Alan ma Jan Literary Competition 2004

Open Category, English Poetry

First Prize

Kevin A. Tagatairoa
Suva, Fiji


As the liner left Rotuma harbour
And the people sang “Rotuma Otou Hanue”
I cried and waved farewell
As I sailed away.

Goodbye to you my dearest Island
So today we have to part
The memories with you I’ll cherish
Forever in my heart.

In dreams I hear the breakers
Sitting on distant reefs
But they’ll vanish when I awaken
To my sorrow and to my grief.

Someday I’ll return to Rotuma
To my island in the sun
Once again I’ll walk through the villages
Hand in Hand with my loved one.

Nevermore will we be parted
Nevermore will I sail away
For Rotuma has called me
I’ll be sailing home to stay.

Second Prize

Neanette Pene


“Where do you come from?” He asks me.

My mind is filled with a picture that immediately puts a smile on my face:
An island that is isolated
And the people that inhabit it unheard of
This incredible breed of people
Neatly tucked away somewhere in the Pacific
Polynesian features with a smile that is infectious
An island untouched by modern technology
It is called Rotuma

The sounds of flapping wings above me
Waves that crash on the sand mesmerising me
Trees singing an enchanting song in the distance
The sun caressing my face
The coconut rich with milk
The aroma of food from an earth oven
Who could resist this island
It is called Rotuma

Mother Nature has blessed the people of this island
With rich and fertile land
For the people to sow and harvest
The benefits of the land
Never can a household say
“I have no food for my family”.
This island is full of riches hidden
The people like to keep it that way
Strange but this is the reality
It is called Rotuma

Rich with culture
The people are proud
Dancing is a part of their culture
Graceful and elegant hands move
With bodies of electrifying movements
To sounds of song and drums
Dance with me they call out
It is called Rotuma

Christmas a time of harvest
Festivities begin
With fara at the start of December
When the day of Christmas comes
Families celebrate togetherness
A new year has passed
The new one to look forward to
An island so enchanting
It is called Rotuma

Visitors come and are amazed
An island with not one hotel
Motel or resort
A sign that modernisation
Is but a far cry away
Who is to say there is a need
The people prefer it that way
Untouched and unspoiled
Generations to come will be proud
It is called Rotuma

I return to see my island
How many years it has been
I now cannot seem to remember
When I step off the plane
The feeling of belonging surrounds me
I belong and that is the realisation
That sinks within me
The place I left and I will return to
It is called Rotuma

Travelling on a battered pickup to the village
As I approach my destination
I am greeted with excited faces
It seems like a high chief is arriving
But it’s just only me and my family
How typical of these people
To treat their guests with uttermost respect
As if they were kings and queens from a foreign place.
An amazing feeling to just be surrounded
To be a part of this culture and race
A Rotuman

Later, much later
When I am out of this dream shell
I will miss that feeling
The true part of me that tells me
I come from a land
Rich with culture
Mesmerising beaches that stretch way into the horizons
Hidden treasures
With people so far ahead
Yet still caught in this time zone
Even though I miss it
It will always be a part of me
It is who I am
A Rotuman