Our History & Culture

The Legend

“LEGEND OF THE MAGIC BOX” – Fiji’s Beginnings

The history of Fiji, according to mythology, begins about 1500 BC with a voyage of giant war canoes from Taganika north of Egypt. Leading the armada on the giant double hull canoe “Kaunitoni” was the able seafarer warrior Chief Lutunasobasoba assisted by his General Degei.

Legend has it that the armada was carrying some special cargo – treasures from the Temple of King Solomon in Judah including a special box called the Katonimana (Kato meaning case and Mana being magic), which in Fijian literally means the “Box of Blessings”.

The purpose was to find a mythological island in the South East with bountiful seas and rich land created by the Gods where the Chief ’s people could rest after years of wandering. Navigation was by the evening stars. The armada carried rations, families, warriors and skilled craftsman including Lapita Potters.

Two convoys set sail, but one got separated and disappeared in the Indian Ocean. The other continued South East past Indonesia, Papua New Guinea into the Marquesas, north of Tahiti, then curled back south west into the Fiji group of islands.

Legend has it that the armada travelled via the Yasawas and as the reefs were treacherous around Vita Levu, they had to keep travelling South West to find a passage, an “opening” to enter the Fiji Waters. This passage was the Momi passage which is still used today by large ocean-going vessels.

It was here around Matamanoa, Mana and Malolo islands, that the giant outrigger canoe Kaunitoni with its special cargo, met inclement weather and high seas. Due to seas, the Katonimana the “Box of Blessings” slipped off the outrigger canoe. Lutunasobasoba gave orders to let it go, believing it was the will of the gods. The General Degei tried to retrieve it but it was too late.

Lutunasobasoba then named the three islands, Mata-manoa (Mata means eye, Manoa means wind) which literally means “eye of the strong wind”, the other island Mana means magic, to mark the area where the box of blessings fell, and Likuliku because it was here the armada experienced calm waters again.

The convoy finally landed at Vuda Point, a beach quite near Nadi Airport on the big Island of Viti Levu. The Chief Lutunasobasoba eventually settled in Vaturu which is one of the high mountains you see outside Nadi Airport and Degei eventually moved to Nakauvadra near Mount Victoria.

Lutunasobasoba gave specific instructions that no one was to ever try and retrieve the Katonimana that was in the Mamanuca seas. The gods made their decision clear that it was to remain in the Mamanucas and anyone who tried to tamper with the box would be cursed. Lutunasobasoba also predicted that this group of islands would be a great source of prosperity for the Fijian people in the future.

Degei many years later returned to the Mamanucas to try and retrieve the box of blessings.

Legend has it that he only managed to retrieve a big diamond which was outside of the box. Immediately he was cursed and transformed into a snake with the diamond marked on his head for eternity. For the rest of his life he would crawl on his stomach, wearing a heavy diamond and be trapped in an ocean cave in Sawa-i-lau in the Yasawas, which is accessible to visitors today.

The Fijians believe that this box is still buried today in the oceans between Likuliku Lagoon Resort (next door to Malolo Resort) and Mana guarded by two giant clams. It is this box that they believe has brought great blessings to all the villages in the area and the people who visit the islands.

Most authorities agree that the people came into the Pacific from Southeast Asia via Indonesia. Here the Melanesians and the Polynesians mixed to create a highly developed society long before the arrival of the Europeans.

The European discoveries of the Fiji group were accidental. The first of these discoveries was made in 1643 by the Dutch explorer, Abel Tasman and English navigators, including Captain James Cook who sailed through in 1774 and made further explorations in the 18th century. From 1879 to 1916 Indians came as indentured labourers to work on the sugar plantations. On completion of their indentured term, these labourers had the opportunity to return to India but most chose to remain in Fiji and establish small farming units After the indentured system was abolished, traders, priests and different castes arrived to help establish an integrated, hardworking and subsequently often prosperous 45% of Fiji’s population.

Malolo – The island of the resting sun

Na Siga e Dromu i Malolo

The island of Malolo is also steeped in history and legend. The early settlers, after working the rich land and bountiful seas, would cast their eyes to the west each afternoon as the sun would always set behind Malolo Island. From a distance, it appeared as if the sun was resting. The Fijians believe that Malolo was an island especially created by the gods where the sun would come and rest after a day of wandering. From that time Fijians branched out from Viseisei to occupy over half of our 300 beautiful islands in the group. But every Fijian, irrespective of what island they hail from, knows that at the end of the day, wherever you are in Fiji, the sun will always come to rest on Malolo Island. Ancient expressions such as “All roads lead to Rome” have entered our everyday English language. For the Fijians, the expression “na siga e dromu i Malolo” has also become part of everyday Fijian sayings. It means “Malolo is where the sun comes to rest”.

Today, Malolo Island Resort continues in the spirit of this wonderful legend. The sun in our logo reminds us of the island’s special significance in Fijian mythology. A place of rest. A place of peaceful seclusion. And like the sun, we hope that you also will make our island a place where you too can come and rest and bask in total peace and serenity.

The island rejuvenates the elements and we know will do the same for you.

Customs and Protocol

Fiji is well known for its customs and culture. If attending one of our village trips, it is wise to learn a little more about the Fijian customs before leaving. Firstly the dress code is casual, but shorts and a T-Shirt must be worn by both men and women to ensure shoulders are covered. Women should also cover their legs with a sarong or sulu: it is considered impolite to wear hats or carry a backpack into the village.

At the Community Hall you will be greeted by the village chiefs and elders. A sevusevu or gift is presented to the chief and village elders, normally yaqona, which is the root used to make the traditional welcome drink. The Chief who will be seated on the top centre of the room will receive the first bowl of yaqona, which is also known in the South Pacific as kava.   It is customary to clap three times after he has finished drinking. It is also customary before receiving a bowl of kava to clap once and then clap three times after you have finished. Everyone in the Community Hall gets to taste the kava. To clap is to show a means of respect to the elders. It is TABU (forbidden) to wear a cap or hat in a Fijian house and shoes should be removed before entry. It is also extremely rude to touch a Fijian on the head at any time.

Video: Yaro Village on Malolo Island, Fiji with Brodie Harper