From Sanimeli Maraf in Rotuma (9 May 2002, posted 29 May)
The Bula ni Ceva arrived this morning and left at 3 p.m. It brought the following passengers: Rev & Mrs Jione Langi (the General Secretary for the Methodist Church in Fiji and Rotuma), Rev & Mrs Mataere Muaroro (Davuilevu Theological College), Rev & Mrs Raki Tigarea (Davuilevu YPD) together with their son Master Jason Tigarea, Deaconess Olovia Nataniela (Dilkusha Home), Mr Sausemolia Fonman (Wesley Church), Mrs Mali Broadbridge (Butt Street), Mrs Koroi, Mrs Marie Stevan, and Tirotuma Solomone.
They joined Churchward Chapel members Rev Samuela Pili Isimeli and Mrs Makareta Isimeli and other members who hold positions in different Suva Methodist members groups. Altogether about 65 people came to Rotuma to celebrate togetherness in combining the two divisions. We have four circuits: Motusa, Malhaha, Oinafa, and Wesley Churchward. All have been put under one Division to the Conference in Fiji, yearly represented by the few selected Rotumans.
It was a jolly good thing; a good celebration here in Faioa, Noa'tau, honouring Rev Langi for the position he holds as General Secretary. Let's hope that one day he will be made President for the whole organization. It was good to catch up with him and his wife, Rigamoto. May God bless their days ahead.
The celebrations were highlighted by a tautoga danced by Itutiu after a church service at Saione Church. It was good to see everyone enjoy themselves. A feast was served first (sik fon) to all the friends visiting from Fiji together with our elders here in Rotuma. Luckily Gagaj Maraf was able to attend even though the plane was fully booked; Rev Langi made his seat available and took the boat instead. It was lovely to see so many new faces. Everyone feels good about the purpose of the celebration.
The tauna ne fau takes place once a year. Sometimes it took 3-4 days and we were billeted out. This year was hosted by Itumuta and Losa. The ones at Losa travelled up & down to church at Kioa, Itumuta, where all meetings were held. We stayed at Sauväea with Lia and Vafoou together with our fa huai Sokraa Motofaga and his wife Makereta. The two families combined (Fonmanu & Rosarina, Emeli & Jione from the back). We admired how well behaved the children were during our family prayer meetings. They are so cute. May God bless them all.
The celebration will be held in Rotuma again next year and will combine the tauna ne fau and the katoag ne Rot Uasele la ao selen to kill two birds with one stone.Noatau will host the katoaga and taunai, so let's hope that next year God will give us many blessings. We welcome you with open arms. Airotak ne os mauri la roa. "Aitu ma Is." It will take a week, I guess.
Our Rotuma Day celebrations will be held at Oinafa. The Minister for Works, Savenasa Draunidalo, arrives together with Asst. Minister Marieta Rigamoto by boat on Monday, May 13th to open the Oinafa wharf extensions after the celebrations. The boat leaves again for Suva so it's only a one day affair. It was agreed by the elders (chiefs) to open the wharf first, then to futiag matini in Motusa where the celebration takes place every year at the Cession Memorial. Then on to Ahau where the events will take place. There will be baby shows, women's handicraft, Rotuman style wrestling (hula), tiak parafta, coconut basket weaving, cutting up coconuts (suk niu), etc., etc. The 75-year-olds and up will be waited on for morning tea and lunch. They will sit up on the pavilion to watch the games, including volleyball. I know they like watching the ball games and hope they will enjoy a relaxing day.
God bless you all.
Congratulations to Pam Tanu, who graduated from Minot State University, Bottineau (North Dakota) in the field of Advanced Medical Transcription. She will begin freelance work doing medical transcription from her own office at home. Pam completed this two-year course in only one year.
From Lisa Ete in Samoa (22 May, posted 29 May)
Firstly, I wish to convey my heart-felt condolences to my Uncle John Inia and cousins, Ruth and Fiona, on the passing away of my dearest aunt and late father's sister, Fiu Inia (nee Hanfakaga) in Suva. All our thoughts and prayers are with you during this painful period.
On a lighter note, its been wonderful catching up with Rupeni Mario (SOPAC) again. Rupeni was here for two weeks to conduct an energy-audit of all the UN offices here in Apia. On the evening Shinn and I took Rupeni out for dinner, we had a "pleasant shock" when we met up with another kainagaMaureen Penjueli (Greenpeace) and her entourage. Maureen was here to attend an environmental workshop at SPREP. It was thoroughly enjoyable meeting up with former USP graduates and lecturers Dr Bill Aalbersburg, Dr John Morrison, Eleni at al.
Rupeni's farewell was at John Sagaitu Sufie's home at Alafua. John is from Faguta in Rotuma but has been living here in Samoa for about 20 yrs now. He is married to a Samoan, Tupu, who works at UNESCO and they have one son. We were also joined by Desmond Ah Ben, another former Fiji resident. Desmond kept us entertained through the night as he reminisced about the past, especially his fond memories of my flamboyant grand-aunt, Resina Wong.
John and I look forward to hearing from anyone of our global kainaga when they are in Apia.
Soifua and fu amus.
From Bruce Richmond (19 May 2002, posted 28 May)
Rotuma Day 2002 in the San Francisco Bay Area
This years' Bay Area Rotuma Day celebration was held at Lawson Hall in Brisbane, just south of San Francisco. The Seven Stars Club organized the food and entertainment for family, friends, and guests attending the celebration. Visitors from Hawaii (Ben Kamilo), Nevada (Bill and Emily Hay), and the Los Angeles area (including Leilani Bennett, Bridgette and Jione Versoni, Kapani Foraete, Lusia (Ferei) and Husband George and their four lovely daughters) made the trip to celebrate with over 100 party goers. Bay Area guests included members of the local Fijian and Indian community. The opening prayer was delivered by Sikuri Semesi who is visiting California from Rotuma.
The usual selection of island food was available including koua pork, taro, sweet potatoes, roast chicken, curry chicken/lamb, corned beef, fish, green salad and of course dessert, fekei (mara ma 'a'ana), cake and watermelon.
From Daily Post (19 May 2002, posted 28 May)
Rotuma Day celebration
About $10,000 raised during the Rotuma Day celebrations in Suva yesterday will go towards acquiring a much needed boat for the island.
Rotumans from all over the country converged at the National Gymnasium to dance, feast and discuss ways in which to better living standards of islanders.
Paul Vaurasi, chairman of this year's host village, Oinafa, said the event was a success and that over 3000 people turned up for festivities.
"We are trying to collect money for some development projects that are in the pipeline, said Mr Vaurasi.
"Since we lost our boat, the Wairua, the people of Rotuma have been wanting a boat of their own and the money generated from todays celebrations will go towards that and the construction of a gathering hall on the island or in Fiji, he added.
Each of the seven districts on Rotuma represented at the celebrations donated over $1000 and organised separate koaus or lovo. Chief guest was Oinafa chief, Gagaj Kaucsiraf, who donated $1000.
Men, women and children participated in elaborate dance routines while food was in abundance.
Rotuma Day is an annual event that celebrates the tiny islands [cession to] Britain in 1881.
(28 May, 2000) More Congratulations!
To: Emmanuel and Andrew Konrote, who have both qualified as commercial pilots and are "clocking up" the hours before completing the final phase (airline transport pilots licence) of their flight training at the National Aerospace Training flight school in Essendon airport, Melbourne.
and to: Mari Sievinen, daughter of Tiva and Richard Sievinen, who received an A.S. degree in Business Administration and Management from Indian River Community College in Ft. Pierce, Florida.
From Arnold Jacob in Lautoka (15 May 2002) May 13 on the calendar is a day some may not take note of; however, the Rotuman community here in Lautoka have always celebrated the day. Rotuma Day, as many may call it, was marked by a dinner organized by Kikorio & Marieta Ralifo together with the Oinafa community. Unlike previous years where each itu'u entertained everyone with their tautoga, this year we were hosted to dinner by the Oinafa community. Oinafa, who held the chairmanship for the itu' hifu here in Lautoka since May 2001, have now handed the same to Ravai & Mari Fonmoa and the Itu'tiu community.
Whilst the various itu'u continue to meet and discuss issues relevant to their respective itu'u, it is anticipated that Itu'tiu will continue to focus on promoting unity amongst Rotumans and the need to retain our traditions at all levels.
Also here in Lautoka, Itu'muta Day is set for Saturday May 18.
To all Rotumans and friends around the globe, we wish you well in your endouvors.
May God bless Rotuma.
From the Fiji Times (14 May 2002)
Rotuma land law for review
CHIEFS and the people of Rotuma would be fully consulted in the review of the Rotuma Land Act.
Assistant Minister for Works, Simione Kaitani assured the people on the island of the Government's commitment towards them in light of the contributions made by Rotumans to the development of this country.
He made the comments while opening the Oinafa jetty on the island yesterday. The opening of the $350,000 jetty preceded the Rotuma Day celebrations on the island.
"Your rights as indigenous citizens of Fiji are enshrined in the Constitution as reflected in the preamble to the Constitution when it refers to the indigenous Fijians and Rotuman people,'' Mr Kaitani said.
He said the Government has allocated $28million to fund the blueprint programme and out of the 29 programmes in the Social Justice Bill, 10 are for Fijians and Rotumans.
He added since Cabinet has approved a review of the Rotuma Land Act, very wide consultations amongst the Rotuman community would be carried out during the review. "I want to assure the chiefs and people of Rotuma that the review process will fully reflect your views and wishes and the Council of Rotuma will be fully consulted before the review is finalised.''
On Rotuma Day celebration, Mr Kaitani said it was important because reminded people of their origins, their forefathers and what they believed in.
He said too often in the hustle and bustle of daily existence, people set aside ethnic values as old fashioned in favour of foreign cultural practices that focus less on the communal values so important to us. But he added that we must accept new ideas and ways of doing things that are beneficial to our society.
Editorial from Fiji Times (14 May 2002)
Rotuma land rows
THE review of the Rotuma Land Act is long overdue.
That previous Governments have failed to address this important legislation is nothing short of outrageous. They should be held responsible for neglecting a very important legislation which has been blamed for numerous land disputes on the island.
Because there is no clear documentation of land ownership, inter-family and intra-community rows over who owns what are all too common.
There is no land administrative body on Rotuma such as the Native Land Trust Board looking after native land in Fiji.
For a start, a Rotuma Land Commission structured like the NLTB should be set up to look after land on Rotuma and its ownership.
It should also hear land disputes. The islanders have for ages learned to make the best use of a land so rich and fertile and the surrounding seas so bountiful in marine resources.
This is despite its isolation and the associated communication problems they have faced for years. Land is so central to their lives and the islanders deserve to have legislation in place to clearly define its ownership.
And in carrying out the review it is important that the Act reflect the wishes of the people and the culture they treasure so dearly.
The review should seek the views of not only those who live on the island but also those of their families working in the towns and cities in Fiji.
It is pointless introducing legislation alien to the people when it does not agree with their way of life. Like other Pacific islanders, Rotumans are proud of their culture and would not want that changed. It's all too easy for governments to forget that small dot in the ocean somewhere north of Fiji. The Rotuman Land Act is a clear example of how the welfare and affairs of the islanders have been neglected for too long.
Rotumans have contributed to the economic and social development of the country. Many have held top positions in private and public institutions.
They are very much part of the country no matter how far away from Suva they may be. It is important that they be given the recognition and attention they deserve and not be neglected anymore.
From Daily Post (6 May 2002)
From lawman to priest
About 20 years ago when Kaituu Eliesa was in primary school, he thought about becoming a priest. What he did not know was that twenty years down the road he [would] actually be one. "I never thought that I would come this far."
Today, after giving up a career as a special constable in the Police force for six years, 31-year-old Eliesa has now achieved his goal. He resigned from his job in 1994 and studied for 9 years at the Pacific Regional Seminary. In November 2001 he finally received his degree.
Eliesa said that his inspiration came from living with Jose Koyikal, a priest from India. "He had a passion for helping the people of Nausori."
He added that seeing Jose work so hard for the people made a huge impression on him.
Elisea said that he does not know which congregation he will join, and is awaiting the news eagerly. Yesterday he conducted his first mass in front of a congregation of over 170 people.
"I sacrificed to do what I always wanted to do and I dont think that its in any way a big deal.
"I just want to see how far I can go with this new work of mine." The message that he wanted to give to all the people was that everyone should believe in themselves.
"They must try to see the image of God in themselves."
From Rejieli Clayton & Rowena Langi in Sydney (3 May 2002)
The Drummoyne Rotuman Congregation (Sydney, Australia) hosted an "Indian Night" fundraiser on Saturday, 13 April 2002, at Drummoyne's "Taj Mahal" (aka Uniting Church Hall). Guests, family members, and friends were greeted at the door by our hosts, Lillian Pene, Steve Walker, and George Pene, and given an Indian name for the night.
It was a night of colourful attire. The high-spirited guests, some of whom were dressed in the spirit of the occasion, together with the Drummoyne congregation members in their various Indian outfits (sari, salwa kameez, lehnga, choli, odhni, turbans, and tikha), not forgetting the jingling of bangles, anklets, and earrings, added spice to the evening.
All enjoyed the delicious menu which consisted of;
The Lahrakis of Calcutta presented a brief floor show, complimentary hampers (lucky door Indian names) were given away, and all-in-all everyone enjoyed the evening. An amount of $2,500 was raised on the night. A big faiaksea to one and all for your support in making it a most enjoyable and successful evening. Far'ak la Gagaja la alalum'ak te' ne aus 'otomis kainaga. God Bless.
From Sanimeli Maraf in Rotuma (19 April 2002, posted 1 May)
At Noa'tau this week, we're busy with preparations at Faioa--erecting a ri hapa and cleaning up the compound in readyness for the kato'aga ne rotu on Saturday, 27 April. This is the first time the Rotuman church people from Fiji are coming over to spend tauna' ne fau in Rotuma with us. Itu'muta and Losa are hosting the meeting from 30 April till 3 May. There are about 50 or more coming by boat and by air, including four ministers and their wives and Deaconess Olovia. Itu'muta and Losa will host members of the Oinafa and Malhaha circuits as well as the visitors from Fiji, so they are busy making preparations. I believe it will be Noa'tau's turn to host the meeting next year (faia ran ta).
When the boat arrives on Friday, 26 April, the visitors will go to their respective families and on Saturday the kato'aga will be at Faioa church compound in Noa'tau. There will be a special päega for Rev Langi because he holds the high position of General Secretary in the Methodist Church of Fiji and Rotuma. Utu fa' Motusa will dance the Rotuman dance Utu te Mua. Oinafa circuit will feed the kato'aga.
We have three young ladies from Malhaha High School flying to Suva on 27 April to participate in a conference sponsored by the World Health Organization (WHO) on children's rights. They will be staying at a hotel and we all wish them luck. I believe this is the first time that high school students have taken such a trip. The young ladies are: Sapeta Taito from Malhaha, daughter of Jioje & Mua Taito of Farema; Amy Taukave of Noa'tau, daughter of Rev Vai and Mrs Taukave; and Sue Mani of Noa'tau, daughter of Rupeti and Marseu Mani.
Our Rotuma Day celebration is being planned by the Rotuma Council. They're hoping that the wharf will be ready on time so we can celebrate the two events together. The Council is hoping that the Minister of Works, Mr Savenaca Draunidalo, will open the wharf.
Our seashore in the early mornings are now all lined up by school children casting their lines to catch ka'iri for their lunch. Others go over to the wharf in Oinafa to fish there. The children go fishing after school, too.
Our local fishermen, and the boys, have been catching plenty of fish because they know the best spots to fish. They're selling red snapper fo $4.50/kg. You can spend $20-30 for just one! I've seen red cod, rona, and other deep sea fish.
The price of copra at Punja & Son in Suva is now $400 per ton. Our local buyer here in Rotuma pays $250. Now some copra processors prefer to send their copra directly to Punja & Son. If I remember correctly, at one point the price went up to $600 per ton and that was good. If you cut 10 baskets of copra you can make $100 in half a day.
From Hanuarani Atalifo in Rotuma (18 April 2002, posted 1 May)
Rotuma hospital is still awaiting the container from the Church of Latter Day Saints, which is still in Suva. We are hoping it will be loaded on the next government vessel. Elder Wannamaker and Elder Vui-Kadavu will be presenting the gifts to the hospital when it arrives.
The wharf is in its final stages of renovation and the men are looking forward to returning to their loved ones.
Our thanks to Paul and Matalena Dumas and members of the Tefui Club for their never-ending donations to the hospital. A cheque of US$400 has just arrived.
To Marie Dickinson & Kafi Muaror, to Jan Ward and all our lovely friends in Australia, please give us your helping hands; the hospital is desparately in need of an emergency generator. We need about $10,000 to get a good one that can run the machines and necessary equipment. Kind donors can address cheques to: The Chairperson, Rotuma Hospital Board of Visitors, Rotuma, P.O. Box 54, FIJI.
To Ravai Rennell in Auckland: We have now received a message from the agent in Suva that the goods from New Zealand have arrived. We have asked Dr Alefaio at the Ministry of Health to pick them up. We await their arrival. Thank you so much. Please convey our appreciation to our Rotuman brothers and sisters in Auckland, and our love to Voi, Doreen, and Fiu.