The Story of the kin group Viliku told by Kamillus Kolia of Kandoka village October 31, 1966


Kolia in ceremonial regalia


This is the story of my family. I will begin with my first ancestor, Mok, his customs and how he lived. He did not live as people do today, but like a primitive man. He did not sleep in a hamlet; he slept in the forest. He slept one night in one place and the next night in a different place. He followed the fruit of the trees and had no real food. He had no taro. After years of wandering he fathered Supango who lived as Mok had, for he knew no other way than this primitive life. Mok showed him how to find food, and Supango ate fruits and nuts, wild pig, crayfish, eels, and snakes. He had no hamlet, no village. Supango and Mok lived the same way. Then Supango fathered Rurunga.


When Rurunga was an adult there was a war with spears, and he was sent to fight. After this he walked to Gavu where he was given a wife. So it was that Rurunga left the land of Mok and Supango and settled on the lands belonging to Gavu. There was no leader in Gavu, so Rurunga went there and became their leader, and all the people of Gavu listened to him. There Rurunga returned to Supango's way of life. He hunted pigs with a net in the following way. He and all his companions carried nets, spears and shields and enclosed an area with the nets. Then the women made a circle in the bush and chased pigs and cassowaries into the nets. When the men had killed the game they loosened the nets and carried them and the meat to a place where Rurunga made camp. There they ate pork.


They did not camp without a guard. Rurunga would direct his companions: "Three of you go and watch. You go here, and you go there, and you go over there and guard us against attack. Someone might see the smoke from our cooking fires and come to kill us. So you watch, and if you see anyone call me quickly so that we can be ready for them. If they want to fight, we will oblige them."


They would leave when they had finished cooking and eating the pork. It was unsafe to sleep where they had cooked the meat because their enemies might have seen the smoke. So they went somewhere safe to sleep. They could not just sleep at we do today. When they slept they had to post a sentry until dawn. This is the way things were in Rurunga's day.


One day Rurunga thought to himself, "I can no longer live as Supango and Mok did. I must establish a real village. It is not right that I live as they did." So he established his first village, Gilau. When it was built he mad a speech to his companions:


"Now we have built a village so when we go to work you must not stay away until dark. You must return well before dark. You live here. It is not appropriate that you wait until dark to come home, for if a fight should occur we would not know what had happened. You must come home before dark so that we can be prepared for trouble. The time for walking abroad is this; leave early in the morning and return in the afternoon."


So they did things in this way. Then there was a big war, and there was heavy fighting here, and in the Kove area, and in the interior. At that time there were three settled areas here: Kaliai, Lusi, and Gavu. Rurunga sent word to these three places, saying "We are at war now, so you must fortify yourselves and build a stockade around your village. If you remain unprotected in an open village you will all be killed. You must cut poles and stand them up in the ground around your village and make a strong palisade. If men attack you it will stop them. They will be outside your stockade, unable to come inside. If they do, you must kill them."


So they built stockades, with a platform of stone and large pieces of wood, and they put many kinds of things on the platform. Then if there were a fight they could remain safely inside the stockade with their enemies below them on the ground. The men on the platform killed the attackers with stones and clubs. This, Rurunga's way, was the way war was conducted then.


Thus peace came to the area. Rurunga did not fight with Kaliai or with Lusi or with anyone in between. He was their leader and their general. If a fight occurred, word was brought to Rurunga and he called for all the men of the area to meet and assist in the fight. This was how Rurunga did things. If a fight occurred, all of Rurungas kinsmen and followers and there were many of them fought together. Once fifty or sixty men fought against Rurunga. They tried desperately but were unable to kill him. No indeed! This one man defeated fifty or sixty men. He speared only two or three of them and the rest of them ran away. This was the kind of man Rurunga was. He was a great warrior. Even a hundred men could not defeat Rurunga. It is true. This is not just a legend I heard, as the story of Supango and Mok is. No! I heard the story from my father Nausang. He told me about my grandfather and that he was a great warrior.


One time a fight occurred in Gavu. It took place between two mountains, one called Amologi Malong over there and the other Lusi Kakori over here. The fight began late in the afternoon. Tovola and Aresei had sores, a disease like leprosy [possibly yaws], so when the fight began Rurunga told them, "You two brothers leave here. You are sick so you hide. I am strong enough to hold off these men. It would not be right for you two sick men to be hurt or killed." Thus he encouraged his two companions to flee and hide. He chased his son Nausang out of the village too, and Nausang hid in the middle of a patch of pitpit [wild sugar cane, saccharum spontaneum] where he could watch the battle and see his father. Rurunga's wife, Rogi, was worried about her husband fighting so many men, so she did not go far. She carried his hand basket and hid behind a big rock nearby so she could watch her husband, Rurunga, as he fought. Her thought was this: "If they kill Rurunga they must kill me too." She was very worried and fearful because Rurunga had to fight alone. The fight lasted for an hour, and the village was littered with the bodies of dead and wounded women and children. Rurunga wondered what would happen, but they continued fighting and the enemy was unable to defeat him. So their leader stopped the fight, calling out to his troops, "It is almost dark now. Let us go into the forest. We don't want Rurunga to kill some of us. We have tried to defeat him and we cannot, so we must leave."


So they retreated, and Rurunga's sentry took the tavur [conch shell trumpet] and blew it, first in one direction and then in another. The people in the nearest hamlet, Kurkurio, heard the tavur and they sent the message on to Kararali, who warned Giwaipi, who warned Orengeri, who warned Lalagongai. They all heard the tavur's cry and said, "Oh, Rurunga has been attacked and is calling us."


So they got their shields and spears and ran to help. Noro, the grandfather of Gaule and Paulus led the others. Rurunga followed the attackers, but he lost them in the forest and turned back. At about this same time Noro, the grandfather of Gaule [Kolias wife] and Paulus, arrived and asked, "Why did you blow the tavur? Has there been a fight? Are you wounded? What has happened?"


Rurunga replied, "They failed. I am unconquerable. They could not kill me."


"Alright," Noro said. Let's follow them? When we catch them we will have revenge." So they pursued them during the night.


The enemy had camped by the mouth of a spring on the Vanu river, with their leader sleeping on the side of the camp toward Rurungas village. He told his men, "All of you sleep together over there and I will sleep by the side of the trail. If they follow us I will be here to meet them." Rurunga, Noro, and their followers pursued these men, and when they were close Noro saw them and alerted the others: "Here they are! They are nearby. Be quiet! Crawl!" It was well after dark (past nine oclock), but there was a bright moon so they crawled closer. When Noro was near the enemy leader he stood up, saying "I am the father of Alat" (who had been killed in the fighting) and threw his spear. It pierced the leader's body and he ran with it and then fell down. Then all the others tried to run away, but they were stopped by a cliff and had to turn around. Then Rurunga, Noro and their men killed all of them. When they were finished they returned home, and there were other small fights. Rurunga was a warrior who taught his people how to live well but also how to prepare for war.


Then I was born. When I was a boy my grand father told me, "I am not a native of this place, of Gavu. My birthplace was another place. I am from Aria, but I left my original home and came here, and married a Gavu woman. I have remained here. When I came here Gavu did not have a spokesman, or a war leader, or anything. So I, Rurunga, came here and I made Gavu strong in war. I showed them how to grow lots of food and how to organize large pig feasts. I have made them what they are today. I have sponsored all the ceremonies in the proper way: pig feasts for the tuvura [bull roarer], the tumbuan [ancestor masks], and the mukmuk [bamboo flute]. I, Rurunga, did this!"


I heard all this from my grandfather. When he died I remembered all he had told me. My father, Nausang, was not the kind of man Rurunga was. He was a worker. He knew all about taro, and he was a woodsman. But he was not a bigman. He did not give big feasts, he did not sponsor an ololo [mortuary ceremony], or do all the important things that Rurunga did. However, I had seen the things my grandfather did and I saw the way Nausang acted and I thought, "Ooh, I am afraid that Rurunga's ways will be forgotten." So, when I was grown I tried to keep alive Rurunga's customs. The men in addition to my father who were Rurunga's companions were Noro, Mononga, Ololi, Kasiki, and Aresei. They were all second to Rurunga. In battle they were like his soldiers."


When I was grown all the elders died and there were few men left here: only Aria, Kisa, and Lagas. So we came down near the beach and one of my elder kinsmen named Ganoru gave me a piece of land and told me, "It is all right. You can build a village here." So I established my first village at Ramindal. At this time I was an inconsequential man. There were four of us, then Akurei died and there were only three adult men and only four young men: Dau, Mateo, Niklaus, and Mokei. That was all. There were only five old women. We were the only ones left. So we set aside one hundred pigs in memory of all of our kinsmen who had died. We selected these pigs in this village and let them grow for eight years. Then we tied them to a platform in the middle of the village and held a big ololo for our fathers.


Not long after we finished this ceremony the Japanese soldiers came. They came here first, then the Australians came, and we took care of them. Japanese and Australian soldiers were both here, and we took care of all of them. Aipau sent word to our three villages so we fed the Australian soldiers for three weeks. At the beginning of the fourth week, they left. The Japanese returned shortly after the Australians left. They were all at Iboki at one time or the other, and we took food to all of them. But it was not over. The fighting got heavy. Iboki was bombed and the place was lit by the explosions which were everywhere. So we went into the jungle.


I thought, "We have lost everything in this war, but I want to earn myself a reputation again." So we made a village in a place called Kandoka [not the coastal Kandoka but a site two or three miles back in the jungle]. We were living there when the Americans came with the Australians. I feared that the ways of Rurunga would be forgotten, so once again I set aside some pigs. There were not too many. I marked them, and when there were thirty of them we killed them and had a feast. And so we established our village. Now we have made four ololos.


In this big coastal village of Kandoka there was not a single responsible mature couple to act as mother and father and buy brides for all the young men and advise them what to do. Only me! I gave advice, I bought wives for all my kinsmen here. Now all our young men are married and our village has grown. The government has seen that our village, Kandoka, is a big village. And I am the only bigman here. I have made sure that every man has a wife, and I have seen that the customs of our ancestors are not forgotten. So it is that the village has grown big and follows the good ways of our ancestors.


There is no other man who can share the credit for this. I did it alone. I will not mind dying because Mokei, my brother, also knows the ways of Rurunga and Nangile, my eldest son, also knows them. So I think, I am satisfied.. If I were to die others would continue the ways of Rurunga. I am not a quarrelsome man. I am not an irresponsible man. No indeed! I am concerned about the people. You can see that we have a fine village, and everyone else can see it too. The government, the Americans have both come and have seen a big village. I ask myself, Do the village fathers boss things? Do they take the responsibility for things? Do they buy wives for their sons? NO! Only me! I look after everyone when they are small. I feed and take care of them, and when they are grown I take care of the next generation and see that every man has a wife. I alone have made Kandoka a big village by providing wives for the young men right through until today when I am an old man.