About The Project

Project Scope

Rotuman descendants living in diaspora have a deep desire to learn, appreciate, preserve and respect our shared heritage. Using 360-degree photography, interactive digital design and storytelling, this project will take website visitors on a virtual tour of Rotuma with interactive insights into cultural heritage, Rotuman wisdom, Rotuman language, geographic & ecological highlights, and personal stories.

Urgency of the Project – Preserving an Endangered Language

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) listed the Rotuman language as one of the most endangered languages in the world, with only 15,000 speakers globally. Approximately 1,500 Rotuman people currently live on the island. To date, it is undocumented how many individuals of Rotuman heritage exist around the world.

Urgency of the Project – Climate Change

Scientists are increasingly concerned that small island nations in the Pacific are more vulnerable to the effects of climate change as rising sea levels, storms, and coral bleaching increase due to environmental change. In Fiji alone, more than 40 low-lying communities are earmarked to be relocated to upper ground because of rapid sea level rise. {Source: Saber Salem: “Climate Change and the Sinking Islands, Jan. 09, 2020, e-International Relations}

Community building

One of the aims of the project is to identify and connect the international community of Rotuman-descendants. Through these connections, we seek to collaboratively explore our shared experiences in diaspora, knowledge, wisdom and shared desire to honor, respect, and preserve Rotuman cultural heritage. The ultimate purpose of community-building is to create space for our children, and grandchildren to feel welcome to seek connections to their Rotuman heritage.


We anticipate that through the development of this project, we may create a replicable model of cultural preservation and storytelling for Pasifika peoples, which is crucial given rising ocean levels affecting low-lying communities throughout Oceania.

The founders of the project have a long-term vision and commitment to seeing this passion project come to life and to continue as a gift to all Rotuman people. Moving forward through the project, we seek partners to share their knowledge, time and talents to keep The Rotuma Project a living and dynamic curation of cultural content. In the future, we hope to engage Rotuman youth so they may also gain valuable cultural and mentored professional experience in working on the project.


This project will be spearheaded by Jonathan Fong & Kathy Weber-Bates, first cousins descended from Saolei/Savlei. Jonathan brings a wealth of professional videography, photography, digital design and humor to the project. Kathy brings two decades of professional experience in journalism, storytelling, videography, graphic design, and public relations to the project. Together, these Rotuman cousins aim to help create an interactive virtual tour of Rotuma for all of our kaunohoga to learn, honor, respect, appreciate, and preserve.


We acknowledge the contributions of our ancestors, the beautiful potential of the next generation, and we share our respect for the land, the ocean, our Rotuman Chiefs, leaders, and our kaunohoga around the world. To God be all glory and praise, through whom all things are possible.

PMN Rotuma Interview

PMN Rotuma Interview

We were so thankful to be invited by the PMN Rotuma team to share our journey and story with them. If you missed out on the interview and would like to learn abit more about the project here is the link.

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Something like this?

Something like this?

We searched the internet looking for a High Resolution Map of Rotuma that we could use but couldnt find any. What we did find were Topographical and height maps and also a few low res maps with labels that were made ages ago. Using all these resources we decided to...

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“Noåia ‘e hanisi. Alalum makikia.”

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