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Archived News: June 2023

From Fiji Times (29 June 2023)

Joes Farm and iTaukei Trust Fund Board deal to benefit Rotuma

By Felix Chaudhary

Michael Joe and Aisake Taito

BUSINESS opportunities for the people of Rotuma have been given a boost with the inking of an agreement yesterday between Joe's Farm Produce Pte Limited and the iTaukei Trust Fund Board.

In a press statement, the TTFB said the deal was a "game changer" as the memorandum of understanding would allow both organisations to collectively explore, collaborate and venture into agriculture businesses on the island that would ultimately benefit the Rotuman people.

Joe's Farm Produce managing director Michael Joe said he identified the need to uplift the economic situation on Rotuma after visiting the island just over two years ago.

TTFB CEO Aisake Taito said the MOU was timely because after numerous visits to Rotuma and identifying the potential available there, he often thought about business ventures that would benefit the islanders.

Also present at the MOU signing and pledging his support on behalf of the people of Rotuma, was Dr John Fatiaki.

He relayed their heartfelt appreciation towards the two executives for their vision and decision to get the project going.

Dr Fatiaki said for quite a long time, numerous consultations for business initiatives were held but the actors were "quite slow in getting things moving".

Two key mandates of the iTaukei Trust Fund Board were helping develop the entrepreneurial skills of the iTaukei and Rotumans ,and identifying markets or platforms to assist them further.

The MOU signing was one step towards the TTFB achieving that for the people of Rotuma.

Through the deal, TTFB, in collaboration with Joe's Farm Produce Pte Ltd would be able to link resource owners on Rotuma to selected markets, and this would provide farmers the opportunity to transit to larger scale operations over time.

From Facebook (27 June 2023)

Ofa Dewes Congrats

For details of the award go to

From Fiji Broadcasting Co. (27 June 2023)

GCC committee faces financial challenges

By Litia Cava

In its relentless pursuit of comprehensive nationwide consultations, the Great Council of Chiefs committee faces financial constraints, says chair Dr. Jone Baledrokadroka.

The committee, which has been actively engaging with Fijians across the country, has received requests to visit Rotuma Island, prompting further deliberations.

Dr. Baledrokadroka emphasizes the committee's commitment to consulting both locally and internationally, underscoring the importance of engaging with Fijians within Fiji's borders.

In line with this, Dr. Baledrodroka says the committee has already held consultations with the Rotuman community in Suva, further enhancing its efforts to ensure inclusive representation.

"We are looking for a budget; we are looking to go and listen to our Rotuman brothers and sisters; as I said, we are very restricted by the budget, and if there are benefactors out there who want to actually assist us, by all means do so because I think the GCC has a very important place in the hearts of iTaukei's and, of course, Rotumans."

Recently, the committee completed its consultations in Kadavu.

However, the committee's upcoming visit to California this Thursday, while eagerly anticipated, has sparked questions regarding funding.

To address these concerns, Dr. Baledrokadroka clarified that the USA trip is made possible through the generous contributions of benefactors, ensuring that taxpayers' money remains untouched.

From Fiji Broadcasting Co. (21 June 2023)

Big Plans for Connectivity in Rotuma

By Filipe Naikaso

Deputy Prime Minister, Manoa Kamikamica, has revealed a new initiative aimed at connecting more people living in remote and maritime communities.

Kamikamica announced this development during his address at the 23rd Asia Pacific Telecommunity Forum, where he emphasized Fiji's commitment to enhancing connectivity and digital inclusion.

As part of these efforts, Fiji has joined the International Telecommunication Union Smart Islands Initiative, and a comprehensive needs assessment has recently been completed.

Kamikamica further highlighted that Rotuma has been identified as the primary focus of this groundbreaking initiative.

"I mean the obvious thing is that they need better connectivity but we will see what the report from ITU says but then there's any opportunity to initiate through some digital initiatives in Rotuma and try and see whether we can replicate it across the rest of Fiji but we have to start at one step at a time."

The Deputy Prime Minister says currently, 95% of Fiji's population enjoys access to mobile broadband through 3G, 4G, and 4G+ networks.

Kamikamica says the expansion of digital connectivity has encouraged active participation in the digital economy, unlocking new opportunities for individuals and communities across the country.

Nevertheless, Kamikamica acknowledged that these advancements present challenges to the government's operations.

He stresses the government aims to navigate these challenges through the implementation of the Smart Islands Initiative, which focuses on extending connectivity to the most remote regions of Fiji.

From Stuff (8 June 2023)

Rako Pasefika: Rotuman artists bring ancient women warriors to NZ dance festival

By Christine Rovoi

Rako 1

Three stories about the journey of three Rotuman women, omitted from the island's history due to colonisation, will be told at New Zealand's Pacific dance festival in Auckland this week.

The festival has returned to Tāmaki Makaurau after a three-year absence due to Covid-19.

Sau Folu – Three Kings is being performed by Fiji-based Rotuma group Rako Pasefika.

Choreographer Iane Tavo Atalifo said while the three women of royal blood did not ascend to power, "they are the embodiments of Rotuman women kings and warrior women significant in our ancient Rotuman storytelling".

Rako was founded more than 10 years ago, performing at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games in 2018, a highlight for the group.

Rako debuted at Aotearoa's Pacific dance festival in 2018, presenting their work, Cloaks of Protection, about the "imbalance in the world and basically how this imbalance has caused violence in our communities".

Atalifo, 22, has been dancing since he was 8 years old, "growing up around the arts and entertainment industry in Fiji because my mum was, at the time, director of the country's arts council".

Rako 2

He said before the group left Suva, they had sought the blessings of their chiefs and families.

"We were honoured to have our chiefs, Gagaj Manav, Gagaj Fakaru'etoag, Gagaj Taimanav, and family at our A'rän Mak ceremony. We are blessed to be showered with their love and support and can feel strong in carrying the stories of our island home."

It hasn't been "all smooth-sailing" for the group, Atalifo said.

"In the last three years, the world went into lockdown and many artists suffered with tours, bookings and projects cancelled. When usually we would be travelling the world, this time enabled us to return to our island home of Rotuma – return to the land and immerse ourselves in deep culture.

"This trip, my first to Rotuma, also saw 20 other members go to our island home. It also solidified the work that we do and the passion we have for our culture."

Atalifo said the group developed three major works, resulting in Sau Folu, during the trip to Rotuma in November 2022.

"In the stories and history that have been told about Rotuma by the missionaries and the people who colonised the island, our women warriors have been omitted.

Tavo Atalifo

"Going back to Rotuma gave us the opportunity to speak with our elders, our genealogists, our history keepers, and we learned that many of the stories that we've been told have been Westernised to suit the colonisers.

"We decided to highlight these women in this production, these women who were behind the men in these stories, who made these men who they were.

"We also looked at the different ways in which the women in our culture truly empowered our history and paved the way for a lot of our cultural stories, but were simply omitted due to colonisation."

Sau Folu is about the most daunting, painful and emotional times when the "spirit of Rotuman warrior women emerges from deep within". It is this spirit that gives our Rotuman women strength, courage and fierce resilience, Atalifo said.

"She's a quiet power that comes in many different forms, as a fierce defender, a warrior woman, a mamahanua, mother of the earth, as a daughter in all her purity and mana, connected to the land, taking on the form of birds or our ocean totems to guide our people."

Rako members include choreographer, dancer and musician John Taukave, musician Mark Pene, dancers Norman Rafai, Maeva Mitchell Dominiko and Josie Ryland, with Zelda Rafai, Tiana Kitione, and Georgina Semesi, who all sing.

Sau Folu will also feature dancers from the Rotuman community in Auckland.

The 60-minute act is showing at Rangatira, Q Theatre, on June 8 and 9, at $15 a ticket.