This page will unfold incrementally overtime.
It’s history of Dravuni from the lens of a kaidravuni (indigenous, born and bred on Dravuni). It’s not conventional history (written by an outside observer) that one reads in school’s history books (e.g. Dravuni was discovered by …… etc, etc). In any case, nothing, as far as I know, has been written specifically on the history of the island. This initiative, therefore, may be history in the making. It is history in the making in the sense that it is an attempt at compilation of unrecorded accounts or compilation of disparate records of events, some of which are essentially personal notes and reflections that have survived over the years.
The contents will include:
- The settlement of Dravuni by Ravuravu and his clan. In the process, Ravuravu became deified as the ‘vu’ (progenitor) for the Natusara clan (Dravuni and Buliya Islands). But Ravuravu himself had distinguished pedigree.
- The village site moved more than twice and one of the reasons was the death of many resulting from the introduced ‘wasting disease’ or Asian cholera in 1800.
- The match of Christianity and how it became unstoppable.
- Formalizing chiefly structures
- Formalizing family groupings
- Formalizing land ownership
- Formalizing tribal/clan totems.
There will be a transition from the History page to Contemporary Dravuni page as history marches on. The transition is not based on any definitional demarcation of history, but purely on kaidravuni’s preference for such stylistic approach.
The settlement of Dravuni by Ravuravu
On 11 November 1931, Native Lands Commissioner, Ratu J.L.V. Sukuna (before being knighted K.B.E in 1945), was on Dravuni to chair, officiate and conduct the second Native Lands Commission enquiry: ‘Veitarogivanua’. Unlike the first, this was to focus principally on common descent, common tribal deity, chiefly system, family groupings and totems. Essentially, it was intended to reaffirm and verify the findings of the earlier ‘veitarogivanua’. The first ‘veitarogivanua’ by Mr. K. J. Alladyce in the first few years of the twentieth century, before 1910, concentrated on land issues.
Chosen as Dravuni’s spokesperson for the ‘veitarogivanua’ was 27-year old Marika Koroivui, who replaced Sakeasi Tuni, the spokesperson for the first ‘veitarogivanua.’
The process for the ‘veitarogivanua’ was elaborate. The spokespersons had to have their prepared submissions on the issues to be addressed, ordered in the manner indicated by the Commissioner. They were aware that once the order was codified, there would be no changes, and the government would use its authority to preserve that order.
Each session of enquiry would take three months. A spokesperson’s submission: ‘vakatutusa’ would be tabled and scrutinized over the next three months. Questioning and verification during that period would take place. At the end of that period, the records and those involved would then go through ‘bubului’: a solemn swearing ceremony to the gods and ‘vu’, involving swearing by the Holy Bible and followed by celebratory feasting by the ‘yavusa’: tribe.
The NLC office subsequently compiled all the submissions from spokespersons throughout Fiji under what is referred to as ‘iTukutuku Raraba’: general information, which is available to the public. The more sensitive information resulting from the questioning, answers and verifications, subsequent to the initial submissions by the spokespersons, were compiled under a separate register of evidence, access to which is restricted.
The indisputable place of Ravuravu as the ‘vu’ for the Yavusa Natusara – comprising the people of Dravuni and Buliya Islands, was a central plank of Marika Koroivui’s ‘vakatutusa’, and is now indelibly recorded in the iTukutuku Raraba. The register of evidence would contain more details as to how Ravuravu became the progenitor for the Yavusa and how it all started.
Ravuravu the warlord
Ravuravu was not a ‘turaga’: chief, in the Fijian sense. He was more of a warlord that the chief would send to battle leading his warriors, or to settle new land – islands in this case. He was both a warrior and a leader of people. His name denotes killing or slaying with a club. He was extremely deft in this task to the extent that his hands and knuckles were tightly fisted permanently in his old age, probably from acute arthritis.
Ravuravu hailed from the area in present day Naitasiri province below the Medrausucu Mountain Range, appropriately named since it resembles two female breasts. Villages in the vicinity are Nadakuni, Navurevure and Nabukaluka. He was the second of three brothers – the eldest being Vueti and the youngest, Tuvuni. He married Adi Vonokula, one of twins, and they had eight children. The eldest was Ravubokola who made it all the way to Dravuni. When Adi Vonokula died, her last wish was to gift the Medrausucu Range to Ravuravu, as a constant reminder of her maternal instincts to her children.
Ravuravu’s mission was to settle as many land and islands as possible in the Fiji group of islands. This was in the days when there were numerous expeditions by the early Fijians to settle and populate as much land as possible because land was there for the taking. He would have had full authority from his chief and he would have had representations from sections that make up a community, and that which would be useful in the mission, e.g. ‘bati’: warriors, ‘bete’: priests, ‘mataisau’: carpenters/craftsmen, and ‘gonedau’: fishermen. It was essential that he took with him sufficient number of families, some of whom would remain on newly established settlements whilst the main party moved on.
Ravuravu’s conquests for new settlements
From the foothills of Medrausucu Range, from Nadakuni around the south east area of Waimaro district, the conquest proceeded slightly north east until they got to the coast for a first settlement, which was named Dravuni, in the district of Verata, now province of Tailevu. The name was borrowed from the Waimaro district. The next phase took a southerly direction to the Nakelo area, still in Tailevu. Two settlements were established there, namely: Visama and Vadrai. From Vadrai, near Naselai Point, the conquest took to the sea in a north-easterly direction to the island of Nairai in Lomaiviti province. The group settled in Dalice which later merged with adjacent Tovulailai.
From Nairai, Ravuravu’s party sailed in a southerly direction to Gau and settled in Vadravadra, so appropriately named because of the ubiquity of pandanus plants in the area. The Lau group became the next target, and Vanuavatu was the next stop. The party sailed south westerly and settled in Natokalau, Matuku. At some point, whilst in the Lau group, a small party sailed further south to Ono-i-Lau with the intention of settling on as many islands as possible. The main party, however, moved westerly from Matuku, west-north-west precisely, to make their first settlement on Kadavu, on Natusara, north to north-east coast of Ono Island.
Natusara, being the first settlement on Kadavu, and from which smaller settling parties moved further to the islands and on to Kadavu mainland, was to prove highly significant, for it became the ‘yavutu’ – it being the village settlement originally established on Kadavu and after which the ‘yavusa’ is named.
Settlements on mainland Kadavu include Muanisolo, Vunisei, Naqalotu, Naivarauniniu and Nabukelevu-i-ra. Those who settled in Nabukelevu-i-ra had first settled on Qasibale Island, near Dravuni and Buliya, before moving on to their final destination. The main party, after Natusara, settled on Buliya, Yaukuve Levu, Yaukuve Lailai and Dravuni. Those on Yaukuve Levu and Yaukuve Lailai moved subsequently on to Dravuni.
Dravuni represented the end of the journey, and it was significant that it borne the same name given to the first settlement which Ravuravu had established in Verata district, Tailevu, at the start of this long journey into the unknown.
The mystery of Ravuravu’s grave
Ravuravu’s grave next to today’s ‘green pool’: pool for bathing for men and appropriately named due to its permanent colour, is a piece of Dravuni history, which everyone growing up on Dravuni gets to know. The knowledge passed down is that Ravuravu was very old when his party got to Dravuni. He died and was buried there.
There is however, a variation of the story. Ravuravu died when his party was either in Vanuavatu or Matuku. His head/skull was subsequently taken to Dravuni to be buried there to comply with the tradition that it had to be buried where his first-born, Ravubokola, had finally settled.
Acknowledging the past
Trying to piece together history, in the context of a community that relied on words of mouth, story telling, and where the traditionalists and traditional story tellers have passed on, is an exercise in faith. However, one is encouraged by the multiplicity of concrete evidence that abounds to link us to the past, and which offers windows of comprehending the past or some aspects of it, thus rendering credibility to the story.
Link to Nadakuni
Firstly, names from Nadakuni area are repeated on Dravuni itself and on Natusara, e.g. Dravuni, Vanuakula, Vonokula, Waibasaga etc. In the early 1980s, encouraged by the people of Nadakuni, a delegation from Yavusa Natusara, visited Nadakuni, for a ceremony of ‘cara sala’: to clear the way that may have reverted to bush, metaphorically, and to enliven and refresh a relationship – a link, that had grown weak over the years/decades/generations, due, e.g. to distance – time and space-wise.
There were unprecedented celebrations. The young men of the Yavusa Natusara were allowed to bathe in the chiefly pool, which is out of bound to lesser mortals in the village. There was an offer for the Yavusa Natusara to lease 3,000 acres of land in the foothills of the Medrausucu Range from Mataqali Waibasaga. Since then, representatives from Nadakuni would attend the Dravuni Village meetings in Suva.
Approaching Dravuni from easterly/south-easterly direction complies with east-west return migration
Linguist and expert in Fijian culture, Paul Geraghty of the University of the South Pacific (USP), believes that whilst most of the islands in the Fiji group show evidence of being settled from the west in a west-to-east migration pattern, those of Kadavu tend to show the opposite, i.e. they were settled from the east in a east-west migration pattern, which represented a return migration. The evidence is on Dravuni.
Geraghty rationalizes by pointing to the location of cliffs over which the souls of dead people jump on their way to join their ancestors. These cliffs invariably face the direction from where the ancestors came from. On Dravuni, these cliffs are: Nairikarikasavu 1 and Nairikarikasavu 2. They are at the southern end of the island, pointing south-easterly, but directly facing the sea-route that Ravuravu would have taken sailing at a northly direction from Natusara, on Ono Island.
Existence of ‘tauvu’ relationships
‘Tauvu’ relationship acknowledges common ancestry or ‘vu’ or even ‘kalou vu’ (see below). Dravuni people have ‘tauvu’ relationship with the people in a number of villages established by Ravuravu, e.g. Nabukelevu-i-ra and Ono-i-Lau.
Acknowledgement of Dravuni being the repository of Ravuravu’s grave
My father related a story when he shared ‘yaqona’: kava with Ratu Kitione Vesikula, a chief in his own right, a great traditionalist and expert in Fijian culture from Ucunivanua, Verata, and a chief from Visama, Nakelo, Tailevu, in his residence in Nabua. Tradition prevailed all the time and Ratu Kitione would drink first, thence the Nakelo chief and thence my father would drink last. At some point during the yaqona session, Ratu Kitione asked for the order of drink to be reversed, i.e. for my father to drink the first ‘bilo’: coconut cup for serving ‘yaqona’, and that he would explain the reason after. The reason, he revealed, was that of all the Ravuravu clan, Dravuni has special significance since it holds Ravuravu’s grave.
Subsequent migration direction traced Ravuravu’s path
Generations of people from Matuku have lived on Buliya and Dravuni. This applies not only to women married into the Buliya and Dravuni communities, but also men marrying women from the two communities. Whilst this has great traditional and sentimental values, it creates great difficulties in having the offsprings of the latter liaison registered in the ‘Vola ni Kawa Bula’ (VKB): register of Fijian landowners in the community in which they are born and in which they now reside. This is principally due to the patrilineal nature of Fijian kinship system.
Remnants of the past remain
House foundations remain on Yaukuve Levu, Yuakuve Lailai and Qasibale. The last-mentioned is the least visited, and one can still see pottery pieces on and in amongst house foundations. A careful examination will reveal rock formation on one side of the island presumably for protection of canoes, and steps cut into the rock on the steeper side of the island for access.
A smaller group had also settled on Yanuyanu-i-sau, not far from Qasibale. This group later moved back to Ono Island to Sayaki near Nukubalavu and thence to Narikoso. Nukubalavu is between Natusara and Narikoso. This group of the Ravuravu clan provides the Mata-i-Natusara from Ono Island (Ono’s door/pathway or spokesperson/herald to Natusara).
Existence of Ravuravu’s ‘yavu’ on Dravuni
The ‘yavu’ is literally the foundation of one’s house. In Fijian culture, it acquires a special meaning in that it establishes one’s identity and a claim to ownership of part of the community in which one belongs. A ‘yavu’ is a family inheritance. ‘Natavasara’ was Ravuravu’s ‘yavu’ and it remains on Dravuni to date. Ratu Kitione Vesikula acknowledged as such. Rev Thomas Williams, writing in 1859, also acknowledged the same.
Yavusa Natusara’s ‘kalou-vu’
Marika Koroivui, at the 1931 ‘veitarogivanua’, confirmed that the Yavusa Natusara’s ‘kalou-vu’ is Tuni. His wife was Rokowati, or affectionately referred to as Bulou. ‘Kalou-vu’ represents a deified original ancestor of a group of tribes/yavusas, having his own ‘bure kalou’: temple and ‘bete’: priests. So it can be said that whilst Ravuravu did not have his own priests to take on his conquests, he certainly had available to him Tuni’s priests. ‘Tauvu’ relationship also applies to groups having the same ‘kalou-vu’.
The village site changed with time
Village site 1
Ravuravu’s settling party approached Dravuni from the south-south-easterly direction and made their first land call on the eastern coast, towards the southern part of the island. There, they established the first village site on Dravuni. Villagers today refer to this general area as Delaivatoa, Nalotu, Nadulaki – all three are names of land allotments (kanakana) for different families. The general eastern area of the island is referred to as ‘Yasa-i-cake’: the eastern side.
The choice of the site was wise. It sat on the part of the island that has the greatest expanse of flat coastal land, fertile, and where the height of the water table made it easy for digging wells for drinking and bathing. And, as referred to above, Ravuravu’s grave is right next to one of these bathing wells at the outskirts of the village site.
The Great Astrolabe Reefs protect the island from all sides. However, the village was exposed to the south-easterly trade winds.
At some point in history, a decision to move the village site was made. The reasons, however, must remain a subject of speculations. And speculations have been made. There is the view that the move was made from a defense strategic standpoint. The first site would be difficult to defend if there was an invasion from the west side of the island.
Village site 2
The choice for the second site was Muanalailai, right at the northern end of the island, and the village site straddled both sides of the point, from west to east, thus imputing the idea that it was easier to defend.
Villagers today associate Muanalailai with two resident women spirits that had lived there, namely: ‘Solobasaga’ and ‘Vonokula’. Both names can be linked to Nadakuni in Waimaro, Naitasiri. “Basaga’ is a suffix that is common when it comes to place names. “Vonokula’ is linked to Adi Vonokula, Ravuravu’s wife. What cannot be established is whether these two women spirits played any part in the choice of the site.
What can be established, however, is that it was at this site when the Dravuni people were rudely introduced to the imported diseases of the outside visitors, against which they did not have any immunity.
The actual date of the wreck of the ‘Argo’ on Bukatatanoa Reef near Lakeba is disputed – 1800, 1803 or 1806. However, many writers and scholars have accepted the earliest year of 1800 – January 1800 to be precise, since some supporting details had been advanced from the Sydney Gazette. The most infamous cargo brought in by the crew of the ‘Argo’ was the Asian cholera, that became known as ‘the wasting disease’, or the ‘lila balavu’ to the Fijians.
The ‘lila balavu’ reached Dravuni, like it did in many parts of the Fiji group, and the results were devastating. Many people, of all ages, died. Mass graves were dug by those who escaped the epidemic. And they were not many.
Another shift and another village site had to be contemplated, but had to be done quickly due to the urgency of the case the villagers were confronting. To return to ‘Yasa-i-cake’ to the first site, became the most common sense choice.
Back to village site 1
From 1800 to 1888, when Solo Lighthouse was opened, the village remained at Yasa-i-cake. A chart that was dated 1875 showed the village at this site. The new lighthouse was a great novelty. Many stories are told of villagers ascending the ridge to admire the light from Solo many a nights. They could not see the light from the village itself because the island’s central ridge was in the way. It proved to be more than just a novelty. It was also a beacon, beckoning the villagers to move the village site once again. Sometime after the opening of Solo Lighthouse, the village site did move.
The rationale of the shift this time can be linked to what was happening in the country, the national development, and especially the development of the new capital in Suva since 1882. It made a lot of sense to move to the Suva-side of the island.
Village site 3, present site
My great grandfather, Simione Ravana, who was in his forties and had already been confirmed as a catechist in the Methodist Church and on posting outside of Dravuni – the first kaidravuni to be posted out, gave his ‘kanakana’ at Naikelaga, sometimes referred to as Levuka, as part of the village site. The other part was given by Sakeasi Tuni. His ‘kanakana’ is referred to as Nausori.
The unstoppable match of Christianity
A year after Fiji’s Deed of Cession, Dravuni saw her first ever ‘vakatawa’: catechist of the Methodist Church. Ilai Tuilawa was posted from outside Dravuni and he remained in the post from 1875 to 1889. In 1885, ten years after he arrived there, he reaped his reward in seeing his first ever home-trained catechist, Simione Ravana, got his first posting outside Dravuni to Nabukelevu-i-ra, the village of his ‘tauvu’ from the Ravuravu clan. Other ‘kaidravuni’ were to follow his footsteps in subsequent years. But it was to be ten years after Tuilawa’s posting, in 1899, when Dravuni saw her first home-grown ‘talatala’: minister, getting his posting to outside of Dravuni. Pauliasi Nene had this rare distinction and was on outside posting from 1899 to 1917.
Prior to 1875, the history of the ‘lotu’: essentially Methodist Church, on Dravuni, mirrored what was happening in the major centres of the Fiji Group, and in particular, what was happening on Kadavu, the southern province of which Dravuni is a part.
It goes back to 1840 when Kadavu had accepted Christian teachers. But instability caused by the war between Rewa and Bau prevented mission growth. Rev Lyth found that teachers on Kadavu were having to contend against “severe persecution and many obstacles.” Both teachers worked under the protection of Tui Naceva. Within a month’s of his visit, one of the teachers fled, having had his property plundered by a rival chief.
In 1841, there was a violent outbreak of hostilities on Kadavu, which was already a subject of Rewa. Teachers were sent to Suesue in 1841, but they had to be withdrawn in 1842, due to hostilities. This deteriorated further: 1843-1855 – was the greatest struggle of the 19th Century – the 12 year war between Bau and Rewa. Rewa people were coming to Kadavu to build canoes for the Rokotui Dreketi. Long absences were affecting church attendances.
In 1847, translation of the new testament was complete. Two years later in 1849, Tui Nayau ‘lotued’. But a year later in 1850, Cakobau declared war on all Christians. But it did not stop the march of Christianity. In 1853, Christianity came to Kadavu via Yale and Naikorokoro (previously Suesue), according to the history of Methodism. That of Yale came through the intervention of Ratu Varani of Viwa. A Tongan convert was instrumental. He was Ratu Varani’s envoy. From Naikorokoro, Christianity spread to the whole of Kadavu
On April 30, 1854, Cakobau ‘lotued’. On Bau, temples were spoiled and the sacred ‘nokonoko’ trees were chopped down. A wave of conversion followed. In 1855, King George of Tonga helped Cakobau to win the Battle of Kaba. This proved decisive for the spread of Christianity. Cakobau’s religion became the people’s religion and whole districts ‘lotued’.
After the battle of Kaba, the two great heads of state, King George and Ratu Cakobau, sailed to Rewa, Kadavu and Ovalau on the huge ‘drua’: double hull canoe, “Ra Marama”. Forty other canoes followed in their wake. It was not the biggest procession of Fiji’s navy, but it was an impressive one.
“Ra Marama” was 100ft long and carried, besides its two dignified gentlemen, a contingent of 140 chiefs and attendants. It had a thousand square feet of deck space, a 60 ft mast, and two sleek hulls which would slice through the seas faster than a merchant ship.
The victorious army and the Fijian allies, passed through all the places that had resisted Bau as well as Rewa and its tributary territories. They accepted symbols of surrender and gathered huge amounts of property
Following the defeat of Rewa at the Battle of Kaba, the seven chiefdoms of Kadavu converted rapidly, a movement attributed to a number of factors including war-weariness, Tongan influences, the conversion of leading Rewa chiefs and not least the independent spirit of the Kadavu chiefs.
In 1856, Formal theological education began at Mataisuva, Rewa.
The Wesleyan missionaries were caught unprepared by the rush to Christianity on Kadavu. Unable to find sufficient teachers on Kadavu, a Rewa chief went there in 1856 to a village that was still pagan. “Come, he says, you must ‘lotu’, the people replied ‘vinaka’ and fetched their clubs and spears and demolished the temple; they then returned to the chief and told him that he must pray with them. Then, as is customary, there was a terrible noise and commotion among the people.” Great excitement accompanied portentous changes.
In 1857, at the age of 41, the experienced and eloquent Tongan teacher, Paula Vea, was sent to Yale to minister to the thousands of converts in the east of Kadavu. He reported a “great love for the scriptures” but noted the 20 teachers on Kadavu were still too few.
In 1859, most of the chiefs of Kadavu attended a missionary meeting at Yale. This dramatic religious movement climaxed appropriately in December 1859 with the termination of war between Naceva and Galoa, the conversion of Cagilevu of Galoa and the Christian marriage of perhaps Kadavu’s greatest chief, Qaranivalu.
In 1860, Kadavu had 10,894 converts. In 1867, Rev Thomas Baker was murdered at Nagagadelevatu in the high plateau above the Sigatoka Valley.
The spread of the ‘lotu’ and the speed it was being taken up on Dravuni could be seen as the result of a number of factors, viz; (i) Christian teachers being sent to Kadavu and were being accepted; (ii) the end of the Bau-Rewa war at the Battle of Kaba was considered as a victory for Christianity; (iii) the rapid spread of Christianity after the chiefs ‘lotued’; (iv) the tiredness of war after years of conflict; (v) the confusion arising from the many deaths due to introduced diseases; (vi) increased number of people accessing the Fijian version of the bible; (vii) the start of formal theological education; and (viii) the increased organization of the church itself.
From all indications, it seemed that Dravuni was a willing convert, and the villagers were fast learners of the new belief system. There were certainly a number of men of the cloth that can be credited for the transformation that was taking place in the community. Ilai Tuilawa was the first of the many that came to Dravuni to spread the good news. They carried out their work effectively to the extent of making people of Dravuni as men of the cloth themselves. Simione Ravana and Pauliasi Nene excelled in this area. Others were to follow.
My great grandfather Simione Ravana was first posted in 1885 to Nabukelevu-i-ra as a Methodist catechist. He had married Elenoa Raluve, from Naqara, Ono Island. And their first son, Livai Veilawa (my grandfather) was born whilst on posting there in 1889. Further posting took them to Nukunuku and thence Tavuki. The next posting was Namalata, near Vunisea, still on Kadavu. Second child, daughter Kelera Soli, was born there. But for Livai, it was to take another 56 years before he became yet another catechist in the footsteps of his father.
Two other men of the cloth who worked outside of Dravuni but were to have inputs into the Christianization of Dravuni were Rev Vilikesa (or Filikesa) Kalou and Rev Eliesa Bula – both from Gau Island in the Lomaiviti: the former from Sawaieke village, and the latter from Somosomo village.
Rev Vilikesa Kalou
Vilikesa Kalou married Milika from Nukuloa, Gau. Their daughter, Vasemaca, married Saiyasi Yaya of Nakoronawa, Nakasaleka, Kadavu, when Vilikesa was posted there. Vasemaca and Saiyasi had three daughters, the eldest of whom, Lanieta, married my grandfather Livai, who became a catechist on Dravuni in 1945, as alluded to above. Livai died on 15 July 1950.
In 1857, Rev John Fordham was Superintendent of Bau Circuit until 1862. During this time, Filikesa Kalou was led to Christ. He spent 2 years at Mataisuva Theological Institute, Rewa. Mataisuva was described by Mrs Polglase, wife of the Principal 1859-1860 as a “hot-bed for sickness” due to extremely high humidity. She said that it should not have been chosen as a site. Vilikesa Kalou was a successful Branch Teacher. His wife, Milika was a class leader. As class leaders, women were provided with access to church officials and influence in the grassroots organizations.
In 1870, he was received into the ministry and posted to Ono Island, Kadavu. He remained there until 1871. In 1872 – 1875, Vilikesa Kalou was posted to Naceva. Kadavu. Whilst there, he became ordained as a minister of the church. That was in 1874. He left Naceva and was posted to Nakasaleka, still in Kadavu, between 1876 -1878. Vilikesa and Milika went into Nakasaleka with their two grown-up children. By the time they left, daughter Vasemaca had gotten married and stayed back when it came to the next posting.
Further posting in Kadavu took place after that. This time, it was Tavuki from 1879 – 1882. From Kadavu to Nasaucoko, 35 miles up the Sigatoka River on Viti Levu, was the next posting. He stayed there until 1900. Back to the island in Beqa, was Vilikesa’s next posting from 1901 – 1907. And thence back to Viti Levu in Naitasiri between 1908 -1909.
In 1911, Vilikesa Kalou became a Superintendent of the church and was posted to Levuka, Ovalau, Lomaiviti. He did not stay long there. By 1912, he was posted back to his island of Gau. That posting lasted until 1918, when in December of that year, he died of pneumonic influenza. He became another victim of a disease brought in by outside visiting ships. This time around, it was reported that one in twenty Fijians died in that year.
Prior to that in September, Ratu Sukuna’s Fiji Labour Corps or Fiji Labour Detachment or affectionately referred to simply as Marks’ Boys in recognition of the financial help from Henry Marks & Co, had returned from France. My grandfather Livai Veilawa was one of the 100 men that went to work with Ratu Sukuna in France and Italy. The Corps won great commendation all around in Europe. Livai returned to Naqara, Ono Island, where the family was living at the time. He was 29 years old then. It was not long after that when he fell in love with Lanieta Rokomoqe, Vasemaca’s eldest daughter, and wedding bells were soon ringing. By the time when Livai became a catechist in the church in 1945, the family had already settled back on Dravuni.
Rev Eliesa Bula
Rev Eliesa Bula was not posted to Dravuni. But he came to Dravuni and carried out baptism on the site of “Vitiri’, a ‘yavu’ in the village. It is believed that he may have introduced the name ‘Vitiri’ since it is the name of a ‘tokatoka’: family grouping, in Somosomo, Gau. This was during the last move of the village site from ‘Yasa-i-cake’ to the current site after 1888. Apart from that, his relatives from Somosomo (from ‘tokatoka’ Vitiri) came to settle on Dravuni, and introduced other Somosomo names to families on Dravuni. My own family is a beneficiary. Maciu Waqanisau, my father’s name, came from Somosomo. Simione Bula, my brother’s name, is honouring the same ‘Bula’ from the good reverend.
Eliesa Bula was born in 1839. At 17 years old, 1856, he was baptized by Joseph Waterhouse when the latter visited Somosomo. Eliesa was a first generation convert, caught up no doubt as a young man in the wave of conversion which followed Cakobau’s submission in 1854. In 1860, at 21, he taught at a mission school on Gau. In 1865, he was nominated for the ministry. Four years later in 1869, he was ordained as a minister and proceeded on posting to Vuda and then Nadroga between 1869 – 1877. From Nadroga, Eliesa was posted to the chiefly village of Naduri, Macuata province. He remained there until 1883.
At 45, he was posted to his own village in Somosomo in 1884. He was assisting an European Superintendent. That posting lasted 10 years in 1894. It was during this time when Rev Eliesa Bula visited Dravuni on his way to mainland Kadavu. In 1895, he was posted back to Naduri, where he remained until 1907.
Between 1881 – 1908, Rev Eliesa Bula was well respected by his peers, who often nominated him to be their representative to Annual Meetings of the church.
In 1909, he retired from the ministry. In 1915, at the age of 76, he died in his village of Somosomo. He served for 44 years, and during that time, he earned the respect of the chiefs with his diplomatic approach.
His relative from Tokatoka Vitiri, Somosomo, that came to Dravuni was Maciu Waqanisau (the origin of my father’s name), who married ‘kaidravuni’ Jowalesi Ligaiviu. They had two children, viz: Iliesa (sic) Bula and Setaita Wati. Iliesa Bula married Esiteri Viwa from Rakiraki, Yale, Kadavu. Setaita Wati married Josese Kovea of Buliya. Iliesa and Esiteri’s son, Livai Veilawa (my grandfather’s namesake), is essentially a third-generation ‘kaidravuni’ – but not strictly in legal sense due to the patrilineal nature of Fijian kinship system. He married Arieta Bibili of Buliya and their children regard themselves as ‘kaidravuni’ in every sense of the word, regardless of the patrilineality complications.
Dravuni’s Chiefly System
At the 1931 ‘veitarogivanua’
The ‘vakatutusa’ by Marika Koroivui at the 1931 ‘veitarogivanua’ with Ratu Sukuna, clearly stated that Dravuni’s chief was addressed as ‘Tunidaunibokola’, and the present holder of the title at the time was 65-year old Nacanieli Taqaiwai. Essentially, this meant that ‘Tunidaunibokola’ was the ‘Turaga ni Yavusa’: chief of the ‘Yavusa Natusara’ – including Dravuni and Buliya. The seat of this chiefly system had always been on Dravuni. This ‘vakatutusa’, in terms of declaration of the chiefly system, would have closely echoed the ‘vakatutusa’ of the earlier ‘veitarogivanua’ prior to 1910. Nacanieli Taqaiwai was in his early forties then.
However, by the end of the 3-month period of the ‘veitarogivanua’, the chiefly title had changed and formalized as ‘Na Ramalo, na Tunidaunibokola’. And that has prevailed up to now. The change obviously reflected the outcomes of the discussions that took place during the 3-month period. It can be envisaged that these discussions were not straightforward. The drastic change from a form of address that has its roots in Dravuni’s early history (see below) to something that introduces a new element – a new title in fact – is symptomatic of the intransigent mood of these discussions. There would have been questions asked. There would have been claims and counter-claims put forward. There would have been lobbying and counter-lobbying. And in the final analysis, there would have been a compromise.
The details contained in the restricted NLC register of evidence are likely to shed light on this predicament. But that is assuming that there is desire to re-write history. There may be very little to achieve by it. Be that as it may, there is scope for an objective analysis of the results, of the facts as they exist today. The approach may not be the conventional approach to history. But it helps one to understand and appreciate history.
The formalized form of address agreed to at the end of the 3-month period is, in itself, an interesting subject of study. The single title of ‘Tunidaunibokola’ had been extended to ‘Na Ramalo, na Tunidaunibokola’. More interestingly, the ‘Tunidaunibokola’ takes second precedence. And in daily usage today, it is often dropped. Clearly, the precedence is directed at ‘Na Ramalo’.
The interesting situation for Dravuni is that whilst the form of address was changed, the holder of the title did not. Nacanieli Taqaiwai continued in the position he held at the beginning of the ‘veitarogivanua’ and he became the first ever ‘Ramalo, na Tuinidaubokola’ for Dravuni. There is scope for speculating that the form of address was reconfigured, on the basis of the debate that ensued, to match the title holder. What is more significant is the fact that this marked the start of the new chiefly order on Dravuni and for ‘Yavusa Natusara’. The old order from time immemorial, and certainly from the early settlement of Dravuni by Ravuravu, is essentially an accident of history. In Fijian parlance, it is ‘daku ni kuila’: behind the flag, that has and should not have any utility in modern Fiji today.
A further interesting area of study is the origin of the title: ‘Ramalo’. The title exists in other parts of Fiji. Was it borrowed then? It certainly was introduced since there is no traditional usage of the term as far as Dravuni was concerned. If it was introduced, what was its rationale? There are speculations also that the term is derived from ‘Ro na Malo’, believed to be the Rewan chief, who was Roko Tui Dreketi’s envoy to Kadavu (under Rewa’s control at the time), and who became the original holder of the ‘Tunidaunibokola’ title when the title was first created and dispensed with by the then Roko Tui Dreketi himself.
Such line of enquiry creates its own subtlety. This would mean that Dravuni, in the Kadavu province, but part of the ‘Burebasaga’ ‘matanitu’: kingdom, has an all Rewan form of address. This may not be untoward as it seems. The ‘Mata-i-Burebasaga’: herald to ‘Burebasaga’, resides on Dravuni. My family has that title.
It is said that at the ‘veitarogivanua’, it was confirmed that the title: ‘Tunidaunibokola’ was Rewan in origin. And that it would imply that allegiance from Dravuni would still be directed at Rewa and the Roko Tui Dreketi. However, it was ruled by Ratu Sukuna that in the context of the new Fijian administration and its new provincial and district structures and boundaries, Dravuni would direct its allegiance to the ‘Tui Ono’: chief of the Ono District of which Dravuni is a part, rather than directly to Lomanikoro, Rewa. The quid pro quo was that Dravuni be the repository for the ‘Mata-i-Burebasaga’ for the Ono district.
From all accounts, the final form of address reached after 3 months of discussions, was indeed a compromise. It is an acknowledgement of two claimants to the position of ‘Turaga ni Yavusa’. ‘Tunidaunibokola’ title had always been there from the second quarter of the nineteenth century. Maybe its relevance and authority was questioned by the counter-claim represented by the ‘Ramalo’. It is quite possible that ‘Ramalo’ is not a derivation of ‘Ro na Malo’, as discussed above, and that it was an existing title (whether local or imported) that was put forward to counter the Rewan form of address.
The Rewan influence and authority on Dravuni is a recent phenomenon, dating only from between 1825 -1839 when Roko Tabaiwalu, Roko Tui Dreketi, brought Northern Kadavu under his control. Prior to that, there would have been a pre-Rewa chiefly order that would be aligned with the Ravuravu scheme of things. The claim to counter ‘Tunidaunibokola’ could have originated from that quarter. And the forcefulness of the claimants’ submission and delivery at the ‘veitarogivanua’ would have persuaded Ratu Sukuna to conclude as he did by giving precedence to the ‘Ramalo’ title, and re-affirming Nacanieli Taqaiwai’s position as the holder of the new title under the new chiefly order.
Was there a chiefly order under Ravuravu?
As mentioned previously, Ravuravu was not a chief in the Fijian traditional sense. He was a warrior, a warlord and a leader of people. He became the ‘vu’ for the ‘Yavusa Natusara’ for his achievements and for taking his people to the promised land of Natusara, Ono Island, Kadavu, and which became the ‘yavutu’ for the ‘Yavusa’. As mentioned earlier also, he would have taken representatives from across the community: the carpenters/craftsmen, fishermen, priests and warriors, for the purpose of establishing communities wherever they settled. Did he take representatives of the ‘turaga’: chiefly families, the ‘mata ni vanua’: chief’s herald and ‘sauturaga’: second tier of ‘turaga’ to whom the chief would turn for support? The answer has to be yes since Ravuravu’s mission was one of settlement of new land, and establishing communities that would function with all the wherewithal needed by those communities.
Having said that, it is acknowledged that the dynamics of relationships between a new settler group and the old or previously-settled group in an island setting can create new chiefly alignments and configurations. A new powerful settler group can assert its authority on the established order and become the chief of the bigger group. It can do that either by sheer aggression or by marrying into the chiefly family. On the other hand, a less powerful, less aggressive new settler group can quickly become subsumed into the older group to lose all its features.
The Dravuni situation is unusual in that the Ravuravu clan came onto the island and having to establish the only community on the island. It can be assumed therefore that Ravuravu’s own scheme of things would prevail here without the fear of being overrun by any aggressors in the vicinity. It can be assumed further that since Dravuni was the end of the road for Ravuravu and his people, after decades into their mission, there would be different cultural elements that would have been picked up along the way. There could also be subtle changes to their way of life, attitudes and beliefs compared to what they had brought with them from Waimaro under the Medrausucu Range in Naitasiri, Viti Levu.
In any case, there would have been order in the community. Having established their first village at ‘Yasa-i-cake’, order in the ranks and files would have established and the ‘turaga’ would start asserting his influence. It can be envisaged that he would work closely with Ravubokola, Ravuravu’s eldest, whose role would have diminished having completed his father’s mission. However, since there were still battles to fight, Ravubokola’s role was still on demand, depending on the intensity of the hostilities in the area.
That was the order of the day until the Rewan influence came into play. Very little is known about the chiefly order of this period. It was really Ravuravu and his influences that dominated the attention at the time.
The Rewan influence
Northern Kadavu became under the control of Rewa during the second quarter of the nineteenth century, in 1829, when Roko Tabaiwalu was the Roko Tui Dreketi. Dravuni was soon involved in the Rewan wars and related efforts. It can be envisaged that the belligerent tendencies of the Ravuravu clan would be put to good use at this time. But soon, war weariness was creeping in and the missionaries were hard at work, and the Dravuni people were taking a lot of time taking the bounties of war (slain bodies) all the way to Rewa. A delegation then went to Lomanikoro, Rewa to ask for a chiefly envoy to be posted to Kadavu so that bounties did not have to be transported a long way away. Roko Tui Dreketi acquiesced to the request.
The chiefly envoy soon settled on Natusara, the ‘yavutu’ for the Yavusa of the Dravuni and Buliya people. This envoy was a chief in every sense of the word. And he essentially assumed the chiefly position for the ‘yavusa’. He was chiefly, and more. ‘Bokolas’: slain bodies were offered up to him. He had mana. He made chiefly demands and had to be responded to. His chiefly ‘bure’: house, was raised so high that it appeared to be sitting on a high-cliff island. Even today, his ‘yavu’ known as ‘Na Tikovalavala’ still appears haunted, mysterious and under taboo. A massive ‘tavola’ tree crowns the top of this ‘yavu’. It looks down to the chiefly pool where ‘Tunidaunibokola’ would bathe. It is said that he had a large eel that would rub and clean his body whenever he bathed.
Much later, again on the instigation of the Dravuni and Buliya people, a ‘masi’: a chiefly title represented by a certain length of brown masi/tapa, was granted to the envoy by the Roko Tui Dreketi, and the title: ‘Tunidaunibokola’ was bestowed to him. Literally translated, the title means the king of slain bodies, implying that these bounties of war were now offered to him instead of being taken all the way to Rewa.
The form of address: ‘Tunidaunibokola’ for the Turaga ni Yavusa was thus formalized. The brown ‘masi’ passed from one holder to another when death intervened. It prevailed right up to the first decade of the twentieth century, and would have been reaffirmed by the first ‘veitarogivanua’ for Dravuni before 1910.
The first ‘veitarogivanua’, from accounts passed down by word of mouth, was not straightforward either. Sakeasi Tuni was Dravuni’s representative to the ‘veitarogivanua’. There were claims and counter-claims to the title. My great grandfather, Saiasi Ravana, having completed his catechist posting, did not like what he saw and heard. He absented himself and lived in Naqara, his wife’s village, for long periods of time.
In any case, the upshot of the first ‘veitarogivanua’ was the acknowledgement of the title of ‘Tunidaunibokola’ as the chiefly title and the holder of that ‘masi’ was Nacanieli Taqaiwai. The title was confirmed at the beginning of the second ‘veitarogivanua’ in 1931, but got changed by the end of the session 3 months later to ‘Na Ramalo, na Tunidaunibokola’.
The new chiefly order got underway with Nacanieli Taqaiwai of ‘yavu’: Naitaratara. He was the first Ramalo (abbreviated form of address). Navoliani Nene, of ‘yavu’: Nadurusevua took over the position as the second Ramalo. Third and fourth Ramalo, Tomu and Taqa respectively, hailed from ‘yavu’: Nauaua, but later moved to Nadurusevua. The fifth Ramalo, Osea Ratulailai, was again from Naitaratara. His son, Kitione Qereqeretabua, is the sixth and current Ramalo. He has now moved to a new ‘yavu’: Naduruvesi.
Dravuni’s Chiefly and Clan Structural Systems in Disarray
The shenanigans of the 1931 ‘veitarogivanua’, when the chiefly title was hotly disputed and which echoed the same antics of the earlier ‘veitarogivanua’ (in about 1906), had contributed directly to the re-configuration of the formal ‘icavuti’ (form of address) for the Natusara clan and its paramount chief.
The ‘icavuti’: Na Ramalo, na Tunidaunibokola, was a compromise – a compromise between two claimants, or two groups of claimants.
In Buliya, next inhabited island to Dravuni and member of the same ‘yavusa’: Natusara, the same kind of disputes had emerged and a similar compromise for the ‘icavuti’ was configured. The compromised configuration there was Tui Buliya na Turaga na Vunivalu. Whilst Na Ramalo na Tunidaunibokola was recognized and acknowledged as the chief of the clan, there was also acknowledgement and deference directed to the Buliya chief, but he defers to the former.
It is not easy to appreciate the rationale of such a concession for it lacked conclusiveness, which could prove both consensual and sustainable in the long term. For a compromise, by its nature, recognizes the problems or the differences that exist and seeks a solution by mutual concession that meets half way rather than a solution which removes the differences. But one can speculate. The compromise came at the end of a long period of intensive and, oftentimes, temperamental debates. At the end of the 3-month period, energy and patience were fast running out. Ratu Sukuna would have opted for compromise to bring the debates to a close. Perhaps, there was no other workable option!
A compromise it may have been. However, it speaks volumes of the debacle and the ruptures in the clan structures and the cracks in their coherence that were features of clan life at the time.
The results of the two ‘veitarogivanua’ reaffirmed the change in the system of chiefly order – from ‘Tunidaunibokola’ to ‘Na Ramalo na Tunidaunibokola’. Stories passed down from the elders provide anecdotal evidence of a leadership struggle that had expressed itself in a political/’vanua’ coup. The new claimant for the chiefly title (Tunidaunibokola) was assisted to the position by the conspirators from nearby Yaukuve Levu Island, also belonging to the clan.
The leadership struggle had emanated and was fuelled by the long absence from Dravuni of the then chiefly title holder. And behind this long absence is the story of an intense personal struggle of a man, having to decide between continuing his chiefly role inscribed by tradition, by his birthright and the expectations of his people, as against his new calling by a newly-found God, through the teaching of the Methodist missionaries who frequented Dravuni in those early days.
As the stories go, the victimized title holder did not welcome the usurpation of the title at all and didn’t want anything to do with all the subsequent discussions relating to the title, especially during the first ‘veitarogivanua’ of 1906. His son then continued his trademark passive resistance during the 1931 ‘veitarogivanua’. The victimized title holder’s most demonstrative resistance to the injustice meted out to him was to forcefully remove the brown ‘masi’, emblematic of the title, which was then wrapped around the central beam of his ‘bure’, and had it buried. This resolute move was most significant for its symbolism. The chiefly authority and mana lay buried in an unmarked ‘grave’, protected from all usurpers of the title. The implication of a title, gained through usurpation but without its traditional mana and authority for subsequent and future installations is serious food for thought. The current practice of chiefly installation, without due processes of consultations amongst clan elders and without seeking acquiescence from those traditionally endowed to offer such blessings, is indicative of the gravity of the ruptures that have infiltrated the social and cultural fabric of the clan.
The chiefly struggle relating to the Tui Buliya title was equally notorious. Usurpation of the title had led to the assassination of the usurper – a plot that was hatched in great secrecy involving the victimized parties and the Dravuni warriors. The power struggle also drove a delegation to Rewa, to Roko Tui Dreketi, to seek a new chief to counter the escalating intra-clan dispute. This directly led to the installation and formalization of the second authority on Buliya – that of the Vunivalu title.
Stories abound, during the leadership struggle on Buliya, of the Dravuni men walking into the village and into houses, disturbing full and boiling cooking pots and generally making a nuisance of themselves to the usurper to underline their belligerence and superiority.
The chiefly power struggle was landmark in that it was impacting the pinnacle of the clan structure. However, this masked the structural dislocation that was taking place in other fundamental aspects of the clan community. Subsequent formalization of the clan structures by the central administration was built on the basis of this dislocated foundation.
The restructuring of the Natusara clan, as a social, cultural unit, comprising two islands, two villages, and duly compartmentalized into the seven principal pillars of a clan community does not appear, prima facie, to be too problematic. These principal pillars are: (i) Turaga (chief); (ii) Sau Turaga (the chief’s principal advisor and backer); (iii) Matanivanua (chief’s herald); (iv) Bete (priest); (v) Gonedau (fishers/fishermen); (vi) Mataisau (carpenters/craftsmen); and (vii) Bati (warriors). These pillars determine one’s status in the community, one’s role and one’s entitlement. And there are cases throughout Fiji where, notwithstanding the geographical/physical divide, clan structures are stable, providing good and firm foundations for effective and peaceful livelihood and lifestyle. As regards entitlement, for instance, cooked pigs and turtles – bounties of ceremonial presentations, are invariably carved up and allotted to all. Each pillar of the clan community knows exactly what parts or pieces of the animal, ‘magiti’, it would receive.
However, in the context of chiefly struggles, both on Dravuni and on Buliya, leadership struggles and disputes, usurpation, assassination, and multiplicity of chiefs, it can be envisaged that any creation of any administrative structures on such debilitated foundations is destined to continue deep-seated conflicts and ineffectuality. Add the anecdotal evidence that the ‘gonedau’ of Natusara had been expelled by Tunidaunibokola for eating the chiefly eel from Tunidaunibokola’s pool (future story), and also the fact that the clan had undergone various restructuring and reconfiguration on its way from the foothills of the Medrausucu Range as typical of a settler community that had been on a journey for far too long, one can begin to appreciate, not only the complexity of the situation that had emerged but also that the coherence of the original structures of the clan was, at best, flimsy.
The results are apparent today. Natusara clan has no ‘bete’, ‘gonedau’ nor ‘mataisau’ to speak of. These have been lost either through being extinct or though the collective amnesia of bygone generations. There are those who claim that they are the ‘gonedau’. But, essentially, this is engaging in the ‘claim’ game, reminiscent of the past. One does not necessarily have to claim one’s role in the clan community. The role should naturally be acknowledged by the clan and its members. But even this has slipped. The position of the ‘Sau Turaga’, for example, has been queried. A question was asked in a village council meeting some years ago as to the identity of the rightful title holder.
Moreover, the ‘claim’ game that has gone on over generations has given rise to confusion, for example, as regards allocation and entitlements of the bounty of ceremonial presentations. Stories abound of wrong pieces of pork being allotted to some beneficiaries that had to be returned. Some entitlements have been claimed by others. Confusion exists elsewhere. The order of precedence for drinking ‘yaqona’ in formal settings, for example, has often been breached. Devaluation and defilement of what are culturally significant and meaningful has become too frequent. Law breaking resulting from dislocations within families and lack of respect for authority and for the sanctity of the individuals and properties is a matter of concern.
These fundamental miscarriages of justice and protocol and their respective implications have profound impacts on leadership of the clan and on the challenges they impose on clan solidarity, on the coherence and sustainability of collective development initiatives, and on levels of individual and collective aspirations and visions for the future.
The clan is being held back by these miscarriages of justice from achieving its potential. The clan is under-performing. Historical baggage and the high price of carrying it through, including distrust, indifference and disrespect, are loads that are best jettisoned to enable repositioning of our vision of the future and what we can collectively do to raise the bar of our achievements.
A collective effort to turn the proverbial corner is a start to the journey we have to make if we are to raise the bar. Clan members have to open their closed hearts and minds in order to dialogue. Dialogue and more dialogue. Obviously, we cannot re-write history. Furthermore, the wrongs of history cannot be righted. But we can be assuaged by their due recognition and by the acknowledgment of the role they and their forebears had played in the various episodes of our history. This in itself can bring about a paradigm shift. Moreover, it can bring about a ritual cleansing process to forget and forgive, to re-energize and to start afresh.
Starting afresh is not overturning existing clan leadership and structures. Forgetting and forgiving with the benefit of appreciating the highs, the lows and the injustices of our history, at its basic level, is a process of reparation and empowerment, from which good visionary leadership and clan solidarity will evolve. Furthermore, with the benefit of group’s modern organizational principles, including corporate ideals annexed to an enlightened clan structure that is forward-looking, the prospects for future unity, singleness of purpose and initiatives for wholesome development can be limitless.
A week or so ago, I read that the people of the Malolo group of islands near Nadi in the Western Division are planning to create a new ‘yavusa’: clan, to include tourists, hoteliers and investors who are bringing fortune to the islanders. Now, that is forward-looking!
I did discuss the matter of having to start afresh with an elder from Buliya and whilst he was most enthusiastic about it, his advice to me, and I agree with him, is that we should involve the church in this process.
I did say earlier that through the intervention of religion, the incumbent chiefly title holder at the time had to absent himself following his new calling, but at the price of leaving the chiefly title vacant, which had invited infraction, changing the course of history. To invoke the role of the church now to be instrumental in the appeasement of the injustices of that course of history is an affirmation, not only of the pre-eminence of a higher authority, but also of having come a full circle. And so it shall be! But it should also be the beginning of a new dawn.
The reconfigured ‘icavuti’ Na Ramalo na Tunidaunibokola, that had begun its journey in 1931, with incumbent title holder, Nacanieli Taqaiwai of ‘yavu’ Naitaratara, has also come a full circle. Nacanieli Taqaiwai was unable to hand over the reign of chieftainship to his son, Kitione Qereqeretabua, who died as a young man, but he was already a father. The title then shifted to ‘yavu’ Nadurusevua, thence to Nauaua and back with Naitaratara, with incumbent Kitione Qereqeretabua II, being saddled with the title that had skipped his grandfather and namesake.
Having come full circle in both instances above, and if this heralds the dawn of a new beginning, as it is appropriate, it can be envisioned that the signs, be they astrological, religious or those emanating from the metaphysical attributes of coincidences, are most propitious.
106 Comments Add yours
Vinaka vakalevu nai tukutuku, ena maroroi tu me dau vakadewataki vei ira na kawabula kei Natusara,
E matata vinaka tu na veisau e mai yaco, ena rawa ni dina kina na Vosa ni Kalou…Ena kilai ga na kau ena vuana….Na dina ena qai sereki kemudou.Sa yacova mai na gauna mena vakatakilai kina na dina me rawa ni bula vinaka kina na kawa ni ramalo sa tiko ena gauna qo,me tagutuvi kina na cudru (CURSE) sa veimuri tiko mai kau sa dau raica ka vakamuria voli mai. .
Kalougata tiko ka qaqa na veiqaravi mai Delaniyavu .
I hope that all is well in the UK. Let us exchange stories from our elders so that we can weave together the history and legends of our village and clan. Your dad was a rich repository of ‘talanoa’ and ‘itukuni’. Please share them with us if you have any.
Do you, for example, know the origin of the name Livai Veilawa? I understand that this name was given to Natavasara from your yavu, Vagadaci.
Ni sa bula vinaka. E dua ga na noqu vakatataro me baleta na sala ni veiwekani cava e tiko e na talanoa i cake kei na matavuvale vakaturaga mai Vadrai?
Na kena cavuti na Roko Tui Vakali?
Na gauna e dau mate kina na Roko Tui Nakelo, e dau duri na Roko Tui Vakali yacova ni sa vakagunuvi tale e dua na Roko Tui Vakali…….Au kerea ke rawa ni kemuni vakamacala taka mai vakamatai lalai…..
I cannot promise a reply to your query above. I’ll revert if any information comes to hand. You could also revert should you get any.
Na yavusa qo Natusara e gole mai Verata Ucunivanua..
Na yaca ni yavusa qo Nayatusara
Ira na gonedau era tiko mai Deuba…yavusa Natausara….
Vinaka vakalevu. Sa dei tiko vei au na isema ko ni vakaraitaka tiko mai. Ni kalougata tiko.
Bula vinaka Venieli, Vinaka vakalevu na nomuni itakitaki. Sa dei tiko veiau na veika o ni vakaraitaka tiko mai.
Vinaka vakalevu nai tukutuku, sa rogo vinaka dina.
Vakanuinui vinaka tikoga kina wasei ni vei tukutuku sa toqai toka qori. Me nodatou vata tiko na kalougata vakakina na nodatou kawa mai muri.
Vinaka vakavakalevu nai talanoa. Sa rauta me rau veikacivi o Naitasiri kei Kadavu na “TURAGA”
malo vakalevu na i talanoa. sa vaka me qai matamata tikoga mai na vei ka me baleti keitou na kawa nei Ravuravu mai na Yavusa ko Nauluvatu mai Vanuavatu, Lau.
Vinaka vakalevu Tauvu. It would be great if you can share stories of your Yavusa. Other tauvus are also welcome to contribute. We can then link them up with the aim of getting the full chronicle of Ravuravu’s life and influence which will benefit our children and future generations.
Ni sa bula vinaka Kaidravuni.
This is indeed an impressive pool of knowledge regarding the history and evolution of the earliest settlement in that part of Fiji.What remains constant is the pristine beauty of Dravuni as we encountered it during our recent cruise stop-over on the P&O Paciifc Pearl.
Hi there Suren,
Thanks your comment. The pool of knowledge is from my side, handed down to me from my dad. I have tried to encourage those others related or aligned with the Ravuravu clan to contribute their own story by way of comments to my blog or to have their own blogs. We can then verify or compare stories in order to enhance the Ravuravu chronicles. But I’m glad that you enjoyed Dravuni. It is my little piece of hidden paradise!
Ko iko na kawa ni qaqa e vakatau ga vei iko na yaca ko nanuma mo kacivi kina ROKO se RATU ko cei e kaya ni turaga me na taroga.Ia ko Tuivanuakula alis Ravuravu,Qarikau,Uqenavanua,Kubunavanua 2,Kanailagi na kena i balebale me siro ki ra tamata e tiko e cake e qaqa, Turaga se Bakola. Okoya e a basika mai vei ira na makubui i Rokomutu. O koya e gone duadua ka a liu vei ira e na cicivaki Turaga mai Verata, e tiko tale kina luvena na ulumatua ko Buatavatava. Era cili ka vakatabuya nai kavitu ni siga na nodra lotu na yacana TUVITU e sega ni dau digitaki na qase me veiliutaki me vakataki Josefa,Saula keiTevita.>Nai valu ni lotu taumada era mai valuti ira tiko na cili ko ira na tawacili,ka dua na nodra toa ni vala ko Maafu, kei na nona mataivalu dakai e a kabai Vanuavatu Nasautabu Warlords Island…… Me vakamatei na Tawake Lekaleka okoya na TUILAU na kena i balebale nai cocovi ni qaqa ni nona a valuti Viti taucoko ko Ravuravu,ko Tawake Lekaleka e gauna koya e dua na gone lailai e a viriki Maafu e na dua na vatu, ka mate kina e nai ka 6 ni Febueri 1881, e tautau vata na mataqali mate e yaco vei Koliaci kei Maafu na( forged)Tui Lau, kei na (forged)Tui Viti ko Cakobau kei C.Sevege e dodonu me ra a mai valuti Kuila Lekaleka e liu ni bera na soli ko Viti ki Beretania. Ia e se bese ni via mate ko Cakobau,na valu ni lotu e nei Vatican City ka vuni tu e dakuna nai soqosoqo ni vakacuru na Freemasonry, na matabose cecere duadua e Viti ka veilitaki tiko e Viti e na gauna koya, ka yacova mai e dai,Nai soqosoqo ga oqo e a susugi Sukuna kei Mara, ia e rau (forged)taka ruarua nai tutu ni Tui Lau,…na taro……. baleta?………..oqori nai tutu cecere duadua e Viti kei Rotoma………( Sa dreu oti na jaina e na CORD of ARM)……Ia na cava tale sa vo me vakayacori?…. Me lesu ko Viti ki na yavunivakavulewa ni kalou nai vunau e 10 ka era a vakabuta na qase nai taukei dina kei Viti……………..Sa malo………………………………………………………………………………………………………..
Vinaka vakalevu na kena vakamatataki mai nai sema e jiko me baleta na yaca ni koro qo o Dravuni se a tauyavu mai vei,Au dua na cauravou ni vanua vakaturaga oNakelo ena loma ni koro vakaturaga o Visama Dravuni,ko a vakamacalataki tiko ena i talanoa qo,Au se dau rogoca tu ga vakavosa vei ira na noqu qase ni keitou a gole mai Nadakuni ena yasana vakaturaga o Naitasiri.Ia qo sa keimami ravuravu mai ko keimami sa mai cara qele sara tu kina qo ena loma ni rara o Nakelo..Vinaka..
The name Dravuni, as I understand it, is derived from the women’s habit of dying their hair with ashes (dravusa) which in those early days had cultural and traditional significance. It is understood that women used to do this during the land migration from Nakauvadra to Waimaro district; and men used to pass comments “sa bai dravusa tu na ului…”
It is the clan’s own term, so to speak, and not imported from outside.
What is specially significant also it is that the clan used the name for their first and last settlement/village during their long journey of travel and land occupation.
vinaka vakalevu na vaka i tavi
Au vakavinavinaka ena vuku ni nomudou website mai yanuyanu, O au e dua mai na Tokatoka Ulunikoro ena koro ko Nabouwalu, ia au volai vaka i vola ni kawa bula ena Yavusa Tiliva, Mataqali Nalake, Tokatoka Ulunikoro ena koro ko Naqara.
Au vakavinavinaka vei C .Sukanaivalu. Sorowale. Waradi ena nona vakamacala ena vuku ni veitarogi vanua ne Rti Sukuna ena 1931. E levu sara na veisau e mai vakayacora ka vakayalia kina vakadua nai tukutuku dina me baleti au kei ira na noqu kawa. Au sa kilai tikoga oqo ena Yavusa Tiliva, Mataqali Nalake, Tokatoka Ulunikoro (Yavusa Ono).
E taura e lima na yabaki na noqu vakekeli lesu ena drauniveva ni gauna meu taura rawa na yavu e vakayacora kina nai tovo butobuto oqo na turaga lailai qo o Rt Sukuna.
Na vanua o Ono Vanua Turaga vakataki koya ena gauna e cadra cake mai kina na Turaga Qaqa oqo o Ro Veidovi. Na nona sucu mai oqo na Turaga oqo ka vasu turaga ka susu cake ga e Ono, sa dovia vata kaya na veiliutaki mai na ligai turaga tamana o Ro Tabaiwalu ka solia saraga vua na yaca na Ro Veidovi baleta nisa takali na kaukauwa nei Rewa ena vanua o Ono se Kadavu balabalavu.. Na yaca oqo na Ono e yaca ni veivoli ena gauna koya ka sema sara i Ono i Lau, ki Toga matanisiga sara. Na vanua o Ono e lewa na veivoli ena gauna koya (1790 – 1800s) ka kenai vakadinadina na koro ko Naqara ni dau vakayacori kina na voli sasalu, e so talega nai vosavosa e vakayagataki e kadavu e vakadinadina nida dau veitaratara vakawasoma kei ira na vavalagi. Me vaka na vosa oqo na mino (me no) English term, jimoni (demon) English term,
Na Turaga oqo o Ro Veidovi e rau veitau dredre sara kei Rt Cakobau ka tavalei Ro Filipe Cokanauto. Nai sema ni veiwekani oqo ka solia kina o Ro Veidovi e dua na mataivalu vei Ratu Cakobau ka kilai tu e dai o ira kai Lasekau, e vakayagataki kina na yaca ni vanua mai Naitasiri (Lasekau). Era coko vata ena yavusa oqo na Lasekau na vanua vakaturaga ko Yale, Beqa, kei Ono. Na kenai vakadinadina na veitauvu taki o Bau kei Ono i Lau, e sega ni dodonu, e dodonu me o ira na kai Lasekau kei Ono i Lau, sega ni o Bau taucoko. Na vanua e kovuta na nona veiliutaki o Ro Veodovi oya na yanuyanu o Beqa kei Kadavu raraba.
E vakayacori vei Ro Veidovi na vere vaka Bau butobuto baleta o Ono e dua na vanua e vaka koro ni valu viribai vinaka ka dredre sara me valuti, kara tu vata kaya na kena vei Yavusa duidui kara dau qarava na tui Ono.
Yavusa ko Natusara – Gonedau ni Bokola (Bati)
Yavusa Naturu – Sau Turaga
Yavusa Tiliva – Gone Dau (Bati)
Yavusa Nalake – Gone Dau (Bati)
Na Yavusa Tiliva kei na Yavusa Nalake e rau vakarorogo vua na Turaga na Vunivalu.
Sa gole i yanuyanu nai tutu vaka gonedau ni bokola baleta nisa tiko oti tiko na i tutu vaka Vunivalu ka kawa vaka Vunivalu mai Rewa kei Namosi.
E na loma ni noqu Tokatoka (Ulunikoro Yavusa Ono) keitou kila ni rua nai tokatoka e tiko ena loma ni neitou vuvale ka sega tu ni vaka i vola taki. Era vagataka kara kila na koro e rua ko Nabouwalu kei Naqara na yaca oqo ni bula ruarua tiko ia e sega ga ni vaka i vola. Na yaca oqo au taura rawa kina ni tiko talega nai dabedabe ni vanua ko Natusara ena loma ni koro vakaturaga ko Nabouwalu na nona i tikotiko taumada na Turaga na Tui Ono. Na yaca ni Tokatoka oqo o Soloira ka ratou kilai me neitou bati na Tokatoka Ulunikoro.
Vei kemudou na vanua vakaturaga ko Natusara na nomudou i tokatoka ena koro ko Nabouwalu ena vuku ni nomudou i tavi vua na Rokotui Dreketi e tiko mai Nabouwalu. Na yaca ni nomudou i tokatoka o Soloira ka tu vata na kena i tikotiko kei na kena delaniyavu se lala tuga qo. Au vakabauta na yaca oqo e taka ga mai Naitasiri na vanua dou cavutu mai kina.
E dua na delana e tiko ena noqu vanua e Nabouwalu e yacana o Uluiburotu. Ni o duri ena delana qo e qara vaka kina tokalau ka rawa ni sarava vinaka nai tuvatuva ni yanuyanu taucoko mai Dravuni me yaco sara i Yabu ena matavura e Naqara. Au vakabauta ni yaca oqo e vakayagataki mai Matuku na vanua e muria mai na Gonedau ni Bokola ena nona butu vanua voli mai.
Nai cavuti ni Tui Ono taumada (Vakaturaga i Ulunikoro vua na Tui Ono). Ena gauna oqo (Vakaturaga i Koroivabea vua na Marama na Tui ono).
Me vaka na veiwekani makawa i Bau au sa vakamacala oti kina. Na vanua o Ono e sema vei Rt Cakobau ka tavalei Ro Cokanauto ka rau tama vata kei Ro Veidovi. O Ono e vakaitavi na kena veisautaki na veiluitaki mai Bau, mai na veiliutaki ni RokoTui Bau ka veisau me sa veiliutaki na vuvale vaka Vunivalu (Rt Cakobau). Ena gauna ni veitarogi vanua nei Rt Sukuna (1931) e lako tiko mai kina e dua lewe ni vuvale vaka Roko Tui Bau (Rt Sukuna) me mai vakayacora na veitarogi vanua ka meca levu kei Ono. Raica naka e vakayacora e vakasesea kece vakadua nai kequ itukutuku dina meu lai vunitaki kina loma ni dua tale na yavusa. Ka buita sara nai tuvatuva kei Ono ni dabe o Kadavu raraba kina boto ni tuitui sara i ra.
Ena gauna e liu o ira na Turaga e nodra kece naka, se naka ga era raica e nodra se rawa ni taura me nodra. E duatani nai vosavosa e dau cavuti vei keitou e Nabouwalu oya na vuni nai vako, baleta nira tamata butabutako, e rairai era cakava i Kadavu raraba baleta nira sega ni wilika tale e dua. Na gauna sa vakamalumalumu taki kina o Ono sa qai lako mai kina nai vosavosa oya, Manu duitagi se dui turaga ga ena nona dui vanua, Tavuki na veiliutaki i Tavuki.
Vei kemuni na veiwekani ni vosota na veika au sa mai talaucaka ena vuku ni noqu sa mai volai tu vaka tawadodonu. O ni na sega beka ni kila baleta ni caka vaka vinaka na nomudou mai yanuyanu ka matata sara, vuqa naka e veisautaki me vaka nai cavuti, dou sa kalougata ni dou sa vaka ivola taki rawa.
Ena gauna oqo keitou kilai me keitou kai Vita, me vaka nira tiko na tukaqu ena valu levu mai Rewa loma ni koro (1840 – 1850), Na yaca oqo na Vita e vu mai ni ratou a Vita se tuva (viribaita) na Turaga Ro Filipe Cokanauto mai Nukui e Rewa. E kilai nai talanoa oqo ni yaco sara vei ira na gone lalai kei na marama mera vita se tuva mera maroroya na turaga ni sa mavoa koto kasa ra voleka sara tiko mai na meca.
Au via vakamacala ga vakalailai ena vuku ni tamata oqo o sukuna ena vuku ni dukadukali ni tovo e vakayacora.
Thank you for your comment. There are three issues which you raised in your comment, viz; (i) the loss of your chiefly entitlement; (ii) Ro Veidovi’s rule over Ono and dominance of Ono; and (iii) Ro Veidovi himself and his role and the impact of his role. I suggest that we discuss these issues through our interactions in this blog over time. Others are invited also to contribute. Hopefully, over time, we will be able to shed some light onto these issues for the benefit of those who may visit this blog in future. From my perspective, I intend to contribute on an incremental basis – and each time I hope to benefit from research and from contributions from others.
Loss of Chiefly Entitlement
Many kaiOno today are aware of this historical imposition. Elders from Yavusa Natusara (Dravuni and Buliya), e.g. had always insisted that Ono’s icavuti should be addressed properly, i.e. Ulunikoro, Turaga na Tui Ono and not Koroivabea, na Marama na Tui Ono. Some others have insisted just to be direct and to address as follows: Koroivabea, na Marama na Tui Vabea. Others have tried to address today’s reality whereby the Marama na Tui Vabea is the proxy for Tui Ono. They have thus suggested to add an honorific after Marama na Tui Vabea, ‘na Sau ni vanua o Ono’.
All this, I believe, is symptomatic of the awkwardness we face as a result of this imposed obscurity. As can be appreciated, the solemnity of the ceremonies requires us to be respectful and dignified. But how can respect and dignity be maintained knowing that there had been an injustice that had been committed and which had been subsequently codified and blessed? This last bit is really the nub of the dilemma we face. The chiefly hierarchical structures and their corresponding icavuti have been codified and blessed with the bible during the veitarogivanua. They are thus the foundation of our modern social structures. Yes, of course, we can yearn for past glory and languish for what could have been if….but that is about all we can do.
Ro Veidovi and dominance of Ono
Ro Veidovi, one of the eight sons of Roko Tui Dreketi, Roko Tabaiwalu of Rewa, played a dominant role in Ono over a period of about two decades from the early 1820s to 1840, when in July of that year he was taken prisoner to the US aboard the Peacock.
The period coincided with the beche-de-mer trade that was reaching its zenith during the latter part of that period. During these two decades, some chiefs became powerful from, inter alia, use of muskets, bartering of muskets and iron tools for local produce and from assistance to trading ship captains vying for cargoes. Ono was a trading centre for beche-de-mer at the time.
Ro Veidovi had obviously acquired muskets and mastered their use. In an argument with his brother Seru (Tuisawau) in 1827, for instance, he had reached for his gun and shot his brother dead.
Ro Veidovi’s activities on Ono were obviously helped by being a vasu to Kadavu. Furthermore, his chances and support would have grown when the northern part of Kadavu, including Ono, became under the control of Rewa in 1829 under his father’s leadership. He would have been comforted by that. However, given the intensity of the struggle amongst his siblings – brothers and half-brothers, for the chiefly position, especially being the target of much dislike from his Bauan half-brothers, he had realized very early on that he had no hope of succeeding to the chiefdom and was thus prepared for anything if he saw his own advantage in it.
In September 1834, he did see something he wanted to take advantage of. Ro Veidovi saw the vessel Charles Doggett from Salem and thought that it would be a nice present for his half-brother and another vasu to Kadavau, Ro Qaraniqio. A conspiracy was then hatched.
Kim Gravelle in ‘A History of Fiji’ takes up the story……
Ro Veidovi agreed to pilot the brig to Kadavu and to assist in collecting a cargo of beche-de-mer. The captain, fortunately for him, also hired Paddy Connel, a beachcomber who had been living in Rewa. The ship reached Ono Island but Paddy, wise to the ways of the land, could sense that something was wrong. He warned the captain to be on his guard. At Ono, most of the crew went ashore to work in the vata house, the small shed on the beach where beche-de-mer was cured.
Ro Veidovi then came back to the vessel, pleading with the captain to come ashore and urging him to bring medicine for a sick chieftain there. The captain prepared to go ashore, but Paddy told him quietly that ‘to go onshore was as much as his life was worth”. The first mate was sent ashore instead.
From the ship, Paddy Connel and the captain watched as the vata house was set alight. The men inside were clubbed as they ran from the flames. Paddy, the captain and the few remaining crew fired cannons but saved no lives except their own. One man miraculously swam to the ship. Ten were killed, including the first mate and a young boy who had almost reached the ship’s boat before they were struck down by throwing clubs. With the anchor up and the ship ready to sail, Paddy was told to try to bargain with the Kadavu people for the seamen’s bodies. Seven were brought down to the shore, much mutilated.
From late 1834 to 1840, Ro Veidovi continued with his beche-de-mer operations unhindered. But on 18 August 1838, an expedition was leaving the US on its way to the ‘Southern Ocean’ and which was going to transform Ro Veidovi’s life once and for all.
Charles Wilkes, on his ship, Vincennes, left Norfolk, Virginia, US, with five other vessels. For the next four years, the expedition crossed the Pacific, from Tahiti to the Antarctic, from Australia to the American northwest coast. Wilkes reached Fiji in May 1840. On 16 May 1840, for reasons unknown, Paddy Connel related the incident about Ro Veidovi killing of American and Hawaiian traders on Ono. Connel, an ex-convict from New South Wales, Australia, was well known for “romancing a little” with the truth. He reported to Wilkes that all the brothers and a chief at Kadavu were involved in the plot to murder the traders and secure the brig Charles Doggett, for all their own personal gain, not just Ro Veidovi’s. Based on this story, Wilkes decided to seek out Ro Veidovi and take him back to America and not because he was under arrest or he broke the law.
But his arrest was going to be up to Captain Hudson, commander of the Peacock which was already in Rewa, to do it. Captain Hudson however was having problems with his task. He tried a subtle invitation to Ro Veidovi to get him to visit the Peacock. Ro Veidovi did not turn up.
Lance Seeto in the Fiji Times of 5 June 2011 takes up the story…..
With the help of brother Ro Cokanauto, the Roko Tui Dreketi Ro Banuve Kania who had replaced Roko Tabaiwalu, and his wife, along with Ro Qaraniqio, agreed to come on board. They were treated to an exhibition of fireworks. And when 70 to 80 Rewans were seated aboard, they were immediately informed, through the interpreter Paddy Connel, that they were prisoners, and that the object was to obtain Ro Veidovi. Captain Hudson would detain them until Ro Veidovi was captured.
Ro Qaraniqio agreed to go quietly to Rewa and take Ro Veidovi by surprise, and was released. Ro Veidovi, probably aware that to refuse Ro Qaraniqio’s request meant death, came to the ship and was given an instant trial. He bragged of his exploits – and was put in irons. The warrior chieftain stood on the deck, his arms in manacles, as the Roko Tui Dreketi kissed the prisoner’s forehead, touched noses, and turned away – whilst the common people crawled up to him and kissed his feet. None but Ro Qaraniqio was unmoved.
American law did not exist in Fiji in 1840. In fact, the law of the civilized world and Christians did not exist in Fiji during this time. Most of Fiji’s clans including Ro Veidovi’s, were still cannibals and not yet converted to Christianity. The law of the land was the millennia-old Fijian customary laws and traditions. The Americans had no legal authority to arrest Ro Veidovi. The sea slug traders knew the dangers of working in such a savage country, and as Ro Veidovi admitted, “he had only followed Feejee customs and done what his people had often done before”.
In Wilkes’ eyes, Ro Veidovi was a savage who had to be taught a lesson, and capturing “the sailor-eating Feejee chief” and putting him on show in America, would only benefit Wilkes’ standing as a leader of the great exploring expedition. He was found guilty and charged with murders of ten sailors and might have been executed had not an anthropologically minded soul kept him alive for the sake of his skull. Naturalists of the time were very interested in delineating the races of humanity, but they knew that the superstitious sailing crew would never tolerate any human remains on board.
In July 1840, Ro Veidovi, shackled aboard one of the ships, was witness to Wilkes’ massacre of Solevu village at Malolo, in retribution for the killing of two US sailors, including his nephew. Wilkes later wrote: “On taking our final departure from these islands, all of us felt great pleasure. Veidovi alone manifested his feelings by shedding tears at the last view of his native land.”
Lance Seeto continues…..
The official narration of Wilkes’ expedition, found in the US Navy archives, includes many sketches of Ro Veidovi aboard the ships on their return to New York, again suggesting that he was a prize catch for the scientific expedition. He was a live savage from the Cannibal Islands of Fiji who would be put on public show like the bearded lady or mermaid in a circus freak show. An American naturalist onboard the Vincennes, wrote to a colleague to meet the ship in New York to “see this specimen of humanity that you have never seen.”
During the long sail back to America, Ro Veidovi contracted TB and was dying upon arrival in New York Harbour. He died not long after arriving in the US and his skull ended up in the Smithsonian. Along the way, the expedition visited the San Juan Islands in Washington State, near the border with Canada. The chief had become very well liked by the crew, and Wilkes named the island in his honour.
Tavola,a very good work indeed.I just have a question you mentioned Kelera Soli as a second child born to your grandfather.Was this the same Kelera Soli who got married to Vunisei village? i
Loloma yani from Melbourne
Bula vinaka Ilisoni,
My bubu Kelera Soli, born in Namalata, married Lote Suinivosi of Naqara, Ono. They had a son, Isei Rakadruti, who married my mother’s younger sister, Vinau Amalaini. They have 3 children, another Kelera Soli, Komera and Aminiasi, popularly known as Mafia, but who is now Turaga ni Yavusa, Rokotakala, Tui Kove.
Two Kelera Soli are listed in the VKB under the chiefly tokatoka of Mataitoga of Dravuni. One was born in 1907 and another in 1927. Maybe one of these was married to someone from Vunisei village. Marriages between the two villages were not uncommon.
Sereani Likusalusalu, born in 1920, married someone also from Vunisei village, and their son, Vilimoni Lavelawa, lived all his life in Dravuni and died just recently. As a vasu, he was granted a qele kovuti, Waisalima, on Dravuni -the only qele kovuti on the island.
I’ll research more about the two Kelera Soli and revert.
My bubu Kelera Soli was born in 1894 – preceding the two Kelera Soli above. Her name must have come from tokatoka Mataitoga, probably from yavu Nauaua, which was granted later to the tokatoka Butukoro, when Ana from the Nauaua yavu married Avenai from Butukoro. The name Kelera Soli is preserved by that family on Dravuni.
The Naqara connection also continues to preserve the name.
E dua na marama ni Dravuni( Milika ) e a a vakawati taki ki Galoa . E raw beka ni dou vakamacala mai kina . E dua beka ni kena i sema e se bula tiko ni kua.
Grateful for more details, e.g. what period/years are we talking about?
According to oral history, Ravuravu came to Nairai with a grandson. He established the village of Vutuna (not Dalice). His grandson, named Senitoa, also settled on Nairai in One and his descendants established the village of Lawaki.
This is our oral tradition in my clan. Ravuravu and a son or grandson, named Senitoa, arrived on Nairai. The grandson chose his site of his “yavu” a land with a sandy beach. He named the land One. (The word One is a word from an extinct dialect, which means “land” or “sand”, depending on context. Other versions of the word “One” exists as “Ono”, as it depends on how the word was pronounced and written by the first scribes. All lands named or containing the word “One” or “Ono” had prominent sandy beaches. The word “One” exists in the Samoan language as “One-One”, where it means sand or sandy beach.) Ravuravu chose his “yavu” on Nairai further along the coastline, and named the land Vutuna. The people of One, along with other villages, established the village of Lawaki in Nairai. The people of Dalice are closely related to the people of Lawaki by blood and tradition. The Ramasi live in Dalice and related to the Lasakau people who settled in Bau from Beqa.
Thanks for the revealing chronicle, I am from Naikorokoro and would really like to know if there is any historical evidence to support the claim that from “Naikorokoro, Christianity spread to the whole of Kadavu”
I am seeking information and will revert in due course. The statement above is information from various books on the history of Methodism in Fiji. Dr John Garrett and Dr Andrew Thornley have written a few of these books. Historically, the statement can be sustained. I’m working on further details that were prevailing at the time that can best verify the statement.
You may help out here too. Someone is asking below who was Tui Yale at the time in 1853. The character of the chief at the time would also be an added factor to explain how and why Christianity spread so quickly.
My research is progressing well. However, I seek two further information. First, would you be able to confirm that Naikorokoro is a new village resulting from relocation in order to be closer to Suesue where the teachers of the early methodist church were based. If it is, what was the name of the previous village?
Second, the Southern Brothers sing about Suesue. Do you know the lyrics?
Would be grateful.
The little I know is from a Masterâs thesis by Tomasi Kanailagi and the diary of Rev. Jagger who named three missionaries being responsible for taking the Good News to Suesue. The three, Eparama, Aisake and Metuisela left Nasali, September, 1841 and returned in February 1842 at the height of the war between Bau and Rewa, but not before enlightening my forefathers one of whom is recorded as being martyred on Qaraniqioâs instruction for taking up the faith. The name I bear symbolizes the colour of the clothes they wore on Sundays following their conversion from heathenism. The arrival of Paula Vea in 1857 at Rakiraki, Yale in Kadavu is marked as the beginning of Methodism in Kadavu. I just need to know because 2016 will be an important date for us as it will be the 175th anniversary of the arrival of Christianity on our shores at Suesue.
Airports Fiji Limited
L – 673 1712; M – 998 3219; E – firstname.lastname@example.org
The unstoppable march of Christianity – Part 2
The title of an earlier posting on this History Page is ‘The unstoppable march (not match) of Christianity’. Under it, I discussed how Christianity, in the form of Methodism, got onto Dravuni and how its first ever catechist, Ilai Tuilawa, who was posted there in 1875, and through the power of his message, brought about conversion. Such conversion led to my great grandfather, Simione Ravana, becoming the first ever home grown catechist from Dravuni to be posted out in 1885. His first posting was to Nabukelevu-i-ra.
This commentary advances the same title/theme and explores it, given its relevance and applicability, in the context of the whole province of Kadavu from those early days when the first ever Christian teachers were sent there and who settled at Suesue in September 1841.
The historicity of Christianity on Kadavu started with the posting of three early Christian teachers on Suesue. Within a month of posting one of the teachers fled having had his property plundered. The two remaining had to be withdrawn in February 1842 because of violence and skirmishes the consequences of which impacted them adversely either directly or indirectly. There were therefore no teachers stationed on Kadavu post-1842 for a while. Apart from the occasional visits by missionary, Christian teachers and new Christians themselves, Kadavu essentially remained at the fringe of the Christianity movement in Fiji until eleven years later.
In 1853, Christianity re-entered Kadavu by way of Yale and Naikorokoro. This came through the intervention of Ratu Varani of Viwa. A Tongan convert, who was Ratu Varani’s envoy, was very much instrumental in the spread of the good news. As subsequent events have demonstrated, this re-entry of Christianity fell on fertile ground and like a good seed, it just grew and grew. The results of eleven years of religious starvation when the hunger was obviously there contributed to the unstoppable march of Christianity to the whole of the province.
The events leading up to 1841
Despite the problems and challenges of having to convert heathenism, the vacillating nature of chiefly patronage between support and protection of missionaries as against temptations for occasional heathen diversions, the lack of resources, the personal challenges on their health and family, the missionaries had always entertained their grand idea of taking Christianity to the whole of Fiji. Rev John Hunt, for instance, had produced a list of possible mission sites in 1840 and which included Kadavu. Other possible sites in the list were: Bua, Macuata, Somosomo, Lakeba, Bau, Viwa, Rewa, Naitasiri and Ovalau.
Missionaries always sought the patronage of chiefs for the facilitation of their work. With such patronage, the missionaries’ capability to reach out became a two-prong approach. First is securing emancipation through the inherent power of their own message, and secondly, benefitting from the influence of acquiescence that the chiefs were able to bring to bear on their subjects. The missionaries in Rewa, working through the Roko Tui Dreketi, were able to have direct and indirect impact in the planting of the seed of Christianity on Kadavu.
Kadavu became subjected under the control of Rewa in 1829. Roko Tabaiwalu was then the Roko Tui Dreketi. Contacts with Rewa through Tongan missionary, Josua Mateinaniu, started in 1835 and with William Cross when he arrived in Rewa in early 1838. It was said then that of the Rewa and Bau high chiefs that they reverenced and honoured the missionaries, accorded them respect and “bowed themselves down in their presence”. Such high consideration became particularly evident for Cross in the months of May to August of 1838 when Roko Tui Dreketi gave unwavering support to the missionary’s activities. Cross pressed ahead with systematic plan to establish an infant church. Cross began his happiest days at Rewa with translation.
So between 1838 and 1841, the missionaries did not have any planned direct impact on Kadavu. However, they were able to do so whenever there were visits to Rewa from Kadavu when Kadavu people were able to hear sermons directly from the missionaries. The reverse visit from Rewa to Kadavu, on the other hand, presented the new Christians of Rewa the opportunity to raise and kindle the awareness of Christian values and principles with the people of Kadavu. One of these visits took place in September 1838.
In that month, a great flotilla of canoes arrived from Kadavu. Two hundred men came to affirm the tributary alliance of Kadavu with Rewa and to seek ongoing peaceful relations. Cross witnessed the elaborate ceremony as an impressive gift of 50 canoes, 50 whales teeth, 200 spears and a large quantity of masi was presented to Roko Tui Dreketi. 500 people of Rewa heard their high chief declare: “Me bula kemudou na kai Kadavu”.
The following Sunday, 12 September, the congregation at Christian service spilled out of the mission house and many sat around the outside. Cross noted the presence of visitors from Bau as well as Kadavu and he compared his Sunday hearers to the people of Athens in time of St. Paul, such as their “desire to hear and tell of some new things”. Cross was in a buoyant mood. He had finished translation of the Psalms and was working on the book of Proverbs; and he still desired to complete, in cooperation with Rev David Cargill, an ambitious project of translating the whole Bible.
A reverse visit by Roko Tui Dreketi to Kadavu took place in January 1839 only after a few days when Rev John Hunt joined Rev William Cross in Rewa and after the Roko Tui Dreketi himself had personally supervised the establishment of the Hunt family in their new abode. On this visit, Roko Tui Dreketi took with him Christian converts amongst the 1000 men that travelled. Roko Tui Dreketi felt personally responsible for these converts and afforded them protection since their presence was not favoured by the traditional priests. The visit returned on 2 April 1839 with an “immense quantity of native property” including gifts of chickens and pigs. The food was divided and the first generous portion was given to the “Papalagi Chiefs” – the missionaries. Some Christians who had travelled opted to stay back in Kadavu.
On returning from Kadavu, it is reported according to Cross’s diary that Roko Tui Dreketi and his wife spent two hours with the Cross family. The Chief told Cross that while on the recent visit to Kadavu, his brother, Ro Qaraniqio, who was least happy with the presence of missionaries, had been spurned by the Kadavu people, who seized his property and rejected his authority. The local gossip at Rewa suggested that Ro Qaraniqio was being purnished by the ‘true God’ for throwing stones at the Christians. Cross concluded that rumour was working to the advantage of Christianity.
As can be noted above, Roko Tui Dreketi was undergoing fundamental shifts in his belief system – from a proud chief who thrived on wars, cannibalism and heathen rituals to a belief system based on an unseen God and who abhors all savage practices. He was going through a series of epiphanies; but the pathway to conversion, notwithstanding the occasional reversion to traditional obligations, was certainly being suggested. This was not unique to Roko Tui Dreketi. Other chiefs, Ratu Cakobau of Bau and Namosimalua of Viwa and his nephew Ratu Varani et al were also undergoing such incremental transformation. These changes for the better played facilitative role leading up to the posting of teachers to Suesue in 1841 and certainly beyond that when the march of Christianity on Kadavu created its own forward momentum.
An epiphanic experience for Roko Tui Dreketi was in mid-September 1838 after Rewa was set on fire and forty houses were destroyed. One of his brothers was suspected to have been responsible. Roko Tui Dreketi went to the temple and consulted several priests. After sitting for a while, one of the priests became possessed and began to shout and shake as though in a convulsion. Cross reported that Roko Tui Dreketi rose and presented to the gods two large whales teeth. He told his deity, through the priests, that he was prepared to leave his land to the gods since they were destroying his town. He did however make arrangements for improved security in the town. But, as if to seek solace from the new God, Roko Tui Dreketi and his wife visited Cross and his family later that same afternoon.
Later that same month, Roko Tui Dreketi called his elders together and sought a collective decision in favour of Christianity. His elders did not oblige.
On 10 October of the same year, Roko Tui Dreketi and a number of chiefs attended a mid-week church service at Rewa. This was the chiefs’ first appearance at a Christian service; an indication in Cross’s mind that religious allegiance was “inclining to that which is good”. Discussions inevitably focused on Christianity. All listened to the Roko Tui Dreketi. The high Chief was sympathetic to Christianity but deferred to the decision of Bau: “Christianity has taken hold of the land and we cannot send it away or stop its progress. I wait for Tanoa and his son”.
Roko Tui Dreketi’s close family was also experiencing epiphany. Later that same month, Roko Tui Dreketi’s mother, of Bau ancestry, asked to see Cross. Cross visited her and received a sympathetic hearing when he spoke of Christianity. On 14 October, she and Roko Tui Dreketi’s wife attended the Sunday service. Cross wrote that he was being heard by those at the apex of Fiji’s social structure. At the service, the chiefly guests watched as three women from among the congregation testified against their former beliefs and in favour of Christianity. Cross concluded that Wesleyan class was growing. Not long after that, Roko Tui Dreketi made a further step towards Christianity when he allowed his eldest daughter to attend Cross’s rudimentary school and learn to read. Moreover, Roko Tui Dreketi, his principal wife and a brother requested books. The traditional priests complained against this.
This school and other schools in Rewa, a year later, were re-modelled and carried on with fresh vigour, the schools increasing in diligence as the supply of books became larger. Cross wrote that there was evidence of earnest and spiritual religion. Seeing all that, a chief converted and sought forgiveness.
The action of the traditional priests, on the other hand, was symptomatic of the antagonism being demonstrated by groups of heathens. They did pressure Roko Tui Dreketi to forbid Christianity teaching. The high Chief was not impressed. He sent a message to Cross telling him to pay no attention but to continue his instruction every day. Roko Tui Dreketi’s address to the heathens is considered the first significant endorsement of Christianity by a paramount chief in Fiji.
“The gods of Feejee are not true. They are like the gods of Tonga and it has been proven that they are not gods, Those who trusted in them have been destroyed and those who attended to the religion of the strangers are prosperous. Don’t you interfere with the Missionary or his teaching. He shall not be sent away neither shall he be forbidden to teach.
Do you not know that you cannot hinder the words of God. Christianity will grow and prevail and not only in this land; it will extend to all other lands. And is not the day near when you will attend to the religion of the strangers? If I say let the land serve the Lord Jehovah, who will say no. Do not think the missionary shall be sent away. He did not come as one without any specific view or as one of himself. You know he visited Bau with an intention to dwell there but some reason saw it not good to do so. He came and consulted me. I said come to my land; it is good to me that you should come. Come and I will build you a house and you know it was my wish that his house should have been built close to mine but he preferred going on the other side of the river. He came by my consent. His coming was agreeable to me and he shall not be sent away or hindered.”
Roko Tui Dreketi’s brother Ro Cokanauto was also vacillating like the others. He said: “I know they are no gods and I am now dwelling in the land without a god.” However, he had no wish to worship the god of the foreigners yet at the same time he knew that Christianity was true.
In the following year in 1839, Roko Tui Dreketi’s tone to the chiefs was more conciliatory when he said not to speak against Christianity but rather to think about it. Brother Ro Qaraniqio however announced his contrary position: “You embrace Christianity, I shall dwell as I do”. Roko Tui Dreketi’s response to this was by citing the case of the recent converts who “spoke so much evil of Christianity….(but now) seeing they have become Christians, all will”.
In mid-1839, the number of professing Christians in Rewa exceeded 100. Despite the chiefs’ reluctance to embrace Christianity, the missionaries exercised restraint over their actions. But the chiefs and the people were beginning to realize the shame of their savage ways. The missionaries and the traders and visiting ships were constantly reminding Fijians of their bad ways. Cross wrote that the chiefs were beginning to see that a new era was approaching, when their hitherto unquestioned freedom of action would be restrained; and the more astute among them sought to gain the upper hand while opportunity still existed. To the ruling chiefs, the growing interests of strangers in their midst, the claims of foreign governments, and their own ignorance of the new ways of life that were slowly being forced on them, were disturbing. Some leaned first in one direction and then in the other.
The period: 1841-1842
In September 1841, three Christian teachers were sent and they settled at Suesue, Kadavu. Sireli Korovulavula of Naikorokoro named them as: Eparama, Aisake and Metuisela. Church historians identified Aisake by his Anglicized version of Isaac (see below). Their sojourn was frustrated by violence, antagonism, and this was even before the Bau-Rewa war of 1843-1855. But at the beginning of their stay, their work was proving productive.
Early reports reaching Rewa were favourable. Many remote towns (villages) seemed pleased to be taught. The teachers, according to Rev Calvert, labored well and visited several of the most distant towns. The report continues: a deputation from a remote village was sent to Suesue and begged that instruction might be given to the people also. One of the teachers accompanied the messengers on their return, and met the priests of the town, who acknowledged their conviction of the falseness of their own religion, and asked for frequent visits from the Teacher. This was impossible, on account of the distance; so the people determined to remove and settle nearer Suesue. The people of the new village became Christians and there seemed good hope of prosperity. This however was all to be reversed in a very violent way. Rev Calvert takes up the story.
A young Kadavu woman was betrothed to Ro Qaraniqio, the old enemy of the mission, and a false report reached him that she had been unfaithful, a young Chief of the town of Nakasaleka being implicated in the charge. Ro Qaraniqio forthwith went across with a large force, and burnt the town, when a great number of the inhabitants were killed and eaten. The accused Chief and the survivors escaped to a mountain fortress, wither an ambassador was sent, demanding that the supposed offender should be given up. The people replied, “No: we will all die first, and then you will be able to get our Chief.” The ambassador came a second time with the same demand, whereupon the young Chief stepped forward and said: “Refuse not to give me up. I love you, the people of Nakasaleka, and am willing to die that you may live.”
A companion of the Chief insisted upon accompanying him, that they might die together; and the two set out with the Rewan ambassador, dressed and ornamented with whales’ teeth, while the mother and other relatives followed some distance on the way. On reaching the shore the two sat down. The Chiefs of Rewa were assembled, and the oven was being prepared, when Ro Qaraniqio demanded of the Nakasaleka Chief whether he was guilty of the offence with which he had been charged. He denied it. “Well,” said the other, “I will eat you,” and immediately ordered some young men to club the Chief, and, when they had cooked him, to bring some of his liver for Ro Qaraniqio to eat.
They, however, feared to approach their victim, as he was a powerful man, and still held his club. But he cried to them not to fear, and threw his club away. He afterwards took some whales’ teeth from the folds of his dress, and threw towards them; unloosed his necklace, and gave it into their hands; and then bowed his head to the fatal blow. His companion was next killed; and both of them were cooked and eaten.
The woman about whom all the mischief had been done, was taken to Rewa, and when it was discovered that the report of her unfaithfulness had been raised by a party who had a quarrel with the Nakasaleka people, and were not able by themselves to punish them. This discovery, however, did not prevent Ro Qaraniqio from carrying out his tyrannical plans on Kadavu; for one of the teachers who was on visit to Rewa, was forbidden to return, and orders were sent from the Chief that the other Teacher must come away at once if he cared for his life. He finally left in February 1842.
Roko Tui Dreketi had sanctioned the sending of Teachers in the first instance, and the case was now submitted to him. He thought it better to remove them, and it was evident that danger was at hand. The Christians at Kadavu were compelled by threats to give up their profession of religion, and the remaining Teacher was glad to avail himself of the canoe sent by the missionaries to fetch him away. Thus the pleasing prospect of success which seemed to open on this island was closed in darkness, and the mission there abandoned for a time.
The unfavourable situation at Suesue had been severely exercising the minds of the missionaries during this period. Rev Lyth had found that the teachers were having to contend against “severe persecution and many obstacles.” He noted that whilst they worked under the protection of Tui Naceva, rival chiefs were undermining this trust and arrangement. Rev Jagger, on the other hand, was most concerned acknowledging that the teachers had been sent to Suesue following a decision of the 1841 District Meeting.
For the teachers themselves, they would have wondered what they were letting themselves into. So much so that Isaac (Waisake) was compelled to write. Below is Jagger’s translation:
“I, Isaac. I make known the thing that has happened at Kandavoo, a report painful very Mr Jagger, they have returned 5 times to drive us away and 5 times has been near thereby our death. Qaranenqeo has ordered us to come to Nasale (the mission premises at Rewa) and if we come not, we then die. How is your mind the servant of God in the thing this? It is good our going hence or good our staying to die; not weak are our minds in the thing this. The chief and his wife and his children have turned. I, Isaac, I tell correctly hence my mind: very many are these things it is good that I go hence to Rewa – you consider the servant of God whether good or bad.”
A report on the Rewa Mission late February 1842 named the mission staff there as Tongan missionary Joeli Bulu and at least three others – Sailasi, Joeli Mafi and Isaac, who had been to Kadavu.
As if to farewell a sorry chapter in Fiji’s history but at the same time to herald a new page of unprecedented violence and ignominy, a comet appeared in March 1842. It remained a nightly terror for a month, it is reported. Only once before in the memory of living men had a comet been seen, and in the old men’s tales that appearance was associated with the Argo wreck (January 1800) and the disastrous epidemic (lila balavu) that followed it. The Bau-Rewa war that followed the next year was – “a war that was to ruin Rewa and plunge the delta lands and the contiguous coasts into a deluge of blood that lasted for more than a decade.”
The comet also happened to be an harbinger to the death of Rev William Cross in Somosomo after years of illness on 15 October 1842. His fellow missionary, Rev David Cargill died the following year (25 April 1843) before the Bau-Rewa war, in Tonga from an overdose of laudanum. Rev Hunt was to follow on October 1848, when he died in Viwa at 36 years of age.
The period: 1843-1855
The Rewa-Bau war, during this period, played havoc on the missionaries and mission – a very testing time indeed. R. A. Derrick referred to it as the greatest struggle of the nineteenth century – the 12 year war between Bau and Rewa. Rev John Hunt characterized it “as the bitterest and most terrible war that Fiji had known, marked by barbarities more fiendish than the oldest could remember.” And he should know since he lived in the midst of it.
It can be appreciated that, in the environment such as this, restoring the mission in Suesue was out of the question. There were events, however, that were underway that sustained the interests of the missionaries in Kadavu. This culminated in 1853 when Christianity re-entered Kadavu via Yale and Naikorokoro.
In 1842, for instance, the printing office in Rewa had been found suitable (sic), and a fresh supply of types and paper arrived from England. Books were in great demand, and before long, there were issuing from the press publications in four of the dialects of Fiji. Thus the actual Mission work was almost stayed at Rewa, very important help was being rendered to other stations. But the Mission moved temporarily to Viwa to ensure that work of the Mission was not curtailed. Only two teachers remained in Rewa.
In 1845, Namosimalua and Ratu Varani were now both Christians and refused to take any part in the war. And Ratu Cakobau was not happy with them – Ratu Varani being a bati to Bau. In January 1846, Hunt reported that the resident teacher at Gavo, Ovalau had left due to threats on the mission and had gone to Kadavu. It is unclear however as to the status and the impact of the effort of this teacher on Kadavu at the time. In the same year, Rev John Hunt began the translation of the New Testament into the Baun dialect, finishing it early in 1847; and by June that year (1847), the first complete bound copies – entirely produced on Viwa – were available.
In October 1847, missionaries at Viwa drew up “rules for civil government” to be recommended to Christian chiefs as soon as it appeared expedient to do so. It was reported that missionaries influence was increasing. An example given: a young man of Viwa was brought to justice, and punished. The man was found guilty and flogged with a rope’s end; elsewhere in Fiji he would probably have been clubbed if a commoner, and smiled upon if a chief.
In 1848, Richard Lyth served as Chairman of the District following Hunt’s death and was instructed to take teachers to new mission centres at Kadavu and Nadroga. As Chairman, he made a journey to both Kadavu and Nadroga. Nakilisama, Hunt’s servant, became one of the first teachers at Namalata, his birth place. It would be fair therefore to acknowledge this effort of a kaiNamalata in the fostering of an early surge of Christianization on Kadavu after the abortive effort of 1841. This effort on Nakilisama’s part did not go unnoticed.
On 19 October 1849, when Tui Nayau lotued, it was also decided to move the printing establishment from Lakeba to Rewa. This was done for logistical reasons; Rewa being in the centre of greater population in Fiji. Between September 1850 and March 1851, the first Fijian dictionary was completed and printed on the mission press at Viwa.
In Rewa in October 1852, the Romish priests wanted to take advantage of the temporary absence of the Wesleyan missionary from Rewa to gain some ground there. But Ro Qaraniqio, now Roko Tui Dreketi, presented an obstacle. When asked to remove the native teacher sent from Viwa to watch over the interests of the mission in Rewa, Roko Tui Dreketi responded by saying that he was afraid to do so, as the teacher had been brought by an Englishman in a British ship of war. Roko Tui Dreketi had lied – the teacher had been sent in the Mission boat. The high Chief now learned to value the presence and teaching of the missionary, whom he wished to bring back once more.
In 1852, the realization that Kadavu was re-opened for business with Nakilisama’s effort
way back in 1848 was creating great interests amongst the mission population and enthusiasm was building up aimed at re-occupying the station on Kadavu and there was hope that they might re-gain safe access there. The will was strong and they re-gained such access in 1853, notwithstanding the risks of the war, the end of which was still 2-3 years away.
The persistence of the missionaries to focus on Kadavu despite the ravages of war is most commendable. Their success to gain re-entry in 1853, whilst underpinning their determination over adversity, it was also predestination of the course of the war. The war efforts were becoming a huge burden for the people; the chiefs were increasingly experiencing epiphanies that inevitably pointed to the follies of their action and were thus being attracted to the life-changing message of the monotheistic God of the missionaries; and all this was crowned by the victory over the Battle of Kaba in 1855. Many historians claim that this victory was a victory of Christianity over heathenism. And when one realizes the extent of the active role of the missionaries and that of the converts (including the Tongans under the leadership of King George of Tonga) in the course of the battle – be it advisory, consultative or otherwise, and furthermore the indisputability of the outcomes of the war, one can begin to appreciate the veracity of such claim.
Before the start of the Bau-Rewa war in late 1843, the Rewa people were still coming to Kadavu to build canoes for the Roko Tui Dreketi. The impact on either party was different. For Rewa, the long absences affected church attendances. For Kadavu however, it can be envisaged that Rewan Christians in Kadavu were spreading the good news whilst there. At the start of the Bau-Rewa war in late 1843, it was reported that seven other wars were underway in different parts of the Group. Historians claim that this was contributing to tiredness over war efforts.
In March 1844, Ro Cokanauto defected to Bau. Consequently, a number of villages close to Lomanikoro changed their allegiance to Bau. The war was getting close to Nasali, the Mission centre and food supplies dwindled. The ripples of the war were also being felt on Kadavu and Beqa.
The war escalated in December 1845 when Ratu Cakobau killed Roko Tui Dreketi and Ro Cokanauto, vasu to Bau, assumed the chiefly position. Ro Qaraniqio was displeased and escaped from Rewa. He returned the following year in 1847 with his own army but was repulsed. Ro Cokanauto continued to be Roko Tui Dreketi with Baun patronage but operated from Nukui. It is reported that Ro Cokanauto was protective of the missionaries, but not so Ro Qaraniqio. When in September 1849 when an epidemic influenza struck Rewa and Roko Tui Dreketi and his wife both suffered, the missionaries and their wives attended to them directly to bring personal relief to both of them.
These personal contacts between the high chiefs and the missionaries and the occasional religious discussions in which they were engaged were making inroads into the belief system of the chiefs and the effects were being manifested in their actions, manners of speech and deportment.
At the end of October 1849, for instance, seventeen human bodies were presented to Rewa from Bau after Bau sacked a town belonging to Verata. It is reported that Roko Tui Dreketi did not partake in the cannibalistic feast, having given up the practice since the arrival of the missionaries. A month later when Rewa sacked Beqa, Roko Tui Dreketi stopped all fighting on the Sabbath. And he himself was attending an increasing number of services conducted by the missionaries. But he died soon afterwards in 1851 and was buried in Bau. In acknowledgement of his advances into Christianity, only his chief wife was strangled at his funeral.
Ro Qaraniqio then became Roko Tui Dreketi and the war entered a new intense phase given his enmity against Bau and especially against Ratu Cakobau; the latter dating back to when the two chiefs were brought up together as young boys in Lomanikoro. A number of events happening at this time were contributing to the intensity of the situation giving rise to the inevitability of the Battle of Kaba. These included:
• shifting allegiances on both sides including cross-allegiances;
• Ratu Cakobau’s fortunes and debt were becoming intolerable even before he was installed as the Vunivalu in1853 and before he lotued in April 1854;
• injection of hope for the missionaries when Tongan carpenters/Christians (including some Fijians) were removed to Rewa from Kaba and coinciding with Mr. Moore’s appointment to Rewa;
• Roko Tui Dreketi’s generous accommodation of these new Christians – e.g. residence and a boat for Mr. Moore and relocation of the Mission site for safety reasons;
• shooting incident involving two missionaries as a case of mistaken identity;
• strong urging to Roko Tui Dreketi by Bau Chief Koroi Ruvulo to convert/lotu;
• Ratu Cakobau’s advances into Christianity had led him to forbid eating of human flesh when Rewan bodies were presented to him and thus returning same to where they had come from and the general sigh of disbelief that greeted that decision;
• Ro Qaraniqio’s permission for Mr. Moore to bury the bodies with Christian rituals;
• Ro Qaraniqio’s continued intent for full revenge and to eat Ratu Cakobau, and his rejection of negotiated peace initiatives between the warring parties, but continuing to listen to the missionaries’ sermons;
• His reproach of his traditional priests for the falseness of their predictions for speedy victory;
• Ro Qaraniqio’s death on 26 January 1855, but his heart was still full of bitterness and revenge; he however did not leave behind instructions for the execution of his revenge;
• Only one woman was strangled at his funeral as a quiet acknowledgement of his advances into Christianity;
• Ratu Cakobau’s new peace offer after the death of Ro Qaraniqio had a mixed reaction in Rewa, but peace was still ratified in early February 1855 and which was celebrated in Bau;
• But in Rewa, such ratification was met with fire and looting at the Mission, and Mrs Moore’s life was threatened;
• This incident, however, led the Christians to believe that they might lose the services of their missionaries which would be a major setback;
• The vacuum of leadership in Rewa was taken advantage of by Bauan rebel, Mara, vasu to Lakeba who rejected the peace ratification and used the opportunity to further his own private revenge on Bau;
• The intervention on 24 March 1855 by King George of Tonga, who came on a goodwill visit but ended up involved in the war because of the unfriendly reception that awaited him at Ovalau and the threatening gestures from towns near Bau;
• Mara’s rejection of intervention by Rev Calvert to sue for peace;
• King George’s refusal of Rev Calvert’s request on the grounds that Mara deserved what was coming to him for his involvement in King George’s unfriendly reception on Ovalau;
• Mara’s rejection of another peace initiative by Rev Calvert conveyed through the Chief of the Bau fishermen; and
• King George’s decision to join Ratu Cakobau when a conflict proved inevitable notwithstanding all the efforts to prevent it.
The Battle of Kaba was preceded by prayers and King George himself conducted the meeting and sixteen persons prayed. The prisoners given up to Ratu Cakobau were all pardoned. One refugee who escaped from Cautata and was caught was only saved by the intervention of Mr. Waterhouse from the Mission. The son of the Chief of Nakelo, one of the revolted districts was held in Bau but safe and was subsequently released. It was indeed a victory for Christianity. Before King George returned to Tonga, he accompanied Ratu Cakobau on a visit to Rewa and Kadavu on 11 May 1855. King George sailed on the Ramarama, a gift from Ratu Cakobau. Calvert described the canoe as “perhaps the largest in the world.”
Kadavu – 1853-1860
Two years before this grand visit, Ratu Varani from Viwa had sailed the same seas, not as an able chief and a bati to Bau to wage war, but as a convert of eight years to help spread the good news. Ratu Varani became converted on Easter Sunday, 21 March 1845, when the Bau-Rewa war had just escalated after Ro Cokanauto defected to Bau. R A Derrick characterized Varani, the Christian, as “an extraordinarily good one.”
Even as a young Chief, a nephew of Namosimalua, Chief of Viwa, he did demonstrate extraordinary leadership qualities. In February 1839, still a heathen, and one of the most feared warriors, he helped his high Chief build the first chapel on Viwa. At the start of the building project, Ratu Varani questioned Namosimalua’s exclusive use of Christians in the erection of the chapel. Did he not desire all the people to assist, inquired Ratu Varani. The Chief relented and that evening a call went from Ratu Varani to all the men of the island to help lay the foundations of the ‘house of God’. If any did not attend, “they should be trampled upon till they were dead. Given this frightening ultimatum, none declined Ratu Varani’s summon. At that time, Cross had found Ratu Varani a “magnetic personality.”
So it was his magnetism plus the enthusiasm of his Tongan envoy that were instrumental in the resurgence of Christianity in 1853 via Yale and Naikorokoro. Kadavu was ready for Christianity having had a taste of it way back in 1841-1842 and having to be starved of it in the intervening period. The missionaries and teachers and their expanded tools of the trade were also ready to launch into the evangelization of the Kadavu people.
In recognition of Ratu Varani’s efforts and labour of love, a qele kovuti was registered in 1929 with caption: ‘Yavusa Nayaumunu of Viwa Island has a parcel of land set aside for them as a “reserve” near Rakiraki Village in recognition of the part played by Ratu Varani’.
The visit of King George and Ratu Cakobau to Kadavu in 1855 can be seen as a celebration of Christianity. Two extraordinary Christian converts – one from Tonga and the other from Bau, from the highest echelon of society, were making a visit to a part of Fiji with its population ready for evangelism. A report of this visit stated that “persons have lotued at twenty-one towns on Kadavu. When lately visited, the number was upwards of seven hundred; and it is probable that soon there will be several thousands professedly Christian, on that island of nearly one hundred town; and Mr. Moore can supply only four persons for the work.”
Another report in 1855 states that “following the defeat of Rewa at the Battle of Kaba, the seven chiefdoms of Kadavu converted rapidly, a movement attributed to a number of factors including war-weariness, Tongan influences, the conversion of leading Rewa chiefs and not least the independent spirit of the Kadavu chiefs. The author of the 1856 Circuit Report had this to say: “I have been all around Kadavu on foot, and am surprised at the work of God. You would be astonished to hear many pray, who have only begun to seek religion since you left Fiji.” 1856 also marked the start of formal theological education in Mataisuva, Rewa. In the same year, it is reported that ‘the Wesleyan missionaries were caught unprepared by the rush to Christianity on Kadavu. Not enough teachers were found. A Rewan chief went to a village that was still pagan. “Come, he says, you must lotu, the people replied ‘vinaka’ and fetched their clubs and spears and demolished the temple, they then returned to the chief and told him that he must pray with them.”
In 1857, nineteen men from Matuku and Totoya were taken to Kadavu to help in the work of the mission and placed around the island, so that the whole of Kadavu was placed under instruction, except Galoa where Cagilevu, the chief still remained heathen. Paula Vea, the experienced and eloquent Tongan teacher, arrived in Rakiraki the same year. He was 41 years of age. He ministered to the thousands of converts in the east of Kadavu. He reported a “great love for the scriptures” but noted the 20 teachers on Kadavu were still too few. Calvert later wrote: “Classes were put to order, men were examined to become Exhorters and local preachers; Paula Vea is doing well but he is getting old and failing.”
In 1859, most of the chiefs of Kadavu attended a missionary meeting at Yale. “This dramatic religious movement climaxed appropriately in December 1859 with the termination of war between Naceva and Galoa, the conversion of Cagilevu of Galoa and the Christian marriage of perhaps Kadavu’s greatest chief, Qaranivalu.”
In 1860, it was reported that Kadavu had 10,894 converts. However, Calvert was still pleading: “Kadavu needs a missionary at once.” In his letter to England, he wrote: “Think of Kadavu, and all the places on this land, left in the hands of men who have just been taken from their classes, quite raw, having never preached a sermon! How are the people to be taught by them? What can we expect from them? And what must be the consequence if they are not well looked after by the Missionary? And how are we to see after them with our present numbers? My heart sinks when I consider the state of this Circuit, and of Fiji generally……….Missionaries required!”
Peni o donu vaka lailai cala vaka levu toka. O Nairai e tau yavu taki ena koro ko Yakava, Ni kua e sa rua yaca drau tiko o Vutuna kei Lawaki
O cei mada e vola na i talanoa kei Nairai,Sa dua na tamani lasu levu .Rogorogo ca qai boi Dada. Ni vosota . Baleta e dodnu me vaka dewa taki vaka dodonu na keda i talanoa na taukei.
mike tikolo na gusumu lila qori baci o vaka liligi
Sa bau rogorogo vinaka dina nai tukutuku. Vinaka vakalevu Momo.
LET’S KEEP THE HOLY SPIRIT FIRE BURNING ! ” The spirit of the Lord is upon me…chosen me to bring good news to the poor,..proclaim liberty to the captives..recovery of sight to the blind, to set free the oppressed and announce that the time has come when the Lord will save his people” (Luke4:18-19). VINAKA VAKALEVU TUTU VILIKESA KALOU, TUTU ILIESA BULA & TUTU MACIU WAQANISAU (Rev. I Bula’s assistant) Sawaieke/Somosomo, Gau, Lomaiviti.. BEST OF ALL – GOD IS WITH US.
Loloma & Masu. .. SVula, Tacirua East, Nasinu.
Totoka dina, Kalougata ni se matata tu nai tukutuku me baleta na yaca kei na noqu vanua lomani. Vinaka Vakalevu.
Uncle Maciu has a lot more old tales to tell. If you can get him to relate to you and then you can pass them on to me to upload. Loloma to all.
I must admit that this is the best history book I have ever read.It is quite clear the amount of critical analysis you have put in each piece of information before it is penned. Impressive.It is iinteresting the way you’ve incorporated great events of the time into your history.This may encourage others to check their story, structured by those events.You have also made your story a reference book to Fijian social structure and land division terms,which your history clearly demonstrated. Also shown are Interesting traditions such as the composition of the entourage,the tradition of leaving people behind in a settlement,the naming or renaming new places with the old names and tauvu.Your history is the prototype for others to emulate.
I have two suggestions:
1:To show your intramigration route on the map.Hopefully,one day,an intramigration map of the Fiji islands will be part of the history curriculum with lines cris crossing all over the land.
2: I think,it is time that we boldly stand up and call this kind of writing as History.It is about us and we should write it. Objectivity was a strategy for others to build their status at our expense.Critical analysis of every infor is the key as Kalio has clearly demonstrated.
Thanks your comments. I take note. For the migration map, I might have to seek assistance from (Bubu) Vasemaca the practising artist of Otara, South Auckland.
I’m currently reading “Disturbing History” by Robert Nicole, an historian now teaching at USP. He is married to Raijieli Drodrolagi of Naceva, Kadavu. She came back from NZ to be the CEO of the Save the Children Fiji. The book makes very interesting reading. Things you do not read in mainstream history. he got all his materials from the National.Achives. According to him, there is a goldmine of information out there. It is the history of resistance in many forms by all ethnic groups, both sexes and every class of the community. It is a great read.
Maybe, maybe, my historical account could pass as ‘disturbing history’.
vinaka vakalevu na vakadidike -noqu mataqali Natokalau,Navuakece,Naitasiri.au sa kila tiko na kequ i sema ni tiko na vakadinadina ni so na yaca e na noqu mataqali kei na vica na vanua/koro mai kadavu nikua
O Milika mai na yavusa Natusara ena koro ko Dravuni e a vakawati kei dua na Turaga ni Galoa kadavu na yacana o Manoa Togamalo Bilo ka luvedrau o Pauliasi Bilo,Marica Kutani kei Nanise Vereivalu
Qo ena rauta tiko na yabaki 1870-
Bula vinaka Jovilisi,
Milika was from yavu Vunivasa, Tokatoka Butukoro, Mataqali Natusara. She was probably Jolame’s sister. Jolame was father of Rusiate and his clan members are the current members of the Vunivasa clan living today, including Jolame Koroivuya who just retired from the military. Mai na daku ni kuila, I am aware that Jolame, my great great grandfather and another qase ni Dravuni from yavu Vagadaci were one family, but then separated into different mataqali and even tokatoka as a result of the reallocation of family members following the first Veitarogivanua in about 1906.
Nanise was married to Kelevasi’s father from Somosomo, Gau. Kelevasi boarded with us in Nabua for many years in his early working days.
Marica married someone from Tokalau, Yawe.
Pauliasi married someone in Galoa and had 5 children.
I gather that you may be part of this clan, in which case, we can be related.
Happy New Year!
Ni sa bula vinaka. Gone ni Nadakuni, Waimaro, Naitasiri. Vinaka vakalevu na keda I tukuni makawa..au dau rogoca vakalailai tu na talanoa qo.. Na yacadratou na veitacini nei Ravuravu se vakayagataki tiko ga nikua mai nakoro.
Bula vinaka Seveci, Thank you for commenting. The information I have is that Ravuravu was second of 3 brothers. The older brother was Vueti and the youngest was Tuvuni. Ravuravu’s wife was Adi Vonokula. Grateful for any additional information that you may have.
Vinaka vakalevu na veitokoni ni noda itukuni makawa.
Ni sa moce mada
Ni bula vinaka Kaidravuni. O ratou na veitacini ya Mai na mataqali na Nanuku Waibasaga. Semi Vueti, Opeti Mataravuravu kei Tuwati Tuvuni. O Mataravuravu ko Ravuravu ko a kilai Mai liu. Na watina o Adi Vonokula e marama Mai Bau. Na nona via kabati Bau o Waimaro Qai vakamalua taki Mai Bau na marama me soli Waimaro me ratou kua ni kaba.
Vinaka vakalevu na keda I talanoa dina.
Drau vakacegu toka.
Vakatataro no baleta na kena vakamaluataki na marama ni Bau ea vu mai vakacava…
Kevaka me vu mai vana Nona isoro o Rt Cakobau vana Ivalu mai Naloto..
Kenai balebale e kau cala na marama ni Bau dodonu me kau i Serea …yacani vale na Waimaro…Mitieli Bureqere
Kerekere rawa ni vakamataka take ra
Au kerei Seveci me sauma mai na taro ka toka e cake mai vei S. Moce. Ia, au vola toka aqo taumada e vica na ka me vakasamitaki ena kena vadodonutaki na tikina aqo:
1. Sa dei toka ni wati Ravuravu ko Adi Vonokula;
2. O Adi Vonokula e a vakamaluataki mai Bau;
3. O Seveci e tukuna ni sa vakamaluataki oti o Adi Vonokula, sa vakadaroi na nona via kabati Bau na vanua o Waimaro;
4. O S. Moce e vakaraitaka toka mai e dua na ivalu mai Naloto. E kena ibalebale ni a sa caka oti na ivalu aqo;
5. O S. Moce e vayagataka na yaca o Waimaro me yaca ni vale se dua na yavu. O Seveci, au vakabauta, e vayagataki Waimaro me yaca ni vanua.
Au kerei Seveci me dua tale mai na nona ivakamacala.
Meu tomana ga vakalailai ena dua na I talanoa. Au lai vakamau I nakoro na yabaki sa oti. Na watiqu e marama ni Narikoso. Sa yaco I nakoro. Ra yaco Mai na veiwekani. Tarogi au sara dua noqu tavale Mai na yavusa nei Ravuravu. Taroga Sara se marama ni vei. Au kaya ni marama ni Ono, Kadavu. Tukuna ga okoya. Ni kua e mate. Lol.. Sa Lako tiko vua na beseni. Sa taro Mai okoya.
Ae au nanuma ga ni tou veikacivi naita o kedatou. Au kaya vua. Io veikeimami kece. O ratou na mataqali qo. O dou veitauvu taki.
Dua na siga rarawa vei na watiqu na siga ya.. Haha
E dua ga na I kuri ni ka a yaco Mai liu. Se da vakamuria tiko na gauna oqo.
To add to the above, Seveci: when the Ravuravu clan left Natusara, the yavutu on Ono Island, clan members first settled on Dravuni, Buliya, Yanuyanu isau and Qasibale before they moved to other parts on mainland Kadavu. Those who first settled on Qasibale moved to Nabukelevuira. Those who settled on Yaniyanu isau moved to a place near Narikoso and finally settled on Narikoso itself. Today, our tauvu relationship with Nabukelevuira is still strong as ever. Those on Narikoso provide the Mata iNatusara from Ono Island.
The name of the place that was settled before Narikoso is called Sayaki. it is near Nukubalavu.
Who was Tui Yale in 1853?
You’ve got me there. I’ll do a bit more research and will revert in due course.
vinaka vakalevu nai takitaki
Vinaka vakalevu na veisiko
No wonder Dravuni is the leader of the Bati clan of Nakelo,Because of their ancestor Ravuravu,A leader and a Warrior.Thats why Bau invaded most parts of Kubuna and Burbasaga,but their triumph was halted by the kAIBATIs of Nakelo,which is from Dravuni,which goes all the way down to Nadakuni,and to its originator Ravuravu the Conquerer…
Bula vinaka Niko,
Thanks your comment. It is amazing how things make sense when you start linking up all these tales from the past. I would encourage all to research and write things down before they all disappear. Vinaka
Ni bula Naita
When I first read your email it piqued my interest in that my family are known as kai Dravuni which refers to a parcel of land in Lovu Gau Lomaiviti. Which just so happens to be right next to the boundary of Vadravadra village. Lovu is the chiefly village of the three Yadua being the third. Although our Tukutuku raraba does not contain any record of Ravuravu’s visit and neither does Vadravadra (from memory) your story is indeed interesting. It is likely that the name Dravuni which is my forefathers land could well come from Ravuravu trail en route to Dravuni Kadavu. My family are the descendants of Ratu of Lovu said to be originate from the chiefly Verata. This is acknowledged by the Vesikula family from my early days till today. Given the family connection it could well be that Ravuravu personally named this piece of land in memory of this infamous journey. What a connection. Thank you so much for sharing this great story.
I’m glad that you enjoyed reading the history about Ravuravu. We discussed this subject over coffee and pikelets for which I’m grateful. Please share some of your own history, for I’m sure that we and our clans could go back together a few generations. Please convey my thanks to Ulamila. kalio
Vinaka vakalevu Naita
I’m also doing some research about my family from the Tokatoka Veitiri of Somosomo, Gau. The information about Tutu Maciu Waqanisau and Ilieasa Bula is of great help as you have dates of travels. I will surely refer to this piece when trying to put together some of own family history.
Bula vinaka and thank you for your comment. I note the proper spelling of ‘Veitiri’. Thank you. Best wishes for your research. It would be great if a lot more research were done so that we can piece things together to establish our interconnectedness. Vinaka vakalevu.
would the story be the same for Buliya or otherwise? interesting to know if its the same or different!
Good to hear from you. Being members of the same Yavusa, the history relating to Dravuni also applies to Buliya. There were of course specific events that took place on each island that would provide specific variations to our joint history. I referred to an assassination of a Tui Buliya, e.g. in my article: “Dravuni’s Chiefly and Clan Structural Systems in Disarray”. Another example is that Buliya has the Vunivalu who is linked to the Vunivalu of Rewa whilst Dravuni has the Tunidaunibokola linked to the Roko Tui Dreketi. You will note how this came about by reading through the various articles above.
Buliya and Dravuni were settled when our ancestors left Natusara on Ono Island to settle on the islands – continuation of Ravuravu’s long journey that started from below the Medrausucu Range in today’s Naitasiri. Yaukuve Levu, Yaukuve Sewa, Qasibale and even Yanuyanu-i-loma, and others, were settled during those early days.
The article: “The Unstoppable Match of Christianity” would resonate closely also to the Buliya situation.
Please feel free to comment on other issues that you find of interest to you. These comments become, as you have noted, an important part of this blog and will aid our collective learning and appreciation of our own history -past and contemporary and legend.
thanks for your comments. it really gives me an urge to know or learn more about our own history because we ( young generation) now days tend to ignore. Thank you for sharing our history with us ( young Generation).
Vinaka sara vakalevu na itukutuku me baleti Dravuni, na i balebale ni yaca na Ramalo kei na Tunidaunibokola. Au marautaka vakalevu baleta niu vulica sara tiko ga ena gauna qo e ‘USP’ ena LL362 Orality,Literacy and Culture, ka vukei au sara vakalevu na italanoa me baleta na noqu koro na imatai ni ulutaga keitou qarava tiko o’ya Na Icavuti kei na vanua e vu mai kina. Au sa vakavinavinaka sara vakalevu ena vuku ni tukutuku oqo.
Thanks your comments. I am glad that you find the postings interesting and useful for your studies. I’m sure that you dad would have stories to tell as well. You are welcome to comment on other aspects of the blog. I encourage you to also share some interesting aspects of your studies that can enrich our story telling to benefit, not only all the kaiDravuni but others as well.
I have continuously found your article very interesting. As a direct descendent of Ro Logavatu from the mataqali Valelevu, Rewa, I was one day intrigued by the exploits of Roko Tabaiwalu that took Rewa to its pinnacle of power and influence in Fiji and accidentally stumbled onto your site. I understand that Roko Tabaiwalu had eight sons, the eldest being Ro Rawalai a vasu of Kadavu. One who the great Roko Tui Dreketi according to historians began to fear as he grew older. Subsequently, Roko Tabaiwalu was killed by Ro Rawailau who was later ordered to be assassinated by the Great Chiefs principle wife and mother of Ro Banuve Kania, younger brother of Ro Rawalai and a Vasu of Bau. If my memories are right I also understand that both Ro Qaraniqio and Ro Veidovi are also Vasu of Kadavau? But my interest lies in the Chief that was sent to Dravuni and given the title of Tuinidau ni Bokola. Who was he, would you know his name. The added title of Ramalo, Ronamalo or Namalo also adds more interest to your article after having read a piece the meaning of the title Namalo, which according to research refers to someone who had previously held a very paramount title that had been made subordinate or removed from the original title holder. Your depiction of the Rewan Chief that was sent to Dravuni having possessed all the attributes of a high chief and having presented a masi Kuvui by the Roko Tui Dreketi Ro Tabaiwalu does indicate that such a chief to my interpretation exiled to Kadavu and to be honoured with such compliments befitting the great Roko Tui Dreketi himself does make my research more interesting. The fact that Buliya has a corresponding title of Vunivalu linked to Rewa adds more to ask as to why such prominence was given to Kadavu to mirror the Chiefly hierarchy of Rewa and the Roko Tui Dreketi. I have my own assumptions on todays household of the Mataqali valelevu in Rewa, which I believe can be answered with more information on the Dravuni link. Hopefully you would be able to she’d more light on this particular Rewan link to Dravuni, Kadavu.
My apologies Ro Tabaiwalus eldest son and Vasu of Kadavu was Koroitamana. His exploits after clubbing his fathe Roko Tabaiwalu to death has many stories that indicate him exiled to Kadavu. My apologies for that error. Vinaka
Ni sa bula vinaka. I’m glad that you find this blog interesting. I’m undertaking further research and consultations on the Rewa-Dravuni/Buliya link and will revert. Kind regards. kaliopate
The Rewan chief who came from Valelevu to Natusara/Dravuni, from information available, would have come before the reign of Roko Tabaiwalu. Unsubstantiated evidence from family trees and family folklore point to the existence of a Rewan chief on Dravuni/Natusara and who had the ‘Ro’ title and would have been born in the early 1800 or even before. The name ‘Ro Namalo’ exists in folklore but it cannot be substantiated as the name of the envoy that was sent from Valelevu.
[More to follow]
What a wonderful blog! I’ve heard countless stories from my cousins who go to Dravuni every year, which fills me with so much regret and exciting for not going along. Your writing and pictures are tipping me to that point again, I need to organise a trip asap. Thanks again!
Thanks your comment. Get your cousins to take you next time they are going to Dravuni. The time for an exodus to Dravuni for many kaiDravuni is coming up during Christmas and New Year break. That will be a good time to visit. But boats are going all the time. I am taking a visit on 10-11 October 2014 not only to Dravuni but also to Natusara Primary School on Ono Island. A group of kind benefactors who had donated solar materials for the solar power supply for the school will be commissioning the solar power on 10 October and overnighting on Dravuni that night before returning to Suva on 11 October 2014. In the group of visitors will include representatives of Fiji Water, Fiji Airways, Coke Cola and Digicel.
NPS is the school for the two islands of Dravuni and Buliya who are of the same Yavusa Natusara. NPS is on Natusara, the yavutu for the Yavusa. It is land belonging to the Yavusa and was the first site of settlement for Ravuravu on Kadavu.
Best wishes and make that visit!
au vakavinavinaka vakalevu enai talanoa totoka,vakavurevakasama,veivakadeitaki..ka sauma talega eso na vakatataro..sa vinaka saka vakalevu…ia,edua saka tikola na taro…edua tiko beka na nodrau i sema ni veiwekani o nukui rewa kei dravuni???vinaka saka vakalevu….g/b
dua nai sema ni veiwekani erau semati kina o nukui[rewa]kei dravuni…au dau rogoca tu ga.au via kila na kena dina…vinaka vakalevu nai talanoa rogo vinaka..gb.
Bula vinaka Ilaisa. What I have been told may be different from others’ information. But here it is. Nukui, Vutia and Yavusa Natusara, comprising Dravuni and Buliya do have somethings in common, e.g:
1. We are all gonedau for Roko Tui Dreketi (RTD). But there are various categories of gonedau – gonedau ni wasa, gonedau ni vatu, gonedau idokolevu, gonedau idokolailai;
2. We call each other ‘Mataqali’;
3. Our icavuti are similar: Tunidau for Vutia. I understand that ‘Tuni’ is also used as icavuti for Nukui and Tunidaunibokola for Yavusa Natusara;
4. Valelevu refers to the elders from all three locations/communities as their qase, e.g. ratou na qase mai yanuyanu when referring to those from Dravuni and Buliya. My father attended schooling at Lomanikoro School in 1937 when he was 13 years old. He boarded with Master Viliame Qereqeretabua from Dravuni who was a teacher at the school. My father related the story that RTD at the time (Lady Ro Lala’s father) used to refer to him as ‘Tukaqu’.
5. All three have always been protective of the RTD. There were times in the past when RTD found protective shelters in one of these communities, either during warring periods or during peace. For example, Rewan chiefs visited Dravuni to convalesce and four actually died there and are buried on Yaukuve Levu island next to Dravuni. One of these chiefs was a lady who was called Ro Qereitoga. Another chief was Ro Tubuanakoro;
6. During the Bau-Rewa conflicts which also fuelled struggles between family factions, Ro Cokanauto became RTD and he ruled the kingdom from Nukui. An attempt on his life whilst at Nukui came to naught.
7. All three communities have their icili in Valelevu when visiting Lomanikoro.
Please revert with any information that may support the above or even if it deviates.
Vinaka Momo na nomu maroroya ka document taka tiko na history kei Dravuni. Sa ka ni vuli vei keimami na muri tiko mai na kena maroroi na veika vinaka kce baleti Dravuni.
Thanks for visiting my blog. Your grandfather of course was a great fount of traditional, cultural and historical knowledge like my father. I regret not spending sufficient time with him. I did sit with him on one long occasion and was rewarded with gems of information. You dad, I’m sure, would have some of this information. He can always share same with the rest of us. He can use this Page and/or others in this blog to reach out.
Very interesting information you’ve got here Kai Dravuni. Just asking if you could clarify how the chiefly title of “Tui Ono” got to be at Vabea. Info relayed to me that there a battle between the original Tui Ono and warriors from Naqara village. The warriors from Naqara won that battle and they killed the Tui Ono and his son in that battle. If this information is correct shouldn’t the Chiefly title of Tui Ono be at Naqara instead of Vabea?
Bula vinaka Joe,
There are stories involving Naqara and Nabouwalu. There is also a strand that which leads back to Ulunikoro in Waisomo. Let me find out more about this before I revert.
Totoka nai talanoa,au gone ni Natokalau,Matuku dau kacivi talega ko Nakabaji. Au dau rogoca tuga ni tiko nai sema mai Matuku kei Dravuni,Buliya ka sa mai vakamatata taki toka enai tukutuku ka volai koto oqo. Vinaka.
Please share any stories about Ravuravu that you know and that have been told and passed down from your ancestors. kaidravuni
Sa yawa dina na tuva kawa…but how much is myth compared to facts can be debated until pigs fly. I feel however that there must be some semblance of truth in the stories we hear,
I see the name Lawaki coming up which I guess is in Tailevu, Vuda, Lomai Viti and Kadavu. That however is not the point….my interest stems from the fact that a tokatoka in Lawaki Kadavu is Dra-vuni (pronouced as such compared to Dravuni.
Vinaka vakalevu for your comment. I am glad that you do not reject myths/mythology outright. We, today, can certainly seek the truth in the myths of our ancestors. Sometimes, the truth stands out clearly in the myths when we try to place ourselves in the position of our ancestors. Other times, we have to carry out cross-references, dig out evidence and perhaps discount clear humbugs to establish the truth. But it can work and that is our challenge today.
Lloyd Geering in his book “From the Big Bang to God”, discusses the background and development of myths under ‘Noogenesis – the coming into being of the noosphere’ and ‘Polytheogenesis – the emergence of the gods’ – these being his first two chapters under Part Two of the book: “The Evolution of the human thought world”.
A thought-provoking section in the first chapter referred to above reads as follows: “The noosphere emerged very, very slowly from an imperceptible beginning during the time when the advent of language first enabled small groups of humans to share their thoughts more successfully and with greater precision than they had previously done by means of gesture. The thoughts they communicated were very simple at first and not at all abstract, since they dealt with the practical affairs of day-to-day life, and although these basis thoughts were to become the seeds of future of human cultures, it would be a very long time before they evolved into those primitive cultures that have left some traces.”
Here are some gems from the second chapter referred to above:
“To be more specific, the ancients projected their own personal consciousness onto the phenomena of nature as a way of explaining the world they lived in. Although we call them myths, the stories of the gods amounted to an embryonic form of ‘science’ (knowledge) by which they ‘knew’ their world and were able to respond to it in a meaningful way; not only was human personality being projected onto natural phenomena, but also too were human sexuality and human family relationships, for these were believed to be part of the basic cosmos. In the thought world constructed by each primitive or ancient culture, the inner experiences of humans were unconsciously being assigned to external reality. By means of stories this thought world was shared with the other members of the community and thus passed on to the next generation.”
“For people of the ancient world, the body of cultural knowledge that was transmitted from generation to generation served as both science and religion, for it both explained the world they lived in and taught them how best to respond to it. For them it was the ultimate truth, and it was what they lived and died for.”
“This knowledge was often transmitted in story form.”
Another interesting reference to myths/mythology is contained in Jerry A. Coyne’s book: “Why Evolution is True”. The gem from there has this to say: “On the Origin of Species (the paradigm-shifting classic by Charles Darwin) turned the mysteries of life’s diversity from mythology into genuine science.”
As regards the name ‘Lawaki’ and its origin and usage, I’m sure that Master Paula Qereti will have an answer to this. But the use of same names in different parts of Fiji would be linked somehow through essentially repetition of names or use by people of the same ancestry or wider but related community in which the names have ancestral, historical and physical significance.
Under “Who was Ravuravu?” in this blog, I had discussed for instance, the significance of the name ‘Dravuni’ – the first Dravuni named by Ravuravu is in present-day Tailevu.
Kana baci na ika
I’m very shocked to see that in Yavu village batiki lomaiviti all the titles like chief ,bete, sauturaga, ramasi or kai wai ,bati ,mataisau and so on a all in the same village and when you reach the village you’ll feel a different kind of feeling s very strange place and they are well mannerd and very fluent with traditional staffs . The question is what do you think ?
On the basis of what you said, it tells me that the traditional structures and cultures of the Vanua of Batiki are very much intact; the position and authority of the Chief are consolidated and respected; and the traditional reciprocity of roles between the Chief and the people is active and keenly observed – the latter contributes and influences the coherency and integrity of the traditional system and the Vanua.
To explain why this is so, we can see and evaluate the characteristics and features of the Vanua of Batiki, purely on the basis of public information available. I do apologize beforehand to my Naita in Batiki if my attempt here to respond to the question posed to me does not meet the aplomb and gravity with which you view your tradition and Vanua.
Batiki constitutes a Vanua and Yavusa Toranibau. It can be assumed that the vanua configuration of pre-colonial days retained its integrity into the post-colonial era. It further retained its integrity through the post-colonial days of configuring and re-configuring the tikina structure – Batiki being both a Tikina Makawa and Tikina Cokovata. This, in itself, speaks volume of the Vanua’s intractability to imposed changes that were premised purely for administrative pragmatism/convenience rather than for enlightened ethnographical reformation. Batiki Island itself has four villages, namely: Yavu, Mua, Manuku and Naigani. Yavu is the paramount chiefly residence of the Turaga Toranibau who is also referred to as Toranibau/Tora i Bau Nakarawa Nakomaivunivesi.
Tora is regarded as a standard bearer and whoever is titled as such acquires his prominence and aura from such role and the influences that he bestows.
As a vanua, it would be expected to constitute all the duru ni vanua or tutu vakavanua. You have identified six, namely: Chief, Sauturaga, Bete, Gonedau, Bati and Mataisau. There should also be the Matanivanua – an important tutu vakavanua. There could also be Bouta – another tutu vakavanua that some vanua have.
If these duru ni vanua act diligently to carry out their traditional roles and the Chief reciprocates accordingly and consistently, it can be imagined that the community/Yavusa would be strong. The leadership of the Chief is respected and the people’s respect for the Chief and the Vanua will equally be strong.
What you observed in Yavu Village seems consistent with the status of the vanua, as constituted, and its traditional integrity.
Sa buli NA TUI VANUA mai vanuavatu dua na ka nona tarova tu na TUI NAYAU(RATU MARA)na veibuli qo. Ni kila vinaka tu na turaga vuku qo nacava ena yaco. ni cabe cake mai na kawa i RAVURAVU.
Thanks your comment. I note that Tui Vanua has a special allegiance with the Turaga na Roko Sau, who can claim direct ascendancy from a prominent early ancestor who settled in Fiji.
Im from tovu totoya Lau and the title Rokosau runs in my family. First a reply to john the Tui Vanua title can only be confirmed by ROKOSAU and only he can stop an installation NO ONE ELSE… And second to mr. Tavola you’re right i can trace my line straight back to Kubunavnua. Im the 18th generation.
Bula vinaka Tutu Tavola.
Au mai wiliwili tiko ena nomu blog oqo me baleta na noda koro/ yanuyanu kau taleitaka sara vakalevu. Very interesting stories that I do not know of. I think I might have a few questions to ask.
Vinaka vakalevu nai talanoa. God Bless you Tutu.
Vinaka na veisiko tiko mai. E vinaka me da veitarotarogi ka ni oqo na gaunisala me da wasea vata kina na noda itukutuku makawa.
E da sa veiwekani kecega. God bless.
Bula vinaka Momo. I would visit your blog every time I get the chance and every time I do that I would re-read these stories all over again. I never get tired of reading this history part and I have lost count of how many times I have done it. I certainly do have my own inquisitions and it is always my wish that I would have a chance to listen more from you.
Today I am quite happy to re-read it over again; only because I realised (while reading) that you have extended more to this history. I totally agree to your suggestions towards the end and I hope to see this in the future; not only to such modifications of traditional settings and sectors but also for all the kaidravuni’s to understand their history, fill our missing puzzles and connect the missing dots. I believe that as the words of inspirations says, ‘Me dau raica na noda i lakolako makawa”…
Vinaka vaka levu na i takitaki vou qo Momo. AU vabauta ni dua na gauna vinaka e waraki kedatou tiko kevaka tou na taura ka ciqoma e so na i vakasala e volai toka ena i takitaki qo.
Au sa loloma levu tiko yani kei na vakanuinui vinaka ni yabaki vou.
“Akimashite Omedeto Gozamasu”.
Bula vinaka Beci,
Belated Happy New Year to you. Thanks for your various visits to my blog/website. In writing these historical pieces, I am achieving essentially a major objective and that is to have our history recorded in print. Having said that, it has to be said that these form only my perspectives of our history. Others definitely have their own perspectives and they may be different. That is the nature of history!
The other objective of course is to present history as something from which special gems of wisdom can be gleaned and which can present lessons for the future. That is a task best left to concerned readers and for those who perceive ‘special gems of wisdom’ as a means for an organizing force to pave a new way forward.
Our sources of history are always challenging. If based on stories from our ancestors, then they would be susceptible to, for example, misinterpretation, etc., either by the story teller or by the listeners. I suppose this presents a great responsibility to the story teller, first and foremost, to relate the stories as he/she had heard them.
But one thing is clear. Before the advent of literacy, the only mode of history transmission was through story telling of what many are quick to downgrade as legends and myths.
These legends and myths are accounts of real events, told in the ways our ancestors could understand. These are passed down to us through our ancestors. Historians are proving now that these stories and the events they refer to were historical events that can be dated and have been described by written records. Sir Lloyd Geering had said this much many years ago. Professor Patrick Nunn has written about it in his recent book: ‘The Edge of Memory.’
The story of Solobasaga and Vonokula, who resided on Solo and later at Muanalailai is one which can be explored further in greater detail. Such exploration will definitely enlighten us on the history of volcanoes and volcanic eruptions on Solo and also on Delainabukelevu. But more so, for greater clarity of when Dravuni was first settled.
Sa dri yani!
Bula tale Momo. I’ve also always found interest in all the myths and legends relating to our very own history. I would never forget these stories as it was Tutu who was always sharing it to us.
In my own thoughts: in understanding that these were the only ways that our ancestors have passed our history down to us have always been much of interest to me. I’ve always tried to find balance in all the knowledge that I have gained whether it be sourced from religion or mystical whatever that may be, I count them as valuable in their own contexts. In this sense, I’ve found myself to believe in spiritual understanding that nothing happening is by accidents. Everything is happening through a supernatural perfect plan; just like the functional perfection of the human body.
Thus, if they (our legends and myths) were in any way to be inscribed or documented in any sort of way, and considering how long ago they had occurred, I would rather think that it was better off kept in stories as much of it could have been manipulated and changed or even lost if it was kept through physical shreds of evidence. I think that there is something really special in it; to our history as a kai Dra-Vuni; and I already have a sense of irritable feeling not as a surprise but as a duty that awaits with it.
In any case, in the meantime, I have also been trying to find more pieces of knowledge into some of the literature that could have some relations to these myths and legends. Because of the many pieces of evidence of ancient civilizations that may have existed in the ancient ages, I have developed an interest in gaining more truths from it. And I often try to find connections with all the information that I have gathered as go along.
For instance, the stories of the lost ancient civilization of Lemuria which was believed to have existed in the Pacific could possibly provide some logic to my inquisitions. Because of the belief that Lemuria was a very advanced civilization with likely advanced usage of energy/power etc., I am susceptible that there is a high possibility of connections with the legends of Taunovo. It is either they are the survivors from when Lemuria was destroyed of they were the origins. The descriptions of Lemuria/Mu from the findings of James Churchward is a piece of knowledge which I believe is being ignored a lot and I there a lot of compelling reasons why conventional literature would refuse to accept them as true. I believe it is more due to jealousy and disbelief that a group of islands that were only discovered late 18th century did hold the important key in unlocking man’s history.
At the moment I am caught up trying to complete my studies. Once I complete my studies and I would definitely try to provide some summations on my thoughts on it.
Ni Yadra Tau,
My grandfather Ratu Kuliniyasi Roko Malani from Nakorotubu, Ra while attending the Viti Kabani Board Meeting at his grandmother’s (Ratu Meli Salabogi no. 1 spouse) village in Lomanikoro, Rewa on the invitation of his 2nd cousin Ro Tuisawau. He later accompanied his Rewan cousin, Ro Navakamocea to be a bride for Ratu Matia from Yale, Kadavu.
After the wedding, he later traveled to Ono and Dravuni and spent 6 months in Kadavu. Would you have any information on the link to Ono & Dravuni from Ra or maybe it was from the link to her grandmother’s (Vunivalu) side or granduncle (Ro Lutunauga) from the RTD’s side……lol
My apologies for this very late response to your query. Thanks for visiting my web/blog site and commenting. The link between Ra and Kadavu, Ra and Ono,, Nakorotubu and Dravuni with our tauvu relationship is obviously there. But we need a lot of research to establish the facts of our common ancestry and how far back in history it goes. One piece of small evidence is the yavu Natavasara (my family’s yavu), I understand it also exists in Nokorotubu.
Re the specific question you raised above, I would think that the link that was at play during your grandfather’s visit to Dravuni with his Rewan cousin would have been the Rewan link. Your will find throughout my various articles in my website discussions on the various evidences, stories that exist today that verify such a link. In the ‘History’ page including the relevant Comments that follow, you will read about Northern Kadavu being ‘qali’ to Rewa after 1829; the link between Dravuni and Lomanikoro, Buliya and Lomanikoro, link to the Roko Tui Dreketi, the derivation of Tuinidaunibokola, the regular visits by Rewan chiefs for convalescence, burial of four Rewan chiefs on Yaukuve Levu (including Ro Qereitoga and Ro Tubuanakoro), the fishing visit to Solo Lighthouse by a young Rewan chief, the expressed desire by Ro Logavatu in 1946 to be buried on ‘Nauluvatu’, Tunimata’s yavu on Vanuakula Island in front of Dravuni. You can read that last one under the ‘Legends’ page. Those links have been preserved today and they have taken many forms of expression in recent past, today and will do so in future.
Tau, our next challenge now is to research and establish concrete evidence and linkages on our tauvu relationship.
My apologies once again for lateness and kind regards.
Bula Vinaka Kali,
Brilliant blog. Keep up the good work.
Bula Steve, Good to hear from your. Thanks your message. My activity on my web/blog site is somewhat slowed down. It has been in this situation for a while. Ema is my technical advisor on this matter. I have been pushing her for a while to re-design the site. But she has been so tied up with her VunilagiVou and has no time for kaidravuni.com. I have a lot of materials to upload. But all in due course when she can find the time.
Thanks again and best wishes. kalio
Hello and Bula vinaka.
I want to thank you for the great works you have been doing. Keep up the good work.
My question. Are we the connected to the Hebrew people in the bible?
Bula vinaka Sailasa, You are welcome. The Hebrew connection/origin is being touted by some as our true origin. I have asked some people through this blog to substantiate this story but to no avail. Again, it can be said that more research is needed. In the meantime, we can be safest to remain with the Lapita story as to how we got to Fiji from SE Asia. How our ancestors got to SE Asia can remain an area of research and discussions going forward.
Before rewa and before ravuravu
Who are the original ono/kadavu people?
And what were they like?
And why all that fuss in kadavu ?
Seems like kadavu is more important
Than one would think
This history shows GODS glory in the end
Definitely love your research
As a fijian born abroad that knows next to nothing, very informative
Bula Mad Max,
From stories passed down, when Ravuravu arrived on Ono Island, there were people already there. Ravuravu waged wars on people already settled there. So, who were these people? Some researchers have attested to earlier Lapita people settlement on Kadavu. Archaeological evidence had been presented by these researchers. When Uluinabukelevu erupted BC, evidence of human settlement was exposed to the surface by this explosion. The Rewa influence came much later. The Lapita people got to Kadavu by travelling from west to east. Early Lapita settlements are along the Sigatoka coast on Viti Levu. Ravuravu was travelling east to west from the Lau Group towards Kadavu. But much later. Paul Geraghty can attest to this east-west migration, as far as Kadavu is concerned.
Bula Vinaka Tutu Tavola. What a beautiful read and definitely getting goose bumps exploring history. Yes i can one testify to the story of Solobasaga and Vonokula. My late grandmother Bubu Bulou Dranica was woken up early morning during one of our School holidays at home in Matamata, Dravuni Island by the 2 ladies. We have waited for the low tides at 2am to collect seashells around Savu i Nuku taking the the whole trip to reach Yasa I cake. With the guidance and leadership of our Tutua’s (older cousins) we were making noises and scaring each other while tracking and collecting the abundance of sea gifts. We returned to the village around 5.30am when my grandmother was sitting and waiting for us in the living room. We have just missed the 2 spirit ladies, Solobasaga and Vonokula that came to visit my grandmother and to remind us to be quiet whenever we are in their beach end as we have disturbed them. I was only 12 then but until today this is a story I will always share, reminding the youngsters and the visitors to observe silence in that particular area of the island. Thank you for this moment in history Tutu Tavola and looking forward to learn and know more about my Koro ni Vasu. Vinaka Vakalevu, Blessed New Year from Suva, Fiji.
Happy New Year to you Panapasa! Thank you for visiting my blog. Our talanoa makawa, itukuni, is our history. Oral history over generations. But we can now write it down for our future generations.
The origins and stories of Dravuni are so inspiring.
My grandfather is the eldest son of Ratu Verenakadavu and Bulou Juliani. There are questions in this comment section that I can’t even answer.
I was always told we had our origins in Rewa, that we were the second son of the RTD. But I never thought of the possibility of the second son being Ro Veidovi. I had always been told that the Tui Ono and Ro Veidovi were cousins, hence our aid in his actions. The comments here have been really eye-opening. I never knew there what happened to the chiefs before my mothers family arrived, just that they tried taking over Kadavu, and it costed them.
Thanks for this though. Its important to know the stories of my people.