THEY had nothing with them after settling at the foot of a mountain more than a decade ago.
But today, they are enjoying a much better and healthier life by making good use of the land surrounding them.
Far from the hustle and bustle of life in the urban centres, this group of people is happy in the environment they live in.
Located at the foot of the Nakauvadra mountain range, the settlement is home to the descendants of Solomon Islanders brought to Fiji during the blackbirding era, starting in 1865.
Known as Maniyava, there is peace and tranquility in the settlement which can be reached after a long drive up the Barotu Rd in Rakiraki.
For those new to the area, the cold weather that starts creeping in from as early as 3pm may be a problem, like it is even for the residents of Maniyava.
But despite the chilly weather conditions, the residents have remained at the site and continue to toil the virgin land and harvest quality produce.
Visitors to the settlement cannot leave without having a taste of the home-grown kava or yaqona mixed in water coming out of a rock in the Nakauvadra mountain range.
The fresh, pure water coupled with the green vegetables from their farms in the mountains and food from the river have kept the residents healthy.
History has it that the forefathers of some of the residents of the settlement lived at Maniyava Number One which was some distance away from the present site.
But after killing a rooster that belonged to Degei, an iTaukei ancestral god, the Solomon Islanders were sent back to the Solomon Islands. Only one is said to have remained.
Peni Waqamaira, 59, who is one of the oldest descendants at Maniyava, said his forefathers were brought to Fiji from the Solomon Islands to work in the sugar cane farms.
Known as the "stolen people", the Solomon islanders were either forced or tricked into coming to Fiji during the labour trade. They were also accompanied by labourers from New Hebrides (now Vanuatu).
The islanders who opted to return at the end of their contracts were dumped on islands outside Fiji waters while being supposedly transported back to their homeland.
Some opted to remain in Fiji and inter-marriages have seen the descendants of the mostly Solomon Islanders blending in with the local community.
Mr Waqamaira said from the stories passed down by his forefathers, he was aware that his ancestors also lived in Maniyava Number One.
His grandfather Jimmy Taria was brought to Fiji from Malaita in the Solomon Islands to work in sugar cane farms in Rewa.
"From Rewa, my grandfather went to Levuka and married my grandmother Linieta Kubuna who was from Waitoga in Nairai, Lomaiviti," he said.
"My father Naubili Taria was born in Levuka. My grandparents and their children later moved to Wainunu in Bua where my father married my mother Manaini Lalarewa of Wainunu."
Mr Waqamaira was born at Wainunu in 1956 and he is the third eldest in a family of six brothers and four sisters. His eldest brother has passed away.
"My father spent 40 years in Wainunu before we moved to this place to settle where our ancestors once used to live.
"History says that our ancestors lived in Tokaimalo before they moved to Maniyava Number One, from where they were sent back to the Solomons.
"From what I know, only one ancestor stayed behind while the rest were sent back because they killed Degei's rooster."
Mr Waqamaira said he was 47 years old when he moved from Wainunu to Maniyava Number Two in 2000 with other descendants and their families.
He said Ratu Isikeli Tabadua, a chief from the area, gave them land at the foot of the Nakauvadra mountain range to settle in.
"I didn't have anything when I settled in Maniyava in the year 2000. There were six houses here then and every month I used to go to Vanua Levu to get yaqona to sell and buy food for my family.
"I made these trips from Maniyava to Vanua Levu every month for 11 months, by then the root crops I had planted were ready to be harvested.
"Life was very hard in the very beginning but it is good now for everyone living here. There are 25 families in Maniyava now with a population of about 125."
Mr Waqamaira said residents of the settlement had features similar to the Solomon islanders like the "ginger hair".
He said children from the settlement stayed the week in a house near their nearest school and they returned home in the weekends.
"Everyone living in Maniyava are the descendants of Solomon islanders who were brought to Fiji during the blackbirding era.
"We meet with other Solomon descendants from around the country every year and discuss issues that are affecting us."
Mr Waqamaira said the main source of income for Maniyava residents was from yaqona farming.
He said the residents planted root crops and vegetables for their personal consumption.
He said the villgers took their yaqona and sometimes root crops to the Rakiraki Market while some people also frequented Maniyava to buy yaqona in bulk.
"Life is very good here and we are grateful to Ratu Isikeli Tabadua for giving us the land here to settle in and start our new lives."
On the possibility of tracing his roots to the Solomon Islands, he said: "I don't want to trace my roots to the Solomon Islands. I don't know where to start from."
"I was born in Fiji and I will die in Fiji. This place we live in is very peaceful and we have fresh water, good land and rivers around for our food source.
"We just love this place," said Mr Waqamaira.