News Page

News Archives

Website Contents

Archived News: May 2019

From Radio New Zealand (24 May 2019)

Rotumans in NZ urged to unite to support culture

By Christine Rovoi

Rotumans in New Zealand are being urged to support each other to ensure their values, culture and language remain strong.

Hundreds of Rotumans, who hail from the remotest part of Fiji, celebrated the end of their language and culture week in Auckland last weekend.

But there were two separate celebrations organised to mark the one event - the Auckland Rotuman Fellowship Group held their function at Western Springs while the New Zealand Rotuman Fellowship Group gathered in Epsom.

Rotuma Day Celebration

Some Rotumans expressed their disappointment at separation while others said the division did not reflect the entire Rotuman community in New Zealand.

Rotumans are among several ethnic communities from Fiji in New Zealand. They include the indigenous iTaukei, the Indians and part-Europeans.

The islanders also celebrated Rotuma Day on May 13 with separate functions held in Auckland.

Fiji's High Commissioner Filimone Waqabaca called on Fijians living in New Zealand to come out of isolation and support each other.

He said Rotuma is in Fiji, a multicultural country, and all the various ethnic groups should participate in each other's functions.

"We encourage our community leaders to work together," he said. "Whilst we can operate in isolation that is not reflective of Fiji.

"Whilst we cannot impose it on them, we are depending on their goodwill to try and co-ordinate things where our communities do not celebrate in isolation, but become inclusive."

He said one way of these communities working together could be - an invitation extended from the ethnic group hosting the event.

Mr Waqabaca said he hoped to see more Fijians at future events organised by the various ethnic groups from Fiji.

He also praised the progress towards protecting the language, culture and values of the Fijian communities in New Zealand.

Aupito said the ministry is committed to finding ways to ensure that Pacific languages survive through the generations. "Almost 60 percent of Pacific people are now born in New Zealand and there is concern that the trend will accelerate unless promotion of the languages is strengthened," he said.Rotuma Day Celebration

The chairman of the Fiji Rotuman Association in Suva, Pasirio Furivai, said there were about 15,000 Rotumans around the world, but according to UNESCO, only one third of the islanders speak their language.

"And that is about 5000. Out of that 5000, less than 2000 live on the island. And that means around 3000 of on Rotuma island that speaks the language fluently.

"And so that's an alarming number for us to think about."

"In 2012, the Rotuman language was listed as vulnerable by UNESCO and this year it is listed as endangered. So you can project what's going to happen if we do not make an effort to change the the path in which we are going."

Rotuma Day Celebration

Mr Furivai said community leaders, including the elders, need to put their differences aside and work together to help steer their young people into the future.

"I witnessed the young people dance a traditional dance, and they were singing, I think it's very exciting to see that and I'm very happy - that is part of learning your language and your culture.

But he said unless young people continue to participate and practise, they will not be able to learn the skills, "which eventually, you know, when you have perfected it, we call that person maru. Someone who is good at dancing".

"I've been advocating about reviving our language and culture. Language is a very important part of culture - it is the lifeline of culture.

"You lose your language, you lose your culture," Mr Furivai said.

Rotuma Day Celebration

The Minister for Pacific Peoples, Aupito William Sio, urged Pasifika communities to unite and work together for a better future for their youth across New Zealand and the region.

Aupito, who was chief guest at the Rotuman celebrations, said the government could provide support but the Pacific people themselves must lead discussions in finding solutions to their challenges.

"One of the strengths of the Pacific is being able to work in a collaborative way," he said. "We're too small to be divided.

"We've got to be united in the recognition that our young people need to speak the language - need to better understand what it means for them, and their sense of belonging and their sense of well-being."

Rotuma Day Celebration

Aupito said the ministry is committed to finding ways to ensure that Pacific languages survive through the generations.

"Almost 60 percent of Pacific people are now born in New Zealand and there is concern that the trend will accelerate unless promotion of the languages is strengthened," he said.

Rotuma Day Celebration

From Radio New Zealand (19 May 2019)

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 Radio New Zealand (16 May 2019)

Why islanders celebrate Rotuma Day

By Christine Rovoi

"Noaia e mauri se aus atakoa"

It's that time of the year when, if you're Rotuman like me, you feel special wherever you are.

See video 

Attending this week's Rotuma Day celebrations in Auckland - seeing familiar faces and making new connections - has left me happy and proud.

It has been humbling that I have the opportunity as a Rotuman and a journalist to witness the occasion - beautiful and rich in history - and to share in the joy of knowing that my language and culture is alive, despite a listing on UNESCO's endangered languages list.

Rotuma is a Fijian dependency but closer to Tuvalu than to Suva and, while it's influenced by Melanesian Fiji, the Rotuman culture is a little similar to that of Tonga and Samoa.

About 2000 people live on the island with 10,000 on mainland Fiji and thousands more, like me, around the world.

Rotuma Day Celebration

Rotuman language tutor, Nataniela Amato-Ali, said he hopes a re-enactment of the island's cession to Queen Victoria in 1881 will help people understand why May 13 means a lot to Rotumans.

Mr Amato-Ali said 'Rotuma 1881', performed by the New Zealand Rotuman Fellowship Group (NZRFG) in the South Auckland suburb of Mangere, was a response to a request from the young people for a more inclusive, active and fun way to commemorate the day.

The show was also a response to "a lot of misinformation, or lack of it" about what actually happened on May 13, 1881, he said.

"A lot of Rotumans either have a skewed story or a misinformed story. Some of them don't even know why we celebrate this day every year," he said.

Rotuma Day Celebration

So, what does May 13 mean to Rotumans?

"We celebrate it because it's the day on which we became part of the British Empire - when Rotuma was ceded to Great Britain," Mr Amato-Ali said.

"Rotumans consider the time under Britain - the time under Queen Victoria as a golden age for us. And that is why Rotumans look back to that day and say, Oh, that's when all the good things happened to us.

"There'll be people who may not hold that view but nonetheless they celebrate this day because it is the day that we all, as a community, globally decide to celebrate."

Mr Amato-Ali said they were able to acquire some video footage from the island which brought the story alive on Monday night.

"The youth have come together and put this production together and learned their lines and so we've used their skills with technology," he said.

"As with all youth these days, they're very tech-savvy. So, we've used that skill set to produce this.

"We've got imagery from the island. We've done our research.

"And so, a lot of it is based on what is written about the events leading up to and the actual cession of Rotuma to Great Britain," Mr Amato-Ali said.

Rotuma Day Celebration

The NZRF group is also holding a youth night 'Rotuma - te is 'otomis haharagi' at Auckland University and a three-day free camp from Friday with a show 'Nga Kakano: Rotuma - Journeys of Identity in Aotearoa & Beyond' at the Auckland Museum in the evening.

Also on Monday night, members of the Auckland Rotuman Fellowship Group (ARFG) celebrated with traditional dances and feasting at Western Springs.

They also held an arts and crafts exhibition and for the first time in NZ, guests sat on the floor to 'A te fak Rotuma - eat in the Rotuman way.

Rotuma Day Celebration

Organiser Jioji Vai said they were happy with the turnout and looked forward to seeing more Rotumans come out to celebrate their language and culture this week - only the second year Rotuman Language Week has been held.

"And from then we've just built on a new programme and something that's engaging, and informative, but also new for our people," Mr Vai said.

Rotuma Day is when the islanders come together to celebrate "our culture, our identity, our people - it's just about getting together," he said.

"And that's something we want to continue. Fiji does it very well. And it's happening all across the world. And it's something we have done every year here. Celebrating culture and people."

Rotuma Day Celebration

Mr Vai said he would like more emphasis put on the language and the UNESCO listing was important.

"To be listed, I think that was a wake-up call for all Rotumans.

"We just need to keep working on teaching. That's something we're trying to work on but also trying to push for Rotumans to identify in the sense that they are Rotuman - something we lack in doing.

"When people ask us where do we come from, we tend to just say Fiji, and it's the most easiest thing. People know where that is.

"I think it starts at home. And then you know, joining the communities and engaging in the programmes."

Mr Vai paid tribute to the elders in the community who "have paved the way to where we are today".

On Tuesday night the group held a storytelling session, Hanuju as well as song sessions about 'Life - growing up on Rotuma: the past, present and future', led by the elders in the community.

The ARF's Rotuman Language Week includes sports and games, a diversity show, a movie night and a Pasifika festival - a first for the group.

As for the NZRF, its 'Rotuman Kato'aga - celebrating our language and culture' will be held on Saturday with Pacific Peoples Minister Aupito William Sio as chief guest.

The celebrations end on Sunday with thanksgiving services in Epsom and Western Springs.

"Faiaksia e hanisi"

From Fiji Sun (15 May 2019)

Groundar Invests $14 Million On Five New Vessels

By Wati Talebula

Local shipping tycoon George Goundar has set aside about $14 million to purchase five new passenger vessels this year of which two are already here.

Yesterday the latest of his 10-fleet, $2.2m Lomaiviti Princess VII arrived at the Port of Mua-i-Walu in Suva.

The new vessel has the capacity to carry 500 passengers and up to 23 vehicles depending on vehicle sizes.

"This new vessel will service the Yasayasa Moala and hopefully Rotuma routes replacing the Lomaiviti Princess II which I hope to sell soon," Goundar Shipping Limited director Mr Goundar said.

"I will be buying five new vessels this year, it is costing me approximately $14m," he said.

"Lomaiviti Princess II used to service this route but it is not good enough to meet the demand and expectations of the people of Lau.

GSL's first vessel this year Lomaiviti Princess VI arrived into Suva from Korea on April 15. Lomaiviti Princess VIII, Lomaiviti Princess IX and Lomaiviti Princess X are expected to be in Fiji soon.

"First of all, I want to thank the Lord and the Government for giving me the opportunity to come back to invest and serve the country that I really loved," he said.

"Ship owners have a responsibility to make sure that people travel safely and in comfort in the Fiji waters that is why we take standard of shipping in Fiji to another level with the vessels we buy.

"This ship will be servicing Yasayasa Moala and hopefully Government allows me the Rotuma route also.

"This vessel was formerly known as Awashima and was serving one of the smaller islands in Japan. The vessel had left Japan for Fiji on April 30 and it took them 13 days to arrive here.

"The new vessel has a lot of new features that we are proud of. It has electric toilets, a spacious lounge, and a room designated for mothers with babies amongst other new features.

Mr Goundar is hopeful travellers use the facilities responsibly.

"Travelling hours are long and to be out at sea for a number of days can be frustrating. We are providing good facilities on board for comfort which we hope travellers will appreciate and look after."

Travel time to Yasayasa Moala is dramatically sliced with the new vessel. What used to take four days will now take two to three days depending on the weather.

The new vessel boasts 15 knots compared to the previous one that travels on 8 knots.

Mr Goundar is also hopeful that Government improves the standard of jetties in the outer islands.

"We hope Government improves the condition jetties in the outer islands as this will assist us tremendously."

From Lorelena Kulatea in Auckland (13 May 2019)

Rotuma Language Week kicks off in Auckland

Media Release

Rotuma Day 2019 - The year of the Sua Ki.

Rotumans across New Zealand will gather in Auckland to showcase Rotuman culture & language through the art of ceremony and dance. A milestone for the NZ Rotuman Fellowship Incorporated community which formed in 1989, the week long celebration kicks off on Rotuma Day (Monday 13-May) paying homage to Rotuman history with a Re-enactment of the island's cession to the Great Britain in 1881. The main event will take place at Te Unga Waka Marae on Saturday 18th May from 10am, where Minister for Pacific People Aupito William Sio will be honoured with a traditional ceremony and chant (Sua Ki) usually reserved for chiefs, alongside His Excellency Fiji High Commissioner Filimone Waqabaca and other distinguished guests. Two special guests, Gagaj Tamanav with his wife Öhonta Kelera have journeyed from Rotuma Island to help prepare the group for this ceremony that many living in New Zealand have never seen before.

The celebration plans to be the 'cultural immersion' event of the year for the group which also includes an evening for Haharagi (Youth) at the University of Auckland. The Auckland Museum, through the Nga Kakano series, are also celebrating Rotuman language and culture, hosting a screening of Ngaire Fuata's 'Salat se Rotuma', a tribute to her roots. Then guest speakers will share their experiences of Rotuma in the hope others will make the journey at least once.

Community group Chairman, Gabriel Penjueli shared that "the Rotuman Youth of NZ (RYNZ) is taking the lead in so many ways. Over the last 30 years, the NZ Rotuman Fellowship has inspired so many young people who have helped accelerate some of these learning initiatives and it's exciting to see. We've partnered with Rotuman groups based outside NZ to pilot a short at-home language programme for our young people. It's a privilege to be part of this movement that builds on the vision our founding elders intended"

The weekend will include a small contingent who will arrive from Fiji and Rotuma to join the celebration. The youth group will perform a traditional tautoga (Rotuman dance) with songs composed specifically for the occasion, with Rako Pasefika (a dance group based in Fiji with Rotuman roots) a big draw card, also performing. Founders of the IPA Learning Centre in Fiji, well known for teaching the language, Pasirio Furivai and Agatha Ferei will make the trip across the Pacific in support of the language initiatives the community launched earlier this year. The Rotuman people in NZ are grateful to the many partners and supporters of our community-led initiatives across NZ, namely the Ministry for Pacific Peoples, Auckland Museum, University of Auckland Fijian Students Association, Pacific Dance NZ, Foundation North, Sunpix, Rako Pasefika and the Pasifika Education Centre.

The celebration promises to be an ' island delicacy of dance' - Monday May 13th to Sunday May 19th.

See full programme

For more information visit:

Check out article "Saving the endangered Rotuman language one lesson at a time" in Stuff N.Z.

From Lorelena Kulatea in Auckland (13 May 2019)

LoveMyLanguageChallenge / #RakLaFaeagRotuamChallenge

In support of the 2019 Rotuma Day Celebrations, the theme of which is Language and Culture, the Rotuman Youth of NZ (RYNZ) has launched the #RakLaFaeagRotuamChallenge (better known as the #LoveMyLanguageChallenge).

Earlier this year, the NZ Rotuman Fellowship with IPA Learning Centre in Fiji partnered to launch a 6 week pilot programme encouraging Rotuman families to speak the language. This was launched across three locations in NZ; Hamilton, Wellington and Auckland.

The programme covered a range of lessons such as numbers and colours, but also included a lesson on how to introduce yourself in Rotuman.

The group designed a simple interactive challenge that everyone could get involved in. The video's already uploaded are slowly gaining momentum with the early challengers made up of children and less confident speakers who have embraced the opportunity to share their Rotuman identity.

Take up the challenge and watch the video on YouTube

Some examples of those who have taken part in the challenge already can also be found at

From Fiji Times Online (12 May 2019)

Rotuma younger generation urged to be proud of their culture

By Luke Nacei

THE younger Rotuman generation have been urged to take pride in the tradition and be proud of their culture.

Fiji Rotuma Association chairman Paserio Furivai said this was one of the objectives of this year's Rotuma Day celebrations.

"We encourage the young ones to be proud to be a Rotuman and to be proud of their culture and that is the sole purpose of the Rotuma Day," he said.

According to Mr Furivai, this year's celebration mainly focused on the sustainability of the Rotuman culture.

"This year, we try to encourage the young and the youths to participate and we are quite happy on the way things turned out we have a lot of the young people participating in the cultural dances and activities," he said.

"We hope that the sharing of the cultural information, knowledge and skills continue. The culmination of the event yesterday saw Rotuman men participating in the annual yam competition, while the women took part in the handicraft competition.

"This year, we are lucky to have it streamed all over the world.

"The association through its associate members, are engaged in our cultural activities.

"The elders are also teaching the young ones on the protocols and the values of the Rotuman culture."

The two-day celebration has been labelled a success.

From Fiji Times Online (11 May 2019)

Rotuma day celebrations a success

By Luke Nacei

THE two-day Rotuma day celebrations has been rated a success.

Fiji Rotuma Association chairman Paserio Furivai said the event saw a lot of young people participating in the cultural dances.

He said their main focus for this year's celebration was to ponder more on the sustainability of the Rotuman culture.

"This year we try to encourage the young and the youths to participate and we are quite happy on the way things turned out we have a lot of the young people participating in the cultural dances and activities.

"We hope that the sharing of the cultural information, knowledge and skills to continue. Yesterday we had famers competition and the women had their handicraft competition," he said.

Young Rotuman women
Young and old alike enjoy during the Rotuma day celebration at FMF Gymnasium today. Picture: RAMA

From Fiji Times Online (11 May 2019)

Rotuma Day celebrations begin

By Vilimaina Naqelevuki

THE 2019 Rotuma Day celebrations is a time to reflect on how the elders could pass on their skills and knowledge to the younger generation.

This was highlighted by the president of the Fiji Rotuma Association, Paserio Furivai during the two-day celebration which began yesterday at the FMF Gymnasium in Suva.

Mr Furivai said an important component for them to pass on to their children was the skills set their ancestors had followed.

"We are asking the Rotuman people to re-look at our own culture and look at some of the practices and the norms our ancestors have followed that make our world a better place to live in to look after our environment," he said.

Mr Furivai is encouraging all Rotumans to not lose sight of their culture and their language.

"I wish every Rotuman wherever you are around the world, be proud to be a Rotuman. The Rotuma Day celebration continues today.

prze yams
Gerard Veresoni (left) and John Low shows the Yams that is on competition during the Rotuma day celebration at FMF Gymnasium yesterday. Picture: RAMA

From Radio New Zealand (10 May 2019)

Rotuma language week inspires ABs sevens player

Organised by the Auckland Rotuman Fellowship Group, the aim is to inspire others to continue to share and use the language and pass it on to the next generation.

New Zealand All Black Sevens player Rocky Khan, whose mother is Rotuman and father is Indo-Fijian, said it's given him the opportunity to reconnect with his community and culture.

"They were talking about language week on the radio and I heard Samoa, Fijian and Tongan language week being brought up and that is quite common," he said.

"But then after that I heard Rotuma language being brought up and I almost crashed my car because being brought up in New Zealand and being Rotuman you never hear those things on radio," Mr Khan said.

"So I wanted to find out more about the week and the purpose and so that is why I am here."

The week's events culminate on May 13 to mark Rotuma Day, the anniversary of the island's cession to the United Kingdom back in 1881.

Rocky Khan

From Agatha Ferei in Suva (9 May 2019)

Rotuma Day Celebration in Suva on May 10-11 at FMF Gymnasium, 9am - 5pm

Theme - Rotuma: Rotu Mā ʻOntou (My  Identity & Heritage is My Spirituality & Faith)

See Programme

Check out live streaming on Juju District Suva Facebook page

From Radio New Zealand (8 May 2019)

Rotumans target youth in language and culture classes

By Christine Rovoi, Journalist

It's one of the world's most endangered languages but the people from the Fijian dependency of Rotuma living in New Zealand are trying hard to keep the language alive with classes and the second ever Rotuman Language Week.

In the lead up to Rotuman Language Week more than 50 islanders attended a language class over the weekend in the Auckland suburb of Mt Roskill.

One of the tutors Tivao Mario, said the focus was encouraging more young Rotumans to learn the language.

"We've got a bigger focus on our kids," Mrs Mario said.

"We don't want them to lose their identity - the Rotuman language which is very important to us...

"People will learn and know more about us and they can come and join. [It is] very nice to know the community can come together," she said.

Children learning to dance tautoga
                     Rotuman children are learning to dance the traditional tautoga. Photo: Christine Rovoi

She said Rotuman language classes, which are held on Saturdays, began in February this year and would continue throughout the year - breaking only for the school holidays.

"We're putting in a lot more activities which I think is very interesting for the kids. And now our youth are beginning to come."

Mrs Mario said she was happy with the turnout at the weekend.

"Parents are encouraged to get their young ones to join us. The numbers are improving and what they are learning.

"It's beginning to show when we meet and greet because our little ones are coming up and saying 'noaia Aunty' (hello Aunty)."

She said non-Rotumans were also welcome to participate in the classes, which are free.

Tivao Mario
Rotuman language tutor Tivao Mario. Photo: Christine Rovoi

For eight-year-old Gedalya Parker, learning to speak Rotuman has been a challenge, but he's glad he's been attending the Saturday classes because his confidence has grown.

"I can speak with other Rotumans and I hope to speak with the people in Rotuma when I go there."

He said his parents speak to him in Rotuman and while he could understand what they were saying, he has found it easier to reply in English.

The St Leonard's School student has never been to Rotuma but said hopes to visit his island home one day soon.

"The first thing I'll do when I get to Rotuma is have a swim in the sea and see the fish."

Gedalya Parker
Gedalya Parker is happy to learn the Rotuman language and culture. Photo: Christine Rovoi

Rotuman elder and pastor Ravai Mosese lived most of his life on the island but now resides in New Zealand.

The 85-year-old, who is also a tutor, said he had seen a decline in the language being used among young Rotumans.

He said parents and grandparents must continue to teach their children the ways of Rotuma in their homes.

Mr Mosese said the language classes also include sessions on learning the handicrafts, food preparation and dance.

Following the language classes on Saturday, the islanders held a dance practice in preparation for the Rotuma Day celebrations.

Children learning from storybook
         Children learn from the storybook Pog Matit Uasuset (A Cold and Rainy Night) with tutor Jioje Fatiaki
         Photo: Christine Rovoi

Rotuman Language Week, which debuted last year, will be held on 12-19 May this year and will include the Rotuma Day celebrations on 13 May.

It was organised by the Auckland Rotuman Fellowship Group Incorporated (ARFGI).

For the first time, the ARFGI will host the Rotuman Pasifika Festival on 18 May at Western Springs in Auckland.

The festival is free and will include entertainment, food and craft stalls, children's activities, dance and music.

Rotuma is a Polynesian island and is governed by Fiji and while it has been influenced alot by Melanesia Fiji, its culture closely resembles that of Tonga and Samoa.

There are over 2000 people on Rotuma with more than 10,000 on mainland Fiji and tens of thousands around the world.

Auckland Rotuman language class
Auckland Rotuman community leader Faga Fasala, standing in the red shirt, and pastor Ravai Mosese, left, with participants at Saturday's language class in Auckland. Photo: Christine Rovoi

Watch class in session on YouTube video

Listen to more on mp3 audio

More from Radio New Zealand (8 May 2019)

Rotumans in NZ are preparing to launch their Language Week

See Media Release and Rotuman Language Week Programme

By Christine Rovoi

Hundreds of Rotumans are expected to gather in Auckland next week to launch their Language Week.

More than 50 islanders attended a Rotuman language class at the weekend in the Auckland suburb of Mt Roskill.

A prayer from Auckland Rotuman Fellowship group chairman, Faga Fasala, at the start of the language class last Saturday.

Mr Fasala also urged the participants to learn as much as they can from the sessions.

One of the tutors Tivao Mario says the focus is to encourage more young Rotumans to learn the language.

"We've got a bigger focus on our kids. We don't want them to lose their identity - the Rotuman language - which is very important to all of us. This is how we are going to be going forward. Lessons. Dancing. People will learn and know more about us and they can come and join. It's very nice to know the community can come together for such an important thing."

Mrs Mario says non-Rotumans are also welcome to participate in the classes which are free.

The Language Week is being organised by the Auckland Rotuman Fellowship Group Incorporated (ARFGI).

The week, which debuted last year, will be held on May 12-19 this year and will include the Rotuma Day celebrations on May 13.

Mrs Mario says the language classes started in February and they intend to continue throughout the year - only breaking for the school holidays.

"Parents are encouraged to get their youngsters to come and join us. The numbers are improving and what they are learning. It's beginning to show when we meet and greet because our little ones especially our young ones at home they are just coming up with 'Noaia Aunty' (Hello Aunty). I think it's nice to start now. It's never too late to start."

Mrs Mario says there are alot more activities this year which have attracted the youth.

For 8-year-old Gedalya Parker, learning to speak Rotuman has been a challenge.

But he says he's glad he's attending the classes because his confidence is growing.

"Noaia, o tou asa a le Gedalya Parker (Hello, my name is Gedalya Parker) and I want to learn my language so I can communicate with other people from Rotuma. It's nice because they want to come and learn how to speak Rotuman. A'te means eat. Kakou means shower. Ala means teeth."

Gedalya says his parents speak in Rotuman to their three children at home.

He says he understands them most of the time but responds in English because it's easier.

The St Leonard's School student has never been to Rotuma but hopes to visit his island home one day soon.

"The water's really clear. If you want to go to Rotuma, you'll have to go on a boat or a plane I think. There were giants a long time ago. It's a nice place - it's like Fiji. It's sunny, every day it's sunny."

Gedalya Parker and the Auckland Rotuman Fellowship Group have been preparing for the language week and Rotuma Day celebrations.

Tonight the group will practise the tautoga (traditional dance) for Rotuma Day which marks the island's cessation to Britain in 1881.

Rotuma has since been governed by Fiji.

Although Rotuma has been influenced alot by Melanesia Fiji, its culture closely resembles that of Tonga and Samoa.

From Antoine N'Yeurt at USP (2 May 2019)

The SchooI of Language, Artss & Media at USP has been holding Rotuman social classes aimed at providing insight into Rotuma culture, while assisting students to learn the language as well. The ten- week program began on 16 March and will run until 18 May. See flyer