Legend from the GARDEN ISLE

The Tui Cakau, Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu, is also known as the vuvu ni vanua o Cakaudrove. Picture LUKE RAWALAI

The Tui Cakau, Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu, is also known as the vuvu ni vanua o Cakaudrove. Picture LUKE RAWALAI

ACCORDING to stories passed down by the ancestors of the Bouma people there was never a Tui Cakau, but a Tui Vanua Levu who resided at Vunisavisavi.

Head of the mataqai Naituku and chief traditional herald to the Vunisa of Bouma Iosefo Rapuga said the Tui Vanua Levu then ruled the whole of Vanua Levu including the islands in its maritime zone spreading to islands now administered under the Lau Group.

Mr Rapuga said according to stories, there came a day when the Tui Vanua Levu instructed his people to prepare food to be taken to Bau, which was the ruling power back in the days.

“People were given a time limit to prepare the root crops and women to prepare their finest wares which was to be presented in Bau,” he said.

“After the said time, the people of Vanua Levu gathered at Vunisavisavi with their items that they had been tasked with.

Qurai and Rawaka

“As you can imagine that this would have been a sight to see because we are talking about the whole of Vanua Levu.

“The Tui Vanua Levu then appointed two gods, Qurai of Cakaudrove and Rawaka of Wainikeli, who was residing at Vanua Levu during the time, to swim with the presentation and carry it to Bau on behalf of the people of Vanua Levu.”

Mr Rapuga said according to legend, another god was appointed to fan the seas to make it calm and easier for the gods to perform a the menial task of carrying the presentation to Bau.

“On their way to Bau, the two gods were playing along the way and there were two reasons for this,” he said.

“The first was to keep them active and their mind off the distance between Bau and Vunisavisavi and also keep them warm from the cold water.

“Therefore the progenies of these two gods became veitabani (a relationship between clans who count each pother as strong traditional rivals) because of the fact that they were playing along their way to Bau.

“What Qurai would do was fill his mouth with water and spray it on Rawaka’s buttocks causing him to be startled for no good reason followed by laughter as the other repeated the same on his rival’s ears.”

Arriving at Bau

After swimming for a number of days, the two gods finally spotted Bau on the horizon.

“When they reached Bau, they were so cold and weak so they took the presentation and swam close to the Masau’s house, who is the traditional herald of the Roko Tui Bau,” said Mr Rapuga.

“Since Bau was counted as one of the sacred islands back then and taboo, the two gods then slipped back into the water as they sat there with their hands across their chests while their teeths clattered from the cold.

“It so happened that the Masau passed by and when he saw the two gods, enquired of their origins, and upon learning of their task welcomed them to his home.

“When they entered the island of Bau, the two continued to retain their posture walking along the path bowed their hands draped across their chest as they shivered from the cold, and to this day the people of Cakaudrove will always drape their hands on their chest commemorating their ancestral gods who entered Bau in the same fashion.”

Mr Rapuga said the Masau was taken by surprise by his two visitors as he had not prepared any yaqona or whales tooth to receive the visitors and their presents.

“Therefore he took a big plantain tree that was growing beside his house and presented it to the two gods as a show of his appreciation,” he said.

“Now the two gods stayed at Bau for a while before they returned to their homeland.

“When they returned, they took with them the plantain tree that was given to them by the Masau in Bau.

“It is said that when Rawaka’s time came to search for new land with his people he claimed the plantain tree and took it along with him to Taveuni where he found a suitable place to settle on the north end towards Matei.”

Journey across to Taveuni

in search of new land

Being inseparable, the two gods journeyed to the Garden Island and landed on a stony side of Pa Cala beach in Matei.

According to stories, Rawaka then took his treasured plantain tree and followed Qurai to shore hopping on stones along the beach.

“While making their way to land, Rawaka slipped on one of the stones and that is how the place received it’s name Pa Cala (wrong footing),” said Mr Rapuga.

“The Europeans and Indians then later changed it to Vacala but it was originally named Pa Cala after Rawaka’s experience.

Wainikeli

“After settling on the island Qurai then went on to settle in Somosomo while Rawaka stayed in Pa Cala, the original place where they landed.

“While there his people and he were faced with a new problem because the area had no water supply.”

Rawaka then instructed his people to dig a deep ditch close to the plantain tree that was given as a gift from Bau if they wanted to have water.

“The people then dug a ditch and finally received water as they were promised and this they drained to the sea,” said Mr Rapuga.

“Since their source of water came from the ditch and flowed down a drain they were then named as the people of Wainikeli (drained water) in memory of how they received their first water.

“To this day they still reside in Pa Cala and its surrounding areas headed by the Tui Wei who is the paramount chief of the Wainikeli district.”

The first Tui Cakau

Back on Vanua Levu, the people then gathered to officially install their first ever chief to be their overlord.

According to legend, the appointed chief was on the verge of drinking from the installation cup when a man, whom they said was a demi god, appeared at the doorway of the bure where the event was taking place.

“The chief then told the men to give the cup to the young man who was then named as the Tui Cakau, vuvu ni vanua o Cakaudrove which literally meant the king from the reefs, the ancestral god of Cakaudrove given the new chief’s divine heritage,” said Mr Rapuga.

? History being the subject it is, a group’s version of events may not be the same as that held by another group. When publishing one account, it is not our intention to cause division or to disrespect other oral traditions. Those with a different version can contact us so we can publish their account of history too.

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