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Archived News: November 2009

From Fiji Times Online (28 November 2009)

PM's $42m vote

THE Office of the Prime Minister has had an increase in its budgetary allocation from $6.3million in 2009 to $42.2m in 2010.

Permanent secretary Colonel Pio Tikoduadua said this was because some "offices" and departments were being incorporated under the PM's Office.

For example, the Strategic Framework for Change Office used to be under the National Planning Ministry but was now under the PM's Office.

In addition, the sugar ministry was still under the office even though its permanent secretary was Manasa Vaniqi, who also heads the Regional Development Ministry.

The expenses of the office for the new year include a grant of $209,000 to the Rotuma Island Council, $95,000 to the Rabi Island Council, $50,000 to the Kioa Island Council and $114,000 to the Melanesia Vasu I Taukei. There is also an expenditure of $15m for the land reform program.

The office will receive grants totalling over $19m, most of which will go to the sugar industry.

The Sugar Industry Support Program will receive $8m and the subsidy to South Pacific Fertilizers Limited is $9.8m.

Part of the grant will also go as contributions to the Sugar Research Institute ($900,000), the International Sugar Council ($29,400) and $500,000 to the Sugar Tribunal.

From Fiji Times Online (24 November 2009)

Festival begins

by Geraldine Panapasa

THE stage is set for the Wasawasa: Festival of Oceans as the national fine art exhibition and awards starts today at the Fiji Museum.

Fiji Arts Council director Letila Mitchell said the festival is about connecting and engaging communities by bringing the arts out of formal, elite spaces.

Wasawasa 2009 aligned itself with the Miss South Pacific Pageant celebrating the power and beauty of the Pacific women.

"This is an urban Pacific festival set against a backdrop of the contradictions of an urban city," Ms Mitchell said.

"It has at its core the voices of artists and the creative community. It is about entertaining and inspiring to bring about real changes.

She said there was an underlying environmental theme at the heart of the festival and Wasawasa drew upon the artists to express this.

Ms Mitchell said the issues included the need to clean up the city, recyclable art, climate change, ocean noise and conservation.

The festival challenged everyone to respond and react to the environment and the realities of developmental changes.

"Wasawasa is a gathering of Pacific people drawn together by the spirits of the ocean and land," she said.

"Organised and informal forums and workshops give platform for dialogue about endless possibilities of determining our paths and building our foundations through the arts."

The national fine art exhibition and awards is a selection of Fiji's best visual artists and the awards recognise excellence in the arts.

The Epa or Rotuman fine mats exhibition will also take place at the Fiji Museum showcasing traditional white mats and adornment which are a result of the Fiji Trust Fund Rotuman Mat revival project.

The Wasawasa: Festival of Oceans will continue until November 28.

From Fiji Times Online (18 November 2009)

Festival of Oceans will officially begin tomorrow with the national fine art exhibition and awards.

Fiji Arts Council media officer Peter Sipeli said the exhibition brought a selection of Fiji's best visual artists together.

"These awards recognise excellence in the arts in 2009," he said.

"There is also the Epa or Rotuman Fine Mats exhibition that showcases traditional white mats and adornment which are the result of a Fijian Trust Fund Rotuman Mat revival project.

"The purpose of the project is to encourage our women to once again begin producing the various white mats."

From Fiji Times Online (8 November 2009, posted 16 November)

Church members fete their new church

by Ana Niumataiwalu

ROTUMAN Methodists in Nadi yesterday celebrated the fruits of their labour with the opening of their new church.

Church project manager John Vaivao said the vision for a church came about by some former civil servants based at the airport back in the 1960s.

He said when the elders passed on, the younger generation decided to continue the dream to have a church.

Aliti Mario beats the lali during the opening of the El-Peteli Chapel at Votualevu in Nadi

"We started with a handful of Rotumans living around the airport and slowly the community started to grow," Mr Vaivao said. "We saw the need for us to build a church of our own. From a small congregation the number grew to 160 members.

"It may sound small but to us it is a big number but the number justified us to have a church."

The first phase has been completed -- a church and toilets.

"We didn't have the money to start but our members met and agreed to raise funds.

"Last year we raised $112,000.

"Over the past seven or eight months, 39 families with 160 members collected more than $12,000 every month.

"In September, we collected $30,000."

Report on church opening from Rejieli Flexman:

I thoroughly enjoyed listening to all the stories about the building of the church and the efforts and sacrifices by the congregation members and the Nadi Rotuman community to have the church completed in time for the opening. They have done themselves proud and their labor is a blessing to the church and to God.

The new church is called El Peteli. The ‘ai ririga (lali) is a gift from the village of Lopta. It is carved from the branch of a sycamore tree growing in front of the home of Gagaj Taipo Susau of Lopta. The two sticks used for beating the ‘ai ririga were carved from the branches of the ‘ai ne peje tree, also from Lopta. The men did a very good job and it sounded beautiful when they beat it for church on Sunday.

From University of the South Pacific Newsletter (13 November 2009)

University Appoints New Director of Oceania Centre and Professor of Pacific

Vilsoni Hereniko

The University of the South Pacific has appointed Professor Vilsoni Hereniko as its Director of the Oceania Centre for Arts and Culture and Professor of Pacific Studies.

Professor Hereniko is currently Professor of Pacific Studies and Director of Centre for Pacific Studies at the University of Hawaii.

Announcing the appointment, the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Rajesh Chandra said that the University was delighted to attract Professor Hereniko to this crucial position at the University. "The USP aims to be the world's best university for Pacific Studies. Although it is already recognized for its Pacific Studies, it needs to deepen its expertise, expand its scope, and raise its international profile. Professor Hereniko will make a major contribution to these efforts", said Professor Chandra.

Responding to the offer from the University, Professor Hereniko said that he was
privileged to follow in the footsteps of the late Professor Epeli Hau'ofa, the
Foundation Director of OCAC, and the late Professor Ron Crocombe, the
Founding Professor of Pacific Studies at USP. "I am humbled and excited by the
opportunity to serve Fiji and the wider Pacific. Also exciting is USP's brilliant
move to integrate Oceanic arts, culture, and Pacific Studies, thereby opening up all
kinds of possibilities, including the creation of new and unique programs", said
Professor Hereniko.

Professor Hereniko is a well known Pacific Scholar who has published widely. He
is well known as a filmmaker, playwright, and author. His full-length feature film
The Land had Eves premiered at the Sundance Festival in January 2004. His plays
and films have been performed or exhibited in Korea, Singapore, Vietnam,
Germany, Canada, Australia, Netherlands, France and Great Britain. He is the
author of a monograph, Woven Gods and the coeditor of Inside Out Literature
Cultural Politics and Identity in the New Pacific

Professor Hereniko will take up his position in 2010.

From The National University of Samoa Online (6 November 2009, posted 11 November)

FOBE’s Sydney-project with a difference!

The Dean of the Faculty of Business and Entrepreneurship [FOBE], Afualo Dr Wood Salele has more to smile about this semester. After a successful Market Day coordinated by the Marketing lecturers with Digicel, another project has also received media attention. It is different in that it was undertaken between NUS [The National University of Samoa], Apia Lions Club and Sydney-based, Pacific Pathways for a tsunami-fundraising concert at the Roxy Theater, Paramatta-Sydney on the 17th October 2009.
What is special about this project is that the funds raised from the Sydney concert will be channeled to Apia Lions Club. A portion of these funds will be given to NUS, specifically for students who require (or may require) trauma counseling and depending on funds received, will be matched with tangible assistance like 2010 school fees. This initiative came from FOBE’s Management lecturer, Moana Liza Ete. In return, NUS was requested for students’ interviews and footages of the tsunami devastated region. This was to enable Pacific Pathways to get Sydney-sponsorship targeted at students needs in Samoa.

Jane Gibson Opetaia and her husband Billy Opetaia: two of the three key organizers of Pacific Pathways - Sydney

For Ms Liza Ete, the need was identified when Samoa was struck on Dark Tuesday, 29th September. As a lecturer, she had witnessed first-hand the tears and lack of concentration by students when school resumed on Thursday, 1st October. When the opportunity knocked on 2nd October, from a text-message received from Jane Gibson-Opetaia in Sydney, she unleashed her project management skills. Jane and Liza are first-cousins from Rotuma (Fiji) and are connected to Samoa through their Samoan marriages.

According to Liza ‘the cross-department team work at NUS is simply phenomenal’. Satui Bentin was instrumental is getting Apia Lion’s Club President, Oloipola Terrence Betham as the local charity organization to receive the concert funds and the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Le’apai’s approval for the use of Tuifao Tumua, John Lafaele and Vaiula Siliko of the Multi-media Unit for students interviews.

What followed were 10 intense working-days of approvals to logistical planning of students interviews at Malaela (Aleipata) to editing a documentary and a video before sending it over to Sydney.

For Liza, the most nail-biting moment was the server problems at NUS due to a power outage earlier in the week. Liza immediately sort assistance from Sasae Walter, FOBE’s Assistant Dean. Together they were able to connect with SamoaTel’s Mark Williams and Sam Saili. Mark Williams, SamoaTel’s Business and Consumer General Manager, proved invaluable with his approval to waive the costly transmission fees. Thank you SamoaTel from everyone at NUS.

Should you want to know more, log into for the Apia Lions/NUS connection with the Sydney concert.

The documentary has been televised on TV1 through their seed-funding of $1000. [Sterling pounds]. That and any other money received from the sale of the dvds will be pooled into a special fund specifically for students needs through counseling and 2010 school fees.

From Monifa Fiu in Rotuma (4 November 2009)

LRI's cloth bag campaign was launched by George Konrote on the second day of the biovisioning workshop and sketch books were distributed to schools. We are about to start discussions with the headteachers about adopting a "plastic free zone" once a committment has been made by the schools. We plan to distribute cloth bags to the kids at school. Below are some more pics from the biovisioning workshop.

It seems that the aftershock of the recent tsunami, and their flight to the hills, has had the islanders seriously considering moving up into the ufa.

Itu'muta Catering
Photo display at Itu'muta
Biovisioning Workshop

From Monifa Fiu in Rotuma (2 November 2009)

I am finally on the home island! Below are pictures taken at the Rotuma Elders Biovisioning, which was held on 28 October at Itu'muta and on 30 October at Malha'a. I was accompanied on this trip by Derek Cleland from the National Trust of Fiji. Rupeti Vafo'ou, our island contact, and I co-facilitated a process involving land use maps provided to LäjeRotuma by the Land Use Department. The maps proved helpful for the participants to reflect on how things were in 1982 as compared with their knowledge of how the land and the marine environment are currently being used.

The outcome of the biovisioning allowed us to better appreciate the current issues of concern our elders are grappling with. The final mapping has been overlaid with other features—cultural, ecological and development potential—and will be presented to the Council and Rotuma Development Committee prior to release during LRI's community outreach.

A bit of the environment
Rupeti Vafo'ou presenting
Itu'muta report back
Chairman report back for Oinafa