The war in Cakaudrove

Fijian warriors bake their bokola or captives of war. All Tongans were baked and eaten at Waiyevo. Picture SUPPLIED

Fijian warriors bake their bokola or captives of war. All Tongans were baked and eaten at Waiyevo. Picture SUPPLIED

WHILE the armies of Tui Cakau and Ma’afu, the Tongan Prince, waged their war on Taveuni, another war was secretly taking place in the hills of Taveuni between the Tongans and two tribes.

These were the tribes of the people of Lekutu in the vanua of Bouma, who had sided with the people of Vuna in the south of the island to protect their island home.

According to stories passed down to the traditional chiefly herald to the Vunisa and head of the Mataqali Naituku in Korovou, Bouma, Iosefo Rapuga the people of Vuna and Bouma had the intention of protecting the island from the effects of the war that took place between Tui Cakau and the Tongans.

Mr Rapuga said the two tribes had no intention of winning the war or becoming an ally to any side in the conflict.

“Before the war began our people, who are the original settlers of Taveuni through our vu or ancestral god Labalaba and his brother Waqanawanawa who settled in Vuna, had always felt it their duty to protect the island,” said Mr Rapuga.

“Taveuni will always be treasured by the people of Bouma because their forefathers have spilt their own blood in the warring days to protect and secure it.

“Therefore before the Cakaudrove and Tongan war began, a messenger was dispatched from Vuna to the leading clan at Navuga the original home of our forefathers, which lies above Vidawa Village.

“Sharing the same interest as our elders the people of Vuna thought that it was our combined duty to protect the island and slay those that had other dark intentions of harming the island and its inhabitants.”

Thus the people of Vuna and Bouma guarded the mountain passes and interior of Taveuni to ensure they were secure.

Mr Rapuga said Tongans and members of the Tui Cakau’s army both met the clubs of the people of Vuna and Bouma if they dared step of the war field.

Real exterminator of Wainiqolo

As opposed to other acoounts held by other tribes, our elders say that Wainiqolo, the great Tongan warrior, was killed by a brave warrior of Navuga.

Mr Rapuga said the warrior named Vereakula was one of the fiercest warriors in the history of Navuga and it was also said he was buried alive.

“He was buried in a sitting position and he was buried before his time so that none other could kill him not even death,” he said.

“Vereakula was sure to come back victorious in any war and he was fond of eating his enemies’ hearts.

“Actually, when he had killed Wainiqolo, he took out his heart and went to the hills above Naiyalayala where he skewered the Tongan’s heart and roasted it over a fire turning it as he set waiting for it to cook.

“Because he was roasting the heart while turning it in a spit he named the place Tavu Vukivuki or to roast in a rotating motion and to this day the village stands at Tavuki above Naiyalayala in Wairiki.”

Mr Rapuga said that when Ratu Golea came to view the body of Wainiqolo to confirm his death, the Tongan brave was lying on his stomach.

“He ordered his men to turn the corpse and seeing that Wainiqolo’s heart was missing he told the men ‘sega tale ni dua qo e dua a’i Le’utu (This is the work of no other but a warrior from Lekutu)’,” he said.

Wai e vo

After all had been completed, then the elders of Navuga joined the warriors of the Tui Cakau to cleanse the island off Tongans.

Tongan warriors that were left alive from the war were all killed and given an honourable death.

“While their lovo or earth oven burnt making a smoke above the current Garden Island Resort, the elders then asked the other warriors ‘i vei tale e so (Where are the other Tongans?),” said Mr Rapuga.

“The people, seeing a band of Tongans swimming for their dear lives to an island off Taveuni named Korolevu, then responded ‘I wai e vo (there are still some Tongans out at sea)’ and thus the name of the place was named as Wai e Vo.

“The Europeans later changed the spelling of the place to Waiyevo (government station on Taveuni) but it is Wai e Vo in memory of the Tongans who swam for their lives to Korolevu Island.

“Warriors were dispatched to slay these Tongans and none were spared for daring to challenge the wrath of the people of Cakaudrove.”

Mr Rapuga’s elders say that the sea turned red at Korolevu as the Tongans met the clubs of the warriors of Cakaudrove.

Different view of the war

According to Mr Rapuga, the Cakaudrove war against the Tongans was never the church’s war of the valu ni lotu as claimed by many.

“The war was eminent and Ratu Golea had no choice but to respond to the threats of Ma’afu irrespective whether Father Favre had given Tui Cakau the cross or not,” he said.

“Just because of the fact that the church recorded the war and that a cross was given to the Tui Cakau as a sign of Christian blessing does not make it something like the holy wars in Europe because the war was going to happen whether Ratu Golea and his men liked it or not.

“After all, they had to protect and guard their interest and people from the Tongans whose control was progressing rapidly from the Lau Group and now threatening Vanua Levu.

“I think the Bua and Macuata war would have instigated the war and the participation of the Tui Cakau as an ally of Macuata just created the perfect conditions for a war to begin.”

Mr Rapuga said the meeting between Father Favre and the Tui Cakau was the perfect platform which psyched the paramount chief and his chiefs with the presentation of the cross being the perfect confirmation that their participation was a divine calling.

“However for us in Lekutu, the war was about protecting something that was dear to us which is our land,” 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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