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Archived News: February 2011

From Fiji Times Online (28 February 2011)

Seven tonnes of dalo bound for Tuvalu

by Samisoni Nabilivalu

FARMERS in Rotuma are eagerly awaiting the arrival of the Manu Folau which is to transport the island's first shipload of exported dalo to Tuvalu.

The ship was supposed to leave for Rotuma on Tuesday but has been experiencing engine problems and was still at the wharf as of 5:10pm on Friday.

Seven tonnes of dalo from Rotuma is expected to be shipped to Tuvalu - the culmination of two years of hard work by the government and the Rotuma Council.

Close to 177 farmers on the island have registered and are part of the initiative by the Ministry of Agriculture.

The initiative involves farmers meeting harvest quotas and being monitored by the ministry's officers so that a continuous supply of dalo was available for export.

The move is bound to stir up an interest in local farmers who have yet to join with the island's council confirming that talks were also underway with Kiribati.

A council member revealed that the Prime Minister's office played an important part in pushing the trade deal through.

He said that despite shipping issues and other problems which had hindered the progress of the deal, islanders were looking forward to the ship's historic trip to Tuvalu.

He also went on say that a plant on the island which is on the verge of completion would soon allow Rotuma to also process and export its oranges and watermelons which are locally renowned.

Attempts to contact farmers on the island via mobile phone proved difficult as the current network provider covers only one half of the island.

From Alan Howard in Honolulu (16 February 2011)

Rotumans were well represented at the recent meeting of the Association for Social Anthropology in Oceania (ASAO), which was held in Honolulu from the 8-12 February. Among those in attendance were Ofa Dewes from Auckland; Victor Narsimalu from Provo, Utah; Vilsoni Hereniko from Suva; and Hiagi Wesley, from Laie, Hawai'i.

Ofa, who works at the School of Population Health at the University of Auckland, participated in a session on "Obesity and Health in the Pacific." Her contribution was acknowledged by the organizers as "outstanding." Victor participated in a session on "Tā-Vā (Time-Space), The Polynesian Theory of Reality," while Vilsoni and Hiagi participated in a session concerned with "Collaborative Research and Training: Cultural Heritage, Local Development, and Pacific Alternatives."

This kind of representation by outstanding Rotuman scholars is extremely gratifying. Vilsoni and Hiagi are well established scholars who head two of the most important Pacific Studies institutes in the world (Vilsoni at USP in Suva, Hiagi at Brigham Young University, Hawai'i), while Ofa and Victor are emerging scholars with a bright future ahead of them.

From Fiji Times Online (5 February 2011)

Pacific Sun justifies airfares

by Avinesh Gopal

PACIFIC Sun airfares are not determined solely on the distance alone but on other factors that come into mix says general manager Jim Samson.

His comments were made in response to concerns raised by a Suva resident on the exorbitant fares charged by the airline for a one way trip to Rotuma from the Nadi International Airport.

Mr Samson said economies of scale, aircraft type and the size of the market were key determinants for the fares charged.

He said there was no comparison between domestic fares and fares offered by Pacific Sun's sister airline, Air Pacific.

The resident, Verson Tavana, the managing director of Agrotec Pacific, said he paid $610.80 for a one way ticket to Rotuma for his father, Taio Vaurasi.

Mr Tavana said his father was booked to fly to Rotuma at 6:45am on January 28 but he could not go because the flight was cancelled because of a cyclone warning.

He said the airline offered to refund the airfare but he refused saying the cyclone warning was for Wallis and Futuna.

Mr Tavana said despite the exorbitant airfare to Rotuma, the airline did not provide refreshments.

In response to the queries, Mr Samson said the airline's once-a-week service to Rotuma came under the Government's air franchise scheme.

"This means our flights are subsidised by Fiji's taxpayers without which Pacific Sun would not be able to sell tickets to Rotuma under the current price," he said.

"Travellers to Vanuabalavu, Lakeba and Cicia enjoy the same Government subsidy."

Mr Samson said the airline apologised to its customers for the cancellation of the flight to Rotuma last week.

"With a depression located near Wallis and Futuna to the north-northeast of the Fiji group and moving in a south westerly direction, any flight to Rotuma on the day ran the risk of being exposed to lightening and thunderstorms associated with the depression," he said.

"Our pilots took the decision that flying to Rotuma on the day would be too risky for our crew and passengers."

Mr Samson said the airline was not able to offer refreshments to passengers on the Rotuma flight because of the type of aircraft it used.

"There is no room for inflight cabin service in our small twin otter planes," he said.

Mr Samson said once the runway on the island was upgraded and lengthened, they would be able to fly the bigger ATR 42-500 aircraft with enough room to offer refreshments.