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Tui Nayau installation

Matilda Simmons
Sunday, November 12, 2017

THE installation of the late Tui Nayau, Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara was perhaps one of the significant traditional ceremonies for the people of Lau.

On July 8, 1969, The Fiji Times reporter and photographer Stan Ritova journeyed to the island group to witness and document the traditional installation of the chiefly title to the former prime minister and president of Fiji, Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara. Hundreds turned out to witness the significant occassion. Below is an excerpt of the report filed by the late Ritova who travelled on horseback for three miles to the island's radio telephone to give his report to The Fiji Times head office.

"In the shadow of Delaiwawa Mountain the Chief Minister, Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara, was yesterday installed Tui Nayau.

"Hundreds of people watched the brief but colourful ceremony take place on the same spot where his father and other ancestors were installed. Ratu Sir Kamisese was dressed in traditional masi cloth with his wife, Adi Lady Lala Mara sitting beside him.

"Earlier, escorted by guards, he walked up half a mile winding path from the village to the installation site. By doing this, he followed his father the late Ratu Tevita Uluilakeba in departing from tradition. Like his father he declined to be carried up the hill. But after the ceremony he was carried back down on a colourfully decorated litter.

"The approach to the installation site was covered with masi and mats and lined by women from the three villages of Nayau.

"Iliesa Raloulou whose ancestors have installed previous Tui Nayaus, wrapped Sir Kamisese's head at the start of the ceremony. The same piece of masi used in previous ceremonies was tied round the chief minister's left arm.


"Ratu Sir Kamisese was presented with a bilo of yaqona which he drank, completing the ceremony. The chief minister by tradition is required to wear the masi armlet for four nights but because of limited time he asked the Nayau chiefs for permission to wear it for only one night. The chief's approved this request and the chief minister will shed the armlet at another ceremony today when he will bathe and be presented with food.

At Tubou, Lakeba, the chief minister is expected to be installed sau ni vanua (overlord of Lau). The people and chiefs of Lau have been gathering at Tubou for the ceremony."

Tui Nayau is the title held by the paramount chief of the Lau Islands in Fiji and is synonymous with the title holders over lordship of these islands.

When translated, Tui Nayau means "Lord of Nayau", an island north of Lakeba, the latter accepted by many to be the chiefly island in the Lauan archipelago.

Prior to being installed as Tui Nayau, the claimant must first be confirmed upon the decision of the noble households making up the Vuanirewa clan and then installed sau or high chief of Lau. Not every sau has been installed Tui Nayau. n WIKIPEDIA.ORG

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