Fiji Catholics commemorate victory over Tongan invaders

More than 1000 Fiji Catholics have come together to commemorate one of the most famous battles in their nation’s history.

They have gathered on Fiji’s fourth largest island, Taveuni, to remember the victory by Ratu Golea’s forces against invading Tongans in the 1860s.

According to local history, before Ratu Golea went to battle against Ma’afu and his people, he spoke to Catholic priests at a mission station.

One of the priests, Fr Favre, gave the paramount chief a small cross.

The priest told the chief that the cross would be his weapon.

The Taveuni warriors, fighting from their war canoes, went on to defeat the invading forces.

The battle lasted a week and left only 46 Tongan survivors.

After his victory, Ratu Golea asked if he and his men could be received into the Catholic Church.

According to an article in the Sydney Morning Herald, it was the arrival of missionaries in Taveuni in the 1840s that eventually put an end to the practice of cannibalism.

The cross given to Ratu Golea is still in the parish church at the Catholic mission in Wairiki.

The commemorations began with a Mass last weekend.

Vunikura Village elder Mika Tuitoga told the Fiji Times it would be a “special moment for us and it will be a time of reflecting our faith and walk with God”.

“If our French priest depended on the cross for strength and a high chief accepted it trusting in God, then that should be an inspiration for us,” said one local.

Archbishop Peter Loy Chong of Suva will close the ceremony next weekend.



Additional reading

News category: Asia Pacific.

Tags: , , , ,