Legend of Mantaray Island

Nanuya Balavu Island

In the time before time there lived a great warrior by the name of Buli Balavu. Buli Balavu owned the island of Naviti. Back in the time before time what we know today as the Naviti group wasn’t a group of islands but just one solitary island.

As well as being inhabited by Buli Balavu there was also an array of animals and insects that also called the island home. The island was renowned for its beauty and was a much sought after prize. Many of the animals and insects also wanted to claim ownership of Naviti for themselves. Eventually the disputes over ownership developed in to war and all of the inhabitants started to fight amongst themselves. One of the fiercest fighters was ‘Gata’ the snake. Gata started to take control of the island by killing the other animals and insects. Gradually the animals and insects were pushed towards the southern tip of the island seeking refuge from Gata as he slowly but surely took control of the island.

Buli Balavu saw what was going on and took pity on the animals and insects. Rather than see them perish he decided to break up his cherished Island to stop Gata from being able to pursue them. Buli Balavu knelt on the beach at Otoculu and took an arrow [na I cibi] from his quiver . He fired it at his prize shattering it four separate islands. Today these islands are known as Naviti, Drawaqa, Naukacuvu and Nanuya Balavu which is now the home of Mantaray Island Resort. The indent left on the beach at Otoculu where Buli Balavu knelt to fire his arrow can still be seen today.

When Buli Balavu separated the islands the ants stranded on the same Island as Gata. Unable to swim across Gata began to close in on the ants to wipe them out so he could claim the island for himself. The turtles (Vonu) heard the ants cries for help as they desperately tried to escape. The turtles took pity on the ants and had a heart to help them by ferrying them across to the other side. As we all know, turtles can’t stay on surface for too long and eventually had to dive down leaving the ants floating around on the surface. Ants aren’t good swimmers and they quickly began to panic. When Vonu dived down he met Vai, the Mantaray and asked him if he would help. Of course Vai was more than happy to help. It also happened that the octopus (Sulua) was also in the area. Sulua was offered to guide them and lead them across the channel to Mantaray Island. As they came near to a point called Korosamoa, it became too rocky for the manta ray to carry on and take the ants all the way to shore. Lady Octopus, Sulua, decided to take over from there and carried the ants right to the top of Korosamoa point at the northern tip of Mantaray Island.

After making sure the ants were safe Sulua returned to the sea where she again met with Vonu and Vai. Sulua spoke to Vai. “Great and majestic Vai, you chose to help the poor defenceless ants, as a reward for your selflessness the waters here shall always be a special place for you to visit anytime you like”. These are the waters of Mantaray Island. “And Vonu, you were brave and risked yourself to rescue the ants from Gata, for you your reward is to have the use of this island any time you like so you may come and lay your eggs along the beaches of the island in safety and peace.”

Many millenia have passed since the time brave Vonu and Vai rescued the ants from the clutches of Gata, but even today, Vai are frequently seen around the southern tip of Korosamoa, this is their home. Salua still lives on the reef around the resort and Vonu are often seen swimming in the channel. You’ll also find plenty of ants around the point, but you most certainly won’t find any snakes! Take a walk to the top of Korosamoa when you come to Mantaray Island. The ‘tentacle prints’ Sulua left behind when she carried the ants to their refuge are still visible in the rock to this day.