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Vaturu the first drop of blood

Siteri Sauvakacolo
Sunday, December 03, 2017

HAVE you ever heard of how your ancestors trekked through the thick Fijian bushland and jungles to find the suitable place you have called home for many years now?

They walked through the rugged mountains and encountered battles, tough ones of course, just so they could find a better home for them and those who would follow.

We may have heard such a story like this from our parents or grandparents.

These are amazing accounts of life that early Fijian settlers and ancestors went through in search for a better place to live.

On the outskirts of Nadi in the not-so interior highlands lies a peaceful village called Nagado which is home to about 1000 people.

A few hours' drive from Nagado is Natawa, probably the last village in Nadi before you reach the upper regions of the Ba Province.

These two villages belong to the Vaturu district.

The only primary school which caters for the two villages celebrated its 100th anniversary celebration last week and it was amazing to be part of the function and learn more about the people, their origin and how they live.

Letia Nasaku belongs to the sau turaga (king maker) clan and knows very well the history of the people of Vaturu as relayed to him by his forefathers many years ago.

It all started with the journey early iTaukei settlers, Degei and Lutunasobasoba, had taken across the high seas all the way to Fiji.

This version of a kai Vaturu was what made the story more interesting after hearing a bit about this journey from Iliaseri Varo of mataqali Naobeka of Namotomoto, Nadi.

According to Letia, Degei and Lutunasobasoba parted ways; Degei stayed at Nakauvadra while Lutunasobasoba trekked the renowned Tualeita to look for a better place to settle in the east of Viti Levu.

It was in this journey that Lutunasobasoba was injured and the place where the first drop of blood (nai matai ni turu ni dra) from what was believed to have been the result of the gruelling fight they had to go through was named va-turu — now known as the Vaturu district.

Letia said, Lutunasobasoba could not make it to the east of Viti Levu.

He died during the journey and was buried on a hill overlooking Bukuya Village in the Magodro district in the interior of Ba. This is near the hydro dam at Bukuya.

While this is not consistent with other oral and even written accounts of how Fiji was first settled by the iTaukei, what must be stressed is that it is the account of a kai Vaturu. It is not our intention to cause disquet, disputes or divisions among those who have a different accounts of history, but merely to inform.

Vaturu Dam, as many may probably have known has been the main source of freshwater to thousands of Fijian household in the Western Division, mainly Lautoka and Nadi for many years.

The people of the Vaturu District are traditional landowners of this water source.

According to Letia, many good things have happened to them and they counted this as a source of blessing because, according to their elders, Lutunasobasoba also travelled through their land and it was their understanding that he must have left behind some mana before continuing with his journey to other parts of the Western Division.

Last week, people of the Vaturu District also celebrated the school's 100th anniversary celebration and managed to raise $50,600 with which they hope to build a new secondary school for their children.

This school also has a rich history because it was started by church leaders and lay preachers back in the 1800s way before it was made a government school in 1917.

Letia, shared the school had been built in four different locations before finally being constructed at where it is now, overlooking the beauty of villages and suburbs around Nadi Bay.

The school started at Yavuni, the site of the original village. Some years later, village elders discovered a better location for their village so they relocated to Wacalevu which was also the second location for the school. After a while, they became dissatisfied with the school's location so they moved to Mala.

For the initiated, this is the name used by the village rugby club, Mala Young Boys, where rugby star Vereniki Goneva started his rugby career.

"Vaturu District School has produced many successful people and we are so glad that we are here today to celebrate its 100 years anniversary," Letia said.

Despite the many changes and the surge in technologies we may have witnessed in our country nowadays, elders of Vaturu will always ensure their younger people are always taught the right manners and in that way, their tradition and culture should never ever fade away from them."

If you may happen to visit the villages of Nagado or Natawa in the near future, you will be amazed at the many iTaukei protocols their young children know.

It is because their elders always make sure this is taught to them at a very young age.

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