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Archived News: May 2015


From Fiji Sun Online (18 May 2015)

Rotuma New Laws Soon

by Ana Sovaraki

The Commissioner Eastern, Luke Moroivalu, said the Rotuma Bill and Rotuma Land Bill would provide a guideline for the Rotuman people to move forward in terms of their well-being on a daily basis.

He said this while addressing the villagers of Pepjei and Juju during his tour on the island last week.

The Bills which are to regulate Rotuman affairs were tabled in Parliament last week.

The Bills also provide for the establishment of the Rotuma Council.

Mr Moroivalu, who was a district officer in Rotuma for 15 years, said during his service on the island they had to settle land disputes for chiefs because there was no Rotuma Land Act and no registration of Rotumans.

"May I inform the people of Juju and Pepjei the Rotuma Act and Rotuma Land Act is about to be tabled in Parliament; now when you have that it will be easy," Mr Moroivalu said.

He said these were very important documents and papers for the people of Rotuma.

"I know the honorable Prime Minister, during his visit last year, promised that a new Rotuma Act will be written and also the Rotuma Land Act. I know you have played your part and discussed according to the terms of reference with those who were involved in writing the Rotuma Act and the Rotuma Land Act," he said.

From Fiji Times Online (19 May 2015)

Island fire stations

by Jone Luvenitoga

PLANS to build Rotuma's new fire stations are in place as talks ended with thumbs up from landowners of Malhaha and Oinafa districts, two of the landowning clans of the airstrip at Else'e Village and Ahau, the port of entry to Rotuma.

The talks took place during Rotuma Day celebrations on the island last week. However, National Fire Authority firefighter Timoci Nakaruru said telephone networks on Rotuma needed to be upgraded first.

"I'm watching people walking around places and raising their laptops and phones to try and connect to a network before settling down to do their business and that is not a good sign for emergency cases," he said.

Gathering information from reporters attending the talanoa session with the seven districts in Rotuma who faced the same problems with telephone services led Mr Nakaruru to conclude that the topography of the island could be another cause of the problem.

"However, Malhaha landowners have given their blessing and have approached Airports Fiji Limited to include the new fire station in their lease or the organising of new land for the firefighters to build their own station," he said.

On the other hand, he said Oinafa landowning unit of the port of entry at Ahau had offered land for the station to be built.

Government's plans to build fire stations on Rotuma, Lakeba and Kadavu by next year, he said, could only be fruitful if telephone networks were in place for calls to reach the fire stations well in time.

Noatau villagers asked Commissioner Eastern Luke Moroivalu to upgrade their telephone services.

© Fiji Times Ltd.

From Fiji Times Online (19 May 2015)

Coconut comeback

by Jone Luvenitoga

A RECORD count of 7.3 million coconuts that fall every year in Rotuma could see the comeback of the copra industry that had dropped in the past years, says Rotuma district officer Niumaia Masere.

This number, he said, was a tally given by copra shed owners who are still in the copra business.

"The others are records of sacks of coconuts that leave the island by people who travel back and forth to the capital.

"Add to that the amount of coconuts used by women from the seven districts of Rotuma who now thrive in the virgin oil markets," Mr Masere said.

That alone, Mr Masere said, was an indication of another booming industry that now rested on the shoulders of the Rotumans.

"Everywhere you look, palm trees decorate the island but the wheels of production had slowed through the years when prices dipped, but this has never deterred the spirit of the Rotumans from maintaining their coconut plantations," he said.

No matter how low the price might fall, he said, larger scale exports with the support of its administrators could always boost the financial returns for the islanders.

He said the bio-fuel industry would find a valuable source for raw products on Rotuma.

The other niche market, he said, was virgin oil.

All over the world, he said, people were turning to virgin oil, which the women of Rotuma were capitalising on.

But he said there was a barrier for growth among women that was still affecting large-scale plans.

Selai Bemanena of Malhaha women's club said they met twice a week to work.

"Scraping 15 coconuts will give you a bucket full of oil after going through its hectic process," Ms Bemanema said pointing to an FMF biscuit bucket.

"We can make more if we are assisted with electric coconut scrapers and milk extractors."

The same issues were highlighted during the talanoa session with Commissioner Eastern Luke Moroivalu at Noatau Village where men are constructing a new copra shed to replace the old one just as prices dipped.

Gagaj Maraf, the head of the district leadership, said men had gone to find other means of living like fishing to sustain their daily income.

© Fiji Times Ltd.

From Fiji Times Online (19 May 2015)

Trade resumes for Rotuma, Tuvalu

by Jone Luvenitoga

THE first load of root crops will make its way to Tuvalu from Rotuma as trade between the two islands nation resumes this week, says Rotuma district officer Niumaia Masere.

"A total of 10 tonnes of dalo plants, kumala (sweet potatoes) and cassava, bought at $A2/kg ($F3.23) will be the first shipment out of Rotuma Island since the trade was revived by the Prime Minister last year," Mr Masere said.

A company called the Rotuma Export Marketing Company (REMCOL) was set up by PM Voreqe Bainimarama during his visit as chief guest to the Rotuma Day celebrations to oversee the trade since the bilateral trade agreement collapsed in 2011 after three years of its existence.

"Now the exporting business has been handed to the hands of the Rotuman Council and the Government office providing its support through the Biosecurity and Customs office."

He said it was also the idea of the Government to bring the trading post to Rotuma since the agreement was signed between the two countries in 2008.

"The shift from Fiji's exporting business to Rotuma was based on the closeness of the island to Tuvalu. It takes 12 hours by boat to reach Tuvalu and the exported goods are still well intact."

"Exports were supposed to begin in March but the slow installation of facilities like generators and large coolers to cater for commercial exports at Ahau, the port of entry in the island weren't able to be completed until last month," he said.

Farmer Fesaitu Ravai, 45, of Oinafa welcomed the move saying that Rotuma was always playing the catch up game with high cost of transportation in the past years.

"The recent find of the fruit fly brought all hopes to a standstill. But now, we have something to work with," he said.

© Fiji Times Ltd.

From Radio New Zealand International (18 May 2015)

Rotumans call for cultural centre in Suva

The Fiji Rotuman Association is hoping a cultural centre can be set up in the middle of Suva to help save a culture which is on the UN Endangered list.

Association president Pasirio Furivai says the culture has been listed as vulnerable for a few years but there is a real danger it could be moved to critically endangered, especially with only 2,000 people living on Rotuma itself.

Mr Furivai has been working with the Fiji government to try and get Rotuman included in the education curriculum.

He says of the 15,000 Rotumans living around the world, only a third can speak Rotuman, which is affecting how they relate to their culture.

He says teaching Rotuman in school would help but there are resource and accessibility issues and parents also need to change their mindsets.

"So parents tend to emphasise the children to learn the English and learn other subjects because that is where it will lead them to get a job whereas the Rotuman skills and culture is not really emphasised and not a priority in many households because they do not see that as important."

Mr Furivai says a cultural centre, where people could learn traditions, weaving and cultivation would be a boost to the culture

From Fiji Broadcasting Corporation (18 May 2015)

Rotuma development work progresses

Construction of a new hospital on Rotuma is in its final stage.

Assistant Minister for Agriculture, Joeli Cawaki says work on other projects like the Oinafa Jetty, airport and roads on the island are progressing.

''Government has also provided a 20-footer freezer to the Rotuma export market company REMCOL to raise the standard and quality of food produce and also completed the transfer of 71 cattle to provide better supply of your bulumakau and milk to the island. The upgrading of water supplied by drilling more boreholes has been continuing to improve the standard and to ensure consistent supply of fresh water to your homes''.

Cawaki returned from a government tour of Rotuma last week.

From Fiji Times Online (18 May 2015)

Rotuman culture on UN endangered list

by Siteri Sauvakacolo

THERE is an urgent need to revive the Rotuman language, tradition and culture.
This is the plea from Fiji Rotuman Association chairman Pasirio Furivai as the Rotuman culture has been declared a dying culture under the UN List of Endangered Cultures.

Events such as the Rotuma Day celebrations, Mr Furivai said, help younger generations to learn these cultures from their elders through songs, chants and dances.

"A very small number of people around the world can claim to be Rotumans and we have a very small population," Mr Furivai said.

"The UN has recognised Rotuma as a dying culture and it is on the brink of extinction. Only 15, 000 are Rotumans around the world and only one third can speak the language so we are appearing on the cultures that are endangered.

"So when you are a Rotuman, it's not about the skin colour. If you live in Rotuma or in Fiji and you can't speak or live the Rotuman language and culture, then I cannot say that you are a Rotuman."

He said the association was working with the Department of Arts and Heritage and Government to include the Rotuman culture into the education curriculum, however, he said this should start in the homes of Rotuman families.

"It needs to come down to the family — the very foundation and communities are very important and one of the events like Rotuma Day is a way of reminding the young generations of the importance of our culture, participation are vital to the revival of our culture."  Also see article from Radio New Zealand International.

Rotuman feast
Rotuman men and women during celebrations at the FMF Gymnasium on Saturday. Picture: Jovesa Naisua

© Fiji Times Ltd.

From Fiji Times Online (17 May 2015)

Rotumans celebrate uniqueness of tradition, culture

by Siteri Sauvakacolo

A CELEBRATION to honour the uniqueness of the tradition and culture of the Rotuman people was held at Suva's FMF National Gymnasium yesterday.

More than 3000 people flocked in with their families and relatives to be part of the Rotuma Day celebrations. Root crop competitions, display of various Rotuman traditional handicrafts and traditional chants and dances kept the day lively as people from the seven districts of Rotuma who have lived and worked in Suva and other parts of the country gathered to be part of the grand celebration.

Chief guest and chairman of the Fiji Rotuman Association Paserio Furivai said the day was a very special one for them especially having their elders, youths and children.

"Personally, this is a very special feeling to have our elders and among them the youths and the children and these are the generations to pass on the skills values and culture," Mr Furivai said.

"This year's theme is Noa'ia 'e mauri meaning gratitude for the gift of life and it was also thanking people for the gift of life and at the same time our gratitude to God for sustaining us.

"This theme is unique to the Rotuman culture and its another way of saying that our culture is unique."

While a very small number of people around the world are Rotumans, Mr Furivai said the event was a way of celebrating that very special moment and the fact that they were proud to call themselves Rotumans.

The annual event has been celebrated in Suva for more than 40 years.

Rotuman dancers
Dancers move to the beat of a traditional Rotuman dance during the Rotuma Day celebrations at the FMF Gymnasium in Suva yesterday.
Picture: Jovesa Naisua

© Fiji Times Ltd.

From Fiji Parliament Website (15 May 2015)

Rotuma Bill 2015 and Rotuma Lands Act 2015 now in Parliament

Rotuma Bill 2015 is in Fiji's Parliament. It deals with such issues as the Council of Rotuma, the establishment of a Forum of the Rotuman People, Elections and removals of District Chiefs, the Rotuman Development Fund, a Rotuma Agricultural and Industrial Loan Fund, and various Miscellaneous matters. It can be downloaded in pdf format.

The Rotuma Lands Act 2015 aims to provide for a lands commission in Rotuma, to
Provide for the registration of Rotumans, to regulate the Registration, dealing with and transmission of land and Related matters.

From Fiji Broadcasting Corporation (14 May 2015)

Government committed to rural development

Fijians living on Rotuma have been reminded of Government's commitment to raising their living standards.

Officiating at the Rotuma Day celebrations at Ahau Government station, Assistant Minister for Agriculture, Joeli Cawaki said Government would continue to identify further development opportunities with the intention to capitalise on them.

Cawaki highlighted the Government's recent work on the island.

This includes improving road conditions and the Oinafa Jetty, repairing and upgrading the Rotuma Airport and boosting of Government services such as Immigration, Customs, Biosecurity and Ports Authority.

A new Rotuma hospital is currently being constructed.

Cawaki has also urged the people of Rotuma to work honestly and diligently in whatever they do and remain committed to serving the country to the best of their ability.

From Fiji Times Online (14 May 2015)

Plans for bigger ship

by Jone Luvenitoga In Ahau, Rotuma

Rotuma Day Dancers
Dance fever... Members of the Itumuta Dance Group entertain the crowd during the Rotuma Day Celebration in Rotuma yesterday. Picture: Jone Luvenitoga

In his opening speech, Mr Cawaki, who was the chief guest at the Rotuma Day celebrations in Ahau, Rotuma yesterday, said visitors continued to marvel at the untouched beauty of the island, no matter how often one visited.

"It is one potential alone that gives the island of Rotuma an edge further with its natural beauty," he said."

"And from those thoughts, the island has a lot to be proud of and will continue to grow through the support of the Government and the upgrading of its infrastructure, continued support for its beef scheme through the safe transactions of 71 cattles. The upgrading of its water system and the free education initiatives for the children."

Mr Cawaki said the Government would never tire in showing its care for an island whose only weakness was its remoteness.

This, he said, would no longer be an issue for the people as the Government shipping services were working round-the-clock to include a bigger vessel for the people of Rotuma.

"Government has a broader vision to raise the Rotuman standard of life, create more wealth and a sustainable future."

The Government, he said, would continue to set the platform for better learning for a prosperous society.

"May I also remind you today (yesterday) that we are all responsible for creating a better future for us all.

"It is the Government's fervent wish that the remaining days will allow a fruitful interaction between you, the members of the communities, Government officials and partner agencies present in the roadshow presented to you today."

© Fiji Times Ltd.

From The Jet (14 May 2015)

Government Reaffirms Commitment to Rural Development at Rotuma Celebrations

Fijians living on Rotuman were this morning reminded of Government's commitment of raising their living standards and creating more wealth for the people.
In officiating at the Rotuma Day celebrations at Ahau Government station this morning, Assistant Minister for Agriculture, National Disaster Management and Rural and Maritime Development Hon Joeli Cawaki said that Government would continue to identify further development opportunities and intend to capitalise on them.
"We are delighted to say that Government has improved the roads around the island; improved the Oinafa Jetty; repaired and upgrade the Rotuma airport; have started to build a new Rotuma hospital and also boosted a number of Government services such as Immigration, Customs, Biosecurity and the Ports Authority to enable Rotuma to become a recognised port of entry into Fiji," Hon Cawaki said.
"Therefore we urge you to take advantage of the opportunities and be part of Government's vision in setting the platform for a knowledgeable and prosperous society and of course also mean a smarter Rotuma," he said.
He said with the island's rich and volcanic soil, there is a lot of potential in the agriculture sector and they need to increase production and higher yields.
"We also need to improve food security and do everything we can to boost the current export with Tuvalu. Furthermore we need to get produce destined to the Fijian mainland and to the market place quicker."
He also urged the people of Rotuma to work honestly and diligently in whatever they do and remain committed to serving Fiji to the best of their ability.

Children celebrating Rotuma Day
Children celebrating Rotuma Day on Rotuma

From Fiji Times Online (14 May 2015)

Hundreds flock to tent of National Archives

by Jone Luvenitoga in Rotuma

HUNDREDS of people seeking all sorts of answers about their heritage flooded the tent of the National Archives, but had to be turned away and told to wait for the opening hours of the Rotuma Day celebrations.

Geraldine Gina, accompanied by her two sisters, said the records they once had to pay hundreds of dollars to obtain were now within their reach and they had secured their place at Juju Village, a few kilometres from Ahau, the venue of the celebrations.

"We thank the Government for bringing this (service) to us. And it is also the first time for us to see the annexation document of Rotuma — something we never laid eyes on in our entire lives," she said.

Ms Gina and her sisters said the documents that were once beyond their reach and they had only heard about from those who had been to the Capital City were now made available to them.

National Archives staff members Timoci Balenaivalu said in the past, the documents, once exclusive to government departments only and were only brought out in the open for certain events such as the reconciliation purposes, were made available to the people yesterday.

"This is one of the new initiatives of this Government and that is for people to be clear on any land or family issues,"Mr Balenaivalu said.

He said the Government roadshow in Rotuma served that purpose.

© Fiji Times Ltd.

From Fiji Sun Online (13 May 2015)

'Big' Island Treat

by Ana Sovaraki in Rotuma

The government delegation visiting Rotuma was accorded one of the island's top traditional welcome ceremonies yesterday.

The delegation led by the Commissioner Eastern, Luke Moroivalu included the Assistant Minister for Agriculture, Rural Development and National Disaster Management Joeli Cawaki and Commissioner Northern Jovesa Vocea.

Mr Cawaki will be the chief guest for the Rotuma Day celebrations today.

The delegation was accorded the Mamasa (full Rotuman welcome ceremony for those visiting the island for the first time) at the Government Station in Ahau upon arrival by villagers of Itu'tiu District.

Mr Moroivalu said the purpose of the trip was to attend the Rotuma Day and to conduct the Government roadshow where islanders could access, gain information and help on government services.

"The Rotuma Day is a very significant occasion celebrated by the people of Rotuma. It is always officiated by the Prime Minister or another prominent Government official," Mr. Moroivalu said.

Rotuma Day is celebrated annually on May 13.

Mr. Moroivalu said the roadshow was an effort and commitment in providing services to rural Fiji.

"Rotuma is one of the remote islands of Fiji and Government is committed to taking services to Rotuma just like other remote islands and villages in Fiji," he said.

Services that can be accessed today include the registration of birth, death and marriages, registration of Tin Letter, National Employment Centre's seasonal workers scheme application, service by various financial institutions, the Maritime Safety Authority of Fiji (MSAF) and other line ministries and statutory bodies.

Meanwhile, this is also Mr Moroivalu's first tour to Rotuma as Commissioner Eastern.

"I was Divisional Officer Rotuma at one time and this is my first visit back in Rotuma in 15 years. It would be good for me to see Rotuma and get to know the issues that the people are facing," he said.

Govt delegation
Government delegation at Rotuma Day celebration

From Fiji Times Online (13 May 2015)

Moroivalu reminds agencies of their roles

by Jone Luvenitoga in Rotuma

THE Commissioner Eastern, Luke Moroivalu, reminded the 32 Government and private agencies of their roles in providing services for the people during Rotuma Day celebrations on the island.

Speaking to the travelling delegates on their first briefing just hours before the Rotuma Day celebrations, Mr Moroivalu gave a timely reminder on the importance of providing information to people whose lives were secluded because of the remoteness of where they lived.

"The Government of Fiji holds the administrative work for the people of Rotuma and we must live up to their expectations by being informative and transparent," Mr Moroivalu said.

He added even though the Rotuma Day celebrations had been one of the significant events for Fiji and Rotuma, the Government was focusing on developing the island with a new $4million hospital. "The celebrations is just one part of the show. The other part lies in our hands to assist people through awareness programs, to be informative on new government policies and to gather as much information as possible on niche projects that can be implemented to assist them in their daily lives," he said.

And having spent 15 years on the island as a civil servant, Mr Moroivali identified transportation as the major challenge for the island, adding Rotuma has lots of potential for tourism because of its vast untouched beauty.

© Fiji Times Ltd.


From The Jet (11 May 2015)

Commissioner Leads Govt Delegation to Rotuma

The Divisional Commissioner Eastern Luke Moroivalu is leading a Government delegation to the island of Rotuma to hold a Government awareness roadshow on the island.

Mr Moroivalu said the trip to Rotuma is a two-way trip given that the delegation will be part of the Rotuma celebrations and will also conduct the roadshow.

"Every year we have a high Government delegation visiting the island for the celebrations and this year we have decided to have the celebrations along with the roadshow.

"This way we would be able to have all the islanders in the village attending the celebrations including the roadshow."

"Along with Government officials we also have financial institutions and other statutory bodies that will also provide services to the people of Rotuma," Mr Moroivalu said.

"This is continuous effort of the Government in providing services to rural and maritime islands in Fiji," he said.

"This is where we take our services to the people and as Commissioner Eastern, I may say that Rotuma is very fortunate to have access to these services brought to their doorstep."

The two-day event will be officiated by the Assistant Minister for Rural and Maritime Development Honorable Joeli Cawaki. See Flyer