Fiji is a Multi-Cultural Nation: Rotuma Update

rotuman girlsScroll down to more WEEKEND READING.   ♦ People's Charter Pillar 11 (Global, International Relations): For Discussion ♦ Rotuma: Fiji is a Multi-cultural Nation  ♦ Australia Not Getting its Way -- Karam C Ramrakha ♦  Australia Changes Tune on Fiji Peackeeping But ...  ♦ Allen Lockington Column ♦ Issues of the Past Haunt Us - PM

Rotuma lies nearly 500 km north of “mainland” Fiji and its people,  language, culture  and history are distinct.  The island was annexed by Britain in 1881 and chose to remain part of Fiji at Independence in 1970. It is administered by a council of chiefs and under the previous government Rotumans had separate representation in the Fiji Senate and parliament.  Some 9,000 Rotumans live in mainland Fiji where many have occupied senior positions in government, the army, business  and the professions, and about 3,000 live on Rotuma.
For many years the island remained a backwater.  With little income generated locally, the main sources of income were from relatives who had emigrated to the mainland or overseas and from Rotumans who had retired to the island after a working life on the mainland. 
 
Rural and outer island development has been an important priority of the Bainimarama government and for Rotuma the most important development was its declaration as a port of entry and improvements of port, immigration and quarantine facilities, and the development of trade with Tuvalu, a nation of atolls heavily reliant on food imports. some 700km to the north-east.
 
The President Ratu Epeli Nailatikau left Suva on Tuesday today aboard the MV Iloilovatu bound for Rotuma where he arrived on Thursday morning.  His visit will enable him to witness and assess the Rotuma Island Development Programme and its impact of people’s livelihoods. He will also be the chief guest at the Rotuma Day Celebrations on Friday.  
 
The Tuvalu-Rotuma bilateral economic trade initiative involves the export of root crops such as dalo, sweet potato and cassava from Rotuma to Tuvalu and the reciprocal export from Tuvalu of  handicraft, copra and fish.
 
In addition to trade, the bilateral agreement covers bio-security and possible developments with bio-fuel, tourism, and the revitalisation of the sandalwood and the copra industry.  In his visit to the island in 2008, the PM expressed he opinion that Rotuma has the capacity and potential to develop a vibrant economy.
What the President will be seeing this week is the the culmination of three years of hard work on infrastructure, machinery and bio security processes worth in excess of $2m.   It is too early to know whether it is the beginning of a vibrant sustainable economy as the PM predicted, but Rotumans in Rotuma and the mainland we see it as a long overdue and welcome start -- Based partly on No:994/MOI.

President addresses Rotuma Day celebrations

Friday, May 13, 2011
The President Ratu Epeli Nailatikau today addressed the people of Rotuma as they celebrate their independence day.
FBC I-taukei Programme Director Apakuki Waqa is in Rotuma and files this report:
“Government has contributed $12.9 million to upgrade the Rotuma airport and $2.63 in upgrading the wharf – in facilitating Rotuma as a port of entry and especially in supporting export to Tuvalu and Fiji says the President Ratu Epeli Nailatikau.
While opening the Rotuma Day celebration – Ratu Epeli re-iterated the them – that for the people to be in unity and love one another.
Ratu Epeli also commissioned this morning a $300,000 bio-fuel plant here in Ahau.
His message to the people fo Rotuma is that government is committed to develop Rotuma and it’s people.
Celebrations for Rotuma day today – continues here at the Ahau government station ground.”

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