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Archived News: September 2011

From Fiji Times Online (24 September 2011)

Copra drops

by Salaseini Vosamana

THE Savusavu Copra Mill's crush rate dropped by 28 per cent per month this year, making it far below the monthly rate of 2000 metric tonnes.

This was revealed by Copra Millers Fiji Limited executive chairman Ilisoni Taoba, who said this year's monthly crush dropped to an average of 550 metric tonnes from 2000 metric tonnes.

Mr Taoba said this was attributed to high land and sea freight costs farmers faced when transporting copra to the mill.

"The maritime islands from the provinces of Lau, Lomaiviti and Rotuma are the worse affected by transport problems due to the lack of a direct shipping link to Savusavu mill and the double freight charges by the shipping companies from the outer islands.

"To help reduce transport costs to all our suppliers, the company has with effect from January 1 this year provided a land and sea freight subsidy of $55 a metric tone.

"The government is currently reviewing the high transport costs through the Commerce Commission in order to identify solutions."

Mr Taoba said the current operation capacity resulted in the production of an average of 330mt of crude coconut oil a month.

Copra supply, he said, was at an average monthly supply of 550 metric tonnes compared to 310 metric tonnes a month last year.

"Coconut plantations this year have recovered from the extensive damage caused by Cyclone Tomas in March last year, hence the increase," Mr Taoba said.

He said the company was working with the Agriculture Ministry and other stakeholders to reverse the national copra production trend from the current annual production of 6600 metric tonnes a year to 30,000 metric tonnes as achieved in 1977.

"To achieve this, the stakeholders should have a national replanting and new planting target of 615,000 coconut trees a year over the next five years.

"The above program is considered urgent in view of the additional high value added coconut products such as refined coconut oil, virgin coconut oil, coconut water and coco-bio fuel."

From Fiji Sun Online (7 September 2011 )

Rotuma, Tuvalu trade picks up pace

Source: Ministry of Information

Rotuma earned $28,000 from two container loads of dalo exported to Tuvalu this year.

The deputy secretary responsible for Rotuma in the Prime Minister's office, Tomasi Tui said the first and second containers carried seven tonnes of dalo. The Tuvaluan vessel Manu Folau has been instrumental in freighting the cargo to Tuvalu.

Last week Tuvalu's Prime Minister Willie Telavi commended Fiji's initiative of trading root crops with Tuvalu at a time when they really needed it.

"In Tuvalu, the biggest effect on the food crops is the coastal line erosion," Mr Telavi said. Mr Tui said he understood that Tuvalu needed more crops from Rotuma and they planned on exporting fruits, like bananas, oranges, and pears.

"I am thankful to farmers of Rotuma for meeting the quota required by Tuvalu and hope they'll consistently supply Tuvalu's needs in this partnership," he said.

Mr Tui said there were about 270 farmers registered in Rotuma and the opportunity to send their crops to Tuvalu had been enthusiastically received by farmers

"We will visit Rotuma again in October to upgrade the cooler and the hot air treatment plant which will enable the storage of perishable foods for export to Tuvalu."

From Susana Surkafa Tevita in Suva (2 September 2011)

Wilson Inia Day at Rotuma High School on 18 August 2011

My sister Betty, brother Savea and I and all our families are deeply touched by the initiative taken by Principal Perry Gabriel, staff and students of Rotuma High School to acknowledge the contribution of our late father as the founder of the first secondary school in Rotuma in 1958, then called Malhaha High School.

We thank the current Chairman of the Council of Rotuma, Tarterani Rigamoto, all seven chiefs and the matas for endorsing the proposal by the school.

Monument to Wilson Inia

I represented the Inia family on that exceptionally beautiful sunny day, and despite a determined effort to hold back tears, it was difficult because the environment brought back so many memories of my childhood, and how my parents worked their hearts out as teachers to young and old, and as community workers to serve the people of Rotuma as well as they could.

Guests, including members of the Council of Rotuma, the District Officer Rotuma, Representatives of Government Departments, pioneering teachers, relatives of pioneering teachers who had passed on, former teachers and students, and current teachers, students and their parents started arriving at the school as early as 6:00am. I was very impressed with how Rotumans have committed themselves to a time schedule, especially when transport is a problem.

At about 8:15am Gagaj Markao, Gagaj Irao and mum’s people from Savlei presented our koua to the school principal.  After that Gagaj Maraf, Hangata Sanimel and dad’s people of Noatau and Kalvaka presented a koua and la‘hani to the principal.

The formal programme began at 9:00am with the raising of the flag and the singing of the National Anthem, followed by devotion conducted by a member of staff, Mr Petero Pene.  After the formal welcome and introductions by Vice Principal Fesaitu Isimeli, the principal gave a brief summary of dad’s life and achievements and also read out a very touching tribute by the Permanent Secretary for Education, Dr Brij Lal.

Unlike my father’s usual long speeches, my address was short and brief. Gagaj Maraf and Sarote Ralifo (two pioneering teachers of 1958) had very sentimental memories to share and also expressed their humble gratitude and appreciation.

The formal koua announcement for the celebration was done by the mafua, a student, on the koua presented by Chief Fakaruitoag of Malha‘a District and the school; a total of 3 cows, 4 pigs, 4 cartons poatkau, 100 baskets dalo & papai and kaohufatat.

The monument looked very elegant in its final place in front of the stage in the school assembly area, thanks to the school carpenter, the son-in-law of the late Rigamoto Isimeli (a pioneer teacher).

After the unveiling and singing of the Halleluiah Chorus, the students left to change into their dance costumes while the guests and all the people present tucked into the 13 types of fekei (out of the 21 known ones) made by the parents from all over the island.

I had two servings of suakele” and kokono‘o which I had not had for many many years; it was just yummy! There were small group dances and competitions in basketweaving and cutting copra (10 coconuts) to entertain the crowd while they enjoyed their fekei.

Speeches of gratitude were also made by Gagaj Kausiriaf (Chairman of the Board of Governors) and Gagaj Fakaruitoag of Malha‘a District.

The highlight of the day was the school hafa and it was just awesome; 15 rows of male and female staff and students (about 200) wearing white tops and plain gold sulus, tefui with red jio and tit rau ji.  The beautiful contrasting colors, straight rows, moves in unison and the expertise of the ha‘heta in open air took my breath away.  The lyrics composed by Gagaj Tamanau from maktaktak, sua, tiap hi to tipa were very touching indeed, and I was overwhelmed by the enormous gratitude Rotumans have for my father after all these years. I loved the inclusion of one of his favourites, Hathat se puku, ha‘ha‘ se pupu in one of the lyrics.

Lunch was served soon after and there was food enough to feed the whole of Rotuma’s current population (around 1900).

Rugby and netball competitions within the school houses were played after lunch and trophies were presented at about 4:30pm.

It was a very enjoyable and memorable day and “Wilson Inia Day” will be a special day on the school’s calendar in years to come.

We, the children of Wilson Fagmaniua and Elisapeti Inia wish to thank the principal, staff and students of Rotuma High School; the Council of Rotuma, all our extended families and relatives in Suva, Rotuma, Brisbane & Hawai‘i; the Solvalu family (Suva); the people of Malha‘a in Suva, Rotuma and Florida (USA), and the surviving pioneering team of teachers for your sincere contributions towards this historical event.  We pray that the inauguration of the monument will be a special reminder to all Rotumans that “Education is a priority in life,” and that using the tools of education to serve others is the most rewarding gift one could ever have.


Preview of Haf Ran Ta: A Biography of Wilson Inia, by Alan Howard, in Google Books

Full text of Haf Ran Ta (without photos, glossary, and index) in pdf format