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The News

From Fiji Times (29 June 2024)

Loyal servant of Rotuma
Ms Tuapati chose the remote location and has never looked back

By Wata Shaw

Serana Tuapati

Becoming a teacher is not everybody's cup of tea, but with passion and willingness to serve, one can truly make a difference in a child's life.

With more than 20 years experience as an educator, Sereana Tuapati says her love for teaching has taken her to many classrooms across the country, even to the most remote school on the island of Rotuma.

Ms Tuapati is currently the principal of Rotuma High School – the only secondary school on the island.

Originally from Rewa with maternal links to Uto Village in Nadi, she has been teaching in Rotuma since 2017.

After accepting the post from the ministry of education seven years ago, Ms Tuapati has never looked back.

She said she took on the new challenges and moved to the island with her two sons.

"I'm a bit adventurous. To teach in the most remote school in Fiji was going to be a challenge but I said 'you know what? why not!," Ms Taupati shared with this newspaper.

"I teach geography, social science and history and because I did counselling and guidance, I became a school counsellor."

She said teaching in an environment where the local people did not speak your language language was challenging, however, she was able to learn the culture.

"I came here with my family, my two boys and they even attended Rotuma High School.

"Respect is very big here especially the children, I work well with the teachers.

Since a young adult, the former Adi Cakobau School student developed a strong desire to take up teaching.

She first began her teaching career at Gau Secondary School in 1998 and later moved to Dilkusha High School, Waidina Secondary and Mulomulo Secondary School.

"There were a lot of openings. Somehow I discovered this was something I was good at and passionate about as well," Mrs Tuapati said.

Despite its isolation, she said most Rotuman students at her high school were hardworking and moved to Viti Levu to pursue tertiary studies.

"We had two of our students that secured Chinese scholarships. They are currently in China.

She said one of her students was now studying medicine and others have been encouraged to take up vocations that were in demand.

"Every year we always make sure that we have students heading towards these fields (like teaching and nursing) because of the opportunities that will come after that and because they are in demand."

Retiring and settling down in Rotuma seem appealing, however, she thinks she has to carefully consider the idea as she wants to spend more time with her family back on the mainland.

She urges Fiji's youths to consider taking up the noble profession of teaching because of the role it plays in moulding the lives of children and communities.

"Teaching is a commitment to a lifelong of learning," Mrs Tuapati said.

"This is not everyone's cup of tea but if you discover you're good at it, then perhaps head towards fields that are in demand, like maths, physics, computer, industrial arts.

"Because not only will a job be waiting for you, but you will also have an opportunity to influence young minds to be responsible and productive citizens of the future."

From Fiji Times (25 June 2024)

Minister travels to the garden of the Pacific

By Ana Madigbuli

Sumi School students

Rotuma, situated 589km away from Fiji is known for its pristine natural beauty, sandy shores and clear sea.

The island has four primary schools and one secondary school that provides education to students of Rotuma.

The schools on the island are Malha’a Primary School, Paptea Primary School, Motusa District School, Christ the King Primary School and Rotuma High School.

This month the Education Minister, Aseri Radrodro, the Education permanent secretary, Selina Kuruleca and the Australian Deputy High Commissioner, Clair McNamara visited the island.

Not only did the officials meet with teachers and students on the island, according to a Government statement, they had the opportunity to distribute textbooks and assorted stationery to the schools.

During the visit, Mr Radrodro praised the teachers at Rotuma for their dedication.

“I would like to take this opportunity to thank you, teachers for your continued effort and commitment to the call of duty given to you by the Ministry of Education,” he said.

“I know you must miss life on Fiji, but your dedication to staying here and diligently performing your duties is commendable. Your role is truly a noble profession.”

Mr Radrodro while speaking to teachers and students also highlighted the importance of students’ learning abilities and the vital contribution of teachers and parents to the children’s education.

“The nurturing of children is not solely the responsibility of teachers; it is also the responsibility of parents and guardians. As they say, it takes a whole community or village to raise a child.

“The presence of parents in all the schools we visited shows the commitment that everyone has to the children.

“I hope this will mark the beginning of many visits to Rotuma to ensure that we address the needs of the school, the management, and the teachers here.

“We aim to improve the school facilities and infrastructure so that current and future students will be better prepared to become better citizens of Fiji.”

The special visit concluded with a talanoa session with all the teachers from the five schools at Malha’a District School.

The officials had travelled to Rotuma on board the Royal Australian Air Force C-27 Spartan aircraft.

From Fiji Broadcasting (19 June 2024)

Government supports Rotuma's autonomy

By Apenisa Waqairadovu

PM Sitivenis Rabuka

The people of Rotuma should decide for themselves their future and be governed by laws and systems that are in line with their own culture and tradition.

Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka expressed this sentiment while handing over a brand-new vehicle to the Rotuma Island Council.

The Prime Minister says this is the policy of the People's Coalition Government.

PM Sitivenis Rabuka

Rabuka says the consent of the people of Rotuma must be sought and freely given to changes that affect them, their institutions, their resources, and traditional appointment processes.

He adds that while he was in opposition, he joined the people of Rotuma in opposing the two Rotuma bills, which have been permanently shelved.

The Prime Minister says he is proud to have the office of Rotuma Affairs under his portfolio.

From Fiji Village (16 June 2024)

Fijian Youth Ambassador calls for empowerment of Rotuman women and youths at Pacific Arts Festival

By Navitalai Naivalurua

Rotuman group at Pacific Arts Festival

Broderick Mervyn, the Fijian Youth Ambassador-Designate, took centre stage at the 13th Festival of Pacific Arts and Culture in Hawaii, urging Pacific leaders to prioritize the empowerment of Rotuman women and youth.

Representing the voice of Fiji's youth, Mervyn highlighted the vital importance of the Rotuman people in preserving their unique cultural identity.

He says the Rotuman culture is a vibrant tapestry woven by the hands of its women and the dreams of its youth.

Mervyn says by providing platforms for their voices and opportunities for leadership, they invest in the future sustainability of this precious heritage.

In his address, Mervyn urged regional bodies like the Pacific Community (SPC) to allocate dedicated funding for capacity-building training and community projects that empower Rotuman women and youth.

He argued that these initiatives would equip them with skills to drive economic development while celebrating their cultural roots.

He says investing in the empowerment of Rotuman women and youth is not just a cultural imperative but an economic one and by unlocking their potential, we will unlock a wellspring of innovation and sustainable growth for our communities.

From Fiji Times (13 June 2024)

Termite infestation problem

By Wata Shaw

Teachers on Rotuma have raised their concerns on several issues ranging from formal land leasing, deteriorating infrastructure caused by termite infestation and climate change.

Education Minister Aseri Radrodro, permanent secretary Selina Kuruleca and a ministerial delegation visited the island on Wednesday to meet school heads from all five schools on the island.

Rotuma High School principal Serana Tuapati said the termite infestation was affecting buildings and teachers' living quarters.

"How we maintain our infrastructure depends on our grant but with our big buildings, that money is not enough," Ms Tuapati said.

"Termite infestation is an issue and much of the school is affected by this. One of our buildings that is badly infected is our admin block."

Ms Tuapati said the school was also seeking help in securing a formal lease to help upgrade its facilities.

"Usually, when we fill forms, there is a section on lease, and we are always at a disadvantage because we don't have a formal lease.

"We already have the agreement from the landowners, and it has been surveyed but maybe the Ministry of Education could just push a little bit so that it's formalised."

She said once a lease was formalised, the school could access development aid from countries such as Australia, New Zealand and Japan.

Teachers from the four primary schools expressed concern over the upgrading of the environment of learning for students and improving living quarters for teachers.

They said an issue was the need for sea walls along the coastline to slow down the effects of climate change which could affect the state of buildings.

The teachers also sought an increase in grants given to the schools to be used on operational costs, staff salaries and maintaining school facilities.

Mr Radrodro said the aim of the visit was to get feedback from teachers on how best the ministry could assist them.

He said the ministry would meet the Finance Ministry and submit the requests by schools in Fiji and Rotuma for consideration in the national budget.

From (12 June 2024)

'Never too late to learn' about your culture, young Fijian leader says

By Seni Iasona

Broderick Mervyn
Broderick Mervyn at Festival of Pacific Arts and Culture in Honolulu

It's never too late to learn about your Pacific culture and traditions, according to one young Fijian leader who is participating in the Young Pacific Leaders Forum at the 13th Festival of Pacific Arts and Culture.

Broderick Mervyn from the Fiji Islands, with links to the island of Rotuma, is focusing on how emerging leaders can develop solutions that impact their young people at home.

As he speaks with ABC Pacific, young leaders sit around tables behind him discussing the issues facing their and future generations.

"[We are] ensuring that our culture and heritage is maintained and lasts for future generations," he said.

"Some of the themes that have been coming off really strong is ensuring that we continually sustain our language and traditions. We're seeing a lot of young people not taking an interest in wanting to learn more about their language, their culture, their heritage.

"We feel like that is who we are. It helps us identify linkages in terms of our heritage and also ensures we know who we are and where we come from, because it plays a vital role in our everyday living."

He urged those who may be reluctant to step out of their comfort zone to "take ownership".

"Take leadership to learn about it. Because you're not doing it for yourself. You're doing it for your children and your children's children."

This FestPAC is Mr Mervyn's first, and although he says he is thrilled to attend, he doesn't want the people of the Pacific to wait until the next one to continue their hard work.

"We shouldn't wait until another FestPAC to continue this trend. I think we should be doing it every day, it's who we are," he said.

"It's one big happy family gathering and I'm loving every minute of it."

From Alan & Jan in Honolulu (11 June 2024)

Rotuman Groups Perform at 13th Festival of Pacific Arts & Culture in Honolulu

Dancers from the island of Rotuma were included in the Fiji delegation to the 2024 Festival of Pacific Arts and Culture held in Honolulu, Hawai'i. The Rotumans performed in the Kapiolani Park bandstand on Sunday, June 9, and again on Monday, June 10, in the Hawai'i Convention Center.

For an example, see video from the Fiji Government Facebook page:

Rotuman Contingent of Fiji Delegation to 2024 FestPac.jpg
Photo by Peter Mario

A Rotuman men's Dance Troupe Performs

Rotuman men's dance troupe

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