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Archived News: May 2011

From Radio Fiji (31 May 2011)

Rotuma villages to be declared tobacco free

Several villages on the island of Rotuma will be declared Tobacco Free today - as part of World No Tobacco Day celebrations.

Health Ministry spokesperson Peni Namotu says celebrations on the island will include sporting activities and awareness by health officials on the consequences of smoking.

"There will be parts of Rotuma Island that will be declared tobacco-free areas and this is in support of initiatives hat has been initiated by the Ministry of Health and also in support of the Tobacco Decree that has been endorsed."

World No Tobacco Day celebrations will also be held at the Ba Mission Hospital - which will also be declared tobacco-free.

Report by: Elenoa Osborne

From the Irish Times (28 May 2011)

Ó hAilpín awarded freedom of Cork city

Sean Ó hAilpín receiving Freedom of Cork Award

Lord mayor of Cork city Cllr Michael O'Connor applauds as Sean Ó hAilpín is awarded the freedom of the city of Cork.

Photograph: Michael Mac Sweeney/Provision

THREE-TIME All-Ireland winning Cork hurler Seán Óg Ó hAilpín yesterday spoke of how humbled and honoured he was to receive the freedom of Cork at a ceremony attended by over 250 guests at Cork City Hall.

"I feel tremendously humbled," said Seán Óg who captained Cork to All-Ireland success in 2005 and spoke in fluent Irish when accepting the Liam McCarthy Cup of the great journey that had brought him from his birthplace on the Fijian island of Rotuma all the way to Croke Park.

Yesterday, he noted his Fijian origins and later growing up in Australia before recalling how taking up Gaelic games with Na Piarsaigh on Cork's northside helped him integrate into the community when the family arrived on Leeside when he was just 10 years old.

"Although not from you, I have become one of you," said Seán Óg to loud and warm applause as he proudly accepted the freedom of the city bestowed upon him by Lord Mayor of Cork city Cllr Michael O'Connor and members of Cork City Council.

There to see him receive the honour were his mother Emilie, his brother Teu and his sisters, Sarote and Etaoin, as well as his girlfriend Siobhán Quirke, sister of Cork footballer goalkeeper Alan Quirke, along with other family friends.

Cork hurling historian Tim Horgan paid tribute to Seán Óg's prowess as both a hurler and a footballer with the North Monastery, Na Piarsaigh and when wearing the red jersey of Cork whom he helped win All-Irelands in 1999, 2004 and 2005.

"Donal Óg Cusack in his award-winning autobiography says of Seán Óg – 'Everywhere he goes, the man leaves people feeling better about themselves' – it was a very apt comment on a popular sportsman and wonderful personality who has brought joy to so many sports fans."

Former Cork hurling coach and current Limerick coach Donal O'Grady, who taught Seán Óg in the North Monastery, read a tribute as Gaeilge from broadcasting legend Mícheál Ó Muircheartaigh, who was unable to attend yesterday's ceremony.

Ó Muircheartaigh recalled the famous All-Ireland speech in 2005 which he said had helped generate a willingness in people to try and speak the language when they saw someone who hadn't been born in Ireland speak it so beautifully.

Afterwards Seán Óg revealed how humbling it was to see his name join the list of previous recipients such as US president John F Kennedy, the late taoiseach and Cork hurler Jack Lynch and more recent sporting heroes such as Roy Keane and Sonia O'Sullivan.

Among the many Cork GAA figures to attend were former Cork manager John Allen and Seán Óg's former team-mates Joe Deane, Tom Kenny and current Cork captain, Shane O'Neill. Also in attendance were former Cork footballer Larry Tompkins and former hurler Johnny Crowley.

Guests at yesterday's ceremony included Minister of State Kathleen Lynch, Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin, Cork North Central TDs Jonathan O'Brien of Sinn Féin and Dara Murphy of Fine Gael, Cork South Central Labour TD Ciarán Lynch and Ireland South MEP and former GAA president Seán Kelly.

by Barry Roche

From (26 May 2011)

Sean Og's model sister steps into the limelight in Miss Universe

Etaoin O hAilpin
Etaoin O hAilpin

Her brother made his name as one of the country's greatest sportsmen and now Sean Og O hAilpin's sister has her eyes set on stardom.

Gorgeous Etaoin O hAilpin (22), whose brother Sean Og will be given the Freedom of Cork city tomorrow, has clearly inherited her family's good looks and has ventured into the pageant spotlight.

The Herald can reveal the part-time model has been chosen to represent Miss Whizzer in Miss Universe Ireland and has already been tipped as one to watch.

But this isn't the first time the 5ft 10ins beauty has ventured into the beauty arena -- she was named Miss Cork in 2009 and was one of the eye-catching finalists in the Miss Ireland competition.

"I love modelling, I model with Lockdown's modelling agency in Cork," she explained.

The half-Fijian beauty - whose four brothers Sean Og, Setanta, Teu and Aisake are all sports stars -- went on to say how she has also inherited her brothers' fondness for keeping fit and looking after herself physically, given her size 8 figure.

"I love exercising, I ran the Cork Women's Mini Marathon last September," she continued.

Speaking about her siblings, she said they were her "idols" when she was growing up and it was "very strange" making the local headlines herself.

"It's just like the way you'd have a celebrity idol, except they were my brothers. They're so down to earth and they spoil me all the time by buying me clothes and things," she explained.

"I was always backstage until now. I love watching the hurling and football and I'd go to each of their games."

The fluent Irish speaker also holds a degree in business studies, having graduated from Cork Institute of Technology last October but is currently working for Sky's customer relations team as she plans her next career step.

However, she admits that long-term, she would love to be a primary school teacher while also modelling on the side. Entrepreneur Claire Sweeney of Whizzer whitening strips explained how the original winner of the title, Dervla Louli, was unable to take part in the pageant as she's doing her thesis and Etaoin took her place instead.

by Melanie Finn

From Jan and Alan in Olympia, Washington (25 May 2011)

We were once again privileged to attend the Hugag'esea Club Rotuma Day celebration, this time in Richmond, British Columbia on Saturday, 21 May. It was a grand affair, with lots of great food, including fekei pari, a'ana, 'ikou, and a delicious curry. The tautoga was spirited and well performed, as was the mak han and mak fa that followed. These performances were followed by general dancing to island and modern music. It was a great party that lasted until after midnight.

Photos by Sa'a Traxler

From Fiji Government Website (19 May 2011)

Biofuel to benefit copra farmers in Rotuma

Ministry of Information

The opening of a new Rotuma biofuel mill at Ahau government station will herald in a new era for copra production on the island.

For a long time copra production has been the mainstay of the island's economy.

The biofuel mill will certainly boost copra production to the next level as it represents a new market that the 2500 odd population can capitalise on.

His Excellency the President Ratu Epeli Nailatikau opened the mill.

The project, which costs $640, 000 was initiated by Government as part of an overall drive to save the copra industry.

Mill manager, Mr Fuata Fakrauton believes such a project has been a long time coming for islanders.

"The people on the island have been waiting for so long for this project," he said.

"The opening of this new biofuel mill will help farmers.

"This will encourage farmers to cut their copra and bring it over to the mill so that we pay them."

The mill will buy copra from farmers at 70 cents per kilogram.

At the moment, there are six workers at the mill and more will be employed later depending on the progress of production.

Mr Fakrauton thanked Government for the implementation of this project.

"We would like to sincerely thank the Government for thinking of Rotuma and we look forward to their continuous support," he added.

From (19 May 2011)

Mamasa For The President

Ratu Epeli at Mamasa

Rotuma islanders gathered in the hundreds at the Ahau government station to receive His Excellency the President Ratu Epeli Nailatikau with a traditional ritual called the 'Mamasa' last Friday.

The 'Mamasa' is a Rotuman tradition performed for important visitors to Rotuma for the first time.

As part of this regal tradition, women prepare fine mats they lay out before the guest, the visitor is garlanded with a salusalu, oil is poured on the visitor's head and perfume sprayed on the body.

According to Rotuman belief, performing the 'Mamasa' will cleanse the visitor of any salt collected during the journey to the island.

Intrinsic to this ceremony are the 'Osiag ne 'Paeag ta', He'akia Kua ne Mamas ta and 'Ate Fak Gagaj ta' that are traditional ceremonies of bestowing food on visitors to welcome them.

Retired Major General Jioje Konrote in welcoming the President said islanders were honoured to receive His Excellency .

Ratu Epeli later in the day opened the 2011 Rotuma Day Celebrations to commemorate the 130th anniversary of the island's cession to her Majesty Queen Victoria on May 13, 1881.

"Our profound appreciation and gratitude for your excellency's presence and acceptance of the humble request of chiefs of the people of Rotuma to pay our small community a visit despite your very busy schedule," Major General Konrote said.

"Commemorating and celebrating the occasion, we hope to once again remind ourselves and most importantly our young generation of the importance and significance of the event which formalises most of our colonial heritage."


From Fijilive (13 May 2011, posted 18 May)

Rotuma Day celebration begins

Rotuma Day is an annual celebration revered with pride and celebration for all Rotumans.

In light of today's celebration, the President Ratu Epeli Nailatikau this morning whilst opening the Rotuma Day celebration on the island at Government station in Ahau reassured the people that government was dedicated to the development of Rotuma and its people.

Apart from the merry making and feast summoned the people of Rotuma were also delighted to be commissioned a $300,000 bio-fuel plant for the Government station in Ahau by Government.

This coincides with government's commitment over the last few months, where Government has poured out $12.9 million to upgrade the Rotuma airport and $2.6 million in upgrading the wharf at Oinafa.

The port for ships at Oinafa upon completion will facilitate as a port of entry especially in supporting trading with Tuvalu to the future.

Even though there are more Rotumans or commonly known as Russians living outside the island – Rotuma Day celebrations well across the globe with every Rotuman families along with friends ear mark this special day with great Rotuman delicacies and traditional dances (tautoga) the norm.

Suva city is no exception with today signaling the commencement of a two day fiesta at the old Tattersals gymnasium in Laucala.

Today in the capital saw the food contests (manea' tela'a), quizes, craft shows and a fashion show the order of the day.

Also various districts had their own stalls selling lovo packs accompanied with fekei – a traditional Rotuman delicacy on sale at reasonable prices.

Coconut scraping to mat weaving competitions were also held for the delight of the crowd.

Tomorrow will see the main event where six of the seven districts will showcase traditional dances (tatonga) accompanied by performances from various modern contemporary Rotuman dance groups.

Whether celebrated on the 13th of May on the island or where ever Rotumans are – one thing is for sure, today's celebration signals the 130th anniversary of the beautiful island's cession to the United Kingdom way back in 1881.

By Ravai Vafo'ou

From Radio Fiji (18 May 2011)

President reassures people of Rotuma

His Excellency the President, Ratu Epeli Nailatikau has re-assured the people of Rotuma they are not forgotten in Fiji's overall social and economic development plans.

Ratu Epeli made the statement during his visit this week.

The President says although the island may be far from the nation's seat of economic and political power, Rotumans were included in the country's development plans.

Ratu Epeli says Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama is behind all the developments that has been taking place on the Island.

His Excellency explained that Commodore Bainimarama, during his early days in the Navy, used to travel to Rotuma and he knew what the Island was in need of.

Report by: Roland Koroi

From Radio Fiji (16 May 2011)

$6 m for Rotuma airport upgrade

Government has set aside $6 million for the upgrading of the Rotuma Airport.

Deputy Secretary to the Prime Minister's office Tomasi Tui told FBC News the upgrading work at the airport will start with the $6 million that will be provided in August or September this year.

Tui says government will allocate more funds next year to complete the airport.

"The upgrading works involves the tar sealing of the 1.5 km stretch including the taxi way and lighting. Phase two will involve the upgrading of the buildings as well as the fire services and other services that needs to be improved and upgraded at the airport."

Tu says the airport upgrade will boost the tourism industry on the island of Rotuma.

Report by: Savaira Tabua

Rotuma Day Celebrations Around the World 2011

United Arab Emirates (Maniue Vilsoni, posted in Rotumans on Facebook, 13 May)

Our humble celebrations this side of the Arabian Gulf kicked off at Kamoe Pio's villa in Al Waha on Thursday evening (12/5/11) and lasted the whole night; we sang a rendition of Rotuma's anthem, conducted a devotion then feasted (including fekei & ikou), danced fara-style, exchanged hilarious Ro-tu-man jokes, slept out on the lawn under the Arabian stars, watched cuz Ngaire's documentary at the breakfast feast then dispersed to the world: Pascal Voegelin (ma'piag on aunty Fanifau Bentley ma Alfie) flew to Calgary via Frankfurt, John Camillo to Rome, Geoff, Audrey, Melissa to other exotic corners of the globe, our host Kamoe resting before another trip, Lavenia to Dubai city, and Vika & I hit the highway back to Al Ain (by the Omani border). It was a great get-together! Noa'ia Kamoe ma Sera 'e ma'op'ak ne 'is! Shukran!


Suva, Fiji (Mahlon Isimeli, posted in Rotumans on Facebook, 13 May)

Today's Rotuma Day Celebrations at the Suva Gym was outstanding! Combination of traditional dances, RAKO performances with Rotumans singing, dancing and showcasing potential to make it big in the Pacific, Rosie Semisi's (Lavenia Emberson) showcase of her clothing line combined with the best unscripted Rotuman MC performance of the Decade by the MC, topped off with traditional dancing ending with the Itumuta's tautoga, dancing that showed the quality of Rotuman traditional teaching the Itumuta dancing leadership with such an excellent performance by the young dance group! Itumuta's Tiap Hi' on You Tube.

Thank you all those of you who contributed to making today a special and memorable day. I really loved the "Atumatu Helava" song sung by the Churchward Choir to top off the evening.

More video on You Tube

Perth, Australia (Selina Leo, posted in Rotumans on Facebook, 14 May)

Thank you to the Rotumans in Perth who attended our get together at Kings Park today. Although our group is small, we had a wonderful time. We were blessed with great weather, wonderful food and great company. We had ikou puatkau, tapioka pie, pineapple pie, chicken curries, roti, salad and bbq etc. To those who were not able to make it today, we hope to catch up with everyone again in 2012.

Sydney, Australia (Sefeti Walker, posted in Rotumans on Facebook, 14 May)

Rotuma Day 2011, held at Concord High School, Stanley St, Concord, NSW on May 14th.

Rotuma Day Celebrations Sydney 2011 - Tautoaga fa (video on You Tube)

From Radio Fiji (14 May 2011)

Rotumans to conserve environment and cultural identity

Rotumans across the country converged at the National Gymnasium today to celebrate Rotuma Day with the theme of conserving their environment and cultural identity.

Rotuma Day celebration committee spokesperson Isimeli Konrote told FBC News that today's celebrations is aimed at showing the younger Rotuman generation the importance of knowing their origins and preserving it.

"In Rotuman "Fokia lase Mao" which means look after what you have so that you don't lose it. We are thinking particularly about environmental conservation and sustainability aspects of the environment and the cultural aspect s of the people. I hope that in Rotuma they will also think likewise because they are the roots of all Rotumans".

Konrote says today was a time to reflect on the achievements of the Rotuman people in Fiji without compromising their tradition and culture.

Report by: Maca Lutunauga

From Alan and Jan in Honolulu (13 May 2011)

We have just finished watching the Tagata Pasifika program on Ngaire Fuata's first visit to Rotuma with her young daughter Ruby and found it quite wonderful. We strongly recommend it for anyone with Rotuman blood or who has been to the island or has an interest in it. The 45 minute program, Salat se Rotuma (Passage to Rotuma), is streamed in segments on the Tagata Pasifika website and on You Tube. It brought tears to our eyes and made us laugh, but most of all made us yearn for the day when we can return. Congratulations to Ngaire Fuata and her team, and faiaksea Tagata Pasifika for presenting a show that is really true to the spirit of Rotuman culture.

From Radio Fiji (13 May 2011)

President addresses Rotuma Day celebration

The President Ratu Epeli Nailatikau today addressed the people of Rotuma as they celebrate their independence day.

FBC I-taukei Programme Director Apakuki Waqa is in Rotuma and files this report:

"Government has contributed $12.9 million to upgrade the Rotuma airport and $2.63 in upgrading the wharf – in facilitating Rotuma as a port of entry and especially in supporting export to Tuvalu and Fiji says the President Ratu Epeli Nailatikau.

While opening the Rotuma Day celebration – Ratu Epeli re-iterated the them – that for the people to be in unity and love one another.

Ratu Epeli also commissioned this morning a $300,000 bio-fuel plant here in Ahau.

His message to the people fo Rotuma is that government is committed to develop Rotuma and it's people.

Celebrations for Rotuma day today – continues here at the Ahau government station ground."

Report by: Apakuki Waqa

From FijiVillage (12 May 2011)

Rotumans to celebrate Rotuma Day

by William Waqavakatoga

Rotuma will today be hosting President Ratu Epeli Nailatikau as Chief Guest for Rotuma Day Celebrations.

Ratu Epeli will be witnessing the impact of the Rotuma Island Development Program.

Back in Suva, Rotuma Day celebrations will be held at the National Gymnasium.

Committee organiser Rosie Semisi said there are going to be a lot of entertainment, cultural activities and contemporary dance by the Rako Group, a traditional art exhibition, and there will be a men's crop show and a cultural fashion show.

The celebration is also a time where the there will be a revival of the Rotuman tattoos by various artists.

FromFiji Sun (11 May 2011)

President will officiate at Rotuma Day

by Nanise Loanakadavu

President Ratu Epeli Nailatikau left for Rotuma on Monday on board the MV Iloilovatu for the Rotuma Day celebrations.

Ratu Epeli will be chief guest for the Rotuma Day celebrations on the island this Friday.

Rotuma Day celebrations are held annually to commemorate the island being ceded to Great Britain in 1881.

Ratu Epeli will also be accompanied by government officials who will be looking into development projects on the island.

His prime objective during his visit will be witnessing the impact of the Rotuma Island Development Program and its effectiveness in progressing the livelihoods of Rotumans.

Apart from the celebrations, Ratu Epeli will also visit government project sites on the island.

The President’s official secretary, Joeli Rokovada said Ratu Epeli would inspect all major developments on the island as part of the Rotuma Island Development Programme.

“The President will visit projects under the Rotuma Island Development Programme, which Fiji is committed to implement,” Mr Rokovada said.

“He will inspect the progress of developments.”

Mr Rokovada said the prime objective of the Rotuma Island Development Programme was for the socio-economic development of the island.

“Some of the key objectives of the programme are to enhance the trade agreement between Tuvalu and Rotuma, bio-security, the focus on bio-fuel, tourism potentials in the island and also the revitalisation of the sandalwood and the copra industry,” he said.

He said the president would visit project sites such as the Rotuma Export and Marketing, women’s centre upgrading, police building extension, PWD depot, airport and other locations.

Government invested $1.4million to upgrade the Oinafa Jetty, $450,000 for the root crop shed, road upgrades for better farm access amounting to more than $270,000 and the hot air treatment plant valued at $450,000 to treat fruit flies.

From Radio Fiji (10 May 2011) Taken from FBC News

President leaves for Rotuma

The President Ratu Epeli Nailatikau has left for Rotuma to be the chief guest at the Rotuma Day Celebrations this Friday.

He is due to arrive in Rotuma on Thursday morning – and is expected to visit major project sites such as the Rotuma Export and Marketing initiative, the Women's Centre, Police building extension, PWD depot, airport and other locations.

The President's official secretary Joeli Rokovada says Ratu Epeli will inspect all major developments on the island – which is part of the Rotuma Island Development Program.

The FBC's head of I-Taukei programme Apakuki Waqa is part of the visit to Rotuma and will provide reports from the island.

Report by: Elenoa Osborne