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Tura's mountain

Luke Rawalai
Monday, November 20, 2017

MUCH has been written about the occupation of Fiji by early settlers but these excerpts are all reliant on reports passed down through generations.

These oral excerpts of histories depended a lot on the person who relayed them and the condition and environment they were in.

However, one thing certain is that the early settlers of Fiji were great sailors who mastered the seas and depended on nature to get them to where we now call our home.

This is a report that has been passed down to the people of Kubulau district in Bua Province and relayed to us by their chief, the Tui Nadi, Ratu Peni Rasigare.

The genealogy of the early settlers

The known genealogy of the early settlers, according to reports passed down the generations verbally, portrays Tura as the father of all Fijians whose sons would travel to Fiji in waves of migration for reasons that are not known.

It is recorded that Tura from Turkistan (Turakisitani, Esia) married Ranadi of Thebes (Cevi, Itipita), and they had two children, Lutunasobasoba and Kubunavanua, while Tura's second wife was Naiovabasali and their children were Degei, Waicalanavanua, Nakumilevu, Rokola and Erovu. They moved to Tanganyika.

Three ships, the Kaunitoni, the Kaunitera and the Duiyabaki later set out from Tanganyika and sailed east until they came to the Solomons.

Lutunasobasoba was captain of the Kaunitoni, Nakumilevu skipped the Kaunitera and Kubunavanua the Duiyabaki.

While in the Solomons, they quarrelled over a turtle the crew of the Kaunitera had eaten and not shared with the other crew.

Kumilevu and his crew were left behind in the Solomons, and the other two ships left.

The Duiyabaki with Kubunavanua, went ahead and sailed to Lomaloma in the Lau Group.

The Kaunitoni followed with many on board including Lutunasobasoba, Degei, Waicalanavanua, Rokola, Erovu and a number of women and children.

The ship sailed on until they reached land now known as Fiji. They arrived at night and as the moon was rising they came opposite to a headland which they called Muainavula (Moon Point).

They went on and struck the edge of the reef, and the canoe was holed (lamu), and so they called this edge of the reef Nalamu.

Records are silent as to whether Tura had also travelled to Fiji.

However, reports passed down by the people of Kubulau district in Bua suggest that this great man did travel to Fiji and settled in Bua.


According to records, Tura hailed from Turkistan with some pointing out that he was a Levite, a Jewish tribe from Israel.

Writers such as the then American consul to Fiji, John B Williams, whose letter was obtained by this newspaper, indicated that most early Fijian practices were similar to those of the Israelites.

Mr Williams said in his letter: "The Feejee man's manners, customs, and habits are precisely what we read of in ancient Jews, doubtless they are descendants of the lost tribes of Israel. They anoint the head and body with sweet scented oils, wear the long beard. They consider it a disgrace for a man to lose his hair or beard, unless they lose it by death of one of their families or a relative, in that case the beard is cut off as a badge of mourning, while others cut a finger off, or burn the arm in a circle. They also circumcise as did the Jews."

However, Ratu Peni says that according to stories that have been passed by their forefathers, Tura had settled in the old district of Rukuruku in the legendary fort of Naicobocobo.

He said that in Naicobocobo, Tura kept his own people who had travelled with him from wherever he came from.

According to reports passed down by his people, Ratu Peni said Tura lived to a great age seeing his great-grandchildren.

Ratu Peni said Tura was the father of Lutunasobasoba, father of Rokomoutu whose eldest son was Buatavatava known endearingly as Naulumatua (the elder).


"According to stories passed down in this era, Buatavatava, the eldest son of Rokomoutu, was banished by his father to Vanua Levu after a heated quarrel which is not true," Ratu Peni said.

"He had in fact travelled to Vanua Levu to visit his great-grandfather as he was the 'apple of his eye'.

"During his travel, he was accompanied by his mother Adi Leleasiga from their home in Verata.

"They sailed to Vanua Levu through Savusavu and finding excellent wind conditions and a swift current named the bay Nasavusavu. Savu meaning swift current as their boat sailed swiftly along the Wailevu waters towards Kubulau."

Ratu Peni said when the party got closer to Kubulau they sailed near to shore and discovered smoke rising from the area.

"The smoke's only indication to the party was that the place was already inhabited and since they saw smoke in the area, they named it Kuboulaulau meaning the place where they were hit with smoke," he said.

The naming of Seatura

So close was the relationship between Buatavatava and Tura that he chose to leave Verata and stay for the rest of his life with his elderly grandfather.

Ratu Peni said Naicobocobo then encountered an earthquake which created a tidal wave.

"When the sea rose, the people of Naicobocobo scattered in terror before the waves hit and Tura himself found refuge in a high mountain in Bua," he said.

"This mountain was later named Seatura — sea meaning to flee and so the mountain was named 'Sea o Tura' to commemorate the fleeing of Tura and the earthquake that befell the area.

"While their chief fled to the mountains of Seatura, the people of Naicobocobo fled to a mountain just near the war fort which was named Nasesealeka.

"Since the people chose to flee a short distance, the place was then named 'sea leka', literally meaning to flee a short distance."

Ratu Peni said this was how the two mountains were named in commemoration of the incident that befell the people of Naicobocobo.

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