Alan ma Jan Literary Competition 2005

English Poetry

First Prize

Matthew Bray
Canberra, Australia


I hear there is not a more beautiful place,
Nor company more satisfying,
Than Rotuma, that wonderful, heavenly space,
On whose strength my heart is relying

The home to which I’ve never been,
The place I’ve not yet wandered,
The beauty like I’ve never seen,
‘How is she?’ I have pondered

I consider myself, yes, a child of her soil,
And yet her own song I’ve not heard,
But her poetry flows as my family’s dance,
I write it down now, word for word.

Rotuma, an island so bless’d by the Lord,
The waves roll and glisten with beauty,
The hearts of the people, their existence unflawed,
O God, they will never refute thee.

The harmonious songs gently flow on the breeze
The humid yet quiet siesta,
Then up starts the dancing, the fara is here!
Av’ manea, the time for fiesta!

In the family everyone’s got their own work,
Responsibility no matter what their age is.
The kainaga system means that no one will shirk,
It has worked for us throughout the ages.

The wind comes ashore from it’s home on the seas,
As it catches the smell of the koua out back,
And the sound that it makes as it whistles the trees,
The atua are looking for a humanly snack!

he other small islands outside of the reef,
Hofliua, Solkope, Afgaha,
And Hatana, who knows what is hiding beneath
Your deadly and silent pear ha’a.

I’ve tried hard to learn your language
Worked so hard as to master your songs,
But I know what the truth is, I’m waiting,
For to see you is what my heart longs.

And I know it too, one day I’ll go there,
I’ll go there to find where I belong,
I’ll go fishing, and swimming, and dancing,
And I’ll join in the many old songs.

But until then I’ll pray for you, Rotuma,
Pray that no man will lead you astray,
One day we’ll be together, hanue ta,
That will truly be one joyous day.

Second Prize

Valyne Nikita
Pepjei, Rotuma
Form 5, Rotuma High School


I see breakers rear over the reef
Then hear them crash loud and clear.
I see waves lapping at the shore
And hear their swishing, to and fro.

I see crabs scurry across the sand
Then hear their scuffle as they slide onto land.
I see fish jumping out of the shallows
And hear them splashing, and then thrashing.

I see children scamper to the sea
Then hear them squeal, unaware of me.
I see birds soaring through the air
And hear them screech, then dive for their fare.

I see leaves tremble in the wind
Then hear them rustle, and whisper at me.
I see raindrops slanting across my view
And hear their music, an orchestra so serene.

I see memories unfold through the years
Then hear my youth laugh and weep.
I see the future stretching ahead of me
And hear my grief at what could never be.

I see the best brains come out from school
Then hear their farewells, as they leave Rotuma.
I see young villagers trying their best
And just being happy is in itself success.

I see my people struggle for a living
Then hear their joy in life every evening.
I see Rotuma straining at her reins
And hear her agony at the onslaught of change.

Third Prize

Elizabeth Kafonika Inia
Savlei, Rotuma


Rotuma the beautiful island where I was born
I love you with my heart, and all
Very clear to me your white sandy beach
Fringed with coconut palms and vegetation so green
Verdure clad hills and down to the beach
Proved the fertility of a real volcanic origin

No high mountains for sources of streams
No rivers like main islands of Fiji
But there are reservoirs like at Fagrafi
Good fresh water needs payment of monthly bills
Our ancestors used wells and brackish water streams
To cook, to wash, to bathe and to swim

To quench our thirst we climb coconut trees
Pulling and breaking young nuts good for drinks
For our daily meals, taro, yams and greens
With home-made fermented coconut sauce for fish and meat
How I crave for fish in tahroro cream
And my favourite oranges so juicy and sweet

So many changes brought by the winds
Cool thatched houses ousted by Hurricane Bebe
New houses of iron roofs and walls of concrete
An airstrip and flights twice a week
Oh, so dear! Cheaper to fly overseas!
Wonders of technology, electricity, telephone now T.V.

Don’t be old fashioned, live in luxury and be happy!
But how do we meet our monthly bills,
Of water rates, sewage and phone call bills immediately
Copra the sole export, of course not enough earnings
For the luxurious type of westernised living
Back to base is the only source medicine

Learn your culture and keep your identity
Be good farmers or fisherman in the sea
For God hath provided here everything we need
Except fuel and soap and tins of corned beef
Be proud to be a Rotuman and live in purity
Hard work and honesty is good policy.