Fiji Time: 3:48 PM on Thursday 23 October

Fiji Times Logo

/ Front page / News

The installation rock with supernatural abilities

Avinesh Gopal
Tuesday, April 08, 2014

IT'S a rock that was used hundreds of years ago during the installation of a chief.

Known as the vatu ni veibuli or installment rock, it is sacred to the yavusa Saru in Lautoka because it belonged to their ancestors.

The chief is said to have sat on that rock while being installed and given the chiefly title by the villagers centuries ago.

But apart from its principal use during the installation, the rock is said to possess supernatural powers.

From oral accounts passed down the generations, the rock is said to have the ability of moving itself from one place to another.

Measuring about three metres long and about 50 centimetres wide the rock lies at Saru Village, which is commonly known as Tavakubu Village.

The rock was at the ancestral Saru Village, which was between Taiperia and Naqiroso in the Natabua seaside area in Lautoka.

During an archaeological impact assessment at the site in October 2012, the Fiji Museum's team found pottery pieces, shell middens and a house mound there.

In its assessment report, the team stated the rock was sacred to the yavusa Saru as it belonged to the ancestral village.

The report said the rock may had also been used for sharpening stone tools as sharpening engravings were evident on its surface.

In an attempt to learn more about the rock, a team from this The Fiji Times and the Nai Lalakai visited Saru Village last week and spoke to some villagers.

While they revealed what they know about the rock according to stories passed down by their forefathers, they, however, did not answer some questions related to it.

The villagers told stories of how the rock moved from one place to another and being seen at places far from where it used to be.

Villager Peniasi Vatu said the rock was initially in the mountains and some women decided to take it to the ancient Saru Village when they saw it hundreds of years ago.

"Story has it that the rock used to stretch up towards the sky at night and it got back to its original size when daylight struck," he said.

Mr Vatu said story has it that some women planned to get the rock and they went one afternoon and cut it.

He said the rock was at the ancient village site and later brought to the new Saru Village. "From the stories passed down by our forefathers, we know that the rock fell in the sea when a bulldozer was operating in the area on three different occasions.

"They got a shock when the rock got back on the land itself. Once a village elder went to a meeting at the old site and when he came back, he found the rock covered with sand.

"A village elder also saw it in the Marine Drive area once and told it to go back to where it's supposed to be."

Mr Vatu said two European men visited Saru Village a few years ago and told the villagers to look after the rock properly.

The villagers present at the discussion with The Fiji Times and Nai Lalakai team did not say anything when asked if they had experienced good or bad luck since the rock was brought to the new village site.

Seremaia Seuseu, the turaga na mataqali Nadakuvatu, said the rock was at the ancient village site and used during the installation of a chief.

Mr Seuseu, 67, said the same rock, which was split at the head section, was now at the new Saru or commonly known Tavakubu Village.

Jiuta Vuda, a village elder, said the rock split while being moved from the ancient village site to where it was now.

Our team also visited the ancient village site and spoke to some people who had been living there for quite some time.

Matai Chong Sue, 76, said he had links to the area through his grandmother and moved there more than three decades ago.

"When we moved in here, we could always feel that someone is around, just like some spirits," he said.

"Even now, if you are walking alone in the area, you'll feel that someone is around, you'll just get that feeling."

Mr Chong Sue said some house mounds at the site had been either washed away during floods or were covered with soil and overgrown grass. He said he was aware that the vatu ni veibuli was placed under a breadfruit tree at the ancient village site and moved to where it is now.

"I heard from someone that the rock split into two when it was being taken from the ancient village site. I don't really know how it happened," he said.

Under the Preservation of Archaeological & Palaeontological Interest Act, Cap 264, Laws of Fiji, the Fiji Museum has preserved the site because of its cultural and historical significance.

According to Saru villagers, their forefathers arrived in Fiji before Lutunasobasoba, who is documented to be the first iTaukei to set foot on Fiji with his family.

They said their forefathers lived in Lomolomo before they were chased by the then Tui Vuda because the contents of a lovo they made for him were not fully cooked.

From there, the villagers said, their forefathers went to the Marine Drive area in Lautoka and later to the place where the ancient village was located.

The Fiji Museum team's assessment report says that upon inspection, the site revealed disturbances with cultural features permanently destroyed in and around the site area.

"These disturbances occurred from the farming of the area despite the site being known to the original owners," it said.

As part of the inspection of the site, the museum team covered an area that is about 241 metres in length and 138 metres wide.

During the inspection, a house mound measuring 10 metres by nine metres was identified. It is typical of mound structures identified in Viti Levu and Vanua Levu, the report said.

It said further to the West from the house mound was an area highlighted by the villagers as their ancestral burial ground or bulubulu.

"This area was utilised by occupants for agricultural farming with the area covered in cassava plots.

"There were no visible burials or relevant formations on the site surface as the area had been cultivated upon over the years by residents."

The assessment report says the pottery sherds, which have incised markings, and shell remains clearly inform the survey team that the site has been occupied for some time.

"As the site is situated beside the river, it is envisaged that during heavy rainfall, the area is prone to flooding, thus this will greatly affect the original structure of cultural features within the study area.

"The site is also beside the coast and the rising sea level nowadays could also be a contributing factor to the erosion of the site," said the Fiji Museum's archaeological impact assessment report.





Fiji Times Front Page Thumbnail

Kaila Front Page ThumbnailFiji Times & Kaila Frontpage PDF Downloads

Use the free Acrobat Reader to view.

Today's Most Read Stories

  1. Nadolo out
  2. Unapproved move
  3. Ruggers to shave
  4. No rush
  5. School observe Diwali in style
  6. Auditor cites poor record keeping
  7. Pink morning fundraiser
  8. Fish spawning critical
  9. Defacto partner charged with murder
  10. Diwali treat for elderly

Top Stories this Week

  1. False rumours warning Friday (17 Oct)
  2. Death shocks family Monday (20 Oct)
  3. Biman gets nod Saturday (18 Oct)
  4. Detailed report Friday (17 Oct)
  5. Inside Fiji sevens Tuesday (21 Oct)
  6. Public access Tuesday (21 Oct)
  7. Budget overspent Wednesday (22 Oct)
  8. 8-room home gutted Friday (17 Oct)
  9. Forgery suspect still in remand Tuesday (21 Oct)
  10. $20m in excess Wednesday (22 Oct)