From Elisapeti Inia on Rotuma (February 27, 1997)
The "supermarket" at the Post Office in Ahau has been extended to hold a bigger shop and everything is sold there now. It was opened on February 26. Elisapeti writes that the opening: "saddens a lot of shop owners in Rotuma," and that "even the Rotuma Council at first didn't like it, and Vamarasi George had to go to several meetings to talk to them and made them agree with the P & T. The NBF Branch in Rotuma closed at the end of January and the P & T deals with money withdrawals from Bank Pass Books. During the last two weeks the P & T refused to give out money to the people, including the teachers' salaries because a few shop owners wrote a letter of complaint to Fiji. The P & T people say--no shop here in Rotuma, no mail, no telephone, no withdrawals of money. That's why the shop expanded at last."
An outbreak of dengue fever during the last two weeks of February has caused several deaths on the island, aspecially among elderly and middle-aged people. As of 27 February there were still a few cases at the hospital in Ahau; among them is Kemueli of Lopta.
Makrao Faktaufon of Suva was taken ill while on holiday in Rotuma and was flown to Fiji where he died on February 15.
From Manuie Vilsoni on Rotuma (February 4, 1997)
The Post Shop at Ahau is doing a roaring trade. The shop is now the second largest earner amongst the chain of Post Shops in Fiji, being surpassed only by the main shop in Suva.
The price of oil has risen; kerosene, for example, is up 7 cents per litre.
Maniue writes that: "Our school community works every Tuesday renovating the classrooms. They have given the school buildings a new paint job, tiled the infant class and engaged in general repairs. I am very happy with the enthusiasm shown by the community at large regarding the education of their children. Hopefully this trend will last. I think the high school results [of the Fiji Junior exams] made parents take note of the importance of education."
Maniue has received an in-service scholarship to USP to pursue a B.A. degree. He is now in Suva; his wife, Vika will remain in Ahau as head sister for another year.
From Sanimeli Maraf on Rotuma (February 9, 1997)
"The Fletcher Bible College is now opened. Gagaj Maraf teaches bookkeeping/accounting and music on Mondays and Tuesdays. V. Makrava teaches leadership & management, Harieta Katafono teaches English, Elizabeth Inia custom and culture. Rev. Fatiaki's son teaches theology and New Testament; the other minister teaches the Old Testament and church history."
From Antoine N'Yeurt in Suva (February 21, 1997)
"The Mobil Oil depot was officially opened on Thursday 20 February, by the President of Fiji, Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara, and Mobil general Manager David Robinson. Ratu Mara said the depot meant accessibility to an endless supply of petrol for the islanders, and they will be able to 'enjoy all benefits of civilization in every home around the island.' 'Living standards will improve, and adequate fuel will see Rotuma through many developments.' 'The most significant revolution was the invention of wheels which has had an impact to our life as transportation,' he said.
Mr Robinson says the tanks will be refilled four times a year, and that they have reviewed the economic side of the venture as 'viable' and the depot 'will be here for years to come.' However, in the same article, Rotuma District Councillor Aisea Atalifo is quoted as saying that vehicles in Rotuma cannot be repaired because of infrequent shipping to transfer the vehicles to Fiji.
In today's TV news, there was a short item about the official opening of the Mobil Oil complex in Motusa. Apparently officials from Mobil and a Government minister flew to the island, and a tautoga and feast was held for them. The brief footage showed a dance in a shed (possibly at Motusa), and pictures of the tanks and the three bowsers (gas pumps) at the old RCA store in Motusa."
Antoine adds that "It is interesting to note that no mention whatsoever was made of safety concerns or fears of pollution and environmental damage."
In other news, Antoine and two other people (from Fisheries, and UNDP / FAO Aquaculture Project) flew to Rotuma on Tuesday 25 February, to set up more cages for the lumu farm. Early results are quite encouraging, and they hope to demonstrate the feasibility of commercially farming this seaweed for income by Rotuman families.
Antoine has also been given about 700 dung beetles by the Agriculture Department, to try and establish them on Rotuma in a bid to control the fly population by biological means. The weather on the island has been dry and hot, and is favourable to the beetles, according to the chief entomologist at Koronivia Station. They say that we should be able tonotice some effects within 6 to 9 months, if the beetles manage to establish successfully.
From Savika Oakley in Auckland (February 14, 1997)
Savika writes that "on Friday nights we have the 'Rot Kaunohoga,' then in the middle of the week the 'rot hani' (women's prayer group), then the 'taumak rotu' (church singing group). We have church three times a month in Auckland."
From the Minutes of the Auckland Rotuma Fellowship Meeting, December 14, 1996:
Voi Muaror was elected Chairman for 1997, with Rigamoto Langi as Assistant Chairperson. Savika Oakley was elected Secretary, with Rejieli Langi as Assistant.
The New Zealand Rotumans are planning a visit to Rotuma in December 1998.
From Hawai'i (February 15, 1997)
The Rotuman Association of Hawai'i decided to postpone their visit to Rotuma, originally scheduled for July, 1998, until the year 2000.
The Association is planning a campout over the Memorial Day holiday at the end of May.