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Archived News: March 2011

From Fiji Times Online (25 March 2011)

Dancers target Hawaii

by Samisoni Nabilivalu

The Rako Dance Group launched their fundraising drive for a planned trip to Hawaii with a small concert at the Vine Yard Restaurant in Suva last night.

The group hopes to join the crew of the Uto Ni Yalo when the vessel stops over in Hawaii, as their cultural dance group. Part of the proceeds will also go to the school fees of those who attend the Conservatorium of Music.

Guests filled the Vine yard and were treated to an array of exotic and breathtaking performances which were a fusion of Rotuman, Polynesian and modern dances.

Reviving material culture which have been lost over the years while nurturing and developing artistic excellence are two important aims of the Rotuman and Polynesian dance group.

Rako started as an initiative by Fiji Arts Council director Letila Mitchell and Laje Rotuma Initiative (LRI) founder Monifa Fiu to research and revive many art forms that existed in Rotuma but had not been practised for years.

Ms Mitchell said LRI gave Rako the needed cultural grounding and support to ensure cultural arts were rooted deeply in Rotuma heritage.

"I became quite aware from my work with the Fiji Arts Council since the Pacific Arts Festival in Palau in 2006 about the lack of representation of Rotuma and Fiji-based Polynesian artists in the arts sector in Fiji," Ms Mitchell said.

"So I felt with my experience and my network, I needed to find a way to provide a platform for these communities, particularly the Rotuman community to become involved."

Rako dancers
Rako dancers and musicians kept the audience entertained last night

From Radio Fiji (24 March 2011)

Farm roads to be taken over by government

Government will take over some farm roads in Rotuma that urgently need repairing says Minister for Works Colonel Timoci Lesi Natuva.

The Minister made the announcement during his visit to the island this week to inspect progress on work that was implemented by government in 2009.

Works media liaison officer Iliesa Sokia says the decision to take over the roads was made taking into account the struggle farmers go through to transport their produce to the Ahau government station.

Meanwhile the upgrading works at the Oinafa wharf are complete and cost government $112,000.

From Fiji Times Online (22 March 2011)

Virus under control

by Mary Rauto

THE mystery virus that hit students of an island school has been contained, says Ministry of Health spokesman Peni Namotu.

Mr Namotu said the virus lab indicated that the mystery virus was actually an influenza outbreak.

Fifty students were sent to the hospital on Rotuma after they collapsed at the school two weeks ago.

He said health inspectors visited the community, raising awareness about basic hygiene.

Mr Namotu earlier said six of the students were hospitalised while the others were treated and sent home.

"The six students were kept at the hospital for further observation and the rest of the students were sent home.

"We are advising people on the island to take precautions and wash their hands before and after they use the toilets and to cover their food."

From Radio Fiji (19 March 2011)

Rabi and Taveuni will support Rotuma trade

The Island of Rotuma has started its trade with Tuvalu with the sale of Dalo at $2.00 a kilo.

This was revealed by Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama while speaking at Nakalawaca Village in Tailevu.

Bainimarama says they are also working on upgrading the jetty on Rabi Island to allow people there and those in Taveuni to support Rotuma and Kiribati with the trade.

He says government is now working on increasing the price of dalo in the country.

Bainimarama says dalo today is being sold at 60 cents a kilo which is a big loss to farmers.

He says they are working to increase the price of dalo, to be between $1.20 to $1.80.

Report by Apisalome Coka

From Fiji Times Online (18 March 2011)

Scabies an issue on Rotuma

by Zafiya Shamim

Scabies has been an issue with the community, mostly for children in Rotuma, a four-day nurses dermatology workshop in Suva on Wednesday heard.

Sister-in-charge Jieni Aisake said in previous years, the trend had been the occurrence of scabies primarily among children but "not many adults".

"We created awareness through community outreach programmes and advised communities on proper care for infections," she said in a Ministry of Information statement.

"Before we had untreated water supply and this contributed to the rise in scabies.

"After this workshop, I will pass the information to my staff nurses back in Rotuma."

From Fiji Times Online (15 March 2011)

Better infrastructure for island trade

by Ioane Burese

MORE biosecurity infrastructural work will be focused on Rotuma to facilitate its trade with Tuvalu.

The Information Ministry reports work related to the issue already underway or in various stages of completion include the construction of a staff quarter, an export pack house, and the High Temperature Forced Air (HTFA) facilities.

Biosecurity Authority of Fiji (BAF) chief executive officer Elvis Silvestrini informed a meeting of heads of department that most of the biosecurity infrastructural developments were being carried out at Suva and Lautoka wharfs and Nadi and Nausori airports where the bulk of exporters and importers were based.

"It was only in 2009 that the upgrading of the biosecurity facilities to equip the trade between Rotuma and Tuvalu began," Mr Silvestrini said.

Commissioner Eastern Lieutenant-Colonel Neumi Leweni emphasised the need to place more focus on Rotuma which falls within the Eastern Division.

"Rotuma is going to be a new port of entry," he said.

"All requirements for a new port of entry needs to be there.

"We do not allow anything that shouldn't come into the country to come in.

"And that's an issue that really needs to be addressed because the trade with Tuvalu has started."

The only capital project for 2010 that will greatly support the work of biosecurity officials in the Eastern Division is the purchase of a Monitoring & Surveillance Boat at a total cost of $181,000.

Mr Silvestrini said the boat would be used in general monitoring and surveillance of pests and diseases in the outer islands of the Eastern Division.

From Radio Fiji (14 March 2011)

President to attend Rotuma Day celebrations

His Excellency the President Ratu Epeli Nailatikau will be chief guest at the Rotuma Day celebrations on the island from 12th to 13th May.

This was confirmed to FBC News by Rotuma Island Council chairman Terterani Rigamoto Rigamoto says people on the island have started preparing for the event.

Rotuma Day is the anniversary of the islands cession to the United Kingdom in 1881 and is still celebrated today.

Report by: Apisalome Coka

From Fiji Sun Online (12 March 2011)

Rotuma students discharged

by Nasik Swami

A mystery virus that caused 50 students to be hospitalised in Rotuma has not been identified yet.

However, Ministry of Health spokesman Peni Namotu confirmed that six students believed to have contracted the virus have since been discharged from the sub-divisional hospital in Rotuma.

Mr Namotu said the samples of the flu like virus were sent to the virus lab in Tamavua for tests and the results will be released soon.

Mr Namotu said the 50 students affected by the virus are now stable and coping well after treatments.

He said residents on the islands have been advised to practise basic hygiene in their homes.

He reminded people to wash their hands properly after visiting the toilet and use soap and water to wash their hands.

From FijiVillage (11 March 2011)

Focus on Rotuma as a source of copra

Attention is now turning to Rotuma as a source of copra for the local industry.

Copra Millers of Fiji Board Chairman, Ilisoni Taoba said that apart from bringing in $1.3 million worth of copra from Christmas island later this month, more is still needed.

He revealed that talks are currently underway with farmers representatives of Tuvalu and Rotuma.

Taoba said these drastic measures are being adopted to ensure that the Copra mill in Savusvau remained operational until the shortage in the country is addressed.

The shortage in Fiji is a result of the damage on copra farms in the northern division by the cyclones last year.

Story by: Paradise Tabucala

From Sanimeli Maraf in Rotuma (10 January 2011, arrived 8 March)

The MV Westerland brought the Savlei crowd during the second week of December and came back on 5th January. The Savlei crowd brought a 5-ton truck for the village, plus a full store of cargo and a copra dryer. The people in Savlei are lucky.

Most passengers changed over to the Nanuya Princess, the Blue Lagoon cruise boat from Lautoka because of the bad weather. The rain was non-stop, but that didn't stop the people from enjoying themselves going fara, etc.

The Pepjei fara that came to our Noa'tau Hall included our friends from Canada, Eric Tomoniko and his family. Friends also came from Melbourne, Australia and New Zealand, etc. etc. It seems they enjoy the Rotuma holiday so they can catch up with our native Rotuman way of life. Dr. John Fatiaki, his wife Seniva, and their whole family were here. We came together on the Nanuya Princess, along with the Bennett family from Itu'muta and many others. I believe this boat will be coming to Rotuma every month until May. It's worth the price.

Pacific Sun is flying over to Rotuma every Friday only until the runway is being repaired according to Mrs. Ramisese Solomone of Nadi, who is our connection with the airline.

Gagaj Maraf will be 82 years on 25 January; we will be celebrating at our Noa'tau Hall. He's in good health.

Subsequent letter dated 23 February (arrived 9 March)

On 25 January 2011 we celebrated Gagaj Maraf's 82nd birthday at the Noa'tau Community Hall. The Malha'a High School Band played. His birthday cake was sent from Nadi by Mrs. Ramisese Solomone, who works for Pacific Sun Airlines; it was a beautiful cake enjoyed by everyone. It was a lovely celebration with plenty of food to choose from. Thanks to everyone who helped.

For the first time in my life I saw an aruru (coconut crab). The Malha'a kainaga came over for the celebration and picked it up on the road at Uisa, between Malha'a and Lopta. I have heard about aruru before; it's big--no wonder this creature can peel coconuts and eat the coconut flesh by dropping the shell down from the tree top. Watch out for your finger because it can chop it in half!

Te samuag het tape' "Aruru fi'a rere, aruru fi'a rere." It belongs to a Malhaha family. The old man went on a sailing boat and they passed an island in the Pacific somewhere. The island was inhabited by nothing but aruru. "Aruru fi'a rere, aruru fi'a rere."

 Te samuag he ta'a ... Ure te koag ta itake jeha etc. etc. I cannot tell you my te samuga ha ha!

The boat Lady Jane or something like that arrived yesterday with passengers and left. The Tuvalu boat dealing with our farmers will be here this week enroute to Funafuti, Tuvalu. There is also the Westerland which will be leaving Suva this week; our Rotuma shores will be full with people coming and going. The good thing is we can have our electricity run normal again, plus the groceries' shelves will have stock again.

From Radio Australia News (9 March 2011)

Fiji's Ministry of Health to investigate mystery student illness

Fiji's Ministry of Health is sending a team to Rotuma on Friday to further investigate the mystery illness that caused 50 students to fall sick last week.

The students all reported flu like symptoms, weak bones and some were unable to walk.

They were given medication in hospital and sent home.

A spokesman from the ministry told Radio Australia that test specimens have been sent to a lab in Suva and they expect the results to be ready in coming days.

He says doctors have ruled out food poisoning as the cause.

From Fiji Times Online (8 March 2011)

Virus attack

by Monika Singh

FIFTY students were taken to the hospital in Rotuma after they collapsed at the school on Friday.

Ministry of Health spokesman Peni Namotu yesterday confirmed the students were seen by staff at the Rotuma Sub-divisional hospital after they suffered from influenza-like symptoms.

"We can confirm that there was an outbreak of influenza-like illness and children and adults were both affected," he said.

Mr Namotu said six of the students were hospitalised while the others were treated and sent home.

"The six students were kept at the hospital for further observation and the rest of the students were sent home.

"However, we still have not been able to confirm what this outbreak is but we know that it is preventable. We are advising people on the island to take precautions and wash their hands before and after they use the toilets and to cover their food."

Mr Namotu said the Ministry of Health advised parents to keep children who showed symptoms indoors.

"The symptoms of this virus include high fever, sore throat and joint pains," he said.

A parent from Rotuma (who wished to remain anonymous) yesterday said there were children who were rushed to the hospital after they collapsed at the school on Friday.

She said children from her village suffered from high fever and their parents had to rush them to the hospital.

"It is very bad and we are worried about our children," she said.

Attempts to contact the the principal of Rotuma High School yesterday were unsuccessful.

From FijiVillage (7 March 2011)

50 Rotuman students admitted for flu like illness

50 students from Rotuma were taken to Rotuma Sub divisional hospital on Friday following Influenza like illness.

This has been confirmed by Health Ministry Spokesperson, Peni Namotu who said that the alarm was raised after students were found to be having fever, complaining of weakness and were not able to walk properly.

Namotu added that some students were also kept under observation but were discharged the next day.

Story by: Praneeta Deo

From Radio Fiji (3 March 2011)

First dalo shipment reaches Tuvalu

The export of dalo from Rotuma to Tuvalu has commenced.

The first shipment of seven tonnes of fresh dalo valued at $11,750 left Rotuma for Tuvalu on Tuesday.

Biosecurity Authority of Fiji (BAF) official - Ilaitia Boa says the first shipment was proposed for five tonnes of cassava and two tonnes of fresh dalo.

However Boa says the storage freezer in Rotuma could not provide the required temperature recommended by the Tuvalu Quarantine Department.

New arrangements were then made.

"We have carried out all the necessary ground work's as far as the Bio Security is concerned and we have all the certification of all the pack houses and also we are gearing towards the completion of hot treatment first air facilities and now fortunately Tuvalu has opened up now and we are pursuing the first shipment of Dalo from Rotuma to Tuvalu."

A technician from the Ministry of Works is currently in Rotuma to help in the maintenance of the freezer.

Tuvalu Cooperative buys fresh dalo at $2.00 per kg and frozen cassava at $1.55 per kg.

The next shipment is due in April and the estimated annual revenue for Rotuma in exports to Tuvalu will be about $140,000.