The ‘haunted’ island

A view the Savusavu harbour. Picture: FILE

IT lies silently in the calm waters of Savusavu Harbour, forming the centrepiece of a magical scenery you cannot ignore while visiting the “Hidden Paradise”.

In the past, the island was rumoured to be haunted and I had personally heard stories of apparitions on the island reportedly resembling that of a Polynesian lady.

During a visit to Yaroi Village recently, I heard stories of how shouting would be heard on the island.

Others reported seeing people bearing torches on the uninhabited island at night.

In 2014, there was and exhumation exercise of the remains of Solomon labourers.

The event also uncovered a grave belonging to a Samoan Princess (which remains on the island to this day).

The Miller family in Fiji are aware of the existence of the princess’ grave.

They say she is Aheamauga Maloka, the wife of Daniel Bathe Miller, a sailor who captured her heart before spiriting her away from her village in Samoa.

Daniel was born in Ovalau, Levuka, to William Henry Miller I, one of the two brothers who travelled from Bathe in England and are the original Millers in Fiji.

Albert Barty Miller a descendant of Daniel described his ancestor as a sailor who loved the sea and the islands.

On one of his travels to a village in Upolu, Samoa, Daniel fell in love with the chieftain endearingly known as Mouga among her Miller family members.

Knowing the strict cultures of her people and the fact that they would not accept an interracial marriage, the chieftain decided to leave her home and travel to Fiji to be with her beloved. Genealogy records of the Miller family show that Mouga was born sometimes in 1820 at Fasito’otai, Upolu, Samoa.

Little is known about Mouga but Albert said she bore Daniel two boys, Jim and William Henry Miller II, and a girl named Mouga Miller after her mother.

After returning from Samoa with his wife, Daniel travelled up the coast to Vanua Levu before settling in Savusavu where his wild heart was tamed by the beauty of the Hidden Paradise.

Mouga later died in Vanua Levu and was buried at Nawi Island where she remains to this day.

Her son William married Adi Filomena Ravuiwai, the daughter of Ratu Koliloa Ravuiwai, who was the son of the sixth Tui Cakau, Ratu Tuikilakila Lalabalavu. Adi Filomena bore William eight children.

Of these eight children, one of the notable ones is daughter Adi Ailisi Miller who later married Ratu George Brown Toganivalu, the Turaga Masau of Bau with whom she had five children.

Meanwhile, the Miller family in Savusavu were approached in 2014 by developers of Nawi Island who sought permission for the removal of six graves belonging to labourers who were buried on the island.

However, after discussions with the Miller family it was decided the grave of Mouga would remain on the island as a major tourist attraction.

I was told that a bottle of liquor, a mouth organ, coffin nails and pieces of a coffin were also found in the graves of the labourers.

And according to reports circulating in Savusavu, the developers had to approach the Miller family seeking their approval for the exhumation of the bodies after they encountered unexplainable incidents on the island which affected the progress of work.

Nawi Island is presently being developed as a world class marina.

For those who don’t know, the Miller surname is of English and Scottish origin. Old records state that it is derived from the occupational name for a miller; a derivative of the northern Middle English mille (mill), reinforced by the Old Norse mylnari.

The notable surname is regarded as Anglo-Scottish and it has over twenty-five entries in the British “Dictionary of National Biography”, and no less than thirty coats of arms.

It is or rather was, or occupational, and described a corn miller, or at least someone in charge of a mill.

The origination is from the pre 7th century Olde English word “mylene”, and the later “milne”, but ultimately from the Roman (Latin) “molere”, meaning to grind.

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