Monday, March 10, 2008

Bau Links

Bau links still alive deep in the country

Monday, March 10, 2008 -

Kolinio Tubuna, right, of Nayavu Village in Wainibuka points to Navunikuluva, where the Vusaradave warriors once lived. On the left is Saula Matarau+ Enlarge this image

Kolinio Tubuna, right, of Nayavu Village in Wainibuka points to Navunikuluva, where the Vusaradave warriors once lived. On the left is Saula Matarau

FOR commuters along the Kings Road, Nayavu in the interior of Tailevu, is a beautiful village, large with modern home structures and to the passerby could well be a Government station.

But if you ask a bit more and sit down with the friendly villagers you will find it is a village deeply entrenched with the origins of some of the chiefly tribes of Bau Island - regarded as the traditional heads of the Kubuna confederacy.

I had passed the place often located in Wainibuka but did not know how deeply entrenched the links were until I was shown the foundation mound of a house or yavu makawa called Kubuna and Naua.

I had even pondered over the late Ratu Sir Lala Sukuna's sweeping statements on why Fijians should tread with caution when accepting modern concepts, likening the Fijian race to a bamboo on the Wainibuka River being swept down (by civilisation) and crushed on large boulders. He may just have been visiting his relatives in Nayavu while making that statement.

During the trip to Nayavu, I also discovered a place where the Vusaradave used to watch as the swift flowing Wainibuka River flowed, giving them the name Vu Sara Dave or watching the bowl (referring to the river below, the spot where an old village used to be).

The Vusaradave were known as the warrior clans of Bau and were renowned for their fighting prowess.

And who else to relate those tales but an ageing warrior of old from the village they call point of origin. The head of the mataqali Nubulevu of Nayavu (which means foundations in Fijian), Mitieli Turaga, 98, says he and his ancestors were the original elders of the Yavusa Bau and Yavusa Kubuna.

Pointing to a number of areas around the village area Mr Turaga, a World War II veteran and a former member of the Third Infantry Regiment (3FIR) who saw action in the Solomon Islands, says he is the head of the mataqali Nubulevu, who come under the Yavusa Bau.

"Our ancestors were closely related to the great Ratu Seru Cakobau, the Vunivalu of Bau and who also knew and cherished his connections with us," he said. "In those days our chiefs were God-fearing and much loved by the people and we enjoyed a cordial relationship with the people.

"As you will see the foundations of Kubuna and Bau are around this area and some households are named after some of the chiefly households on Bau like Naua (from which the Tagivakatini and Seniloli families come from)."

Mr Turaga said the Cakobau family from Ratu Seru's era and later on used to make frequent trips to the village.

"The name Nayavu means Yavu kei Bau. Our village used to be called Drekeniwai but then it was changed by Ratu Seru to Nayavu because of his links with our people."

Another Nayavu villager, Kolinio Tubuna said the old village was located on the opposite side of the river from the present village location.

"The elders were told to leave the place called Navunikuluva near the Irish crossing but they told those who were advising them to leave that they wanted to stay and watch the river down below which they referred to as a bowl and derived the name Vu sara dave to which they have links with the same clan on Bau by the name Vusaradave.

He said today the old site is surrounded by trees.

The old Kubuna village is located a few feet above this area on a hill.

And to cross check the authenticity of the story as Fijian legends can be disappointingly contradictory a senior member of one of the Bau clans confirmed the links and the fact that they were very much intact

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