South Malaita Island
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South Malaita Island, also known as Small Malaita and Maramasike for Areare speakers and Malamweimwei known to more than 80% of the islanders, is the island at the southern tip of the larger island of Malaita in the eastern part of the Solomon Islands. It is called "small" to distinguish it from the much larger mainland. It is now part of Malaita Province. South Malaita came under effective control of the colonial administration after the Solomon Islands was declared a British Protectorate in 1893. The administration included the collection of taxes from the islanders. During the colonial days, the island was divided by the colonial government and missionary establishments into the Asimeuri, Asimae, and Raroisu'u districts. Away from Malaita, most people from "Small" or "South" Malaita usually just say the word "South", everyone knows what they mean.
Family and cultural
People on the island, however, preferred to identify only with members of their extended families, where ties are the strongest, and with members of their clans and tribes, which are governed within traditionally demarcated regions known as iolas, which are led by a high chief ALAHAOUOU. The Island is refer to as IOLA RAHA, which consist of 8 Iola, namely Hoasitaimwane, Kolutalau, Ououmatawa, Ueniusu, Uenisu Unu, Roasi, Iolairamo and Inamauri. The language spoken by the people of Small Malaita is the Sa'a dialect. The language, however, has variations in pronunciation, grammar and vocabulary from iola to iola. The people practised patrilineal descent, with men having the most say over ownership rights and recognised as head of families, clans and tribes. Women played a much lesser role in the art of governing; however, they were equally respected in society.
Dolphin drive hunting
According to Malaitian oral history, a Polynesian woman named Barafaifu introduced dolphin drive hunting to Malaita from Ontong Java Atoll, she settled in Fanalei as it was the place for hunting. Dolphin hunting ceased in the mid-19th century. The influence of Christian missionaries is thought to be the cause of the end to hunting. However in 1948 dolphin hunting was revived in Fanalei village in South Malaita and also Walande, located 10 km to the north as well as at villages on Malaita, including Ata’a, Felasubua, Sulufou (in the Lau Lagoon) and at Mbita’ama harbour (North East Malaita). However, Fanalei in South Malaita remained the preeminent dolphin hunting village.
The dolphins are hunted both as food with specific species chosen as their teeth have a value in trade and in brideprice ceremonial traditions, funeral feasts and for compensation. The teeth of Melon-headed whale were traditionally the most desirable, however hunting resulted in that species dolphins becoming rare in the ocean off Malaita. The other species hunted are Spinner Dolphin and the Pantropical Spotted Dolphin. While Indo-Pacific Bottlenose Dolphin (Tursiops aduncus) have been captured for live export, the Bottlenose Dolphin is not hunted as the teeth are not considered to have any value.
In contemporary times only villages in South Malaita have continued to hunt. In 2010, the villages of Fanalei, Walende, and Bitamae signed a MoU with the non-governmental organization, Earth Island Institute, to stop hunting dolphin. However, in early 2013 the agreement broke down and some men in Fanalei resumed hunting. The hunting of dolphin continued in early 2014.
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