Point of Origin – Islanders forced to relocate after war

Women of Kocoma Village, Qamea prepare the si’au dish for a function. Picture: SERAFINA SILAITOGA

Like many other villagers on Taveuni and surrounding islands who lost their land following the war with Ma’afu and his warriors, those of Kocoma on Qamea also faced the same axe.

The paramount chief of Cakaudrove at that time, Tuikilakila, sold Naitauba Island, outside Taveuni after the Kocoma villagers supported the Tongans in the war against the Tui Cakau.

The people of Kocoma are originally from Naitauba and history says that their failure to support Tuikilakila led to the sale of their island and they were forced to relocate.

According to retired schoolteacher Miriama Matata, whose husband is from Kocoma and she is a descendant of the Maikavula family (Tui Cakau’s spokesman) of Somosomo Village, the people of Kocoma are originally from Naitauba, a nearby island.

“Stories passed down to us by our elders is that the people of Kocoma are originally from Naitauba Island,” she said.

“But after the Tongans came to Cakaudrove for a tribal war, the people of Naitauba decided to support the Tongans.

“So after the war, Ma’afu and the Tongans lost and the Tui Cakau decided to sell Naitauba Island as revenge for the villagers not supporting him in the way.

“Then these villagers had to find another place to settle in, and they moved to Vatu’ulo, but the men of Somosomo Village used to go after the women.”

Ms Matata said the women were beautiful that men on Taveuni approached them with the hope of forming relationships.

“From Vatuvulo, they moved to Nacogai in Qeleni because the women couldn’t stand the attitude of the Somosomo men and they wanted to move out.

“But while living in Nacogai, they experienced the same problem with the men and the elders, decided to approach Tui Laucala.

“Just like the Somosomo men, the men of Qeleni Village were after the beautiful women, so the elders had to do something.”

After approaching the Tui Laucala, they were given the approval to relocate, so they shifted to Vaiyanuca, a settlement on Qamea Island.

“This area, our elders said, was located inland and not close to the sea, so these villagers didn’t like the area and they asked Tui Laucala if they could move to an area by the sea.

“They were given another area, and that is where they’ve remained until today, Kocoma Village, by the seaside on Qamea Island.”

Apart from the famous delicacy known as paileve, the villagers of Kocoma are also known for their well-known food – si’au.

“This has been our food from the time of our forefathers and it’s a dish that Qamea is known for.

“It’s a plant that grows around the island and every time it blooms, the seashells known as vivili will also appear by the seaside.

“So these two appear around the same time and women have collected these seashells to cook with the si’au leaves.”

The island of Qamea has four villages which are Kocoma, Togo, Dreketi and Naivivi apart from settlements and estates.

Qamea is also popular for its red land crabs known as lairo.

* 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 your account of history too – Editor.

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