The Fiji Instances » Unforgettable Island encounters – A Governor’s Introduction to the Fiji Islands

Half 3

On June 28, 1938, Sir Harry Charles Luke was appointed the Governor of Fiji and Excessive Commissioner for the Western Pacific.

He changed Sir Arthur Richards who had been appointed the Governor of Jamaica.

This week, Half 3 of Discovering Fiji appears at Sir Harry’s journeys to Beqa, Vatulele and Kadavu, in keeping with diary entries in his guide From A South Seas Diary.

On February 1939, Sir Harry sailed on the ship, Yanawai, with Girl Jocelyn, Dr McGusty, the Head of the Medical Division and Secretary for Indian Affairs, Colonel Workman, the Commissioner of Police and different officers.

Their first cease was Beqa Island, the place they arrived in time to witness a conventional fish drive known as yavirau.

For the drive, about seventy women and men had been gathered in a big circle about one and a half to 2 miles in circumference, holding a ‘ring of linked strips of liana or vine’.

The shadow solid by the creeper made fish stay inside the ring.

“One or two fish, together with a younger shark, managed to dart out of the ‘web’ on the final second, however we counted eight hundred fish and one turtle when the online was lifted into one of many canoes,” Sir Harry famous.

“I by no means dreamed that fish of such brilliance and number of color might exist, and there have been species in contrast to something I’ve seen in any aquarium.”

Within the afternoon the workforce witnessed a conventional firewalking ceremony carried out by the villagers of Dakuibeqa, the mainly village of the Sawau individuals, who inherited the present of strolling on scorching stones.

The guests had been amazed by the truth that the firewalkers weren’t burnt though a handkerchief that was thrown into the pit of scorching stones simply burst into flames.

They bodily inspected the soles of one of many walkers however failed to seek out any burn or harm. This fascinated the Governor.

“I fancy the immunity from ache is attributable to a type of exaltation just like that which prevents dervishes from bleeding after they put skewers and bodkins by way of their flesh after reaching the state of non secular and hypnotic ecstasy ..,” he wrote.

The Governor famous that he had witnessed comparable painless and cold transfixion of cheeks, neck and pores and skin of the breast by skewers in Asia Minor and Cyprus, the place devotees had been underneath a trance.

“The truth that the fire-walkers of Mbengga (Beqa) put together themselves for his or her ordeal by a spiritual ceremony lends substance to my perception that this ceremony induces in them a state of ecstasy…”

“The enterprise ended with a faintly comedian anti-climax, when the villagers, evidently not desirous to waste good warmth, put a bit pig on the stones to roast earlier than they lined them with earth.”

Governor Harry and workforce left Beqa the morning after the firewalking session and travelled to the island of Yanuca the place they visited a cave that contained the skulls and bones of the ancestors of Ratu Aseri, a chief of Serua.

The bones and skulls lay in a dug-out trough on the finish of the cave and weren’t coiled by a snake in keeping with tales that they had heard previous to the go to.

The absence of the snake dissatisfied them. From Yanuca, the group sailed additional south to Vatulele which Sir Harry mentioned had “fascinating options”.

Sir Harry and Girl Jocelyn had been handled like royalties on the low-lying coral island.

“Jocelyn and I had been carried ashore in a formidable palanquin to a village inhabited by good wanting individuals with greater than a splash of Tongan blood,” Sir Harry famous.

“The cup-bearer on the yanggona (yaqona) ceremony was a powerful barbaric determine with 5 tail-feathers of some seabird caught in his purple hair.”

Within the afternoon the workforce went to the western finish of the island to see the mysterious rock work and the pond of Vatulele’s famed purple prawns.

Sir Harry mentioned he was not happy with the work as a result of they weren’t ‘as previous as they’re typically made out to be’. Nevertheless, he discovered the distinctive purple prawns ‘really outstanding’.

The workforce was led to the deeper of two swimming pools and watched whereas a priest summoned the prawns with ‘sonorous incantations’.

He started with repeated cries of ‘ura’, ‘ura’ till all of the sudden there was ‘a stirring of the waters’.

“However the different low-lying pool was full of those unknown creatures, that are tabu.”

“If anybody is imprudent sufficient to interrupt the tabu and take away any of the prawns, ailing befalls him, typically within the type of shipwreck.”

Sir Harry mentioned Basil Thomson, a former stipendiary Justice of the Peace and performing head of the native division, was shipwrecked on a reef within the Yasawa Group as a result of he tried to take away three purple prawns in a bottle.

On March 2, 1939, the workforce reached Kadavu and visited the Authorities station at Vunisea.

Sir Harry was carried ashore by twelve faculty boys who recited an previous conventional conflict chant.

After visiting the hospital and college at Vunisea, the officers left for Daku Bay to go to the place the place sacred turtles lived.

They climbed about 200 toes to a cliff above the ocean the place a yaqona ceremony was held earlier than everybody crawled to 2 overhanging rocks.

Garlanded younger ladies sang songs to summon the turtles from the deep. The reptiles rose to the floor after 20 minutes of singing.

The one occasion that might make them disappear was if villagers from Namuamua intruded.

“How the spell works I don’t profess to grasp however work it does,” Sir Harry wrote.

When loosely translated the music was: ‘Damsels of Nabukelevu; Sporting your full black skirts; And carrying sacred golf equipment; Come up Rau Dalice.’

‘Damsels of Nabukelevu; Sporting your full again skirts; And carrying sacred golf equipment; With faces noticed black; Come up Tinai Thambonga; That we might even see you.’

Within the afternoon, Sir Harry and his workforce sailed to Tavuki, the situation of the Kadavu Provincial Council. The Roko’s identify was Apakuki.

An enormous palanquin within the type of a conventional canoe carried on the shoulders of about fifty males took the Governor and Girl Jocelyn ashore.

“Thus we had been carried not solely ashore however proper as much as the vakatunuloa, whereas our bearers sang a loud advert guttural chant. Then got here the ceremonies and meke, notably effectively accomplished, and we returned to the launch in the identical manner,” wrote Sir Harry.

“As this Pacifi c juggernaut lastly returned to the shore its bearers, with their greenish-yellow skirts and brown legs, seemed like some gigantic centipede or caterpillar.

On March 25, 1939, Sir Harry paid his first official go to to the chiefl y island of Bau. He arrived on the island within the yacht Adi Beti, after crusing down the Wainibokasi River. On Bau, he was proven a stone on which slaves had been as soon as clubbed to demise, which had been changed into a baptismal font.

Two weeks later, on Could 12, the Governor opened the brand new Authorities Buildings, two years after their basis stone was laid. The places of work had been designed by Hedges, the architects.

“We made it a full-dress event — uniform and guard of honour. I used to be offered with a decorative key manufactured from gold mined in Fiji, with which I unlocked the gate,” Sir Harry wrote.

“Within the vestibule exterior the Legislative Council Chamber as within the Chamber itself I’ve launched sure lapidary and ornamental options on the traces of the Malta Palaces – marble slabs with the listing of Governors, the Arms of the Colony in enamelled bronze over the door and inlaid in colored woods on the ground of the chamber.”

Sir Harry famous that he would have cherished to have a number of traces written alongside the highest of Authorities Buildings.

“For, in all of the British Empire, Fiji and the Gilbert and Ellice Islands are the primary to see the dawn. It could be nice to have these traces positioned alongside the highest of the constructing in massive letters if funds permitted.”

The traces had been: ‘Nosque ubi primus equis Oriens adfl avit anhelis illic sera rubens accendit lumina Vesper.’

They meant ‘Glowing vesper is kindling his night rays; Because the rising solar first breathes on us with panting steeds’. These traces had been written by Arthur Dawe, of the Colonial Workplace, when he congratulated Sir Harry on his appointed as Governor of Fiji in 1938.


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