Sea level rise threatens

Mikaele Liga at the voivoii plantation in Narikoso in Ono, Kadavu. Picture: SIKELI QOUNADOVU

FOR centuries, villagers of Narikoso in the district of Ono have relied on pandanus leaves (voivoi) as one of its most prized commodities.

Before the introduction of money, villages from the district of Nakasaleka, Naceva and even on Ono Island would sail to Narikoso whenever they wanted voivoi.

They took fish and dalo to trade for voivoi because it was in abundance at Narikoso.

Not only were they there to trade, but it was also an opportunity to strengthen their blood and traditional ties.

And because everyone in Kadavu was somehow related, at times they would stay and spend the night or even a week.

“It was always a big celebration with a lot of feasting and merrymaking,” said retired schoolteacher Mikaele Liga.

However, over the years, the rise in sea level is now slowly drowning and destroying their most prized commodity. With the voivoi plantation located by the sea, villagers of Narikoso are now sharing the voivoi moderately.

“Before there was plenty, they would come with a lot of dalo and we would return the gesture with a lot of voivoi. Now they are bringing drums of diesel and kerosene to trade with the voivoi. So what we do, we always give them just enough as per their need.

“A huge portion of our voivoi plantation is now destroyed as a result of seawater. We still continue this trade, but sadly this will be soon no more.

“We may not be able to trade again. Our land is not suitable for dalo, and the best dalo were usually brought from Nakasaleka and Naceva.

“Our future generation will grow up not knowing why Narikoso was at one time the centre of trade for neighbouring villagers in Kadavu, because at one time voivoi was in abundance,” added Mr Liga.

The last time traditional barter trade was done was last year, when villagers of Narikoso prepared the voivoi for the village hall in Mataso.

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