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Rotuman History

Submitted by Peter James on behalf of Gagaj Sau Lagfatmaro II

November 15, 1997

I write to bring to your attention some of the missing pages of Rotuma's history. Over 30 years of detailed research and study are currently being compiled into a book by Gagaj James Rafoi and Gagaj Sau Lagfatmaro II. This book is expected to be released next year. Below is a summary of the history taken from a letter to the editor of the Fiji Times dated Saturday 8 November in response to an article on the history of Rotuma. I have taken the liberty of correcting some spelling mistakes and historical omissions.

"Sir - This is in response to Sagale Buadromo's weekend article in the Fiji Times, Saturday October 25, 1997 which require clarification. Moreover, there are a lot of anomalies which stand corrected.

Rotuma was never founded by Raho, the first Polynesian invader from Samoa. He was and remains one of the many settlers who sought to make Rotuma their home. Others entail Tongans, Chinese, Spanish, Portuguese, Maoris, Scots, English and a host of others.

Rotuma's central location made it a convenient port of call. The current Minister of Home Affairs, Paul Manueli is of Portuguese descent as are Rotuman names like Augustino. The Melanesian influence dates back to the arrival of the first Fijian migration from Africa which includes seven brothers. The elder brother was Lutunasobasoba, the founding father of Fiji and sister known as Adi Volau ni Wasa. The Rotuman know her as Hanitemousu which Churchwood correctly identifies. Their arrival occurred during the reign of the first King of Rotuma, Gagaj Sau Lagfatmoro I.

Adi Volau ni Wasa was designated as Sauhan ne Soloagasta (Queen of the Sunset) by Gagaj Sau Lagfatmaro I (author note - of Molmahao Dynasty) as she was of royal blood (or blue blood) too. She was made pregnant by her younger brother, Ratu Degei during the voyage and instead of killing her, the brothers decided to leave her at Rotuma (author note - to hide their shame) which accounts for why ancient Royal blood families forbid their children to marry a Fijian to honour Adi Volau ni Wasa. Rotumans who do not believe or take heed of this curse, never have children.

According to the Malmahao legend, Rotuma was part of a large mass known as Hanua Mafua which sunk beneath the sea due to volcanic eruptions and earthquakes. This land mass is known as Hanuaha'a - the sacred/ancient land. There are many replicas to Atlantis the supposingly mythical kingdom which Pluto, and later Aristotle used as an analogue to describe a perfect system of government.

I recommend that people refrain from commenting about issues for which they are not familiar with. It reflects a new type of colonialism and tradition of exploitation, in which people abuse the offices they are in, to comment on issues on which they know next to nothing about.

If foreign-aid was directed to Rotuma, through the appropriate channels then we as Rotumans will be able to unearth our ancient history/ancestors with the appropriate ceremonies as well as etiquette and then record our history from our perspective and not from hearsay and versions from thieves and scoundrels like Eason. A comprehensive history of Rotuma is already being prepared and perhaps people should await its publication.

I further ask the Fiji Museum to return the vase sent for carbon dating back to the Noa--ia-e-tau Museum, Rotuma and to ask the Fiji Museum to respect Justice Gordon Ward's ruling in 1985 which explicitly states that no artifacts are to be removed from Rotuma at all.


I submit this article to encourage a more complete understanding of Rotuman history and culture in the hope of re-establishing pride in the Rotuman people. Comments on this message are invited and can be forwarded to me electronically via

"Ua'ua'okiof se Temamfua 'e Rotuma ma Hanua Ha'a. Alalumuaf se Rotuam Ofrau 'e ut Häk 'e Rän te." Se Rotuma - Ma Rotuma - La Rotuma.

Yours Sincerly
Gagaj Sau Lagfatmaro II

Peter James
Manager Information Systems and Computing
Emperor Gold Mining Company Ltd
Vatukoula, FIJI
Phone: (679) 680 477, Ext 208
Fax : (679) 680 772


I am a proud Rotuman and I am concerned about the many versions of our history. What fails to coincide with your explanation is the Fijian History which at NO time linked our two cultures. I can understand the shame the brothers may carry and the secrecy attached but it should have surfaced somehow.

Please clarify.

Ravai. P. Antonio (Mr)

12 March, 2008

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