Itaukei Trust Fund Board (TTFB) Team Visits Rotuma

A team from the Itaukei Trust Fund Board (TTFB) recently returned from a one-week tour of Rotuma.

The trip was to primarily scope for specific areas of interest where TTFB could assist, including the safeguarding of Rotuman culture and arts, the Rotuman language; supporting entrepreneurship and business efforts and building capacities on traditional and social leadership.

During the visit, the team met with the Rotuman Council of Chiefs, several Youth and Womens’ groups, farmers and fishermen and small micro entrepreneurs. Chief Executive Officer Aisake Taito says “this inaugural tour of the Rotuma has brought about valuable insights into the island and TTFB would like to facilitate sustainable initiatives in Rotuma, for the benefit of Rotumans in years to come”.

Upon their arrival on Friday 28th August, the group were accorded the ‘mamasa’, at the government station in Ahau. ‘Mamasa’ is the traditional ceremonies of welcome accorded to first time visitors to the island. This was followed by a meeting with the Rotuman Council on Monday 31st August. The council is made up of the chiefs from the seven districts of Rotuma.

Meeting with the Rotuma Council of Chiefs. Front row: TTFB Board Director Fatiaki Misau seated second from left and CEO Aisake Taito, fourth from left. Standing: third from left TTFB Project Coordinator Rotuma Alfred Wiliame and fifth from left, TTFB Project Coordinator Language and Culture Unaisi Manulevu.

One of the first meetings the team held was a talanoa session with the head teachers of the five schools in Rotuma. A key outcome from this meeting, was that the teachers have agreed in principle to write story books in Rotuman that will be published by TTFB.

TTFB team also met with Women groups, which proved to be a fruitful exchange of ideas. The women also echoed their desire to rebuild or renovate the current rest house, to a handicraft centre where they could sell their wares. This was followed by a meeting with several Youth groups to discuss ways of developing initiatives to create sustainable livelihood, whilst maintaining their rich culture, heritage and the arts.

Above left: talanoa session with the Head Teachers of the five schools in Rotuma.

Above right: workshop with the Women’s groups held at the iTamuta District hall.

Above: TTFB CEO Aisake Taito (furthest left) in discussions with the some of the Youth groups, during the Youth sessions.

Above: talanoa session with the farmers and fishermen at iTamuta District Hall.

The team also held meetings with a group of youths from Hapmak, who are traditional canoe builders. Canoes by nature, are powered by winds so unlike motorized boats do not leave chemical pollutants which could harm the marine life and ecosystem.

On Wednesday 2nd September, the team held discussions with farmers and fishermen on sustainable agro-farming and fishing ventures, that not only benefit individuals but also has the capability to benefit a wide cross section of people within the island.

In 2016, a resolution was passed by the Rotuman Council to make Rotuma free from chemical fertilizers. TTFB has agreed in principle to work with the facilitation of this accreditation process, to make Rotuma an organic island.

On Thursday 3 rd September, the team visited Pepjei to discuss a proposed chips processing plant. Again, TTFB has agreed in principle to facilitate the setting up of such initiatives to make use of the abundance of root crops like cassava, taro and breadfruit.

The team also took the time to make donations of books to the five schools in Rotuma. The donations were warmly received by the schools and the team engaged in extensive discussions with teachers and students. TTFB acknowledges the Library Services of Fiji for their kind donation of books which were handed over to the five schools in Rotuma during the trip. 

Above: TTFB team with the students of Malha’a District School after the donation of books to the school. The children can also be seen holding ‘Le Sagsaga’, a childrens’ Rotuman book authored by Brooke Fatiaki and produced by TTFB.

The TTFB team that visited Rotuma was led by Board Director Mr Fatiaki Misau and included Chief Executive Officer Mr Aisake Taito, Project Coordinator (Rotuma) Mr Alfred Wiliame, Project Coordinator (Language and Culture) Mrs Unaisi Manulevu and Business Analyst Mr James McGoon.