1808: wreck of Eliza introduces guns to Fiji; sandalwood trader carried firearms, 40,000 Spanish dollars and Charlie Savage,

1808: It was a June night when the American Brigantine, Eliza hit Mocea reef near Nairai.

The brig Eliza, out from Callao, in South America, was wrecked on a reef off Nairai Island in Lomaiviti in 1808. She was a sandalwood trader and carried firearms as well as 40,000 Spanish dollars, no doubt for trading purposes. She had picked up a castaway sailor, Charles Savage, at Nuku’alofa, in Tonga, who claimed to be a survivor of the ill-fated Port-au-Prince, of which Mariner tells.

Savage and others were taken to the east coast of Viti Levu, where Savage considerably aided the fortunes of the chiefs of Rewa and Bau. By 1828, Bau, led by its great chief, Ratu Naulivou, the Vunivalu of Bau, had thus attained to a paramount position in eastern Viti Levu and Lomaiviti. His headquarters was the small fortified island of Bau off the Rewa coast.

Ratu Tanoa Visawaqa, a younger brother, succeeded Naulivou on his death. Tanoa’s son, Ratu Sera, realising that a revolt on the island against his father must succeed, joined the rebels, biding his time. At [24/25] the appropriate moment he rose against the usurpers, turned the tables, burned down the rebels’ houses and restored his father. Ratu Sera was renamed Ca-ko-bau, meaning “Bau is destroyed”. He wielded more power than his father, eventually to succeed him at his death, in 1852. He was invested as Vunivalu of Bau in 1853.

A threat to Cakobau’s leadership in Fiji came from the Tongan chief, Ma’afu Ma’afuotu’itoga, a prince of the Tongan royal blood, who landed in Lau in 1848, and within a few years conquered the whole Lau Group, challenging Cakobau’s supremacy.

C. W. Whonsbon-Aston, Vicar of Levuka, Fiji, 1931-34. William Floyd, born in Ballycanew, in the parish of Gorey, Wexford Co., Ireland, on July 3rd, 1838, and ordained priest in Melbourne, Australia, in 1870, arrived in Levuka, Fiji, the then prospective turbulent capital of the yet-to-be-proclaimed King Cakobau (pronounced Thakombau), on November 15th, 1870. http://anglicanhistory.org/oceania/whonsbon-aston1970.html

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