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NASA astronaut image of Nayau island, Lau Archipelago, Fiji
Nayau is located in Fiji
Location in Fiji
Coordinates: 17°59′S 179°3′W / 17.983°S 179.050°W / -17.983; -179.050Coordinates: 17°59′S 179°3′W / 17.983°S 179.050°W / -17.983; -179.050
Country Fiji
Island group Northern Lau Islands

Nayau is an island of Fiji, a member of the Lau archipelago. Nearby cities: Suva; Nuku'Alofa;

Coordinates: 17°58'39"S 179°3'13"W.

Nayau, north of Lakeba, is one of the chiefly islands in the Lau Group with a unique and rich history.


History dictated that during the "Vota Vanua" or "Allotment of Land" performed at Ucunivanua, Verata by the Fijian patriarch Rokomautu (son of Lutunasobasoba the progenitor of the Fijian race) the Ratu mai Verata, the island of NAYAU was formally allotted to two powerful chiefs: (1) Tuinaosara, the son of Tuivanuakula (Tuivanuakula was one of the sons of Rovarovaivalu who was a son of Rokomautu; it was Tuivanuakula that had won the famous race of Rokomautu's grandsons at the coast of Walu.); and (2) Tui Devo a powerful chief from Naoco on the coast of Tailevu. These two chiefs have close kinship ties through their ancestors: Tuinaosara through the lineage of Lutunasobasoba; and Tui Devo through Kubunavanua (Lutunasobasoba's younger brother).

Tui Devo sailed first to Nayau, accompanied by a leading warrior of Rokomautu called Batidradra - they were to scout out the island first on the premise that the island may have been inhabited. When Tui Devo and Batidradra arrived at Nayau, they found that some descendants of Tuiwai had already inhabited the island (Tuiwai had been an original passenger of Lutunasobasoba's voyage from the African continent on the double hulled Kaunitoni which first landed at Vuda on the western side of Fiji).

In the contest for the ownership of the island of Nayau three major tribal wars occurred on the island between Tui Devo's group against the descendants of Tuiwai. Tui Devo and his warrior Batidradra defeated Tuiwai's group in these three wars which legitimised their claim as owners the island of Nayau, and validated Rokomautu's decision from Verata. Tui Devo and his powerful warrior Batidradra established themselves on the eastern side of the island and their tribe or "Yavusa" was called Devobalavu, the village called Salia today. Three subgroups within the tribe of Devobalavu were (1) Nakoro - Tui Devo's chiefly clan (2) Naisogosiga - Batidradra's clan who were the Sauturaga and Bati (Warriors) (3) Nayalewasala - clan of the priests. Within the tribe or Yavusa Devobalavu a smaller clan called Qalikatolu (literally meaning "defeated three times") was also established, this clan belonged to the descendants of Tuiwai who had been subdued by Tui Devo three times during the land wars. The descendants of Tuiwai were also bestowed the lesser title of "Tuira" and were designated with the role of Matanivanua or Traditional herald of the Tui Devo - a role they have performed from then up to today.

After Tuiwai's descendants had been subdued, Tui Devo then notified the chiefly delegation of Tuinaosara (who had been waiting at Moala with his relatives) to make their way to Nayau. Tuinaosara arrived at Nayau with his wife Adi Gelegeleavanua (daughter of Daunisai), they had two sons Buivaroro and Kalouyalewa, and subsequently a daughter Adi Keletu. The group entered Nayau from the western side where the village of Liku is today. The group eventually sailed around to the north eastern side of the island and resided at the highest mountain on the island called Delainayau (later called Delaiwawa today). They resided together with a share of Tuiwai's descendants who had inhabited that side of the island, and their Yavusa is called Maumi and their village called Narocivo today. There are three sub groups or mataqali within the Yavusa Maumi today: (1) Butonivanua - the clan of Delaiwawa within this sub group holds the chiefly title of Tui Naro (2) Vuinayau - this clan is where the Vaka ni Nayau originates from (3) Wailoli.

From Tuinaosara's lineage originates the chiefly family of the TUI NAYAU.

Several generations later and after several major tribal wars at the island of Nayau and Lakeba, the TUI NAYAU a direct descendant of Tuinaosara established his chiefly home at the village of Tubou at the island of Lakeba to rule over the people of Lakeba and Nayau and the entire group of islands in Lau Group.

During this time the third village at Nayau called Liku was re-established - seven generations after the original settlement of Nayau by Tuinaosara and Tui Devo. The decision to re-build the village of Liku was made by Namokalevu, the ruling Tui Naro at the time and Ratumainakoro the Tui Devo - to be the village for three chiefly ladies who were descendants of Buivaroro (the eldest son of Tuinaosara) through his eldest daughter Lolokula. These three ladies were brought from the chiefly island of Bau by the elders of Nayau following a decision by Vukinavanua the grandson and last male descendant of Buivaroro (Buivaroro had no further male descendants after the death of his only son Maseikula and grandson Vukinavanua). The name of the village Liku is derived from beautiful dance skirts or "liku ni meke" of these ladies. Namokalevu the Tui Naro had delegated to his younger brothers Ravonoloa Sega and Josaia Samu; and a man from the Wailoli clan called Bai to settle at Liku with the chiefly ladies with the hope that the ladies would eventually marry them. Ravonoloa, Josaia and Bai formed the clan of Naduta at Liku today. Tui Devo also sent Jope Drawe from the clan of Qalikatolu at Devobalavu to also dwell at Liku - this group formed the clan of Dalicewaqa at Liku today. Sadly this noble intention did not eventuate as the three ladies did not marry any of the young men and had no descendants after them.

Since there had been no more direct descendants of Buivaroro (the eldest son of Tuinaosara), the traditional ruling TUI NAYAU dynasty today on both the islands of Nayau and Lakeba today are descendants of Kalouyalewa the younger brother of Buivaroro.

There were subsequent migration to Nayau of various parties from various parts of Fiji, and included some Tongans who arrived during the time of Ma'afu the powerful Tongan warrior in the late 1800s - some settled at Narocivo village and some at Salia village up until today.

The chiefs of the three villages of Nayau are Tui Devo, Tui Naro, Tui Liku - they are traditionally known and called as the MATUA I TUI NAYAU or translated as The Elders of the Tui Nayau. The last Tui Nayau to be traditionally installed at Nayau was Ratu Sir Kamisese Kapaiwai Tuimacilai Mara in 1969. The Vaka ni Nayau from the Yavusa Maumi is a key person during every installation ceremony of the Tui Nayau at the mountain top of Delaiwawa at Nayau.

Notable people from Nayau[edit]