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Archived News: January 2023

From Tagata Pacifika (28 January 2023)

Pacific animated short slithers into international film festival awards

Sina ma Tinirau

Rotuman filmmaker Vilsoni Hereniko has nabbed the Best Animation Short of the Year at the Indie Short Awards in Los Angeles.

Set in Rotuma, his animated short Sina ma Tinirau is a re-imagining of a timeless Pacific classic. Tinirau is a greedy Fijian prince cursed to the form of an eel, who vies for the love of a beautiful woman, Sina.

Repulsed by his dark skin, she initially refuses his love.

But as he dies he tells Sina to bury his head. As the story goes, a coconut tree will spring forth to provide her food and drink. Struck by his gift of unconditional love, she overcomes her prejudice and falls in love with the eel.

The film cleverly explores themes of conservation, cultural traditions and colourism in Pacific communities.

Vili and award

Santa Rosa Rotuman women

Hereniko was unable to make the award ceremony, but shared this story to Facebook, "eight women from Santa Rosa wanted to see a movie set on their home island of Rotuma."

"They got in their cars and travelled to Los Angeles where the film was a finalist for "best animated short". Guess what – the film they went to see won! The director could not be there so they ended up accepting the award on his behalf and will deliver it to him later in the year!"

Written, directed, produced and narrated by Hereniko, Sina ma Tinirau has also screened at imagineNATIVE and the Made in Hawaii FIlm Festival.

The short is set to make its FIFO Tahiti debut next month.

From the Fiji Sun (26 January 20023)

Rotuma Film Wins International Award In Los Angeles

A short film set in the context of a love story between a beautiful girl called Sina and a black eel on the island of Rotuma has won an international award.

by josefa babitu

Vilsoni Hereniko

A short film set in the context of a love story between a beautiful girl called Sina and a black eel on the island of Rotuma has won an international award.

Sina ma Tinirau, a nine-minute animated film, is about the origin of the coconut tree which was written, directed, produced, and narrated by Vilsoni Hereniko.

"The eel was a greedy Fijian prince who was cursed and became an eel," said Mr Hereniko, who is a filmmaker.

To become human again, the eel has to win the love of fair-skinned Sina, who can't stand the sight of the eel because it is black and ugly. To win Sina's love, the eel gifts her with his body in the form of a coconut tree in a seductive display.

From Indie Short Fest (23 January 2023)

Congratulations to Vilsoni Hereniko, whose short film, Sina ma Tinirau, won Best Animation Short at the Indie Short Fest, Los Angeles International Film Festival. Although Vili was unable to be in Los Angeles to accept the award, eight Rotuman women from Santa Rosa went to see the movie and accepted the award on his behalf.

From Fiji Times (20 January 2023)

Back in history : New ship for Rotuma

By Rusiate Vunirewa


Travelling to Rotuma and back from Viti Levu is always a long and treacherous journey.

So the arrival of the inter-island ship Wairua was a joyous occasion.

A traditional ceremony of welcome was held in Rotuma and the event was recorded in The Fiji Times on November 6, 1985.

"For a long time, we the people of Rotuma have been dreaming of the day when we could travel between Fiji and Rotuma with speed and comfort," said Beti Inia.

"That day has arrived. And may the good Lord bless this venture and those involved in it."

The 618-tonne Wairua, owned by Interport Shipping Services of Suva was in Rotuma on her maiden voyage.

It was bought specifically to service the Rotuma/Fiji run.

Not only did the ship arrive, her owners, Leo Smith and Ratu Wili Maivalili, offered the Rotumans a 20 per cent shareholding in the new venture.

It all began three months before the article was published, when the then managing director, Mr Smith, visited Rotuma for a political meeting.

At the meeting, the people of Rotuma talked of nothing else, but the difficulty they faced because of the lack of a regular and reliable shipping service between Fiji and Rotuma.

At that time, the island had not been visited by a ship for eight weeks and basic consumer items were running out.

"Simple things like a box of matches I could not buy," Mr Smith said.

"Being an islander myself, I was fully aware of the difficulty the Rotumans are facing.

"On my return to Fiji, I was determined to do something for them.

"It led to the purchase of Wairua, from New Zealand a month ago.

"The venture is a viable one, provided the people of Rotuma give it the support it needs," Mr Smith said.

The talk on the island had been nothing else but the Wairua.

At the welcome ceremony, Mr Smith, Ratu Maivalili, the ship's captain and the chief engineer were accorded the mamasa, a Rotuman ceremony performed to welcome sailors.

It involves the spreading of fine Rotuman mats on the village green where guests are seated and annointed with sweet-smelling oil. This was followed with traditional dancing and singing.

Led by Mr Smith, the crew joined in the festivities and the big feast that awaited them.

The ship was built mainly to carry passengers between Stewart Island and Invercargill, the southern most city of New Zealand.

The facilities were modern and the passenger accommodation were up to world standards.

It was comfortable and spacious and was ideal for the long trip between Fiji and Rotuma.

Mr Smith had planned on a few alterations and when completed the Wairua should be a boat fit for a queen.

The plan was for the ship to make a three-weekly trip to Rotuma.

From Fiji Times (18 January 2023)

Grant for Rotumans

By Elena Vucukula

Rotuma women's handicarft group

The iTaukei Trust Fund Board (TTFB) was one of the recipients of the ACP-EU grant announced last week at their office in Suva.

TTFB was awarded under the "Enhancing Capacity for the Sustainability of the Cultural and Creative Industries in the Pacific Project" grant scheme.

In a media statement, TTFB said it was grateful for the assistance.

The grant is aimed at supporting the Rotuman women's handicraft through the Rotuma Creative Arts Project.

Project co-ordinator Alfred Wiliame said the Rotuma Creative Arts Projects would involve supporting the development and enhancement of Rotuma's creative arts, through entrepreneurial leadership training and business upskilling.

"The aim is to enhance production and value-adding capacity for Rotuma handicrafts, gaining a more competitive edge in the market and providing commercial benefits to sustain the livelihoods of the Rotuman community," he said.

"The outcomes would include a better appreciation and understanding of the Rotuman art, culture and heritage. This basically enables these women to become self-starters or entrepreneurs in their own field."

The target groups for this project includes the Rotuman Women's Association in Rotuma (RWA), the Rotuman communities in Rotuma, the Rotuma Youth group, and the Council of Rotuma. The project is scheduled for three years.