Fiji Time: 6:26 AM on Sunday 18 March

Fiji Times Logo

/ Front page / Features

The historic installation of the Vunivalu of Bau

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Below is an eye-opening excerpt from The Fiji Times in 1959 detailing the installation of Ratu Sir George Cakobau as the Vunivalu and Tui Kaba at the chiefly island of Bau. The event was historic as it had been 106 years since the last Vunivalu was installed. That chiefly seat has since been vacant today after the passing of Ratu Sir George in 1989. The Fiji Times carried out a very detailed report of what transpired on that auspicious occasion.

More than 3000 Fijian people were at Bau Island on September 18, 1959, when Ratu Sir George Kadavulevu Cakobau, OBE, was formally invested as Vunivalu and Tui Kaba.

The dignity and restrained emotion of the occasion emphasised its historic occasion. Not for 106 years had the impressive ceremony been performed. Yesterday thus became linked with July 26, 1853 when Ratu Cakobau, later Tui Viti — Ratu George's great-grandfather was installed.

The keynote of the ceremony was set when Ratu Edward Tugi Tuivanuavou Cakobau, Ratu George's first cousin, presented him with a tabua, pledging the Bau people's loyalty and the loyalty of all those associated with Bau.

The thousands of Fijians present represented Bau, Tailevu Cakaudrove, Naitasiri, Kadavu and Serua. The scene at the island, even before the ceremony was one of reverence. People talked in whispers, if they spoke at all, and moved about quietly.

The ceremony was held in a vakatunuloa built in the main rara.

Five signals

Before the ceremony began five signals were given on the lali. On the fifth Ratu George left Mataiwelagi, his residence, wearing the traditional masi, and walked along a mat more than 200 yards long to the vakatunuloa. He was escorted by Fijian guards armed with clubs and wooden axes and dressed in traditional Fijian costume. Women sat in pairs, opposite each other at distances along the entire length of the route.

When Ratu George entered the vakatunuloa the tama was given. Ratu George took his seat and the ceremony, which lasted exactly an hour, began.

When presenting the tabua, Ratu Edward asked the Vunivalu that as in his position as paramount chief of Fiji, he should take deep interest in everything that concerns all other high chiefs of Fiji. The tabua was accepted by the Vunivalu, who passed it to Ratu Rusiate Komaitai Tunitoga, chief herald of Bau.

Yaqona presentation

The presentation of yaqona was made by Ratu Manoa Komaitai. Ratu Niko Komaitai, assistant Roko Tui Tailevu, acknowledged the presentation.

One of the highlights of the ceremony was when Dr Ratu Dovi, Roko Tui Bau, as cup bearer, presented the yaqona to Ratu George. This was unique in the history of Bau.

It was a tense moment when Ratu Dovi stood up with the bilo of yaqona, accompanied by chants by people of Bau who forms part of the yaqona ceremony.

Ratu Dovi stoode poised, then turned paused in the traditional custom, keeping in time with the chant, and as soon as it stopped, took a few paces. He crouched and presented the yaqona to the Vunivalu.

Others in succession

As chief herald of Bau (mata-ni-vanua) Ratu Rusiate Komaitai, was the second to drink (rabe).

The next in line to drink was Ratu Popi Seniloli Qaranivalu of Naitasiri, Ratu George's father's namesake. Next was the Tui Tavuki of Kadavu, Ratu Orisi Narokete.

This was the end of the chiefly yaqona. Three other chiefs who drank afterwards were Ratu Josefa Lalabalavu, Tui Cakau, of Cakaudrove.

Fiji Times Front Page Thumbnail

Kaila Front Page ThumbnailFiji Times & Kaila Frontpage PDF Downloads

Use the free Acrobat Reader to view.

Code Inward TTs Outward TTs
CAD 0.65100.6320
JPY 53.691350.6913
GBP 0.35690.3489
EUR 0.40560.3936
NZD 0.69210.6591
AUD 0.64290.6179
USD 0.50070.4837



Exchange Rate updated on 16th, March, 2018

Today's Most Read Stories

  1. 'Forced to go'
  2. Man released on strict bail
  3. Speaker orders Nawaikula to withdraw accusation
  4. Former inmates raise concerns
  5. A-G clarifies ownership
  6. Seaweed farming costly for women
  7. Accommodation woes
  8. State to upgrade aging infrastructure
  9. Solar energy project
  10. Lost and found: Missing passports

Top Stories this Week

  1. Sims' 100th game Thursday (15 Mar)
  2. Cessna heroes Monday (12 Mar)
  3. Picking up the pieces Tuesday (13 Mar)
  4. Men urged to marry Thursday (15 Mar)
  5. 'Forced to go' Saturday (17 Mar)
  6. Man to appear in high court for wife's death Monday (12 Mar)
  7. A star in the making Thursday (15 Mar)
  8. Baravilala's ode to Cessna victims Thursday (15 Mar)
  9. The faith Monday (12 Mar)
  10. 7s hunt Tuesday (13 Mar)