The Rodan, Shaw and Rogers families are from Nukuwaut, Lami.

I am a descendant of the Rodan and Shaw families. For more information on the Rodan family click here and for the Shaw family click here.

Fiji Times articles and Letters to the Editor about Nukuwatu, Lami

A bit of history

READERS may be interested to know that Kiko Ramirez (ST 7/5) the chef of Spanish-Filipino descent now working in Fiji for the Tanoa group of hotels, is following a well-trodden path.

In the early decades of the 19th Century, practically all cooks in
Fiji were of Spanish-Filipino descent and they were known as Manila men.

They came as crew on largely American vessels trading in sandalwood and beche-de-mer and many of them stayed on in Fiji.

Their descendants are found in many different parts but are particularly concentrated today at Nukuwatu in Lami.

There is an excellent account of Fijis Manila men by Fergus Clunie in the Fiji Museum journal Domodomo for July 1984.

The language of the Manila men was an early form of Chabacano (Philippine creole Spanish) which also left its mark in the form of a small number of words adapted into Fijian.

Perhaps the most interesting of these is qisi, meaning to fry lightly or saute, which originates from the Chabacano and Spanish word gisa, with the same meaning.

Fairly obviously the word was introduced with the technique, as saut ing appears not to have been a traditional form of cooking in the Pacific.


Geraghty, Paul (2006, May 12). A bit of history. Fiji Times. Retrieved from Australia/New Zealand Reference Centre database via the EBSCOHost.

Fenton Street

I SUGGEST the entrance to Fenton Street in Lami from the Queen’s Highway be closed.

Despite three prominently displayed notices, trucks, private cars and taxis etc continue to make an illegal turn into the highway.

Incidentally, Fenton St should be renamed Amini-asi Tiritabua Street or just Tiritabua St. Or it could be named Sipriano St, after Tiritabua’s father.

Aminiasi, whose mother was from Waiqanake, was the original owner of the land from Lami bridge to Naivikinikini, the greater Nukuwatu area. Because he could not have children, he gave this piece of land to his half-brother, Jone Soa Catimaibau, to settle.

Jone’s sister, Ana Levu, married Frank Rodan and his grand-daughter Vasiti married Lui Rogers, a desc-endant from the ill-fated French brig L’Amiable Jose-phine. Descendants from these three families would now be well over a thousand, with only 100 or so residing in Nukuwatu because of lack of living space.


Shaw, F. S. (2008, December 24). Fenton Street. Fiji Times. Retrieved from

Lami land

ON December 14, 1906 the people of Lami gave 5 acres 1 rood and 2 perches of Nukuwatu land to the Shaw, Rodan and Rogers families.

The land started from Lami bridge to Naivikinikini, with the Lami River as the inland border, and was originally owned by the people of Waiqanake.

Unfortunately, there were no representatives from Waiqanake or Nukuwatu at the Veitarogi Vanua which was held at Nausori.

Only Suvavou and Lami villagers attended.

Whatever they said was therefore accepted as true and valid.

However, the vanua does not recognise this.

Whenever a sevusevu is presented in Nukuwatu, people acknowledge the Waiqanake chiefly title of Rokobeleni and not Nakurukuru, the title of the people of Lami.

Even the people of Lami acknowledge Waiqanake as the original owners.

What is needed is another Veitarogi Vanua to be convened to re-establish Waiqanake as the original owners of Nukuwatu.

A new native grant should be prepared to return the land.

According to Fijian custom, land once given to the vasu cannot be taken back.

To do so would incur a curse.


Shaw, F. B. (2009, January 2). Lami land. Fiji Times. Retrieved from

RIP Alex

AT 9:30am on September 18, Alexander Gerald Chambers was laid to rest at the Nukuwatu cemetery after much disagreement and unresolved conflict with Wakaya Ltd.

The immediate family and friends of Alex attended this very memorable but sad ceremony which was conducted by Pastor Powell.

The cemetery, which belonged to the Rodan, Rogers and Shaw families, was the final resting place for Alex, overlooking the Suva Harbour on the Queen’s Highway just a few minutes out of the capital.

Alex was the only child of Mr and Mrs Ken Chambers, and had passed away at the young age of 22 from a brain tumor. Rest in peace Alex, from all your friends and family. You will be sadly missed and the memories we all share will always be cherished.


Rogers, Lionel. (2010, September 25). RIP Alex. Fiji Times. Retrieved from

Lami town – Out of the shadows

Legend has it that there is an underwater river that stretches from Soloira Village in Serea, Naitasiri right down to the Bay of Islands in Lami. The iTaukei name for this bay is Draunibota which derives its name from this underground river. It is said that the ancestral god of the traditional landowners of the Lami end of the Suva harbour, the people of Navakavu, has his yam planted in Serea and whenever its leaves turn golden (Draunibota) and fall, it mysteriously appears at the bay.

This is one of the earliest mention of the Lami area in iTaukei mythology but it was only later that Draunibota became important following Fiji’s colonisation as an anchorage and shelter for ships during hurricanes.

The name later changed to Bay of Islands to reflect the many islands that lay inside this small bay at a secluded corner of Suva Harbour.

The pristine beauty of this bay made it become a favourite picnic site for Suva residents and later became the site of the infamous Tradewinds and the Isa Lei Hotels – one of the earliest forerunners of Fiji’s tourism industry.

Its proximity to Suva and the majestic views of Suva one can afford from the waterfront of the Lami side of the harbour, makes it an attractive residential place.

Families like the Tikaram, the Rodans, the Shaws and the Powells made Lami their home. Others like the Philps and the Southwick also call Lami home. Areas like Nukuwatu, Wailekutu, Kalekana and Veisari became established areas of residence.

Batiratu, Sailosi (2012, September 16). Lami town – out of the shawdows. Fiji Times. Retrieved from Note: extract only.

The land at Nukuwatu

IN late October, The Fiji Times editor-in-chief Fred Wesley introduced me to a gentleman by the name of Frank Shaw. Frank had come into the office with his book, Beacon of Hope, a map he says we can follow in our daily lives to realise the hope for a better Fiji.

Mention the name Shaw along with that of the Rogers and Rodans and some among us will immediately make connections with Nukuwatu in Lami.

Apart from the Beacon of Hope, Frank said he had another story. It was his version of the piece of land at Nukuwatu. A few days later he popped into the office with typed notes titled Nukuwatu: A Brief History.

He writes: The history of Nukuwatu is closely linked to the history of the Shaws. The first Shaw (Sipriano) arrived in Bau around 1814 on the armed Manila brig Laurice (Captain Josef Belistrana) to fish for bech-de-mer (dri). (The motley crew was comprised mainly of Manila-men who were of Spanish-Filipino ancestry). Following a mutiny on bird the ill-fated vessel in which the captain, mate and boatswain were killed, the crew settled on the chiefly island of Bau.”

After putting forward a possible reason for the mutiny, Shaw continues: “According to tradition Sipriano, Saviriano in Fijian, married Miriama, also known as (aka) Kapua or Kafua. It is said that she was a close relative of Cakobau.”

Frank says Sipriano had a son, Jone Soa Catimaibau, aka Jone Cati, and at least one daughter Ana, Ana Levu from Miriama.

“Some Bauans suggest that Jone’s father was actually Charles Savage. I would be rather sceptical of this argument considering that Jone Cati’s descendants look more like Manila-men than Swedes. (Children don’t lie.) A more probable explanation would be that Sipriano married Charlie’s widow. Jone was switched at birth to survive,” Frank said.

He says that Charlie Savage’s sons were killed at birth because of their high vasu status and the same fate would have befallen Jone Cati. However he was saved because another woman gave birth to a girl close by. The babies were then switched by the midwives and Jone was thus allowed to live.

Frank believes Cati’s survival was reward for Sipiriano saving the foreigners on board the Laurice during the mutiny. He says it is interesting to note that of all the crew on the ship only his descendants remain as a community to this day.

Frank says Sipiriano also had a son, Aminiasi Tiritabua, from a Waiqanake woman. Nukuwatu was given to this vasu by the Navakavu people of Waiqanake who were the original owners.

Tiritabua was unable to have children so he invited his half-brother, Jone Cati, to come and settle at Nukuwatu. There seems to be a jinx attached to the name Tiritabua. Any kai Nukuwatu or Waiqanake who bears this name cannot have children. Frank believes God allows this to prove the veracity of the legend.

The original boundary of Nukuwatu was from the Lami Bridge to the native reserve at Naivikinikini including Mosquito Island with the Lami River as the inland border. (Mosquito Island was named Moririka in Fijian. The name stems from the sound marororika made by the sea creatures in the area. The penultimate syllable had a high pitch. The sound was not unlike the chirping of crickets on land.) It is interesting to note that when the Queens Rd was being built our ancestors stopped construction works at Naivikinikini. The area near the Novotel hotel is known as Kelikoso to this day. It is also referred to as Nabulukoso.

Frank says it is significantly there were no iTaukei villages or settlements in the Nukuwatu area prior to their arrival probably because much of the area was marsh, unsuitable to sustain a large group of people.

There was also much superstition attached to the area. The sea god, Dakuwaqa, was supposed to come ashore here and proceed to a location up in the hills in the guise of an old Indian man. I remember we told as kids not to talk to any old Indian man walking alone the road at night.

The original settlement of Nukuwatu was up by Vetaia St where the Ezi Build Factory and BOC Gas now stand. It was shifted to the present location nearer the beach to facilitate repair works on fishing boats and occasionally government vessels. Technically the Shaws would be the original settlers of Nukuwatu considering it was devoid of human habitation prior to our arrival.

After an initial read through the story, checks were then made with the people of Navakavu. This was not hard to do as their spokesmen; Taniela Bani the secretary for their development committee and Joape Tukitoga Caginidaveta, the committee chairman, had been recently in the news regarding work at Draunibota.

A call to Bani led to Caginidaveta who is known in that area as Turaga ni ovisa vakacegu (retired police officer).

When informed of Frank’s version, he said: “E ka dina qori. (That is the truth.) E vica na ka keitou sa qarava tiko me baleta na qele kei na i qoliqoli. (We are looking into several matters regarding the land and qoliqoli).”

Caginidaveta said all those things would have to be referred to the Veitarogivanua or the Native Lands Commission (NLC). He however was quick to point out their committee is new and they were working on one issue at a time.

The former police officer said that while the ownership of land and fishing rights was important, what was more important was that the truth should prevail.

A call was then made to Esiromi Ratini, more commonly known as Ratini, of the mataqali (landowning unit) Nasevou at Lami Village.

Upon hearing the reason behind my call he agreed to a meeting on Wednesday afternoon.

Our driver Anthony Magnus, who resides in that area, was on duty and was more than happy to take me to meet Ratini.

After traditional protocol had been observed, Ratini started off by saying that he preferred he meet those making such statements regarding the piece of land at Nukuwatu face-to-face.

To give some context, he then related an account of a two-day gathering that was held at Waiqanake in 1904. A check with the office of the NLC revealed there had indeed been a meeting at Waiqanake in 1904 and was headed by Basil Thomson.

Ratini said his grandfather, Vetaia Seni, represented Nasevou at the Waiqanake forum.

His grandfather’s meals he said had been prepared by whom he refers to as the koivalagi; Rodan, Rogers and Shaw families, who then resided at Nukuwatu. He says it was with the help of the koivalagi of Nukuwatu, which they have had amicable relationships with, no tract of Nasevou is classified as freehold. It is all still under native ownership.

Ratini says this amicable relationship lasts to this day as evidenced by two names from the Rogers family, Louis and Anna, which they in the mataqali Nasevou now use. He pointed to a lad beside the tanoa and said his name was Lui, the iTaukei version of Louis.

It was after that meeting at Waiqanake Ratini says that Seni decided to give the land at Nukuwatu to the families residing there. The families, he says, however asked that it be written the land had been purchased for a shilling. Maybe so as to ensure they had legal rights to the land.

He says Seni’s yaqona was prepared by the Solomon Islanders residing on their land, where their boundary meets that of those from Tamavua Village, at Wailoku. Ratini said the yaqona was then filled in stalks of bamboo and taken to Waiqanake.

A living testament to this agreement of his elders and those who settled at Wailoku is that every year their descendants make their way over to Lami Village and clear the cemetery. He said it did not happen this year because they at Lami had asked that they from Wailoku not come over as the cemetery did not need weeding.

So came to an end our meeting regarding the piece of land at Nukuwatu. But not before Ratini had shared about the sandbank that is the harbinger of death.

That, however, is for another day.

Batiratu, Sailosi (2012, December 16). The land at Nukuwatu. Fiji Times. Retrieved from

Mosquito Island

I REFER to your article on Nukuwatu (ST 16/12/12). In the caption to one of the pictures on Page 15 you wrote that I said the Bay of Islands was included in the land given to our ancestor. (I did not say this.)

Actually what I wrote was Mosquito Island was included in the grant.

In early Fiji land boundaries were defined by a permanent fixture landmark. Hence the northern and eastern boundary of Nukuwatu would be the Lami River, the western boundary from Mosquito Island around Naivikinikini and straight up to the Lami River and the southern portion would of course be the coastal area. Mosquito Island is more a sandbank than an island. (In fact it should be renamed “Sandbank Island).

I might add that Waiqanake has already been acknowledged as the original owners of Nukuwatu.

Whenever a sevusevu is presented here people mention Rokobeleni, the Waiqanake chiefly title (not Nakurukuru, the Lami Village title).

The problem stems from the fact that there were no representatives from Waiqanake (or Nukuwatu) at the original veitarogi vanua. Only Suvavou and Lami villagers attended.

What is needed now is another veitarogi vanua to be convened to re-establish Waiqanake as the original owners of Nukuwatu. A new native grant should then be prepared giving back our land from Lami Bridge to Naivikinikini.

According to Fijian custom, land once given to the vasu cannot be taken back. (To do so would incur a curse) (cf.Exo.22:21-24).


Shaw, F. B. (2013, January 5). Mosquito Island. Fiji Times. Retrieved from

Early days of Marist Convent

THEY were eager to learn, but writing on a slate — a smooth-surfaced stone using charcoal for a pen — came much too early.

Marist Convent School Lami pioneer student, Lui Rogers, 67, said school came too soon for them.

“We had to use slate for two years and charcoal to begin with, before being supplied with paper and pencil,” he said.

Mr Rogers said it was a difficult period to begin their education in a tiny wooden building situated beside the seaside and the dusty Queens Road gravel road.

It was in year of 1953, in an old wooden Catholic church situated by the seaside at Nukuwatu.

Much of the area was overgown, together with swaying coconut trees from the tradewinds blowing across the Suva harbour beside the dusty old gravel road.

The land was owned by the well-known Rodan family of Nukuwatu in Lami and the permission was granted by the Bishop and the owners of the land to begin the school in the church.

And so school began in a church while the new school was being built by volunteers further down the road which is at now known as Solomoni Street behind the Lami Police Station and the the Immaculate Conception of Mary Catholic Church.

It was the beginning of a new chapter at the small old wooden church building, that had been transformed into a school.

Only a handful of students started in the school and they comprised of families from Delainavesi to Togalevu village. The school pioneers included people like Lui Rogers, Brewster Rogers, Peter Rodan, Maria Dau, Maria Vakaruru and Rosemary Simon, who is now a Catholic Sister.

Sr Rosemary, 66, said the tabernacle part of the church was curtained off while the rest of the church was divided into two to cater for classes one and two.

“Sr Regina Casey and Sr Perpetua were two of the pioneer Marist sisters to head the school,” she said.

“At the end of every year we would picnic by the beach and we had great fun,” she recalled.

In January 1955, the L-shaped block of the original school was completed and the students of the old wooden church building were so excited to move up to the new school at Solomoni Street.

Sr Rosemary said there were six classrooms and a basement where the students could have their lunch on a rainy day in the new block.

It was a far cry from the establishment of the old wooden church building which now sits alone beside the seashore of Nukuwatu.

“It was Fr Larry who was the parish priest at the time and was a great support to the sisters,”Sr Rosemary said.

She said, on many occasions, Fr Larry would be chief guest at the end of the year and would hand out prizes to the students who did well in religious topics and other subjects.

“In those days, we received framed pictures of the Sacred Heart, Our Blessed Mother and of our Guardian Angels,” she went on.

Sr Rosemary said in those days, English was the only language allowed to be spoken in, and outside of the classrooms and therefore the students were noted for speaking good English.

“No one was allowed to miss school and so the attendance was very good in those early days,” she said.

She said the Sisters were kind, hardworking, dedicated and showed real concern for each child.

The playground was a swamp with a vast area of small vaivai trees grown nearby which enabled the sisters and students to work hard carting stones and coral from the nearby beach in laying the foundation to prevent water from seeping up to the soil.

It was the establishment for future learners and leaders who were to be educated at Marist Convent School, Lami.

Today — 60 years later — other developments have taken place and new classrooms built.

At the Anniversary celebrations of the school which started on Friday and into yesterday, former students reminisced about the hard work, commitment and dedication of the Marist Sisters for the education of the young generation of Delainavesi, Qauia, Lami Village, Suvavou, Kalekana, Wailekutu, Veisari, Naimataga, Togalevu, Kalokolevu, Navoro and Nabukavesi.

Most of the students used to walk the distance, especially from Kalokolevu, Togalevu and Veisari. It was the only school in the Lami area.

“Our gratitude to all head teachers who have paved the way for many students who have been part of our educational story. We remember Sisters Regina (RIP), Augusta, Teresa Naidu, Bernadette McManus, Teresia Raione, Rita Raikuna, Lora Adikakai, Mareta Nai, Mariana Tuverega, Serea Maca, Filomena Ruru, Monica Lum and Maramanicava.

“We also remember all the teachers who worked alongside the Sisters, namely Mrs Adi Veniana Gavoka, Mrs Lice Bainimarama, Mrs Vere and Master Filise Daurewa,” Sr Rosemary said.

During it’s weeklong preparation, the school organising committee head and former student, Asela Naisara said a school anniversary is often a time to learn more about and celebrate the building, founders and significance that the school has lent to the community and city.

“If the school that you attended as a child or teenager, or the institution your child attends, has an anniversary coming up, there are several ways to commemorate this event that will create fond memories for present and former students,” she said.

The Anniversary celebrations started off with a mass at the first school site at Nukuwatu before the Minstry of Youth Band led the former students of the 50s to the 2000s as they marched through Lami town to Solomoni street then to the school ground followed by a flag raising ceremony, band display and the soli fundrasing for a school library building.

The historical event was step back in time, recognising the contributions of former students and old scholars to the younger generation, in order for them to be able to utilise modern day education which is more advanced than the days of slates and charcoal chalk.

Ravula, Anare (2013, November 3). Early days of Marist Convent. Fiji Times. Retrieved from


One Response to Nukuwatu

  1. Stefan Gabel says:

    Does anyone know if Maria Dau still lives in Sweden?

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