Rotuma Day is an annual celebration on the island of Rotuma, a Fijian dependency. It falls on May 13, the anniversary of the island's cession to the United Kingdom in 1881.
Although the island has been politically part of Fiji since 1881, Rotuman culture more closely resembles that of the Polynesian islands to the east, most noticeably Tonga and Samoa. Because of their Polynesian appearance and distinctive language, Rotuman people now constitute a recognisable minority group within Fiji.
Rarotonga Rotuman community elder George Fiu, 66, says Rotuma Day is the day of togetherness, where all Rotumans get together as one big happy family.
“This occasion means everything to us because it reflects on our history and how far we have come over the years till to date.
“We started celebrating Rotuma Day here on Rarotonga in 2010, a year after we formed the Rarotonga Rotuman community.
“The day is about having a feast and merrymaking. It’s an occasion recognised the world over by every Rotuman where people all come together at a place to celebrate the event as a community,” he said.
Fanny Untanga who is a member of the Rarotonga Rotuman community says she was happy to see Rotuman families on the island coming together to celebrate the day.
“The day started with a small devotion where we reflect on how far we have come as Rotuman under God, our theme for this year is, “The love of God will save the Rotuman People,” and we feel blessed about it.
“We organised some activities to make the day special for everyone, such as swimming and sack racing for kids and volleyball for the adults. We even made a barbecue and cooked some other dishes. It was a half a day event and we really had fun,” she said.
Rotuma is a volcanic island of about 43 square kilometres located about 465 kilometres north of Fiji.
Rotuma has continued to change, but it has changed more as a part of the modern world than as a distinct entity.
Today Rotuman people form a hinterland community to Fiji's urban centres, particularly the city of Suva, centre of government, commerce and communication for the Republic.