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The Crying Rock

Siteri Sauvakacolo
Sunday, November 19, 2017

MYTHS and legends have long been a part of us.

They are stories and account of what happened to our ancestors, their life-journey, how they managed to settle in places where we are now and many others.

Most of these stories have been passed down from generation to generation while many others have been retold through dances and chants and even through unique sounds of the natural sense of rhythm and music.

It is always amazing to hear most of these stories from younger Fijian generations, those who are lucky enough, to still have their grandparents and even their parents sharing to them their history and who they really are.

It is something that we all should be proud of as it differentiates our uniqueness from the rest of the world.

The stories of our history and how we first settled on the shores of Fiji have long interested people from other parts of the world to visit our shores and learn more about who we really are and where we are from.

History being what it is, this is something that can sometimes be a hot topic of discussion,

However, every province, district and village in Fiji has its own interesting piece of history and is something that everyone would love to hear about.

A visit to the beautiful Malolo Island last week was where I had discovered a beautiful rock which sits high above Likuliku Lagoon, Fiji.

What made the trip with the KPMG and Mamanuca Environment Society staff more interesting was the fact that we were actually allowed to visit one of Likuliku's most popular tourist attractions — na Vatu Tagi (the Crying Rock).

Our tour guide, who happened to be one of the traditional landowners of the place and activities manager of Likuliku Lagoon, was so helpful and he shared with us the story of Vatu Tagi (Crying Rock).

The people of the Mataqali Ketenamasi of Yaro Village on Malolo are traditional landowners of Likuliku Lagoon, Malolo Island Resort, Mana Island Resort and Tadrai Island Resort.

They do have an interesting account of their island and all the places that surround it.

At the base of the Crying Rock, Sam as he is commonly known, related the story of this rock.

The rock gives a totally unique sound when struck; a mettalic sound, something you may probably have never heard of in any other place when a rock is struck.

This legendary rock is said to make a ringing or wailing sound when struck, a sound that is completely different from other rocks around it. The rock is located on the left of the large black rocky outcrop behind Likuliku Beach and it sits under the vaivai tree on a long flat black rock.

"Our village, Yaro, used to be down below this rock and this rock itself was like a checkpoint," Sam shared.

"Every visitor to the village will have to beat this rock just to let villagers know that he is visiting the village. It also acted as our protector during those early days because our elders could easily tell if enemies were trying to attack the village."

The amazing part of the story, though, shared by Semi was the fact that this rock, when beaten, could be heard all around the villages on Malolo and even up to the farthest, Yanuya.

This rock was used by the elders of the Tui Lawa as a sign of sending messages for meetings to be held around Likuliku. If a lali (hollowed log) is beaten close to the rock, its sound echoes around Malolo informing the elders to convene for a chiefly meeting.

Despite being used now as a famous tourist attraction on Likuliku, Sam did not shy away but was proud to share its history and the fact that it will always be a symbollic piece of history for the people of Yaro.

To get to the Vatu Tagi (Crying Rock), you will have to follow a fire track and take the small track that begins at its base.

It would be interesting to visit to Likuliku and witness for yourself the sacred sites at the resort which remain rich pieces of history for the people of Yaro.

Part of this history made known to guests of Likuliku was that villagers would petition the village elder with a request, for example, to have good crops this season, a child for newly - weds or good weather during a long sea journey.

The village elder (mata ni vanua) would present a kava root to the bete (priest) who want to visit the cave to present the petitions. If requests were made with noble intentions, the wish would always be granted.

Another renowned site on the resort is na Ki ni Wai (the Keys to the Ocean).

To get to the site, you need to walk along the fire track on to the hill so you can see the site of na Ki ni Wai.

Literally meaning keys to the ocean, this is a sacred site where the paramount chief of all the Mamanucas, Tui Lawa (chief of the oceans) would be installed.

At his installation, he is given the keys to the ocean meaning he has paramount control of all the land and ocean resources in the Mamanuca area. The ancient village of Yaro Lawa was located originally on Likuliku before its inhabitants moved to where the village now sits.

It is also believed a magic walking stick (titoko tabu) is still buried at this location. The stick was used to separate the original Malolo Island into two islands. Malolo and Malolo Lailai. It has power over the elements. Some believe the magic stick was from the magic treasure chest located somewhere between Mana and Likuliku.

The Fijians believe that at dead midnight, a large star will always hover over this site, a symbol of the presence of the titoko and its influence on the elements and importance of the chiefly location.

* Next Week: We take a look at the descendents of Solomon Islanders at Navutu, Lautoka.

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