Roi Mata

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Chief Roi Mata’s Domain
UNESCO World Heritage Site
Fele's Cave.jpg
CriteriaCultural: (iii)(v)(vi)
Inscription2008 (32nd session)
Area886.31 ha (2,190.1 acres)
Buffer zone1,275.42 ha (3,151.6 acres)
Coordinates17°37′41.05″S 168°10′39.79″E / 17.6280694°S 168.1777194°E / -17.6280694; 168.1777194Coordinates: 17°37′41.05″S 168°10′39.79″E / 17.6280694°S 168.1777194°E / -17.6280694; 168.1777194
Roi Mata is located in Vanuatu
Roi Mata
Location of Roi Mata in Vanuatu
Roi Mata is located in Oceania
Roi Mata
Roi Mata (Oceania)

Roi Mata (or Roy Mata, Roymata) was a powerful 13th century Melanesian chief from what is now Vanuatu. His elaborate grave, containing the bodies of over 25 members of his retinue, was discovered by French archaeologist José Garanger [fr] in 1967 and inscribed on the World Heritage List in 2008. Garanger was able to locate the grave on Eretoka island by analyzing local folklore. According to legend, when Roi Mata conquered the land, his first goal was to unite the tribes to form an army.

His reign is reputed to have been a peaceful one. Roi Mata was fatally poisoned by his brother. His body was not buried in his homeland and his name was not used in future generations because the locals feared his spirit.

In 2008, three sites associated with Roi Mata, on the islands of Efate, Lelepa and Eretoka, were made UNESCO World Heritage Sites.[1][2]

Map of Chief Roi Mata's Domain


  1. ^ "Chief Roi Mata’s Domain", UNESCO
  2. ^ "World Heritage Status set to ensure protection of Vanuatu's Roi Mata domain". Radio New Zealand International. July 9, 2008. Retrieved November 6, 2011.
  1. Vanuatu A to Z Retrieved August 25, 2006.
  2. "Roy Mata", Encyclopædia Britannica
  3. (in English) "Roymata - Ancient King of Vanuatu", Vanuatu Tourism Office