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Archived News: May 2010

From Radio Fiji (16 May 2010)

A senior officer with the Prime Ministers Office Tomasi Tui will lead a government delegation to Rotuma this week.

Tui will officially open the new Police Station and also look into the progress of development work on the island as it prepares for trade with Tuvalu.

Tui and his delegation will leave onboard the MV Iloilovatu this Saturday.

From the Fiji Sun (16 May 2010)

Islanders laud State


The Rotuman community living in Suva thanked Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama for development on their island.

Chairman of the Rotuman Day celebration and spokesman, Roy Fiu said having the Prime Minister, Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama present at the celebration made them happy.

“We want to thank him for all the developments that Government has done on the island.”

He said the developments had made their lives easier.

“The island of Rotuma has seven districts and more than 20 villages. This year developments are on infrastructure on the island.

“These include the upgrading works on roads, bridges and jetties and airstrip.” Mr Foy said infrastructure plays a vital role commercially.

“We use these avenues for travelling but an important role us is the transportation of food for export.

“On agriculture, we are happy that Government has facilitated trade talks that will get underway this year .”

He said the Rotuman community was excited with trade plans.

“This is what the Government has facilitated for Rotuma to trade with Tuvalu. We will export root crops like yams and dalo .

“We already have our one container quota for export. In one month one district fills the container the other month another district.”

Mr Foy said Rotuma had a five year strategic plan in place.

“The Fiji Rotuma Association is the guiding group and we have the Rotuma Island Council and this year we have two major projects in the pipeline.

“The first project is the construction of a cultural centre in Suva that will facilitate any major function and avoid the expenses of booking halls to accommodate occasions.

“An example of this is this year’s celebrations where we have had to fork out $4000 for the two day occasion and that is a lot of money. We hope to buy a piece of land and build the Rotuma Cultural Centre.”

He said the other project was to buy a boat. “We want to have a boat that will allow Rotumans to freely travel as transport is a huge issue,” he said. Mr Foy said the celebrations were to thank the Government for its work on the island.

“We all want to thank the Government. All the 2,500 people on Rotuma and the 11,000 Rotumans living on the mainland are happy about the development that has taken place on our island.

“The women presented their gifts to Prime Minister Bainimarama, who visited Rotuma and we are celebrating all that today. It’s very unique.”

Prime Minister, Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama with the Commissioner Eastern Lieutenant-Colonel Iferemi Vasu attended the celebrations yesterday.

From Fiji Times Online (16 May 2010)

Style and colour add to special celebrations

Song and dance ... Rotuman youths entertain the crowd during the Rotuma Day celebrations in Suva yesterday

Rotuma Day celebrations continued in style and colour yesterday.

The Tattersalls Leisure Centre in Suva was jam-packed with more people taking the weekend to join the celebration.

Military commander, Commodore Voreqe Bainimrama was chief guest at the function.

In his speech during the function, Commodore Bainimarama said Government supported the move to make Rotuma a well-developed island.

Commodore Bainimarama assured the Rotuman community of the Government's initiative to support efforts to develop Rotuma.

In the traditional the style, the Rotuman community displayed their appreciation by presenting Commodore Bainimarama with the finest Rotuman lovo (food cooked in an earth oven) dish, featuring the roast pork delicacy.

The Ke'ak Ne Kaua'ta also known as the "calling out of the lovo food", to be displayed to the chief guest was one of the main attractions of the event.

Men filled the front stage with a huge amount of lovo food packed in hand-woven leave baskets.

This was followed by the traditional Rotuman song and dance. The event marked the anniversary of the island's cession to Britain on May 13, 1881.

From Radio Fiji (15 May 2010)

Government to make Rotuma a well developed Island

One of the visions of Government is to make Rotuma a well developed Island says the Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama.

Speaking at the second day of the Rotuma Day Celebrations Bainimarama says Government will also see that their needs are met.

Meanwhile the upgrading of the Rotuma airport has been delayed due to financial reasons.

The Civil Aviation Authority wants concrete pavement for the airport, which means an added cost.

Deputy Director for Civil Aviation Joeli Koroikata says Government is looking at around $15million for the project that was to have started this year.

He says Cabinet has already approved additional funding and they are on the verge of seeking funds from the Ministry of Finance.

From Fiji Times Online (15 May 2010)

Hundreds at Rotuma Day celebrations

by Geraldine Panapasa

HUNDREDS of people turned up at the Tattersalls Leisure Centre in Suva to celebrate Rotuma Day.

The event yesterday marked the anniversary of the island's cession to Britain on May 13, 1881.

Fiji Rotuman Association chairman Roy Fiu said the two-day event would be officially opened by army commander Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama today.

"The first day was the agriculture and women's handicraft show," he said.

"A lot of the giant rootcrops have surprised a lot of people. The shows have created a lot of interest amongst our people in Fiji.

"Rotuma Day is usually celebrated on one day, that is May 13 when our island was ceded to Britain.

"In Fiji, we either celebrate it on Saturday if May 13 falls in the week."

Mr Fiu said the annual celebrations were sometimes celebrated for a week on the island.

He said the event not only brought Rotumans together but was an opportunity to share in the cultural and traditional heritage.

"We wanted to highlight awareness programs about our culture, especially for Rotumans who do not know much about their culture and language," he said.

"The culture on the island is firmly intact. Some who are born outside of the isla-nd like in Fiji do not know much about the culture.

"Our focus is to get these people to understand our culture, to learn the language and be proud of their heritage," Mr Fiu said.

From the Fiji Sun (15 May 2010)

Islanders take pride in their identity

Hundreds of people came together to celebrate Rotuma Day at the National Gymnasium yesterday.

Rotuma consists of seven districts, all of which were present at the celebrations.

Of the seven districts, Itu’ti’u and Noa’tau, were the only two that performed cultural items.

Other districts like Juju, Pepjei, Itumuta, Malhaha will be performing tomorrow except Oinafa, whichis mourning the death of its chief. Rotuma Day is celebrated annually on May 13, the day the island was officially ceded to the United Kingdom in 1881; seven years after Fiji became a colony.

While dancing and celebrations were in full swing, there were Rotuman-based organisations, which had some very serious things to say.

Vilma Isireli, is a field assistant for an organisation known as the LajeRotuma Initiative, which looks into biodiversity there.

A small display table was all Ms Isireli needed to create awareness about the work her group does for the island.

“Firstly, I am proud to be a Rotuman and to celebrate this day with my fellow Rotumans in Fiji and back at home,” Ms Isireli said.

As an ambassador for the environment, Ms Isireli said the organisation conducts research on biodiversity in Rotuma.

“We try to inform people about issues such as climate change and carry out research in Rotuma to improve biodiversity and protect the wild life in Rotuma,” she said.

From the Ministry of Information (14 May 2010)

Rotuma awaits funds

People of Rotuma will have to wait a little longer before they can reap benefits from their international airport.

Reason for the delay has been attributed to the Department of Civil Aviation. The department wants concrete pavement for the airport, which means an added cost.

Deputy director for civil aviation Mr Joeli Koroikata says Government is looking at around $15million for the project that was to have started this year.

“We already have $6.2million, but because Government wants to build a proper airport it wants a concrete pavement instead of chip sealing it,” Mr Koroikata said.

“Chip sealing would be good but would cost more to maintain it. While concrete pavement is expensive it would be better in the long run.”

He added that Cabinet had already approved additional funding and they were on the verge of seeking funds from the Ministry of Finance.

“We will go to the Ministry of Finance, but we are bearing in mind that the ministry had also diverted funds for the rehabilitation programme following the aftermath of Cyclone Tomas.”

The tender is with Airport Fiji Limited (AFL) for the upgrading of the airport on Rotuma.

From Aliti Fong in British Columbia (13 May 2010)

This will be the 17th year since we started our group, the Hugagaesea Club, in celebrate Rotuma Day. We always celebrate on Saturday of our Victoria Day long weekend, which this year falls on May 22nd. Our youth are in charge of our group. My daughter, Jane Aliti Cyr, is president, Cherie Ramsell is vice-president, Aisake Titifanua is treasurer, and Tamara Aisake is secretary.

I’m glad that our youths are interested and invoved. We will be making a koua and the whole works, not forgetting the tautoga. Happy Rotuma Day to all the Rotumans.

From Fiji Times Online (10 May 2010)

It's going to be dry

by Riteshni Singh

THE Western Division, Vanuabalavu and Rotuma remained under drought conditions in the last three months.

And the weather office predicts drier conditions this month and June.

Acting Fiji Meteorological Office director Sushil Sharma said cooler conditions would emerge around July.

"For the May to June 2010 period, generally average to below average rainfall is favoured for most parts of Fiji, with average to above average rainfall likely for Rotuma," he said.

From July, normal conditions are expected for Fiji. Lower rainfalls are expected, however, in Monasavu for the May to July 2010 period.

"However, looking at all other meteorological factor guidance, we can reasonably say that below average to average rainfall favoured over May to the middle of June period," he said.

"Out of the 23 stations that reported in time for the summary, 15 reported below average, six average, while Laucala Bay (Suva) and Nausori Airport were the only stations with above average rainfall," he said.

Ocean temperatures are expected to be cooler than normal conditions in the coming months.

From Rejieli Flexman in Sydney (7 May 2010)

The installation ceremony for the successor to Gagaj Kausiriaf took place on Tuesday, 20 April, at the community hall in Oinafa. The people of Lopta prepared and cooked the food in the village and took it to Oinafa. It was a very solemn moment as they watched Gagaj Maraf install the new gagaj 'es itu'u, who took the title (Kausiriaf) of his predecessor.

The dedication service was held in Lopta and the whole district of Oinafa came to the combined service. Rev Emotama Pene conducted the service and according to my sister, it marked a new beginning for the life of the church, involving a new minister and a new approach to worship. It was spiritually uplifting to the people as they witnessed a very special occasion. When one considers the life span of the previous chief, then God willing, it will be quite sometime for another such occasion. The newly installed Gagaj Kausiriaf is a second cousin to both Rev Syd Taito and Rev Fesaitu Marseu through their mothers.

See Photos

From Radio Fiji (4 May 2010)

Fiji Bio-diesel factories to open

Bio-diesel factories for Rotuma and Lau will be operational by September this year.

Bio-diesel engineer Vili Vosarogo of the Energy Department says Government has approved the establishment of the factories and they are working to see the project off the ground.

Vosarogo says they are now formulating the type of training they will offer to the people of Rotuma and Lau before the factories start operations.

He told FBC News that Government is planning to build 43 bio-diesel factories around Fiji by 2014 and that should save Fiji a big chunk of the 1.2 billion dollars we spend annually on fuel imports.

Meanwhile the factory at Nacamaki in Koro that opened in March this year is producing well and is buying all the copra on the island at a price of $600.00 per ton - compared to the $470.00 they were paid when selling their copra in Savusavu.

From Fiji Times Online (4 May 2010)

Unbearable stench from dead fish

by Timoci Vula

HUNDREDS of dead fish strewn on the beaches of Rotuma have caused an unbearable stench to coastal villages and schools.

The islanders say the fish and marine life are drying up because of the extraordinarily low tide and the length of time it stays that way for more than five hours.

Small eels, kawakawa, cod, mullet, octopus and even baby sharks have been found beached on the shore at Rotuma.

Officers from the Rotuma Police Station said a sample of the dead fish and seawater was requested and sent to the Department of Fisheries following the Easter weekend.

But Fisheries in Suva says it is yet to receive the samples. Permanent secretary Fisheries Commander Viliame Naupoto said he had not received details on the samples nor was he aware of the situation in Rotuma.

Motusa District School headteacher Aisea Olsen said the stench from the dead fish was strong and made worse by the hot weather. He said this was a health risk to students and villagers.

"We are not going out to sea because we do not know what is causing these fish to die," Mr Olsen said.

"But I think it is because of the low tides and these fish in the reef are more exposed to the heat."

DO Rotuma Nicholas Ting could not be reached for a comment yesterday because he was meeting with the reps from the Department of Roads on the island.

In the meantime, the Ministry of Health is checking with its workers on the island to see if any new medical cases have been recorded as a result of this phenomenon.

From Fiji Times Online (4 May 2010)

Low tides affects Rotuma's fish

by Timoci Vula

VILLAGERS in Rotuma experienced "extraordinary" low tides in the past couple of weeks at the same time when fish and other marine creatures were found beached on the shore.

The two bays in Rotuma, Maka and Hap'mafau, were the two spots identified where dead fish were found floating for almost a kilometre close to the shore in early April.

The Nadi Meteorological Centre said the abnormal low tides experienced on the island were a result of the low astronomical tide currently experienced.

"We are going through a period of rather low astronomical tide level meaning the low tide is at its lowest," said acting Director of Meteorology Dr Sunil Sharma.

He said that led to sea creatures marooned on the corals and dying all over the beaches.

"Upon investigations (on April 7), the two main reasons for these were negative sea level anomaly.

"There was negative sea level anomaly maximum (-30cm) present right over the area during the time of investigation," he said.

Dr Sharma said this was due to the El Nino phenomena and associated recent south pacific convergence zone (SPCZ) and tropical cyclone activities.

"The El Nino itself causes piling of water (positive sea-level anomaly) in eastern equatorial Pacific and lowering of sea level (negative anomaly) in the western equatorial Pacific.

"This is because of westerly wind burst that is characteristic of moderate to strong El Nino.

"Winds associated with weather systems such as tropical cyclones and depressions can further influence sea level by driving the surface waters in certain directions, though the effect is only temporary," Dr Sharma said.

He said all that coincided with low astronomical tide. The lowest for Lautoka was 0.27 metres on March 31.

This led to really unusual low tides unheard of before for Rotuma and the beaching and death of many sea creatures.

Motusa High School Principal Aisea Olsen said they had been observing the abnormal low tide for more than a week during the Easter weekend.

He said the ocean dried up during the low tides and for a longer period, almost the whole day.

"And when it is high tide, we can still corals visible on top of the water and that never use to happen before," Mr Olsen said.

"It is worrying because we have never seen anything like that before," he said, adding they should be made aware of what was happening.

Officers from the Rotuma Police Station said a report on this was being forwarded to the information room at the Nabua Police Station in Suva.

The DO's office in Rotuma was also closely monitoring the situation and was working with relevant authorities on that.

Dr Sharma however, said villagers need not worry too much at this late stage as the El Nino phenomenon was "definitely decaying and now we are in positive territory with La Nina like conditions".

"Sea levels will rise and normalise to its pre-El Nino levels over Rotuma within the next one to two months and tide levels would return to its normal levels," he said.

From Radio Fiji (3 May 2010)

Extreme low tide kills marine life in Rotuma

Extreme low tide caused by El Nino saw the death of various marine life in Rotuma says the Fiji Meteorological Office.

Concerns had been raised by the people of Rotuma after dead fish and other marine life were found on their beaches a few weeks ago.

Rotumans also raised concerns regarding abnormally low sea levels on the island which saw fish and other marine life getting marooned, deformed and dying on the corals.

Islanders say much of the coral and some of the fish were bleached.

Acting Director of Meteorology Dr Sushil Sharma says the current El Nino period is responsible for the phenomenon.

“This year due to El-Nino all that water has been sourced back to central eastern Pacific. Meaning that during low tide Rotuma would already have been getting one meter lower sea level."

"However early March we had very low astronomical tides of only about 0.27 meters. So during the low tide the lowest of the low tide would have been one and half meters lower than the traditional fishermen, people there and seas creatures are used to. This led to the beaching of many thousands of sea creatures which were trapped on corals and reefs.”