M28-0059 – Nanaga This site has been designated for site monitoring due to cultural material remains in
the form of stone alignment which are quite intact. The site is bordered by the
Mavuvu Creek which borders the east and south of the unique study area. The site is
elevated from the banks of the Mavuvu Creek and is quite extensive covering an area
of about 70m in a north to south orientation and a width of 65m along an east to west
orientation however, areas beyond may be included but could not be surveyed as
dense vegetation and thickets limited access to these areas.
The site consisted of well-preserved cultural features that may define traditions that
were once practiced in the past. Upon inspection, the team identified rock walls or
baivatu, which were constructed elaborately around the site area. These rock walls
were measured at 1.2m wide and constructed in a circular manner with a portion of
the rock wall redirected from its key route to form another parallel formation along
the east side of the rock wall system. This parallel formation of the outer rock wall
extended to about 15m in a north-east orientation, ending at the eastern edge of the
elevated platform which the site is situated upon. The rock wall system encircles
until it ends as a three-quarter circle formation as a portion of the remainder has
undergone disturbance. A protruding rock wall formation projects southwards from
the main system extending to about 10m. At the centre of the surrounding rock wall
is a hollow area with the surface dipping gradually. The vegetation of the area is
predominately covered with bamboo and some moli kana (Citrusgrandis), yasiyasi
(Syzygiumfijiense), makita (Parinari glaberrima), sawira (Dysoxylum richii) and sago
palm shoots, locally known as soga.
Several researchers have conducted thorough studies on the ceremonial use of the
remarkable stone enclosure known as nanagasites. The extent of these sites is
confined to a small area- less than a third of Viti Levu. These are the provinces of
Serua and Navosa with two sites in the upper Wainimala River, Narokorokoyawa
area, Naitasiri and appear to have been used up until 1876 during the end of the Colo
(highland) rebellion and the acceptance of Christianity caused them to fall into disuse
(Palmer, 1971). According to Palmer (1971), the nanaga sites are an archaeological
manifestation pertaining to certain Fijian ceremonials marking their New Year about
the end of October or the beginning of November. Palmer’s research sufficiently
connects the use of the nanaga sites with initiation, circumcision, pig worship and
perhaps preparations for warfare.
Considered a cult or a secret religious society bound together by the common link of
initiation resembling certain Australian and Melanesian rites, the nanaga was the
“bed” of the ancestors, that is where their descendants might hold communion with
them; the bakiwere the rites celebrated in the nanaga, from the initiation of youths or
presenting the first fruits, recovering the sick, or winning charms against wounds in
battle (Thomson, 1908).
M28-0065 This is the most extensive old village site that was recorded within the mataqali Emalu boundary. The site is known as Nasaqaruku and was documented by
Brewster (1921) in his records of the migration of the mataqali Emalu.
The site begins on a stretch of flat land and includes a nearby ridge. Nasaqaruku
contains 30 identified house mounds and more would have been uncovered if the
lush vegetation cover was cleared. The level of erosion in the area is high and could
also contribute to the loss of several house mound features at the foot of the ridge.
Most of the house mounds are aligned with stones and have been displaced over
time by surface runoff. Similarly, wild pig trails and human harvesting of wild yams
are widely evident. On the south-western side of the settlement and along the ridge
stands a house mound 3m high and has a diameter of 6m. The structure is typical of
a traditional temple or burekalou and constructed on a platform so that it is higher
above all the other house mounds. The structure is raised earthen material and has
withstood the devastating forces of natural elements. Apart from the evidence of
house mounds, other cultural remains include plain pottery sherds found scattered
in some parts of the area, and the culturally introduced plant indicators such as moli kana, vasili, saqiwa and kavika.
M28-0066 This is a fortified settlement strategically constructed on a hill east-southeast of the
rock shelter site M28-00071. The hill fortification is immense and contains several
exceptional features that are well preserved. Outlined in a north-northwest to south-
southeast direction, the site runs along a ridge. Habitational platforms are carved
onto the surface and accommodated four house mounds. Each house mound is
embedded with stone lining some of which have been displaced due to natural
As the ridge line drops on the south-southeast end of the site, rocks are piled in a
heap up to 2.5m high. The stones are piled as if to await adversaries and probably
were never used, as the stones are stacked in a dome like structure. Further down the
slope two defensive pits are dug deep into the floor of the ground separated by a 1m
wide causeway. The pits are about 2.5m long and about 1.5m wide and dug
following the direction of the ridge line. As the relief begins to ascend to the next
ridge level another set of stones piled up to form a defensive wall that is about 2.5m
high, half a meter wide and about 4m long. At the end of the stone wall are two huge
rock outcrops to strengthen the western corner of the wall aided with a steep slope,
leaving no room for safe passage through. The vegetation of the area is that of
scattered secondary vegetation cover of huge trees like dakua makadre (Agathis macrophylla), baka(Ficus obliqua), and marasa(Elattostachys falcata). The stone features
are cloaked with thickets of vines that have held the stones in place over the years.
M28-0068 Similar to Nasaqaruku old village site (M28-0065), the footprint of this cultural relic
is extensive and stretches approximately 530m along a ridgeline southwest of the site
described above. A total of 26 house remains were surveyed with sizes that vary all
throughout the site. The average size of the house mounds is 6.8m to 8.6m.
In different parts of the site there are massive platforms upon which several house
mounds are constructed. The eastern corner contains an oval platform that is 5m
high, 30m long, 16m wide and holds three house mounds. The foot of the platform is
enclosed with a 15m flat area where four house mounds can be found on the east of
the platform. This is the only portion of the site where the mounds and the platform
are symmetrical. The mid-section of the site contains three platforms each more than
30m long and highly raised well above 3m. The first platform is separated from the
next by a ditch that is 2.5m deep and 4m wide. Several obvious house mounds of
raised earthen materials are constructed on these platforms. The house mounds are
well intact with slow erosion seen on the edges. The thick canopy cover and floor
vegetation preserved the cultural remains from heavy downpour.
Towards the west of the settlement, the ridge runs southwest and the cultural
remains continues for another 121m consisting of a platform that is almost 30m long,
9m wide and raised 5m from the ground surface. The platform holds four house
mounds while several more were constructed on the lower elevation. A 5m wide
ditch seals off the end of the settlement as the ridge begins to slope downward to the
lower reaches of the hill.
9.4.2 Monitoring sites The increasingly intensive use and modification of the landscape resulting from
modern demands for efficient infrastructure and land use (agricultural production,
mining, energy sources, logging, etc.) exerts growing pressure on cultural heritage in
the landscape. A summary of the threats and disturbances affecting the sites is
provided in Table 2.
Table 2. Site disturbance factors and threats within Emalu.
These threats occur
naturally and cause
irreversible damage -
earthquakes, heavy rain
and erosion processes
contribute to changing
and shaping the natural
and cultural landscape.
All the sites documented the effects of
natural events on the remains of cultural
heritage site features. The dominant natural
element affecting the structures is heavy rain
which leads to the erosion of the edges of the
house mounds, infilling of fortification
ditches and causeways. Heavy rain also
results in fluvial formation of rills and gullies
thus displacing stone alignment and washing
away the material remains.
These are threats that
are caused or related to
human inhabitance &
activities in and around
the area of study.
About 95% of the sites identified contained
human trails either travelling between
provinces but mostly from hunting and
These are threats that
are caused or related to
specifically wild pigs
Pig hooves and snout trails covered about 60-
70% of the sites surveyed. Dog trails were
also encountered but pose little threat to the
The 77 culturally significant sites encountered and documented during this survey
are widely distributed across the study area. Since the Emalu land boundary is vast
and accessibility is hindered by rugged terrain, the Archaeology team recommends
that two sites, M28-0059 and M28-0046, be used for monitoring purposes. A
summary of the framework within which this monitoring could occur is presented in
Site M28-0059 can be easily accessed from either Navitilevu Village or Draubuta
Village, both in the province of Navosa and located on the valley flats along Mavuvu Creek. However, site M28-0046 is located upland and results from the assessment
will be used for comparison of threats that affect cultural heritage sites. These sites
are most suitable for such a study given the outstanding cultural remains found here.
The degradation of the site will be examined every two years by using traditional
methods of site visitation and capturing still images of the area during the period of
the REDD+ program. Data from other teams such as aerial/satellite images of the
forest cover can also be a tool used for the process depending on data availability.
Table 3. Indicators and monitoring plan for cultural sites in Emalu.
State of the sites
Assessing the current state of the
sites and monitor the changes
Threats to the sites Identifying the threats that affect
the state of the sites
Access to the sites
Choosing two sites for the
assessment of the above variables
with access to the site as
of the sites
The two sites differ in cultural
Remote sensing even though costly, could also be a useful tool to map out the
changes in the monitoring site by using laser-based sensors and radar in particular
Synthetic Aperture Radar to see the ground or surface changes or even identify
9.5 Conclusion The land belonging to the mataqaliEmalu is rich in historical cultural material
remains that have never been documented. The historical remains are scattered all
throughout the mataqali land, a widespread distribution of elaborate hilltop and
lowland settlement and fortifications some of which are associated with the
sophisticated irrigation systems for terrace agriculture.
The cultural footprints indicate the vast number of activities at one stage in history
occurring in the remote highlands of Navosa. It also demonstrates the dense
populations of the area where the sites occur close to each other and are mostly
constructed along the ridgeline. The general physical setup of settlements depicts
various forms of insecurity at that time-a time of great rivalry and competition.
Supporting evidence can be found in some of the structures of the hill fortifications
that were encountered. Constructing on high elevation is a survival strategy whereby
communities used their natural environment and rugged terrain to provide security.
Further evidence to support the notion that the area was densely populated was
given by the series of large intricate irrigation systems discovered during this survey.
The discovery of these elaborate channels suggests larger populations to implement
and maintain this agricultural system. However the drive and intentions of the local
people related to the social structure and hierarchy in Fijian communities still remain
The study of the cultural footprints within the Emalu study area is vital in
understanding the patterns and motivational factors related to inland migration: why
the people of Emalu chose to live in such remoteness and rugged terrain, socio-
cultural relations and their responses to altering natural and climatic conditions.
Generally, the archaeological finds during this survey have considerable cultural
value to the local community and at national level. The significance of these sites can
be determined and derived by deconstructing the value of the individual sites into
the following components; aesthetic, symbolic, social, historic, authenticity and
spiritual values. All the sites identified include one of these values while some may
incorporate all, however an absent values does not lessen the significance of a site as
it holds the ancestral history of the hill tribes of Fiji.
9.6 Conservation recommendations Fiji has an ancient, complex and unique cultural heritage preserved in its
archaeological sites. Unfortunately much of this record has been carelessly destroyed
through human activity. The large scale of current and planned land development
activity in Fiji poses a great threat to remaining sites, thus preservation activities are
crucial to saving Fiji’s archaeological heritage. Fiji’s archaeological environment
represents a valuable and irreplaceable record of the nation’s cultural and social
development. For this reason alone it is important that these sites be maintained well.
In addition to its historical, cultural and archaeological merits the historic heritage
also forms a readily available resource of considerable amenity, education, scientific,
recreational and tourism value to the people of Fiji and visitors alike.
The archaeological assessment revealed valuable information pertaining to the
mataqali Emalu and neighbouring communities historically linked to the land.
Various findings of cultural assets were able to ascertain that these ancestral sites
conveyed immeasurable knowledge and understanding of the history pertaining to
traditional and cultural developments, linked closely to the identity of its people. It
depicts the movement and settlement patterns of their ancestors and the forms of
survival which defined their everyday lives.
Such history must be preserved whether tangible or intangible, however, various
threats and disturbances of these cultural sites have, to an extent, altered important
aspects of material history of the vanua of Emalu. All the sites identified are
protected in Fiji under the Preservation of Objects of Archaeological and
Palaeontological Interest Act (1940).
that proper documentation of the assessment and oral history be undertaken
to avoid the loss of traditional knowledge and history of the study area,
the Fiji Museum Archaeology department is included in any future surveys to
allow for completion of assessments of areas that have been overlooked,
namely, the area on the southwest of the land boundary,
a presentation of significant findings be done to raise awareness in the region,
an activity for which the Fiji Museum is available.
APPENDICES Appendix 1. Species checklist of the non-vascular flora and lichens Family Species Hornworts Anthocerotaceae
Folioceros amboinensis (Schiffn.) Piippo Anthocerotaceae
Folioceros fuciformis (Mont.) D.C.Bharadwaj Anthocerotaceae
Folioceros gladulosus (Lehm. et Lindenb.) D.C.Bharadwaj Anthocerotaceae
Folioceros pinnilobus (Steph.) D.C.Bharadwaj Dendrocerotaceae
Dendroceros cavernosus J.Haseg. Dendrocerotaceae
Dendroceros granulatus Mitt. Dendrocerotaceae
Dendroceros javanicus (Nees) Nees Dendrocerotaceae
Megaceros flagellaris (Mitt.) Steph. Notothyladaceae
Phaeoceros carolinianus (Michx.) Prosk. Liverworts Anastrophyllaceae
Plicanthus birmensis (Steph.) R.M.Schust. Anastrophyllaceae
Plicanthus hirtellus (F.Weber) R.M.Schust. Aneuraceae
Aneura maxima (Schiffn.) Steph. Aneuraceae
Lobatiriccardia coronopus (De Not. Ex Steph.) Furuki Aneuraceae
Riccardia alba (Colenso) E.A.Br. Aneuraceae
Riccardia graeffei (Steph.) Hewson Dumortieraceae
Dumortiera hirsuta (Sw.) Nees Geocalycaceae
Heteroscyphus argutus (Reinw., Blume et Nees) Schiffn Geocalycaceae
Heteroscyphus aselliformis (Reinw., Blume et Nees) Schiffn Geocalycaceae
Heteroscyphus coalitus (Hook.) Schiffn. Geocalycaceae
Heteroscyphus succulentus (Gottsche) Schiffn. Geocalycaceae
Notoscyphus lutescens (Lehm. et Lindenb.) Mitt. Hymenophytaceae
Hymentophyton flabellatum (Labill.) Dumort. ex. Trevis. Jamesoniellaceae
Cuspidatula contracta (Reinw., Blume et Nees) Steph. Jamesoniellaceae
Denotarisia linguifolia (De Not.) Grolle Jubulaceae
Frullania apiculata (Reinw., Blume et Nees) Nees Jubulaceae
Frullania arecae (Spreng.) Gottsche var. arecae Jubulaceae
Frullania cf. capillaris Jubulaceae
Frullania chevalieri (R.M.Schust.) R.M.Schust. Jubulaceae
Frullania cordistipula (Reinw., Blume et Nees) Dumort. Jubulaceae
Frullania ericoides (Nees) Mont. Jubulaceae
Frullania f. intermedia Jubulaceae
Frullania f. intesmed Jubulaceae
Frullania gaudichaudii (Nees et Mont.) Nees et Mont. Jubulaceae
Frullania gracilis (Reinw., Blume et Nees) Gottsche, Lindenb. et Nees Jubulaceae
Frullania intermedia (Reinw., Blume et Nees) Gottsche, Lindenb. et Nees Dumort. Jubulaceae
Frullania meyeniana Lindenb. Jubulaceae
Frullania neurota Taylor Jubulaceae
Frullania nodulosa (Reinw., Blume et Nees) Nees Jubulaceae
Frullania ramuligera (Nees) Mont. Jubulaceae
Frullania ternatensis Gottsche Jungermanniaceae
Conoscyphus trapezioides (Sande Lac.) Schiffn. Jungermanniaceae
Jamesoniella flexicaulis (Nees) Schiffn. Lejeuneaceae
Acrolejeunea pycnoclada (Taylor) Schiffn. Lejeuneaceae
Archilejeunea planiuscula (Mitt.) Steph. Lejeuneaceae
Caudalejeunea reniloba (Gottsche) Steph.