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Regarding the Titles Gagaj Sau Lagfatmaro and Kausakmua

Recently several articles have appeared on this website concerning the return of HRH King Gagaj Sau G Lagfatmaro II, to Rotuma. Slanderous unsubstantiated allegations have been made against HRH in these articles. In a follow-up article to address these allegations, local MP, Ms Marieta Rigamoto completely rejected these reports as incorrect and without substance.

Concerning the title (HRH Gagaj Sau Lagfatmaro) also the return of Rotuman artefacts, referred to in a letter posted (18 May 2000) written by Mrs Sanimeli Solomoni, please be informed.

Mr T.M Varea, Rotuma Island council chairman in 1983, issued on 13th May 1983 a letter to the Fiji Museum curator, Mr Clooney. This letter stated that, the Rotuma Council had appointed HRH Gagaj Sau Lagfatmaro as Cultural Adviser, also granting by unanimous consensus through the council, full authority both culturally and legally to act and request the return of Rotuman artefacts from around the world.

The title of HRH Gagaj Sau Lagfatmaro is both a culturally and legally registered name. Recognition and acceptance of the installation of the Rotuman title was given in a second letter issued by the council. The council stated that HRH Gagaj Sau Lagfatmaro should be treated with respect and reverence.

The present Rotuma Island Council chairman, Mr Makrava, requested archive evidence of these documents, as copies of the original letters seemed to have been misplaced. This is not the first time documents regarding HRH Gagaj Sau Lagfatmaro have mysteriously disappeared. Mr Makrava received documented minutes of the original meeting, in which the issues mentioned were discussed and decided.

On the 23rd May 2000, Gagaj Maraf himself viewed and confirmed this documented evidence. Gagaj Maraf himself commented that the documented evidence of 1983 in this case was not disputable!

Regarding the instalation of the new Gagaj Kausakmua. Once again Mrs Sanimeli Solomoni's account of events in relation to Rotuman Culture and Protocol is questionable. Gagaj Siraroa was the last Kausakmua of the Molmahao Clan to hold this important clan title. Because of anger towards a previous Gagaj Maraf, this title was loaned to two individuals who came and asked for it. Gagaj Siraroa specified that the title could only be used for the duration of his lifetime, and then must be returned. When something is borrowed it must be returned!

Gagaj Maraf was invited to the instalation ceremony and was happy to accept. Unfortunately last minute commitments meant he was unable to attend. During the installation ceremony a presentation of two baskets for the FonKava were taken to Gagaj Maraf and one of his sub-chiefs Tokoar. Gagaj Maraf received and accepted this according to Rotuman Culture and Protocol. Acceptance of the FonKava in Rotuman culture and protocol means even though they did not attend the installation, the title is accepted and honoured.

The Molmahao Clan being the original owners of the title Gagaj Kausakmua, have every right to install this title. No one has the right to dispute this. Courtesy however is always extended. Five titles are the sole property of the Molmahao Foundation, HRH Gagaj Sau Lagfatmaro, Gagaj Kausakmua, and three other titles. Mrs Sanimeli Solomoni's reference to Gagaj Maraf for acceptance of this title is incorrect. No authority has any right to interfere in the consensus of the Molmahoa Foundation in these matters. No authority whatsoever has any right to interfere with the rights of an indigenous people, for this is the right of an indigenous people,"Rotumans". This is also the case for Fijian's of Fiji origin, Hawaiian's of Hawaiian origin, American Indian's of Native American origin etc.

Regarding the completion of the community hall at Noa'tao, mentioned in Mrs Sanimeli Solomoni's article. The two people previously discriminated against for allegedly seeking Independence for Rotuma gave a large donation to the building and completing of the hall, but extra funding was required by Gagaj Maraf. The readers should know that through a simple thought and discussion, based on the constitutional rights of the individual, the whole matter was blown out of proportion. Readers should also know the contribution was simply to show honesty and sincerity, a donation and unconditional gesture of goodwill. No thanks were given to these people.

The references used to describe HRH Gagaj Sau Lagfatmaro in articles posted on this news site, show a lack of courtesy and knowledge. Credibility of such documents must be questioned with comments and references used. The former name as described no longer exists with the instalation of the title. The art's practiced by HRH Gagaj Sau Lagfatmaro have been taught to and benefited, thousands of individuals over a period of many decades. The beauty, diversity and depth of these arts are renowned in many countries. It is unclear why these inaccurate articles were written. It is also clear that these articles do not conform to Rotuman culture, especially after it has been accepted in the Rotuma Island council. The Rotuma Island council was originally set-up as only an advisory body.

The title HRH Gagaj Sau G Lagfatmaro II legally appears in the passport of its holder. Authors of articles as described should take this into account. They should also take into account and abide by culture and law surrounding such legal documents.

Grant Sydney

Note: Grant Sydney is a New Zealand citizen, living in Australia. His connection to the Molmahao foundation is as Chief Security Officer for HRH Gagaj Sau Lagfatmaro in Sydney, via HRH's chief Minister in Sydney, Gagaj Rafeok.

I read Grant Sydney's posting on the Rotuma website and am interested as to which Gagaj Kausekmua and which Gagaj Maraf he was referring to? The incident that he mentioned between the two gentlemen would be interesting piece of history.

Yes, the title of Gagaj Kausekmua belongs to the Molmahau clan. That is beyond doubt, but to cite a name without a reference, or to make an unsubstantiated allegation as he claimed is illegal!! I am not aware of a Gagaj Siraroa ever holding such title, so it intrigues me to know where he got his source of information from?

I am aware of a Gagaj Kausekmua Sirilo who died in 1939, who is an ancestor of mine, hence my curiosity about which Gagaj Maraf and which Gagaj Kausekmua Siraroa Grant is referring to? Dates and first names will certainly help a lot, and would update this unlearned descendent in the history of his people.

I look forward to hearing from him about his sources and from where I can cite these vital facts.


Sefo Farpapa'u
Documentalist/IT Assistant
UNFPA Country Technical Services Team
PO Box 441
Suva, Fiji

Send responses to this essay to Rotuman Forum for posting. Please include your full name and current home city.