From Sanimeli Maraf in Rotuma (13 June 2000, posted 27 June)
The Methodist Rotuman Choir is preparing to go to the Conference being held at Viseisei, Vuda, this year, but due to the problems in Suva things don't look rosy.
In Rotuma at this moment Taraivina Costello is waiting for the return of the chairman of the Rotuma Council for her to put in front of the chiefs her four proposals:
These proposals are contingent on the council members signing the constitution of the Republic of Rotuma which was prepared by the DOM; no signatures, no help (so she said). She claims herself as a Rotuman and wants to come home. On Friday, 9th June, DOM representative and my cousin Henry visited Gagaj Maraf's residence with a kava (sevusevu) hoping to get Maraf's signature. After they both finished talking business-- "Sorry." Maraf is wiser than both of them put together. As for Henry, he still claims himself (king) Gagaj Sau Lagfatmaro. His followers still run around after him and he let the council know his intention for the council to build a museum so he can bring back all the Rotuman artifacts in the Fiji Museum and overseas to Rotuma. Henry's a good man but his followers are the ones that are exaggerating things, a high and mighty lot.
Noa'tau's conference is on 9 July; we're hoping to collect $7,000 on that day.
The Noa'tau Women's Project (vegie gardens) is doing well. Our advisor is Vamarasi Sitiveni, who was an agricultural headman at the Koroniva Research Station before retiring.
P.S. Please, to any overseas Rotumans who send nasty words to Taraivina's website on the internet, there's no need for that.
From Fiji Times, courtesy of Marlon Isimeli (27 June 2000)
Fuata Eyes Para-Olympics
Fuata Faktaufon hopes to run under 11 seconds in the blue ribbon event at the Para-Olympic Games in Sydney in October.
He is one of the three disabled athletes from Fiji who have qualified for the Games.
Faktaufon qualified after recording 11.07 seconds in the 100 metres in the Far East Disabled Games in Bangkok, Thailand, last year. He started preparing in 1998 under coach Joji Liga of the Sports Development Unit.
"He is very committed to his training, keen and hardworking," Liga said.
The New Zealand and the Australian High Commissions co-sponsored his sports gear and outfit worth over $1000.
"I thank the two countries for their support."
"I promise to do my best in the Sydney Games," Faktaufon said.
Liga said that Faktaufon was mindful of the political crisis but hopes his dream of winning a first Olympic medal for his country would be shattered by any ban on Fiji sports people.
Faktaufon competes in the 100m,200m and long jump while
the other two athletes compete in the field events and Judo.
From Various News Services (25 June 2000)
It was with great relief that Rotumans everywhere greeted the news that Marieta Rigamoto, along with three other women hostages, was released by the leaders of the coup. Marieta was the Rotuman Representative to the Fiji Legislature and Assistant Minister for Agriculture in the Chaudhry government. On Sunday, she attended the early morning chruch service at Churchward Chapel and gave a word of thanks.
Bruce Tizard-Varcoe informs us that his mother (Lorraine Rigamoto) spoke to Marieta by telephone following her release and that she sounded okay.
For photos and more coverage see BBC report.
From Yvonne Aitu in Suva (15 June 2000)
Visanti Makrava made an announcement on the radio (Fiji Islands Bula Network 100FM 9:00AM) this morning as chairman of the Rotuma Island Council asking Rotumans to just remain observers and take precautions during this time of crisis here in Fiji, Visanti mentioned that Rotuma doesn't have sufficient resources on the island and as a minority population in Fiji, the common sense thing to do is to wait and see how things work out.
From Sanimeli Maraf in Rotuma (18 May 2000, posted 2 June)
Our Rotuma Day celebration was held for two days. The first day, Friday the 12th of May, was set aside for children's sports, the agricultural show, and the ladies handicraft show. On the second day the results were announced and the women baked for morning tea. The Rotuma Council invited the old people over 75 years of age and ex-service men (soldiers), and handed out medals to the brothers from Itu'muta, Samo and Alfreti. to Gagaj Titofag and Sokra'a Motofaga of Losa. Opta'ia and Tafaki Manueli from Noa'tau were also honoured but didn't attend the ceremony. and Kaurasi Inoke was in Fiji. I think there were some others who were unable to attend.
It was lovely to have the old people as honoured guests for the Rotuma Day celebration sitting on the pavillion, being served morning tea and lunch. They were also provided transport. They thanked the Council with all their hearts.
Ecotourism is now being discussed at the Council.
The people from Pepjei district are preparing for the opening of the coconut grating mill; the building is now finished and they are waiting for the grating machine to arrive by the next boat. The Minister will be coming to open the Pepjei Coconut Grating Project.
The arrival of the karate man (Henry Gibson)....He wrote that he wants the Council to recognize him as Gagaj Sau Lagfatmaro and he has written to all the chiefs that he wants the Fiji Museum to send him all the [Rotuman] artifacts they have.
The Rotuma Council will meet next week on these subjects.
The Rotuma Council, and Gagaj Maraf, do not recognize Henry Gibson's hul asa to Jao Andrea to take the title Kausakmua--only his clan accepts it, not the Rotuma Council or Noa'tau district because Gagaj Maraf did not perform the ceremony. So far Henry has not shown up to meet Gagaj Maraf nor has he involved himself in community work. The Noa'tau people are working on the community hall and hope to open it in December. [For a response to this posting, by Gagaj Sau Lagfatmaro's chief security officer in Sydney, see the Rotuman Forum.]
To all my friends---if you want relaxation and fresh air, Rotuma is the place!