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This page is for posting information about Rotuman communities anywhere in the world. If you have news about past or upcoming events, or happenings of special interest to members of the Rotuman community, please send the information via email to <ahoward@hawaii.edu> for posting. Postings can be either in Rotuman or English. We also invite commentaries about news stories. Sports news can be found at http://www.rotuma.net/sports/ Announcements of births, marriages, graduations and other life events can be found at http://www.rotuma.net/life_events

The News


From Cook Islands News (25 May 2024)

'It takes a village': Rotumans in Rarotonga unite to keep culture alive

by Solomone Taukei |

Rotumans in Rarotonga

The Rotuman community in Rarotonga recently celebrated Rotuma Day, marking the anniversary of the island's cession to Great Britain on May 13, 1881.

According to Wikipedia, Rotumans are a Polynesian ethnic group native to Rotuma, an island group forming part of Fiji.

This annual Rotuma Day celebration is crucial for preserving the culture, especially for the younger generation.

With only four elders remaining in Rarotonga, the risk of cultural loss is significant if steps are not taken to revive and maintain Rotuman traditions.

The event featured cultural dances performed by children, many of whom are part Rotuman and have never visited Rotuma, at the Panama Hall.

"Having our children showcase our cultural dance here in Rarotonga is a step forward for our community," said community member Dorinda Sitiveni.

She emphasised the importance of these performances in keeping the culture alive.

Beyond dance, other cultural aspects like weaving and agriculture need revival, the organisers said. Efforts in Rotuma include integrating these traditions into fashion shows to sustain families.

The community's dedication was evident in the organisation of Rotuma Day, with special thanks to culture leader Zennarose Jessica Pene for her commitment, the elders for their support, and parents for bringing their children to practice.

The celebration demonstrated the community's collective effort in preserving their heritage.

"They say it takes a village to raise a child, and our community has excelled in putting together a beautiful occasion for generations to come. Noa'ia 'e Hanisi," Sitiveni said


From Fiji Times (19 May 2024)

Rotuma Day celebration

Pepjei Dancers on Rotuma Day in Suva

Rotumans of all age groups numbering more than 1000 convened at the Vodafone Arena in Suva yesterday to celebrate Rotuma Day.

Fiji Rotuma Association (FRA) chairman Victor Fatiaki said preserving the Rotuman language and traditions was vital in keeping the culture alive.

“We are a minority race with a population of only 20,000 people,” Mr Fatiaki said.

“We would like to continue our culture and train our young people so they will learn the traditions.

“A good example is the language, most of the Rotumans don’t speak the native language.”

He said the association had signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Council of Rotuma and also launched its official website yesterday.

“Even though we are away from our home for a long time, but our hearts, mind and soul is in Rotuma.

“So that is why Rotuma Day celebration. We are very thankful to everyone that attended.”


From Fiji Village (18 May 2024)

Rotuma Day celebration is more than just remembrance but showcasing significance of culture – Faktaufon

ByMosese Raqio

Rotuman dancers

The celebration of Rotuma day is not only about the remembrance of when Rotuma was ceded to Great Britain but also a day where we come together to showcase our culture and also teach the younger generations about the importance of their culture.

This was highlighted by the leader of the Motusa group and Ituitu district representative Varamasi Faktaufon, during the Rotuma Day celebration held at the Vodafone Arena in Suva today.

Faktaufon says there was a slight change to this year's event as they celebrated the event for one whole week and they get to have different districts around Suva coming together to showcase their talents as well.

He says this does not only include the dances and performances, but also the showcasing of handicraft skills

Young Rotuman girls

Losa group leader and also Ituitu district representative Wilfer Rigamoto says they are happy to see that the young children are also performing on stage as it has always been the older ones that perform every year.

Rigamoto says this is a great sight to see as these younger generations are being taught the significance of their culture.

She says they don't usually have young children performing in front of their chiefs but it is all up to the elders on how they teach the young ones early.

She adds the inclusion of young children in performances this year is a reward for the kind of work that they do as an organization, especially involving youths and young children with the preservation of their culture.

There are a total of 6 districts that gathered at the Rotuma Day celebration today as they close off the Rotuman language week with performances and showcasing of talents.


From New Zealand Herald (16 May 2024

fight to keep a mother tongue alive

Young Rotuman musicians

With its mother tongue considered to be one of the most endangered languages in the world, New Zealand's Rotuman community is working hard to make sure it remains alive for generations to come.

The United Nations has, for years, had Rotuman on its list of endangered and vulnerable languages - a worrisome list that includes those of the world's languages that are "critically endangered" and even those that have become extinct.

This week marks Rotuman Language Week (Gasav Ne Fäeag Rotuạm Ta) and is the first of the 11 official Pacific Language Weeks this year.


From Fiji Times (15 May 2024)

Day to revive Rotuma language, culture

Rotuma Day Dancers

THIS year’s Rotuma Day celebration is focused on promoting and reviving the Rotuma language and culture.

The Fiji Rotuman Association committee member Paserio Furivai said their week-long celebration which was organised at the Churchward Chapel in Flagstaff, Suva would be full of fun with various cultural activities, poetry reciting, dance, and traditional displays.

“Every 13th of May, we remember the day Rotuma was ceded to Great Britain,” Mr Furivai said.

“And so every year all Rotumans celebrate and remember that. Our main celebration will be held in the coming weekend on the 17th and 18th, but we started the weeklong celebration today (yesterday).

“We started with a prayer, children are taking part in storytelling, and the young people are chanting together with the elderly. We also have Rotuman traditional dance items.

“Every day of the week following today (yesterday), there will be an organised program and it will culminate with a celebration on Friday where there will be men’s root crop competition — yam and dalo and women’s handicraft competition.

“On Saturday, we’ll have some traditional dancing.”

Mr Furivai said the celebration was held everywhere in the world where Rotumans reside.

“We remember the hard work of our ancestors. We learn the skills that have been passed on to us through our farming, as well as weaving.

“We’ll also emphasise our language and culture to revive it.

“Rotumans are very small in number in the world; there are approximately 15,000 Rotumans and only about 5000 speak the Rotuman language.

“So, it is a dying language and we have to make an effort to preserve our language and culture.

“This is the main purpose of this celebration.”


From Tagata Pacifika (14 May 2024)

Pacific Kids' Learning Launches New Rotuman Content in time for Language Week

Kids learning Rotuman

Fesaitu Solomone, the CEO of the Centre for Pacific Languages, has written an e-book for the Pacific Kids Learning digital library platform.

The book reflects her experience growing up on the Island of Rotuma, and showcases her expertise in storytelling. 

Her captivating narrative is now available for children to enjoy and learn from.

The launch aligns with the theme of Rotuman Language Week, “Vetḁkia ‘os Fäega ma Ag fak hanua – Sustaining our Language and Culture”.

Solomone says, “Writing for Pacific Kids’ Learning has allowed me to bring the beauty of Rotuman culture and language to children here in Aotearoa New Zealand, and the diaspora.

“This is the first time I’ve written a story like this, and it’s an honour to share my upbringing on Rotuma with a broader audience.” says Solomone.

The new content, developed with support from the Ministry of Education is available in both Rotuman and English.

It captures the essence of Rotuman heritage, highlighting elements such as family, faith, and intergenerational storytelling.

Solomone emphasises the importance of preserving Pacific languages and cultures for future generations.

“Fupfupu ‘e Rotuma is a message for our Rotuman communities – our young people, our families, and our elders – and the importance of us embracing our language, our identity, and our culture. 

“We must recognise the gift of language and the importance of sustaining it for the future – be proud of who you are.” says Solomone.

Launched by PKL this year, the Pacific Digital Library is the world’s first content platform dedicated to creating and sharing Pacific-inspired content for kids, parents, and teachers.

The Pacific Digital Library, designed for children and educators, provides a valuable resource that celebrates cultural diversity and fosters cross-cultural understanding. 

The wholesome digital platform empowers children with knowledge, skills, and pride in their cultural identity through engaging and interactive cultural content in Pacific languages and English. 

Theresa Tupuola-Sorenson, co-founder and Education Director of PKL, said PKL works to support the preservation and celebration of Rotuman language and culture by bringing fresh, engaging content to children, parents, and educators worldwide.


From RNZ (14 May 2024)

Fanning the sparks of dying languages

By Susana Suisuiki

The loss of a language is also the loss of knowledge, histories and connections. But if there are no native speakers, should we let them die?

New Zealand Rotuman Dancers

More than 160 languages are spoken in New Zealand. 

Week-long events celebrate the unique languages heard across the country, and this week the focus is on the Rotuman language. 

According to UNESCO, the Rotuman language is listed as endangered along with four other Pacific languages - Tokelauan, Niuean, Cook Islands Māori and Tuvaluan. 

RNZ newsreader Marama T-Pole is trying to master the Tuvaluan language, as part of her efforts to maintain her connection to her Tuvaluan roots. 

Growing up in Dunedin, she said there was a longing for her to explore her cultural identity.

"It was actually very invisible in my life - my Tuvaluan culture," she says.

"There was nothing that I could see that represented my father's culture.

"Despite that, there was this gnawing inside of me that wanted to connect to my Tuvalu side and in fact I was felt like there was something missing, even when I came to Auckland I was surrounded by a lot of Tuvaluan families and community up here but I still felt like I was not present. 

"I couldn't really participate, properly connect, converse with the ladies or the aunties and it just felt like I was a bystander."

T-Pole says the push to speak Tuvaluan started when she took up the role of being a Sunday School teacher at her Tuvaluan Presbyterian church. 

"All of our congregation couldn't speak English properly, and every month they would ask me to do a report back to the congregation, I would speak in English and they would be saying 'speak in Tuvaluan!'

"So in my broken language, I would try and start reporting back to them about what was happening and gradually over several years while I was doing it, I started to speak the language more.

"What happened in doing that ... is that suddenly this hole that I've had growing up had disappeared." 

While T-Pole admits she still has a long way to go in speaking Tuvaluan fluently, she says holding a conversation in Tuvaluan with her father before he passed away is a memory she treasures most. 

In 2022 the government launched the Pacific Languages Strategy, an action plan to reverse the declining use of Pacific languages in Aotearoa. 

Referencing UNESCO's list of endangered languages, the strategy points out that language loss equals loss of Pacific knowledge, histories and connections. 

But is society really worse off with the loss of a language?

University of Auckland language and linguistics lecturer Dr John Middleton says the UNESCO list of endangered languages shouldn't be completely dismissed. 

"Languages are inherently human," Middleton says. 

"No matter what documentation we can do, it always comes down to whether people are using languages so it does feel sometimes like it is 'dramatic' to think that language can die.

"But we've seen it so many times before, we've seen it even in our country with the Moriori language. Within 70 or so years, we found this language  (that) was spoken in the Chatham Islands lost its native speakers."

There are moves to turn that around, and while it's not exactly thriving, a spark is being fanned to re-introduce Moriori in the Chathams - find out more on this in the podcast. 

Middleton also points to Australia as an example of fading languages. 

"There are 20 plus languages right now that have one or one-12 speakers."

Digital tools for preserving and spreading languages are now readily available, but Middleton says that's not enough. 

"I think the reality is, all the tools that we have now are really helpful for protecting languages and really valuable; however we do still need languages to be spoken and to be written and to be used." 

The Detail also looks at the benefits of bilingualism and revitalisation efforts of extinct languages.


From PMN in New Zealand (7 May 2024)

Call for govt to prioritise Pacific people struggling with language and culture

By Christine Rovoi

The head of the Centre for Pacific Languages, Fesaitu Solomone, wants to draw the attention of the coalition government to help the thousands of Pasifika in Aotearoa who struggle with their language, culture and identity.

Rotuman Youths

If nothing is done to support and maintain the languages and cultures of New Zealand's Pacific peoples, expect non-speaking Pasifika in Aotearoa in 20 years, the head of the Centre for Pacific Languages, Fesaitu Solomone, says.

The Auckland-based Rotuman advocate is urging the government to allocate resources and funding for the development and teaching of Pacific languages.

"If dominance is given to English, then in the next 15 to 20 years, we will see a big change and a shift in our languages moving to a stage where it's no longer going to be used here in Aotearoa."


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