From Sanimeli Maraf in Rotuma (12-18 January 2005, posted 26 February)
(12 January) Yesterday the last of the overseas visitors boarded their ship, the Suni Wasa, at Hapmafau.The Lalavi Band group was among them, plus many others who visited Rotuma for the holidays. Before that the weather prevented the Cagi Mai Ba from berthing at Oinafa, so the boat had to go to Hapmafau to unload.The next day she came to Oinafa wharf to berth alongside. You can imagine how difficult the work was because of the bad seas. Two cars had to be sent back to Suva, but the ramp could not be used.
Now every village is so quiet. We noticed that although the holiday time was extended for another week (8 - 15 January), because of the visitors, out young kids are still doing fara locally if the weather is clear at night.
The Oinafa Circuit made a farewell kato'aga for Rev Voi Taukave and his family. They're going to Vatulele Island, and he will be replaced here by a Fijian minister. Reverend Atalifo from the Motusa Circuit will go to Deuba and Rev Irava Fatiaki will replace him. Malhaha will have a school-lady minister whom I haven't met yet.
At Motusa Primary School they will have a new head: Master Aisea Olsen. He and his family arrived on the Cagi Mai Ba on Tuesday. They're at Itu'muta at his wife's side of the family. I guess his parents, Sarote and Kafoa Olsen, are happy that Aisea is here at long last. The mamasa was held yesterday at Unu, Itu'muta.
We went yesterday to watch the ship at Hapmafau. It could only anchor there, not at the wharf at Oinafa. There were five launches going back and forth taking luggage from the beach to the ship. Kids were swimming around. We noticed Dr John Fatiaki helping out in his flash boat. It was a nice day and seeing this big ship just beyond the reef in deep blue water, with white clouds hanging over while a light breeze of fresh air blew in that you could feel on your face. Then there was the beach full of men helping to carry bags of goodies and the visitors' belongings--it made us realise how lucky we are here in Rotuma while other countries experienced the tragedy of the tsunami. We thank God that we're safe in his care in this little island of Rotuma.
There were so many Rotumans visiting this Christmas. Our Noa'tau fara took Rev Voi and his family around the island. They returned with plenty of goodies and cash given to them to take home.
(18 January) Our new District Officer is Jovesa Vocea, who is also a fa maraga. His wife, Vocea, is working in the office replacing Lisi, who is retired. They are a nice young couple with school-age children.
The chiefs met with the D.O. today and I believe they discussed reviving some of the traditions and customs that have lapsed, for example, the chief with his faufisi will meet at quarterly meetings (every three months) just on their own, but the development committee matas will meet with the D.O. and the heads of departments will meet by themselves, and the decisions will be submitted to the chiefs for approval.
Each district will supply names of their ton heta, momoa het, fu mara' heta, etc., etc. and with the chief's approval and blessings, he will give an intended married couple a letter to give to the D.O. Without that, a couple will not be able to have a Rotuman custom style of wedding. There are other things to be brought back so we can revive our customs.
They have yet to choose a chairman for the Rotuma Council to replace Visanti Makrava. We need a God-fearing person.
As school starts next week the Paptea School had a working bee today; it was nice to see the grounds so tidy and clean.
At Saione Church we are still waiting to meet our new minister who will replace Voi Taukave. Prayer meetings are scheduled every day at 4:30 a.m. for one hour.
From Itu Pita in Canton, Michigan, USA (15 February 2005)
It is with great sorrow that I announce the passing of my mother, Seini Tonu Kitione, of Nadi, Fiji on 4 February 2005. Mom had a sudden and massive stroke which took her very quickly. Susan Wesley helped us to make travel arrangements so that I was able to be there in time for the funeral, for which I am truly grateful. Funeral services were held in Lautoka on Monday, 7 February, with her burial taking place immediately following the funeral. The church was packed to capacity and overflowing, which was a testament of how much Mom was loved in life. Our family thanks all who have shown their support to us during this time. We will never be able to express our gratitude to Peter, Susana, and all those who volunteered to help them, for the delicious meals they prepared and served throughout the week. Special thanks go out to the Rotuman communities in Lautoka and Nadi for all their help and kindness. They helped to make the services truly special and decorated her grave so beautifully.
Mom was a beloved grandmother and all of her grandchildren will miss her dearly. Deep gratitude goes to her son-in-law, Voi Garisau, and daughter-in-laws Tima Eliasa, Daphne Kamoe, Julie Pita, and Margie Mua for all the love they have shown to Mom over the years. Mom lived a full life. She enjoyed traveling and was able to visit her brother Fonmanu and family in New Zealand, her sister Martoa and family in Australia, and came many times to visit us here in the United States, with her last visit being just this past summer. During this trip we were able to celebrate her 70th birthday, honoring her with a party attended by friends and family, including our small Rotuman community here in Michigan: Jim and Sela McNally & family; Dick and Motu Johnston & family; Dan and Maggie Smith & family. I would like to thank my wife Julie Pita for making mom’s 70th birthday such a success and making my mother so happy. Mom was a devoted Christian and loved serving the Lord. Her warm smile, gentle laugh, and kind heart touched all those who knew her. Mom will be greatly missed.
From Sydney Malo in Suva (7 February 2005)
These are the Taf'aga men racing in the open men category in Rarotonga on 26 November 2004. This race was an open-ocean, round-the-island changeover race amounting to 40km in which our men completed in two-and-a-half hours, only 16 minutes behind the lead canoe. It was a good personal best for the club, based at the Royal Suva Yacht Club.
In this type of canoe marathon, 2 or 3 paddlers jump out of the speeding canoe while relief/replacement paddlers climb in and this is repeated every 15 to 20 minutes until the race is over. A support boat trails close by to supply refreshments and shelter the crew. On this particular day, 14 support boats were out at sea creating havoc and white-water for the canoes and paddlers -- the steerers had a field day.
Earlier on in the week were single canoe relays, an 18km ironman race in which there are no changeovers and sprints over 500 and 1000 meters -- seven days of island paddling, breath-taking views, and wonderful hospitality.
The Rotumans who paddled in this Championship were: Fereti Atalifo (Oinafa), Francis Jione (Pepjei), and Rigamoto Taito (Malhaha). The non-Rotumans were Delano Chute, Savenaca Ledua, Meleti Saurara, Christopher Robbins, and Wayne Houng-Lee.
Founding members were: Francis Jione, Jacob Uruvaru, Aisea Mateo, Joeli Fatiaki, Sidney Malo, Lui Mario, and Pasirio Furivai, who first established Taf'aga Outrigger Canoe Club late in 1997 in an effort to recruit Rotuman youths into a sport that was born right here in the Pacific. In 1998, TOCC was setting national records in the 500m and was the platform that boosted outrigger canoeing in Fiji to greater heights. It is our hope and vision that young Rotumans and non-Rotumans alike will be interested and keen enough to join, and enjoy this minority sport here in Fiji.
If there are young interested individuals out there wishing to take up canoeing, please do not hesitate to call Katarina or Sidney at 336 1327 or 995 5425, or e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org