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Archived News: May 2023

From Facebook (23 May 2023)

Watch Video of Dr John Fatiaki's Rotuma Day Speech regarding "THE REAFFIRMATION of us as a ROTUMAN PEOPLE with a unique CULTURE, CUSTOMS, TRADITIONS, LANGUAGE, and very importantly our own LAND and SEAS."

Also see video of Deputy Prime Minister and Min. of Finance, Prof. Biman Prasad's speech on Rotuma Day.

From Fiji Times (21 May 2023)

Youths urged to participate in politics

By Wata Shaw

Oinafa dancers

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance Professor Biman Prasad has encouraged the younger generations of Rotuma to participate in Fiji's politics to ensure their voices were heard.

While delivering his opening remarks at the Rotuma Day celebration in Suva yesterday, he said diverse voices lead to rich solutions.

"Fiji needs you, the more diverse the voices are at the table the richer the solutions we can present," Prof Prasad said.

Fiji Rotuma Association chairman Victor Fatiaki said the Rotuman community had overcome many challenges in the past years but continued towards achieving its visions and values for present and future generations of Rotuma.

"The preservation and promotion of our heritage is what we proudly celebrate every year," he said.

From Fiji Village (20 May 2023)

By Navitalai Naivalurua

Rotuma Day in Fiji

The rights of the Rotuman community cannot and must not be snatched through force or a draconian piece of legislation.

This has been highlighted by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance Professor Biman Prasad while speaking at the Rotuman Day Celebration at the FMF Gymnasium.

He has assured Rotumans that under the coalition government, their rights and land are protected.

Professor Prasad says they remember all too well the anxiety and uncertainty when the Rotuma Bill was first introduced.

He says their rights are inalienable.

The Minister for Finance says the coalition government will make sure all their rights and interests are safeguarded and protected and enhanced so that they can deliver a better and brighter dawn to future generations.

Professor Prasad says he knows they are eagerly awaiting the first meeting of the Great Council of Chiefs in more than 15 years and a meeting that should result in wisdom and goodwill towards all whose motherland is Fiji.

He says it will be a momentous occasion, and he knows their delegation has already visited the chiefly island of Bau to offer their good wishes in the traditional manner befitting such an occasion.

The Deputy Prime Minister adds they are sure their voices will be heard by other chiefly Leaders, and both the Prime Minister and the Minister for iTaukei Affairs, both of whom will also be present at those deliberations.

He says these are the kinds of gaps in nation-building, spanning 16 years that the coalition government is now trying to bridge together.

Professor Prasad says the coalition government cannot undertake nation-building on its own, and it is imperative that they listen and embrace solutions as they do not have a monopoly on good ideas.

He adds that they must accept criticism which comes as part of the turf of national leadership.

From Fiji Broadcasting Co. (20 May, 2023)

Rights of Rotumans well-protected: Prasad

By Sainiani Boila

The people of Rotuma are being urged by the coalition government to participate more in the national and political life of the country.

While officiating at the Fiji Rotuma Day 2023 at the FMF Gymnasium in Suva this morning, Deputy Prime Minister Professor Biman Prasad says this is crucial as the coalition government welcomes diversity in race, culture, and voices.

Professor Prasad says that the more diverse the voices, the richer the solutions.

Rotuma Day in Fiji

He says they will ensure the rights of Fijians and Rotumans are well-protected.

"Your human rights are inevitable, they cannot and must not be told or forced to go through draconian legislation. We will make sure that all your rights are safeguarded, protected, and enhanced so that we can deliver a better and brighter Fiji."

Rotuma Day in Fiji

Professor Prasad commended the efforts of the people of Rotuma who held various government executive positions and have helped in the development of Fiji in previous years until today.

Rotuma Day in Fiji

The two-day Fiji Rotuma Day 2023 celebration also features Rotuma traditional dancers from the seven provinces in Rotuma.

Rotuma Day in Fiji

The Rotuma Day celebrations include a showcase of farm produce, handicrafts, and food that Rotuma is well-known for.


From TE AO Maori News (19 May 2023)

First Rotuman language children's book published

By Aaron Ryan

Rotuman Language Book for Children published

The Rotuma language, although rare and endangered, is on the brink of hopeful revival, with efforts underway to create captivating children's literature for its speakers.

The first children's book in the Rotuma language has just been published thanks to a Creative New Zealand award.

Darlene Inia, who helped produce the book, says children across New Zealand can now learn about her country and language.

"We've launched our book today, Rotuma 'Otou Hanua Pumue, which is a special project for our young people and it's something for them to be proud of.

"Not only for us here in Aotearoa but also in Rotuma because now Rotuma is everywhere in Aotearoa," she says.

United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) recently classified the language as vulnerable due to its estimated 3,000 fluent speakers worldwide.

Rotuman children involved

The book's editor David Riley says it has been written for the people by the people.

"It's the first book we know of that's written by Rotuman children for Rotuman children. It's for other children to read as well. The children worked with their parents and their grandparents, to tell the stories together.

The children got their information from their own elders, supplied photos and they chose which ones they wanted in the book," he says.

Rotuma Island is a Fiji dependency, with 981 Rotumans living in Aotearoa based on the latest census.

Inia, whose family is featured in the historical book, believes this book will hopefully serve as an encouragement for people to visit Rotuma.

The first of many?

"It is an untouched paradise, it's a beautiful place, and we pride ourselves on that because we've managed to retain and sustain that because tourism has not set into Rotuma.

We are very blessed and fortunate in that sense with the fact that we can call Rotuma our home," she says.

Books on Rotuman culture for children were previously unavailable.

Riley, who takes great pride in being from South Auckland, hopes this book will be just one of many to come in the future.

"More books, definitely more and I know these kids can do it. I know they've got lots of ideas and so do their parents.

I encouraged one of their parents who's an artist. Hopefully, I"m going to help her create a book of Rotuman legends for children and she will write along with her daughter," he says.

The book is available in all Auckland Council libraries and can also be purchased via the Reading Warrior website.

From Fiji Village (19 May 2023)

Rotuma present credentials to Vunivalu ahead of GCC meeting next week

By Navitalai Naivalurua

A Rotuman delegation presented their sevusevu to the Turaga Na Vunivalu Tui Kaba, Ratu Epenisa Cakobau to formally congratulate him on his installation earlier this year and to present its credentials before the commencement of the Great Council of Chiefs meeting next week.

The Rotuman delegation was led by Gagaj Maraf, Chief of Noatau District, Gagaj Manav, Chief of Itumuta District, and the Chairman of the Rotuman Council, Gagaj Tiporot, Chief of Juju District.

It was an emotional encounter as tears of joy filled Ratu Epenisa upon receiving the traditional gifts.

Speaking in the i-Taukei language, Ratu Epenisa mentioned the significance of the relationship shared between the two islands and added that Bau Island would always welcome them and if at any time they needed a place to go to, Bau will always be their home away from home.

Presented to the chiefly household of Bau were Rotuman fine mats called 'apei', 'agrua mats', yams, waka and a pig.

The GCC meeting will be held next Wednesday and Thursday on Bau Island.

From Fiji Broadcasting Co. (14 May, 2023)

Celebrate diversity and multiculturalism: Katonivere

By Jale Daucakacaka

Konrote with Ratu Katonivere

We must use, promote, learn and teach our language and mother tongue to our children and grandchildren so that our identity is equally embraced and protected.

This was highlighted by President Ratu Wiliame Katonivere at the Rotuma Day celebrations on Rotuma Island yesterday.

Ratu Wiliame says Fiji continues to live harmoniously and as Head of State, he is proud to witness our communities continue to celebrate our diversity and multiculturalism.

"Rotuma while its geographical location is isolated and the size of the island – small, Rotuma has had a disproportionate impact on Fiji's development and progress over the years and continues to date."

Rotuma Day celebration

The President says the many accomplishments and achievements of Rotumans to Fiji are significant, highlighting that of former President, Major-General (Ret'd) Jioji Konrote.

He says as a career soldier, Konrote rose up the ranks through merit to become Major-General and then Commander-in-Chief, a retired government minister, permanent secretary, diplomat and former parliamentarian.

Rotuma Day feast

Ratu Wiliame says this is an accolade very few Rotumans and even Fijians can boast of achieving.

He also acknowledged government's commitment to improving critical infrastructure in outer island communities such as Rotuma.

From Hon Barbara Edmonds (7 May 2023)

Rotuman community to revitalise language

The spotlight is on the language of the people of Rotuma as the first of the Pacific Language Weeks to be celebrated in 2023 gets underway.

The Pacific Peoples Minister Barbara Edmonds says the Rotuman language, Fäeag Rotuạm, is classified as endangered by UNESCO, and the Rotuman community is rallying during this year's Gasav Ne Fäeag Rotuạm Ta - Rotuman Language Week.

"This is a time for all Rotuman people in Aotearoa to celebrate the language, culture and identity of the islands," said Barbara Edmonds.

"It is also an opportunity for friends, colleagues and wider families to gain new insights in the language and heritage of the people of Rotuma who have made a new home here.

"It is a challenge to learn a new language, but Aotearoa's Pacific communities are motivated and inspired to help keep cultures alive and be proud of our shared heritage.

"It is estimated there are approximately 2,000 speakers on Rotuma, around 10,000 in Fiji, and around 1,000 speakers in Aotearoa. In order to nurture this treasure, the Rotuman community here is working together to save this unique and beautiful language and culture

"The Hata Collective, representing many of the Rotuman communities in Aotearoa, has chosen the theme, Vetḁkia 'os Fäega ma Ag fak hanua - Sustaining our Language and Culture, to kick start the 2023 Pacific Language Weeks series.

"The Sustainability theme aligns with UNESCO's international decade of indigenous languages 2022 - 2032 which recognises the right to preserve, revitalise and promote languages.

"This year, the Rotuman community have been busy planning online and in-person activities around learning through music, health and wellbeing and creating resources that will support long term language planning.

"I encourage all Kiwis to get behind Rotuman Language Week, and to learn something new about our Pacific neighbours – whether it is a word, phrase or traditional skill or song."

"Speaking it at home, in workplaces, schools and community will help show how much we value our language and identity.

"The Leo Moana o Aotearoa Pacific Languages report published by the Ministry for Pacific Peoples shows the significant role Pacific languages play in the daily lives of our communities.

"For example, 90 percent of Pacific people use Pacific languages at community meetings, 82 percent use them with community members, and Pacific language use in recreation, sport and interest group activities is also an emerging strong point.

"We can help prevent the loss of Pacific indigenous languages by fostering them in our daily lives," said Barbara Edmonds.

For a detailed programme and information – see & 

Additional Reports of Rotuman Language Week

Interview with Vilsoni Hereniko

From University of Auckland Library (5 May 2023)

Smiling Rotuman girl

Rotuman Language Week 2023

Noaʻia ʻe mạuri gagaj ʻatakoa, greetings to everyone! Noaʻia ʻe mạuri is "an expression of gratitude for the wellbeing of the person receiving the greeting. It translates as 'thank you for being alive.' In greeting others in this manner, you thank them for the care they have taken in ensuring their own wellbeing and health." (The Ministry for Pacific Peoples' Fäeag Rotuman Educational Resource, p.17).

Rotuman (Fäeag  Rotųam) Language Week 2023 takes place from Sunday 7 May to Saturday 13 May. The theme for Gasav Ne Fäeag Rotuạm Ta – Rotuman Language Week 2023 is Vetḁkia 'os Fäega ma Ag fak hanua – Sustaining our Language and Culture. The Rotuman language is listed in the UNESCO Atlas of the World's Languages in Danger of Disappearing.

The Ministry of Education's Te Kete Ipurangi explains that Rotuman language week is an opportunity to "raise the mana of speakers of Fäeag Rotųam, boost the advantages of bilingualism, and support inclusion."

Rotuma is a Polynesian volcanic island located about 500 kilometres north of Fiji. An ancient transit point for Pacific voyaging, it occupies a central Pacific location. About 2000 people live on the island, with 10,000 on mainland Fiji and thousands more worldwide. The New Zealand Rotuman population is concentrated in Auckland and is a youthful population. Language, culture and identity are intricately intertwined. Rotuman people are a separate ethnic group with their own distinct language, culture and identity. Rotuman culture also has similarities with its Pacific neighbours, encouraging gathering together, relationships, and sharing through spoken word.

Resources for Rotuman language revitalisation

From Fiji Times (4 May 2023)

Rural allowance for teachers

By Shayal Devi

The Ministry of Education is working to look at policies regarding travelling and living allowance of teachers in rural and maritime areas.

This was highlighted by Minister for Education Aseri Radrodro while holding a question and answer session with participants of the Fiji Principals Association (FPA) annual general meeting in Lami yesterday.

Rotuma High School principal Sereana Tuapati said eastern schools were allocated about $400 travelling allowance.

"However, it took me $905 just to be here, and that does not include accommodation," she said.

"We are grateful to the Government to be able to provide two trips to Rotuma in a week, two flights. However, it comes with a cost. Rural allowances have been reduced and putting that on the line with the high cost of living, if the ministry could consider this."

In response, Mr Radrodro confirmed they were looking into the issue.

"I agree with you regarding allocations for travelling," he said.

"I have been discussing with the ministry officials that there is a need to consider case by case schools in the outer laying islands. You cannot have a standardised policy for everybody.

"You expect the same policy applied for those in the town centres to be applied to those outside the town centres so that is something that we are reviewing – the policy – to ensure that those who are in the outer laying islands are accommodated accordingly according to costs."