AN emotional ceremony ensued at Wairiki on Taveuni when Ratu Atonio Lalabalavu entrusted the vanua to the care of the Catholic Church on Friday evening.
While presenting a whale's tooth during the church's 150th anniversary celebration on the island, Ratu Atonio — the son of the Tui Cakau, Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu — pleaded with the church never to forget the people of Lalagavesi.
Ratu Atonio said since the presentation of the first crucifixion to his great ancestor and former Tui Cakau Ratu Golea Lalabalavu in 1863, the province had been blessed and protected under divine guidance.
He said the vanua had been sometimes forgotten by the church.
He added the vanua of Cakaudrove had always felt blessed and reassured under the guidance of the church.
Receiving the whale's tooth, church head Archbishop Peter Loy Chong said since the presentation of the first crucifixion that converted the people of Taveuni and part of Cakaudrove to Catholicism, the vanua and people of Cakaudrove were forever entrusted into the care of God.
Archbishop Chong also acknowledged other people who played an instrumental role in the historical event, especially Father Favre who had presented the first cross to Ratu Golea in 1863 and advised him to conquer Wainiqolo — the Tongan brave with the cross.
He said the jubilee celebration was a fresh start, one that was according to God's time.
The event on Friday evening was graced by the presence of the Tui Cakau and the people of Lalagavesi.