NESTLED in lush forests at the foot of the Sevaci mountain range in the district of Vaturova, Cakaudrove sits Naibaleyaganiga village, with 16 houses to make up its small village.
Village elder, Alipate Monacokaboa says that he and his parents settled at the village in 1951. They left Sevaci in the district of Vaturova to return to their ancestral home in Naibaleyaganiga.
"What started off with just a single Fijian bure has now flourished to 16 houses with children running madly around the village green with sounds of laughter, talk and activities as our people continue with their livelihood in Naibaleganiga," Mr Monacokaboa said.
Visitors to the village have often wondered about the meaning of the village's name as it is quite long.
Legend has it that in the old days a great chief by the name of Ro Dodo used to stay in Sevaci. He owned a huge flock of ducks or the Fijian ga ni viti that used to stray right to Nabaleyaganiga to frolic in its infamous cool ponds.
Ro Dodo then named the place Naibaleyaganiga marking the site where his ducks would stray to as they flew over from the Sevaci Mountains in search of water. And so was born the name "Nai bale yaga ni ga" literally meaning the worthy passage of Ro Dodo's ducks.
In ancient times the people of Naibaleyaganiga, like their ancestors from Sevaci, were known for their prowess in war. Their ancestors of old originated from the fierce people of the vanua of Verata in Vitilevu.
As illustrated in the story of Mr Monacokaboa who narrated about a fierce Vaturova chief by the name of Boti.
During a heated war between the Tui Cakau and Ma'a'fu of Tonga, where Vaturova was the latter's alliance, a fierce cry rung through the battlefield as an unfortunate Tongan warrior met the merciless club of Boti.
Legend has it that Boti tore the enemy's heart from his chest and chewed it before the frightened Tongan army with blood gushing down the corners of his mouth.
The people of Vaturova alone claim that they were never conquered by the Tui Cakau or the paramount chiefs of Cakaudrove province. Instead, they claim that they had offered him aid in the war against Ma'afu, and that this alliance forged a friendship between the Tui Cakau and the people of Vaturova.
According to Mr Monacokaboa, the Tui Cakau has a special reference to the people of Vaturova by calling them tuwa'aqu an endearing reference used by any Fijian child in referring to their elder siblings.
Back in the old days, during the instalment of the first Tui Cakau, the people of Cakaudrove were all gathered in Vunisavisavi, the original seat of the Tui Cakau before it moved over to Somosomo, when the yaqona was brewed for the vagunu or the traditional instalment.
During the brewing process, a grandmother who was carrying her grandson, stood behind the grand ceremonial party witnessing the ceremony.
When the first libation was offered to the Tui Cakau to drink as a mark of his title, he told the cup bearers to pass the drink to the old woman who had been witnessing the event from the back of the house.
The old woman who was a chieftain from Vaturova gave the drink to the boy she was carrying and thus began a relationship between the people of Vaturova and the Tui Cakau including his household at Lalagavesi.
Having drunk the first libation of yaqona, the Tui Cakau then said that the old woman would be his elder sibling since she had drunk the first bilo during the instalment ceremony.
To this day, since the first bilo was drunk from a person behind the tanoa during the first instalment ceremony, the buli of the yaqona tanoa belonging to the Tui Cakau, (which is often used to denote to people the importance during the yaqona ceremony) will always be placed backwards.
Instead of the common practise in Fiji where the buli is often extended forward from the tanoa to point towards important delegations seated at the head of the kava drinking ceremony, the Tui Cakau does the opposite in remembrance of the old woman who had drunk the first libation at the first instalment ceremony.
Mr Monacokaboa said that to this day, this relationship has stood the test of time, and that the people of Vaturova held this relationship dearly as they were the elder siblings of the Tui Cakau.
Tui Cakau, Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu confirmed the relationship between the people of Vaturova and his chiefly clan.
"Na neitou yavu e tiko mai cake qori (Our foundation is up there in Vaturova)," Ratu Naiqama said.
He said the relationship has grown over the years with the people from the two clans knowing how it all started.
The original site of Naibaleyaganiga village sits a few kilometres away from its current site.
During the tour of the site, we had the privilege of seeing a peculiar phallic shaped stone at the overgrown site which used to serve as an altar of worship during ancient times.
Mr Monacokaboa said that before the rise of Christianity at Vatukuca village in Vaturova, a young warring chieftain from Vaturova came face to face with the snake who had prophesied to him that missionaries of a true God would be sent to Vatukuca village and villagers should follow their (missionaries) instructions.
This was how Christianity rose in Nadi village in Vaturova and later the village was visited by a missionary who instructed the people to put away their pagan practices, repent of their evil deeds and embrace the light of God.
Villagers claimed that according to stories passed down from their ancestors, the stone used to be the seat of an eight-eyed snake that was worshipped by their elders.
During village worship, the snake would materialise from the stone and curl itself around the stone resting it's head on the stone head before prophesying to villagers.
The mark that the snake made as it curled itself along the trunk of the rock is still visible to this day.
Much has changed and Naibaleyaganiga has seen some bad and good times, but Mr Nacokaboa said that throughout it all, the people have stood firm and true to their customs.