariasis infection in Fiji will be eliminated.

From Fiji Times Online (20 November 2008)

Fisheries to revive seaweed farming in Rotuma

The Fisheries Department is keen on revive seaweed farming on Rotuma.

The decision was made after looking at the abundance of seaweed on the island.

Senior Fisheries Officer Eastern, Aminio Raimuria said the idea was mooted after the department went on a tour to the island earlier this year.

"When we came in May this year, we found an abundance of seaweed in Itumuta Bay," he said.

"We had stopped in 2001, now we have decided to continue with seaweed farming because the market is now accessible and the price is attractive and already 400-500 people are involved in seaweed farming."

Seaweed farming is part of a project from the Fisheries department and has been trialed in Kadavu, Lau and now in Rotuma.

"The Fisheries Department intends to introduce seaweed farming to other islands in Fiji and reach out to places like Vanua Levu," Mr Raimuria added.

"It is a good source of income for many in the island.

"It is being sold to China and other parts in Asia at a price of 70c a kg and $700 per ton."

From Fiji Daily Post Online (20 November 2008)

Man-made reef to ease fishing in Rotuma

THE fisheries department is planning to build a new inshore Fish Aggregating Device (FAD) for villages of Rotuma. Commonly known as a man-made reef, the department feels that this will help Rotumans fish for food with very little effort.

Senior Fisheries Officer Eastern Amino Raimuria said the man-made reef was the outcome of an earlier survey by the department in the districts of Motusa and Pepjei.

He said the move was an attempt to address the rising fuel cost through innovative means to suit the islanders’ lifestyle.

“As they have many small boats, this will help them to find fish easily for daily consumption,” he said.

“This Fish Aggregating Device would help the people of Rotuma if they want to make fishing their business.”

Raimuria said FAD was introduced to other villages in Fiji near the shores of Suva and Kadavu.

“We want to introduce this in Rotuma as they have a small ‘Qoliqoli’ area,” he said. Raimuria added that already three such man-made reefs were installed in Rotuma in Pepjei and Juju villages.

“Part of the plan to adopt this initiative is to assist people, avoid the exploitation of marine resources while at the same time helping in preserving our marine resources.”

The project is part of the Fisheries Capture Division through the extension division in the Fisheries Department.

From Fiji Broadcasting Corporation (19 November 2008)

Call for well-educated Rotumans to run the Island Council.

Well educated Rotumans should be the ones to run the Island Council.

This was an issue raised during the charter consultation process on the island of Rotuma.

Rotuma school teacher Tausea Fasala says in order to get Rotuma on the right track of development and progress, well-educated Rotumans should run its Island Council and chiefs should step down.

Rotuma Island Council chairman Tärterani Rigamoto says the Rotuma Act is in power.

Rigamoto says the Act states that chiefs are to be members of the Rotuma Council and they are the ones that run the island.

From Fiji Daily Post Online (19 November 2008)

Rotuma charter support overwhelming

SUPPORT for the draft of Peoples Charter for Change, Peace and Progress in Rotuma has been overwhelming.

This was revealed by the National Council for Building a Better Fiji (NCBBF) team leader to Rotuma, Karalaini Waqanidrola after completing the fourth phase of consultations on Monday.

She said 75 per cent of the Charter focused on development and majority of the people in Rotuma expressed interest in developing the island.

The consultation was undertaken in the three districts of Pepjei, Juju and Noatau.
Waqanidrola said the villagers turned up in large numbers to listen and most of them contributed to the consultation.

A separate session was held for the youths and women at Pepjei district.

From Fiji Daily Post Online (19 November 2008)

Talks begin on Rotuma-Tuvalu trade

AGRICULTURE officials are touring the island of Rotuma consulting its people about the interim Government’s plans to facilitate direct trade between the Rotuma and Tuvalu.

This is part of a Cabinet decision that all relevant ministries and agencies continue to aid the Rotuma Island Council in implementing trade arrangements with Tuvalu and the establishment of the required infrastructure and management capabilities.

Officials are also educating the Rotumans to be ready and vigilant as they are about to shift from subsistence farming into commercial farming.

Senior Agriculture Officer Eastern Sanaila Turaga urged the islanders prepare themselves and their farms for the Tuvalu market.

“When the Tuvalu market will open, there will be a shift from subsistence to commercial farming. It will be like a business,” he said.

“So make use of the extension officers in the Island.”

Turaga urged the communities to start collecting planting materials.

Presentations were made by the different sectors in the Agriculture sector and they include Agronomy (Research division), Quarantine, Plant Protection, Animal and Health Production and Fisheries.

Crops that should be ready for trade include dalo, cassava, kumala and villagers have been urged to start planting now.

Petero Rangi, a farmer was excited about the new plan for trade because it would assist many of the farmers in the island in selling their produce.

“I am really happy about what the Government is doing to help us, as we are far away from Fiji and often find it hard to sell our produce.

“So hopefully this trade will help us to invest more in our children’s education,” he said.

Rangi said farmers in Rotuma were optimistic about the new plans and the opportunity it presented to the people of Rotuma.

Inia and Varea

From Bruce Tizard-Varcoe in England (19 November 2008)

Royal Engineers pass Phase 1 Training

Congratulations to Joseph Kenan Varea, son of Dr Sakio (Gagaj Niomfag) and Miriama Varea, and Patrick Inia, son of Marika and Marieta Inia, on successfully passing Phase 1 of their British Army training at Bassingbourn camp on 31 October 2008.

Both are with the Royal Engineers and now progress onto Phase 2.

Attending the pass out parade were Richard and Loraine (nee Rigamoto) Tizard-Varcoe.

Photos by Richard Tizard-Varcoe

From Fiji Times Online (18 November 2008)

Charter good for people: Gagaj

The charter is good for the people and its the path to building a better nation, says Pepjei chief Gagaj Mora.

This followed a successful fourth phase consultation and awareness program on Monday in the district of Juju, Pepjei and Oinafa in Rotuma by the National Council for Building a Better Fiji.

Work continued around mid-day last week Saturday after a stay-order was granted after a stop order was issued by the High Court on Friday.

"The way the NCBBF team explained the aims and objectives of the charter was clear and I feel it will be good for the people of this country," said Gagaj Mora.

"They came with the teams from the department of agriculture and fisheries to help instigate export ventures between Rotuma and Tuvalu.

"I believe this will benefit a lot of people but the only challenge we face when it comes to farming for export is lack of proper farming machinery and equipment."

From Fiji Times Online (17 November 2008)

Charter workshop for civil servants

The National Council for Building a Better Fiji public outreach team visiting in Rotuma will today meet with civil servants and residents of other districts on the island.

The response from the Catholic Community at Calvaka [Kalvaka] village in Rotuma has been good, according to the NCBBF team in Rotuma.

NCBBF team leader in Rotuma Island, Karalaini Waqanidrola, during the outreach program, reiterated that the Charter was the only way forward for Fiji as it contains the best ever proposed electoral reform.

She reassured the people of Rotuman that the Charter belonged to the people and encouraged the Catholic community to participate during the discussions.

Distributing of Charter response forms is also continuing on the island of Rotuma.

From Fiji Broadcasting Corporation (16 November 2008)

Filarisis high in Rotuma

The Ministry of health yesterday conducted a workshop at the Rotuma Rural Hospital in regards to eliminating Lymphatic Filarisis from the island.

Doctor Eric Rafai from the Ministry and Australian volunteer WHO Tim Bryan conducted the workshop to village representatives.

Dr Rafai says the Island has a very high infection rate.

“Rotuma like some of the Eastern Island groups has one of the highest infection rates of this disease Lymphatic Filarisis and the race is on in terms of the National Prospective is to try and eliminate this disease by 2010 so a lot of work is to be done in Rotuma and like most of the Eastern Island groups.”

From Fiji Times Online (15 November 2008)

NCBBF Rotuma talks called off

MEMBERS of the NCBBF were directed to stop all consultation on Rotuma after orders handed down by the High Court yesterday.

An NCBBF team had concluded a meeting with the Rotuma Council of Chiefs in Ahau when the order was relayed from Suva.

Council chairman Tetarani Rigamoto said the council supported the charter.

The team travelled to Rotuma on the vessels Iloilovatu and is scheduled to return next week.

From Fiji Broadcasting Corporation (13 November 2008)

Iloilovatu finally left for Rotuma

A government team scheduled to carry out consultations on the draft People’s Charter in Rotuma finally left for the island last night, following a five-day delay.

The team is traveling on board the Iloilovatu. The vessel was scheduled to leave last Saturday.

The delay is believed to have been due to a cheque for the vessel’s fuel not being delivered till late on Tuesday.

According to government shipping department director, Captain Seci Waqa, the Iloilovatu is scheduled to arrive in Rotuma tomorrow and return to Suva on the 24th of November - giving the Charter team the same amount of time it was originally planned to spend on the island.

Apart from the Charter team, the Iloilovatu is also carrying a team of journalists who will cover the consultations.

From Fiji Times Online (11 November 2008)

Money glitch disrupts island charter trip

A delay in funds caused an outer island trip to be postponed twice.

Today, the MV Iloilovatu will take a government delegation to Rotuma, following a postponement on Saturday and yesterday.

National Council for Building a Better Fiji spokesman Filimone Kau said the trip was co-ordinated by the Commissioner Eastern’s Office.

A team from the NCBBF will visit villages for consultations.

"The delay was basically due to the finalisation of some issues like the funds of some of the ministries which are part of the trip," he said.

"Today (yesterday), the Marine Department confirmed that everything has been finalised.

"All the ministries have their list organised, their own contribution and things to be taken to Rotuma are all there.

"It was supposed to be on Saturday but has been confirmed for tomorrow (today) afternoon at 4pm.”

Some government ministries and departments going on the trip include the Prime Minister’s Office, NCBBF, Commissioner Central, Regional Development, Commerce and Agriculture.

Mr Kau said the trip was an opportunity for government to take some materials needed to Rotuma.

"This will be the final round of consultation for the people of Rotuma.

"The charter books have been given out to the people and the team will be taking the forms down and hold consultation."

From Fiji Daily Post Online (10 November 2008)

New church for Rotumans in Nadi

By Shalendra Prasad

THE Rotuman community of Nadi were beaming with joy and excitement following the ground breaking ceremony of their church building at Votualevu on Saturday morning.

The small congregation which is affiliated to the Methodist Church of Fiji consists of around 31 families, with 140 members of the Rotuman community residing in the tourism capital of Nadi.

“We are currently sharing the Nasereti Church at the CAAFI compound,” said committee member Antonio Kitione.

Kitione said the new land and building project at Votualevu was a result of eight years of fundraising and commitment of its members.

The chairman of the Nadi Rotuma Methodist Church, John Vaivao left his civil service work at the Nadi Weather Office to set things in motion for the new project which will cost around $180,000.

Vaivao bid farewell to his job last year to the service of the Almighty and he expects the new church building to be completed in at least six to seven months time.

“We have already collected $100,000 and expect the balance to be raised while the construction work is going on,” Vaivao said.

Vaivao said the congregation began with a small group of people in 1983 and over the years it has developed people spiritually.

“The time has come for us to be operating on our own as the idea to build a church of our own came up some eight years ago,” he said.

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