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The four mysterious stones with legendary abilities

Luke Rawalai
Sunday, January 28, 2018

TUCKED away in a cove out of sight, the village of Naduru lies hidden in thick foliage opposite a passage on the western side of Namukalau Island at Dogotuki, Macuata.

Only accessible by boat, one has to steer their way between treacherous reefs and mangrove patches to get to the village.

A place steeped in myth and mystery, Naduru is the traditional chiefly seat of the Tui Vuna, the chief of Dogotuki District.

Deep in the forests of the village lie four mysterious stones whose legendary abilities have been passed down through stories among the people of Naduru.

These stones would later draw the attention of chiefs who would steal it for their own use.

Of the four stones one now lies on the island of Bau and the other in the village of Vunisavisavi in Cakaudrove while the two that remained in the village are now deeply buried by villagers following a spiritual cleansing in the village.

Stone telescopes

According to stories passed down from their ancestors, the son of the late Tui Vuna, Ratu Aminisitai Degei said, the stones were used as telescopes by their elders in the past.

Ratu Aminisitai said, when an enemy tribe approached their village; elders would consult the assistance of the four stones to gauge how far they were from the village.

"The rocks were hexagonal in shape at its base and about 10 feet long," he said.

"Something that made the rocks stand out was the fact that six sides of the rock were proportionate and smooth as if they were processed on a lathe.

"They are exactly like the pictures of the basalt rock columns found in Ireland.

"These rocks were strange and a wonder of nature to the elders who might have thought that it processed special powers."

Ratu Aminisitai said, the rocks were revered among the elders who used it to their advantage in the days of war.

"When you see the rocks, it is not hollow to enable it to become a telescope but sometimes I ask myself if the elders knew things we have now forgotten," he said.

"Two of the rocks were stolen from our elders and to date they are in adoptive homes on the island of Bau as a church lectern and in Vunisavisavi, Cakaudrove."

'Thieves from Bau'

Ratu Aminisitai said, they were aware that one of the two rocks that was stolen from them is now on the island of Bau used as the lectern at the Ratu Cakobau Memorial Church.

"Bandits had sailed from the island of Bau to steal the rock which was later used for a darker purpose," he said.

"It was to be used as the vatu ni bokola (slab for killing humans) for Bau chief Ratu Cakobau," he said.

"This rock which was shaped like a kali, a wooden headrest, used by our elders was to witness the slaughter of humans at an age when cannibalism was rife.

"However, we are told that when the thieves tried to uproot the slab they could not achieve this so they cut the rock from its base."

Ratu Aminisitai said, when the thieves from Bau left they named places in the Nayaroyaro estuaries after their home island.

"We have the village of Bau, Vugalei and a clan named Naisogolaca which was named by the Bau infiltrators who stole the stone slabs from us," he said.

"As long as we know we do not have any relations to the island of Bau because we originate from Verata.

"However what baffles me to this day is the fact that our elders were never alerted when this theft was progressing in a part of the land considered as sacred and taboo.

"The act in itself was a sacrilege that would have demanded the death of those involved."

When contacted for a comment on the history of the rock, Bau chief Ratu Epenisa Cakobau said, he was not aware of the history of the rock.

Ratu Epenisa said, when he grew up he was aware of the existence of the rock which used to be at Vatanitawake.

"I am aware that it was used as a human sacrificial altar," he said.

"It was later brought into the church and shaped to be used as an altar at the church on Bau."

Lalagavesi, the stolen rock

Ratu Aminisitai said, the Bauans were followed by another party from Cakaudrove who were seeking the rock to be used as a protection for the then Tui Cakau.

"They stole the second rock but this time they successfully dug the rock out before carrying out the hectic task of spiriting it away to Vunisavisavi," he said.

"'It is amazing how the one rock became the cornerstone of the fence that they built to protect the Cakaudrove chieftain.

"This very stone gave rise to the name Lalagavesi, the traditional reference made to the paramount chief of Cakaudrove.

"Lalagavesi literally means walls of vesi (Intisia bijuga), a hardwood that is considered to be so strong that it was impenetrable."

Ratu Aminisitai said, after uprooting the rock from the soil, the stolen rock was transported by land to Vunisavisavi.

"Places where the rock passed were named after incidents that befell those carrying it," he said.

"Nawadamu in Dogotuki is where the rock was tied to the wadamu, a creeping plant and dragged by the men of Cakaudrove.

"They continued on passing a place they decided to call Nayarabale place after they dragged the rock past the area.

"Other places that were named in memory of the rock were Vatukuca in Saqani where the rock was dropped, Vaturova where men had to carry the rock."

Ratu Aminisitai said, considering that there was no machineries then to drag the heavy monolith it was interesting to think of how the rocks were transported to Vunisavisavi which lay far away in Cakaudrove.

"One thing I know, our elders had powers and knowledge that are now lost to us and this may have aided them to transfer the stone," he said.

"They were strong and gigantic people and this is evident in the structures built in the past the ruins which still exist among us today.

"Whatever the explanations the ability of people to carry such huge boulders across the rough and rugged terrains manually is just amazing."

Ratu Aminisitai said there were still ruins of a rocky structure on top of a mountain in the area called Koronikalou.

"To see the huge rocks on the summit of the mountain is amazing because it takes superhuman strength to carry the rocks up to where it is now," he said.

Spiritual cleansing

For an object that saw the death of many with a darker history tainted with blood and suffering, Ratu Aminisitai said, the vatu ni bokola is finally being used for a purer purpose becoming a lectern in a church.

Ratu Aminisitai said, the other rock now lies somewhere in the ruins of the ancient home of the Tui Cakau in Vunisavisavi.

"In 2013, we had a spiritual cleansing in the village and we were told to cleanse our homes of everything that was unclean and evil," he said.

"Our people thought that the two remaining rocks in the village needed to be removed.

"In accordance with the wishes of the people they had tried to remove the rocks but could not do so.

"However when the spiritual cleansing reform ended the two rocks started shaking from their roots and we decided to bury them into the earth where they now rest."

Ratu Aminisitai said, the rocks had somewhat forged a relation between Naduru, Bau and the province of Cakaudrove.

"In 1928 when Ratu Sukuna visited the Dogotuki district for the butu vanua (traditional information gathering in the district) he refused to visit its seat of power, Naduru," he said.

"Later we learnt that he preferred not to visit the village because of the incident.

"Whatever the circumstances, this was something that happened in an age that is far behind us now."

Tui Vuna

"The term Tui Vuna the traditional leader of our people originates from the rocks which were believed to contain special magical powers," he said.

"For in Naduru lay the source (vuna) of powers which were endowed in the rocks.

"Our people were known in war as the people of Naduruvatu literally meaning the people of the foundation of stones."

Ratu Aminisitai said, when the people in the village had asked for the burial of the two other rocks, they had to agree because it was the wish of the people.

"What are chiefs without their people? We believe that we live for the people we serve," he said.

"Therefore their wish was placed above any other desires we had.

"My mother, who was the former Tui Vuna, used to say, 'that we have no land to consider ourselves wealthy but that our people are our wealth'."

"Without them we have no reason to exist."

* Next week : Origins of the people of


* This is the version of this particular piece of history as told by the people of Nauduru. It might be different from other versions and it is not our intention to cause any dispute etc between tribes but only to allow them to tell their stories.

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