G/Titofag of Juju has replaced Aisea Atalifo as chair of the Rotuma Council. We were told that the Council has an overdraft of $90,000 and owes British Petroleum $48,000 for past fuel purchases. If that's true the Council is in serious financial difficulty.
News from Elisapeti Inia (January 16):
A man named David Gardiner, from Sydney Australia, was on the island during the holiday season shooting a documentary film about Rotuma.
The William Fletcher Bible School opened on January 21; Elisapeti is teaching Rotuman Culture.
New Methodist minister at Motusa, Emotama Pene & his wife Akanisi; Raki Tigarea & his wife have moved to Oinafa, & Rev. Aiveni stays at Mairo, Noatau as superintendant of the Rotuma circuit. Deaconness Rejieli is living with her parents at Malhaha, awaiting her marriage in March to Fatiaki Atalifo of Oinafa.
News from Maniue Vilsoni (January 17):
Fiji Junior results: Form IV had 10 A passes, 16 B passes & no C passes or failures. Manu writes that about 24 schools in Fiji didn't score any A passes and the Prime Minister asked for a report regarding the poor performance of Fijian Schools.
Manu will be leaving his teaching post at Malhaha and will attend USP in Suva beginning this February to pursue a bachelor's degree. Vika will leave her job as head nurse of the Rotuma hospital and will move either to the Nursing School or Main Hospital in Suva.
Rotuma is having a drought and the farmers are concerned about the dry spell.
The FIJI POST Ltd. has extended its Post Shop at Ahau to accommodate a thriving grocery business. The company has plans for further expansion and may help to fill the void left by the collapse of RCA and Raho.
From Antoine N'Yeurt in Suva, upon his return from Rotuma:
The Mobil Oil complex at Mofmanu is still devoid of oil, but the three huge tanks now have the Mobil logo painted on them. There is also a fence around the tanks, with daunting signs like "Persons Enter at their Own Risk" and "No Smoking Fire Hazard". The loading pipeline ends at the top of the beautiful white sandy beach. When oil tankers anchor offshore, a hose will be pulled up to the pipeline and the oil drawn into the tanks. Despite Mobil officials' claims to the contrary, spills may be inevitable, and the contamination will swiftly be carried by the current to Fapufa, Losa, and all around the island. Antoine worries that on such a small fragile ecosystem, the impact on marine life may be irreversible. Also, the waste inlet goes underground, and may contaminate the freshwater lens--the main source of Rotuma's drinking water.
Antoine reports that his lumu project has gotten off to a good start, with cages installed at Fapufa and Lihava (Maka) Bay. Initial results show the seaweeds grow quite fast in cages, and he is hopeful commercial farming will be a possibility in future. The experiment will end in late '97; Antoine will return to Rotuma for one week, Feb 25-Mar 1, to check-up on the growth. Pita Aisake is "caretaker" in Antoine's absence. Next time he goes to the island, Antoine intends to bring along some dung beetles (courtesy of the Agriculture Dept.) to do an experiment on fly control, something the island really needs, as lots of diseases are spread by these insects. This X-mas, Antoine reports, there was an epidemic of conjunctivitis on the island; he feels strongly about fly control since he was one of the victims.
Concerning this past Christmas on Rotuma Antoine reports: "The dance season was quite lively this Christmas, and people went out fara more as there were less 'mak fifis' (the Losa band's truck was mortgaged, one of the NBF scandal's victims!). The weather was also nice, and we often went fara until daylight. The fara season closed the day the Bulou ni Ceva left (10 Jan)."
From Janice and Tafo'ou Atalifo in Mt. Pleasant, Australia:
Janice and Tafo'ou sent a newspaper clipping of a picture of Rejieli Paulo, who gave a singing performance at a concert honouring Dame Nellie Melba, the famous opera singer. Home, Sweet Home, A Musical Tribute to Dame Nellie Melba, was organised to coincide with Melba's birthday and the unveiling of the new A$100 note which features her image.
Rejieli holds the Melba Memorial Conservatorium scholarship and performed some of Melba's classic arias. Her father is Rotuman; according to Janice and Tafo'ou he died in an industrial accident a couple of years ago. Her mother is Australian.
Vili Hereniko gave a talk entitled "Clowning and Comedy in Polynesia" on Sunday, January 26, 1997, at Border's Bookstore in Honolulu. He showed his documentary film on the han mane'ak su, and autographed copies of his recent book, Woven Gods: Female Clowns and Power in Rotuma. The event was well attended, despite being held on Superbowl Sunday.
Faga, wife of the late G/Kona' of Savlei, died suddenly on December 23rd, 1996.
Tuifaktoga, sister of G/Katoagtaumua of Paptea, died on January 14th, 1997, in Lopta, at the home of her sister, Akata.
Fiu, son of the late G/Suakmas of Pepjei, died on January 20th, 1997, as a result of a motorbike accident on Rotuma. He was 19 years old.
Born to Marieta Reid, daughter of Paul and Maria Dumas, a baby boy named Gabriel Simi. Maria is spending a couple of weeks in Utah to help care for her new grandson.