Katonimana: Fiji’s legendary beginnings
Mythology and anthropology agree that the beginning of settlement in Fiji stretches back almost three and a half thousand years ago, when Melanesian voyagers sailed west and settled the Pacific islands of Vanuatu, New Caledonia, and Fiji. Legend has it that the great seafaring warrior Chief Lutunasobasoba sailed his giant double-hulled canoe Kaunitoni in search of bountiful seas and rich lands where his people could finally rest.
Alongside families, warriors, and skilled craftsmen, legend has it that the Kaunitoni carried something truly precious: the Katanimana, the Box of Blessings. Rounding the outer edge of what is now Malolo Island, Malolo Lailai’s larger western neighbour, rough seas caused the Katonimana to be lost to the ocean. Believing its loss to be the will of the Gods, Lutunasobasoba ordered that the Katanimana should not be retrieved, and called the area Likuliku, a name the lagoon still bears to this day.
Many Fijians believe that their islands’ prosperity and peace is due to the presence of the Katanimana, buried in the seabed, bringing them good fortune.
Na Siga e Dromu i Malolo: The Island of the Resting Sun
The first Europeans came across the prosperous Fiji Islands in 1643, completely by accident. Abel Tasman stumbled across Fiji on his way to discovering the Great Southern Continent, and James Cook sailed through in 1774 in search of the same place.
The first Europeans to land and live among the Fijians were shipwrecked sailors and runaway convicts from the Australian penal settlements, some decades later. Sandalwood traders and missionaries came by the mid 19th century. Tensions among indigenous Fijian tribes, and between local Fijians and settlor communities, ebbed and flowed throughout the 19th and 20th Centuries. The British pressured the beleaguered indigenous Fijian leader to cede control in 1874; in 1970 following the establishment of cabinet government, the British finally granted independence to the Republic of Fiji.
Bula in Plantation Island Resort
The Nadroga chief Ratu Kini sold the uninhabited island of Malolo Lailai in 1872 to John Thomson for cotton planting. After some time as a cotton, coconut, and copra plantation, the island was sold in the 1960s to Richard “Dick” Smith, Sir Ian MacFarlane, and Reginald Raffe, who parted ways in the early 1970s to develop their own parts of the island. It was then that Plantation Island Resort was first developed as a lush resort where travellers could come to seek adventure, relaxation, and some time away from the world. Plantation Island Resort celebrates its 50th birthday in 2019, and we’re so happy to share our journey with you.