Taveuni (pronounced [taweuni]) is the third-largest island in Fiji,
Viti Levu and Vanua Levu, with a total land area of 434 square
kilometres (168 square miles). The cigar-shaped island, a massive
shield volcano which rises from the floor of the Pacific Ocean, is
situated 6.5 kilometres (4.0 miles) to the east of Vanua Levu, across
Somosomo Strait. It belongs to the
Vanua Levu Group of islands and
is part of Fiji's
Cakaudrove Province within the Northern Division.
The island had a population of around 19,000, some 75 percent of them
indigenous Fijians, at the 2015 census.
Taveuni has abundant flora and
is known as the 'Garden Island of Fiji'. It is a popular tourist
destination. Tourists are attracted to the excellent diving
opportunities, prolific bird life, bushwalks and waterfalls. Central
parts of the island receive very high rainfall rates. Being volcanic
in origin Taveuni's soils have supported the island's most
historically significant industry, agriculture.
3 Flora and fauna
6 Notable Taveunians
7 Cultural references
8 See also
10 External links
Map of Fiji, showing
Taveuni (in red) to the east of Vanua Levu
Bouma Falls, 1998
Taveuni is located at the northern end of the Koro Sea, and is
entirely the product of volcanic activity. Fiji's third largest
island is separated from
Vanua Levu by the
Somosomo Strait. The island
is between 10 and 14 kilometres (6 and 9 miles) wide and 42 km
(26 mi) long, is the top of a dormant, elongated shield
volcano which erupted from a northeast-southwest trending rift on the
ocean floor. About 150 volcanic cones dot the island, including
Uluigalau, Fiji's second highest peak at 1,241 metres (4,072 feet),
and Des Vœux Peak, next in height at 1,195 metres (3,921 feet). There
have been at least 58 volcanic eruptions since the first human
settlement around 950-750 BC, all of which affected the southern
two-thirds of the island. Major eruptions from 300–500 AD caused
abandonment of the southern areas until about 1100 AD. The latest
eruption produced a lava flow at the southern tip of the island around
1550. The island's central ridge delineates the greatest volcanic
activity surrounding volcanic vents.
Lake Tagimaucia is one of Taveuni's most famous tourist
attractions. It occupies a volcanic crater at an altitude of 800
metres (2,600 feet), and is the habitat of the rare tagimaucia flower.
Fiji's most famous waterfalls, the Bouma Falls, are also on the
island, located in the Bouma National Heritage Park. South of Vuna
village and the lagoon, jet black rocks litter an area known as the
South Cape where Taveuni's last volcanic eruption spilled into the sea
around 500 years ago. The highlight of the region is the Matamaiqi
blowhole with geysers created by trade winds crashing into the
volcanic rocks. About 20 minutes by foot from the town of Waiyevo
is the Waitavala Waterslide. This entirely natural streambed chute
plummets for about 50 metres down the lush hillside and is a favourite
haunt for local children and brave tourists. In eastern
Waterfall empties into the ocean. Tavoro Creek,
Somosomo Creek, Waimbula River and the islands most notable waterways.
Many of Taveuni's best known attractions lie underwater though. There
are three major, distinct diving areas around the island. To the north
Taveuni lie in close proximity the islands of
Qamea and Matagi with
their surrounding reef systems. The Rainbow
Reef and Vuna
famous for diving and snorkeling, respectively. The Rainbow Reef, on
the western side in the narrow
Somosomo Strait between
Vanua Levu, is known as one of the world's premier soft coral dive
areas and the soft coral capital of the world  The horseshoe-shaped
Vuna Lagoon, near the southern end of the island, is much appreciated
among divers for the opportunity to see larger pelagic and schooling
fish species on the exposed southern side of the reef, whereas the
sheltered western parts provide pristine soft and hard coral gardens.
Migrating humpback whales pass the island in July.
Of interesting note is that the island of
Taveuni crosses the
east-west antimeridian so the "north-eastern" portion of the island is
located at - 179 degrees longitude and the south-western part at +179
degrees longitude. This is often an example that causes havoc to GIS
software in which a polygon geometry around the perimeter of the
island is incorrectly rendered and wraps around the globe.
To protect Fiji's wildlife, two sanctuaries have been created on the
island of Taveuni, namely the Ravilevu Nature Reserve on the east
coast, and the
Taveuni Forest Reserve in the middle of the island. The
potential to be nominated as a
World Heritage Site
World Heritage Site contributes to the
island's national significance as outlined in Fiji's Biodiversity
Strategy and Action Plan.
Wairiki Mission, 2003
The population is concentrated mostly on the more sheltered western
side of the island.
Taveuni has eight major villages. Halfway down the
west coast is the administrative centre of Waiyevo. The largest urban
area, however, comprises the twin villages of
Somosomo and Naqara. As
the traditional fiefdom of the Tui Cakau, one of Fiji's highest-ranked
Somosomo is regarded as the capital of the
while Naqara, an Indo-Fijian settlement, is the island's commercial
centre. The main hospital is located at Waiyevo while a number of
nursing stations and health centres are located around the island.
The climate of
Fiji is tropical without temperate
extremes. It has been described as typical highland. Between
November and April the area is prone to tropical cyclones. Rainfall
rates on the island are high because the central mountains produce
precipitation by orographic uplift. As much as 10 metres (33 feet) of
rain falls annually on the eastern side of the island, but the western
side is sheltered from the southeast trade winds by the ridge that
runs the length of the island. The central ridge experiences a wet
upland climate which supports montane and submontane forests. Near
Mount Koroturanga, 9,970 mm of mean, annual rainfall has been
recorded. A 2011 study identified coastal erosion, flooding and
water availability and supply as the most significant impacts of
climate change on some of the villages on Taveuni.
Coastal view towards Matagi Island, 2010
Abel Tasman became the first European to sight Taveuni.
Visibility was poor and he mistook the peaks of
Taveuni to be separate
islands. Historically, Vuna was considered to be the paramount village
Taveuni when the
Tui Cakau (
Ratu Yavala) resided there, but tribal
warfare eventually established the supremacy of Somosomo. In the late
1860s, the Tongan warlord Enele Ma'afu, who had conquered the Lau
Islands, was defeated by the Tui Cakau's army in a skirmish at
Somosomo. Several islands that sided with Ma'afu were sold by the Tui
Cakau at that time to European settlers in punishment, and their
inhabitants were moved to Taveuni. The villages of Lovonivonu and
Kanacea are populated by their descendants.
Enele Ma'afu was not defeated by the Tui Cakau's army as
stated above. He was in
Tonga at that time. In July 1862: Ma’afu
went for a visit to
Tonga with Tui Bua to seek resolution about his
Fiji with Tongan Parliament. During his absence,
Wainiqolo, one of his lieutenant waged war on Golea. Wainiqolo was
shot dead on the beach at Wairiki and the Tongans were slaughtered.
Wainiqolo had taken
Tui Cakau prisoner when Golea was involved in an
internal Cakaudrove campaign. It was an opportune time by Wainiqolo to
initiate his campaign whilst Golea was involved in an internal
struggle on Vanualevu. Ma’afu never forgave Wainiqolo for the act
that he did and removed all land allocated to him. Historians saw this
anger as confirmation that Ma’afu was not part of the Wainiqolo plot
Tui Cakau while he was away in Tonga. The unprovoked attack
by Wainiqolo was regarded by the
Tui Cakau as cancelling his
obligation to respect the right of Ma’afu to islands which had been
formerly part of Cakaudrove chiefdom. Golea proceeded to resell the
whole of Vanuabalavu to Europeans.
On 3 February 1865, a Court of Arbitration was convened by British
Consul Jones who handed down the Court's decision that Ma’afu was
the lawful owner of Vanuabalavu and associated islands. Ma’afu
immediately executed an affidavit the following day to the effect that
Vanuabalavu and all the other lands given to him. The life of Enele
Ma'afu the Tui Lau has been documented in "Summary of Key Historical
Events". Na Tikina Makawa o Vuna was not defeated by
Somosomo as the
above statement reads. In fact, historically
Taveuni was owned and
controlled by two distinct Chieftainship, Tikina o Vuna from the
south, and one on the north of Taveuni. The
Tui Cakau has his land
over water opposite
Taveuni island and the central part of Taveuni.
In 1876, a 2.4 metres (7.9 feet) horse tramway was constructed on the
Selia Levu estate to transport sugar cane to a mill.
Taveuni F.C. was founded in 1947. Bouma Forest Park, later renamed
to Bouma National Heritage Park was established in 1990 after
landowning clans became concerned by the threat of logging. The
reserve has expanded to cover roughly one third of the island. In
January 2003, Severe Tropical
Cyclone Ami crossed the island. In
Cyclone Gene caused widespread damage on the island. In
March 2010, the island was hit by Severe Tropical Cyclone Tomas. The
eye of the storm passed within 30 km of the island and produced a
significant tidal surge and high waves.
Flora and fauna
See also: List of birds of Fiji
A male orange dove
Nearly all plants and animals indigenous to
Fiji are found on Taveuni,
which has suffered less devastation from land clearance than other
areas of Fiji. The absence of the mongoose, a major predator, has also
played a part in the survival on
Taveuni of land crabs, the unique
Fiji fruit bat, the
Taveuni silk bat, and some unique species of palm.
The island is the second largest in the
Pacific Ocean to be free from
the mongoose. Other species found on the island include the Fiji
banded iguana and both
Platymantis vitiensis and P. vitianus frog
species. The critically endangered
Fijian monkey-faced bat
Fijian monkey-faced bat is found
only on Taveuni. It was discovered by scientists in 1977. The
flowering plant Balaka seemannii, which is endemic to Fiji, is found
on the island.
The green iguana or American iguana has been introduced to the Fijian
islands. The lizard poses a threat because it has no natural enemies,
can reach a high population density, eats the taro plant and because
Salmonella bacteria which can be transferred to humans if
bitten. In 2013, an eradication program coordinated by the
Biosecurity Authority of
Fiji saw a bounty placed on both adult and
juvenile American iguanas as well as their eggs.
Taveuni is also home to the
Taveuni beetle, maroon shining parrot,
Fiji goshawk, azure-crested flycatcher,
finch, orange dove and the kula parrot, and the Australian magpie,
introduced to control coconut pests, has proliferated on the island.
The critically endangered red-throated lorikeet has been found here.
In total, 22 regional endemic bird species have been recorded on
Taveuni. The total number of bird species found on the island is
closer to 100.
See also: Sugar mills in Fiji
Matei Airport, 2003
The island's agricultural output is a significant contributor to the
Copra has been traditionally the most important crop produced on
Taveuni, and has always been the staple of the local economy. In
recent times farmers have mainly shifted to growing taro, kava and
other speciality crops like vanilla, along with tropical fruit and
coffee. During the
American Civil War
American Civil War (1861–1865), cotton was raised
Taveuni and exported to Europe.
Sugarcane was also grown for a
brief period. Livestock such as sheep, cattle and poultry are also
raised, but animal husbandry lags behind crop production in economic
importance. In recent times, tourism has become a contributor to the
local economy, with about a dozen small resorts providing
accommodation options for visitors and employment and business
opportunities to the local population.
Taveuni dialect of Fijian reflects Tongan influence. One of its
most distinctive features is the replacement of the consonant 'k' by a
glottal stop. The
Tui Cakau is therefore known locally as the Tui
Taveuni notable peoples of high birth, other settler societies or
ordinary Fijian (Indigenous) residents can be traced back to the era
before European contact through to Deed of Cession of
Fiji with Great
Fiji Independence and today 2017.
Taveuni has 5 main key
main villages which has their own Paramount Chiefs. These Chiefs are
crucial in keeping their people informed of changes and updates on
developments in Fiji. These are those that have helped shaped Taveuni
and holding together its people together. Perhaps the best-known
Taveuni resident internationally was
Ratu Sir Penaia Ganilau
(1918–1993), Fiji's last Governor-General and first President, who
was also Tui Cakau. The Ganilau family is a branch of the Ai Sokula
clan, to which the present
Tui Cakau and former Cabinet Minister Ratu
Naiqama Lalabalavu also belongs. Another notable Taveunian is Fiji's
previous First Lady, Adi Salaseini Kavunono, wife of President Ratu
Josefa Iloilo (2000-2009).
Ratu Jone Yavala Kubuabola served as Fiji's
Minister for Finance from 2000 to 2006. He was also a former Governor
of the Reserve Bank of Fiji.
Ratu Inoke Kubuabola (younger brother of
Ratu Jone Yavala Kubuabola)
is a Fijian politician who served as Leader of the Opposition in 1999
and 2000. He became leader of the Soqosoqo ni Vakavulewa ni Taukei, or
SVT, following its defeat in the 1999 election and the subsequent
resignation of its leader, the defeated Prime Minister Sitiveni
Rabuka, from Parliament. Kubuabola served as Fiji's High Commissioner
Papua New Guinea
Papua New Guinea from 2002 to 2005. In late 2005, he attempted to
handle the problem of Fijian security guards, whom some accused of
being mercenaries, operating illegally on the island of Bougainville.
The incident embarrassed the Fijian government and threatened to
strain relations between the two countries. On 4 May 2006 Kubuabola
was posted to
Tokyo as Fiji's Ambassador to
Japan and Korea, replacing
Ratu Tevita Momoedonu. He remained in this position until July 2009;
on 24 July, he was named Minister for Foreign Affairs by the Interim
Government, a position he still holds as of 2015[update]. The
Kubuabola family is a branch of the
Ai Sokula clan.
Isikeli Vuruna, a rugby union footballer, was born on
Both Avengers of the
Return to the Blue Lagoon
Return to the Blue Lagoon were partially
filmed on the island.
List of volcanoes in Fiji
^ Gillespie, Rosemary G.; D. A. Clague (2009). Encyclopedia of
Islands. University of California Press. p. 299.
^ a b Shane Cronin (December 1999). "Volcanic Hazard And Risk
Assessment For Taveuni,
Fiji Islands" (PDF). SOPAC Technical Report
298. Massey University. Retrieved 18 March 2014.
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20 March 2014.
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^ Ganilau, Bernadette Rounds (2007).
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pp. 107–112. Retrieved 28 May 2017.
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^ a b Mueller-Dombois, Dieter (1998). Vegetation of the Tropical
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Retrieved 20 March 2014.
^ Yakub, Naushad; Antoine De Ramon N'Yeurt; Jese R. Vatukela; Kelera
O. Oli; Ame R Tuisavusavu (27 June 2012). "Rapid vulnerability and
adaptation assessment of communities in
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^ a b c Buckley, Ralf (2010). Conservation Tourism. CABI. p. 83.
ISBN 1845937082. Retrieved 17 March 2014.
^ "Rare bat captured on Taveuni".
Fiji Sun. 20 June 2009. Retrieved 18
^ Michael Field (13 November 2011). "'Aliens' invade
Stuff.co.nz. Fairfax New Zealand Limited. Retrieved 18 March
^ "Program Underway To Eradicate American Iguana". Press Release.
Ministry of Information, National Archives & Library Services of
Fiji. 13 June 2013. Retrieved 18 March 2014.
^ Couzens, Dominic (2008). Top 100 Birding Sites of the World.
University of California Press. p. 19. ISBN 0520259327.
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^ Cronin, Shane J.; Mark Bebbington; Chin Lai (June 2001). "A
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Fiji". Bulletin of Volcanology. 63 (4): 274–288.
doi:10.1007/s004450100144. Retrieved 20 March 2014.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Taveuni.
Taveuni travel guide from Wikivoyage
Global Volcanism Program:
Taveuni Smithsonian Institution - Worldwide
Holocene Volcano and Eruption
Somosomo Hydro - Department of Energy
Islands of Fiji
Vanua Levu Group
Viti Levu Group
Vanua Levu Group
ISNI: 0000 0004 0599 3048