What a welcome to Moturiki!!
After a morning spent packing up and relaxing on their castaway island, in the afternoon the team were onto the boats and on our way to Nasesara, their new home for the 8 week project phase of the expedition. What an arrival it turned out to be! Today was quite simply, like nothing we have ever seen before at Think Pacific.
As we came through the Moturiki channel towards the village by small boats, we heard the conch being blown by two men dressed in the traditional Fijian dress. It signalled the ‘cere custom’, the greatest honour a village can bestow upon a visitor, a custom that is usually only ever reserved for high chiefs.
We had been told that this would be planned for our team’s arrival and we couldn’t quite believe it - It is one of the most unique Fijian customs. No Think Pacific team or staff member has ever experienced a Cere before. It so so rare that villagers from far and wide visited Nasesara for the day to observe the ceremony.
With the Conch sounding, the TP guys. as per the custom, immediately jumped out of the boats into the sea. Every man for himself then swims as fast as they can for shore, knowing that the first to reach the beach would follow the conch and be led to a Fijian lady with a tabua, a whales tooth, one of the most traditional and coveted gifts to be offered in Fiji. It was James who claimed the tabua, a very special moment for him!
After hearing all about the Cere from a chief from Lakeba many years ago, I personally had always wished that I may witness it, but to have the opportunity to take part in it with this team and the community was one of the most special moments in my life so far, and the team clearly appreciated the enormity of the occasion with their enthusiam and emotion of the whole event.
It is now up to us as a team to repay this unbelievable gesture and welcome to the people of Nasesara and Moturiki.
After the cere was completed the team went into the shed and took part in an extremely traditional sevusevu, again this is something seen very rarely in Fiji and something to truly appreciate.
There were welcome speeches from the community, and a speech from Pate, a member of the Fijian Affairs Board, before I had my chance to say just how incredibly humbling the entire welcome had been, I don’t think my words could ever do justice to Nasesara and the wonderful people here.
It was then grog time, with people from Savuna and Navuti villages also here to welcome the team and join the celebrations. The guitars began, the Fijian people were on their feet dancing and the kava flowed, it was quite the party!
Bula to Nasesara village April 2011 team, it’s going to be a unique few weeks ahead.