from notes archived at Bishop Museum, Honolulu, Hawai'i
Battle at Saukama
Noa'tau vs. Faguta
When Riamkau-sau was sau at Saukama, in Juju, Maraf Leav or Leva, the hairy, was chief in Noa'tau. One day the brother of Maraf sailed in his canoe to Toakai in Itu'ti'u. While passing Saukama, he failed to lower his mast as a salute to the sau who resided there. (Another said he failed to take down his frond of coconut which was his flag or emblem.) Fakraufanu, the brother of Maraf, was hailed from the shore by Rafoi, who stood on the land Elunga. He had a coconut frond in his two hands, and signalled with this to the boat to come ashore. But Fakraufanu sailed on to Toakai.
When Maraf heard of this he was very angry at his brother for being afraid to come ashore and fight after offering this insult to the sau.
Now Maraf's sister was living at Toakai, and she asked Maraf to send her a pig and some food for a feast, for the day that her brother Fakraufanu was there. Maraf, knowing this, sent all his men to Toakai with food. They had to march through Faguta to arrive at Maraf's sister's house. (It may have been at this time that Maraf went through Faguta and failed to take off his turban, knowing this would bring on a fight. - as told by Isaac in the Death of Maraf.)
The people of Faguta had a meeting over the insult cast upon their sau, at least by Fakraufanu, and Riamkau the chief (and probably the pure or vakoi of Rotuma, as he had a tonu or messenger and the sau living in his district) sent his messenger (tonu was the word used by Uafta) to Toakai to tell Maraf that on his return he was not to pass through Faguta.
"There are three roads to Noa'tau", said Riamkau, "one through the bush, one through Faguta along the shore, and by sea. You may not come by the shore path."
"Thank you very much", said Maraf to the tonu.
The next morning Maraf set from Toakai by canoe (or by whale boat) and when he came to Saukama, he was called ashore. He came in, and when his boat touched the sand the Faguta people fired on him with guns.
Maraf did not retaliate, but ordered his men to pull the canoe carefully onto the beach, and then to start fighting. (Evidently more Noa'tau people came down the shore path for the battle was a large affray, in fact the biggest battle that is remembered in Rotuma.)
Now it so happened that Maraf had become very incensed at some of the young men in his district who lived in the section called Ut'utu. He had set fire to their pile house while they were in it, and then chopped away the piles so that the house fell in flames and killed or burnt all the occupants. This had given the Ut'utu people a great grievance which they had nursed for sometime. When the battle of Saukama started, these people fired their guns in the air and all fled to the bush and returned to their home, leaving their chief to fight his own fight.
Maraf was very brave in the fight, running about in all parts, and though receiving shots and stones on his body, they all fell off without killing him. He was a very muscular man and covered with hair on his chest and back. Finally Maraf was killed along with many Noa'tau and Faguta men and the battle ended. Over one hundred men died at Saukama, and they were all buried across the road from the fuag ri of that name. Maraf was laid on the bottom of the pile, and the rest of the tattooed men were thrown in on top. The untattooed men were buried in a separate grave.
The next day the people of Oinafa came over to Faguta to fight. The Faguta people did not wish to fight and offered the body of Maraf to be brought back to Noa'tau.
leva (leav) = hair
Battle at Saukama
The dropping of the mast of a sailing canoe was necessary as a mark of respect to every village, which was passed. This was an especially necessary and tambu thing before the village of the sau.
It constituted the same thing as taking off the orno'a or tapa turban while walking about in the village.
The people of Noa'tau went to Toakai by canoe and by road through the district. These latter did not take off their orno'a evidently, as Maraf was picking a fight with Faguta.
When he came back the next day by boat, he had ordered that there would be no fighting until the boat was drawn up on shore. This they did and some of his crew were killed while dragging the canoe on the sand. A Wallis Islander who was particularly skilful in throwing stones, was picked to kill Maraf, but when he had thrown two which had dropped off the chief's chest without showing any sign of effect, the Wallis man said in broken Rotuman "Me for the bush" and fled.
Battle of Saukama
The people of Noa'tau walked through Faguta with their 'orno'a on, just to insult the villages.
The people of Noa'tau had abused the people of Kalvaka for a long time. They would take their coconuts, set up a husking stake inside their door way and husk the nuts there leaving the husks on the floor, and go away. For a long time the Kalvaka people had been aggrieved, so that when the time came for them to help the upper Noa'tau people, they did not respond but only fired their guns in the air and ran to the bush and back to lower Noa'tau.
The dead were all buried in a great hole or communal grave called a sa'aga.
The people of Toakai took the body of Maraf back to Noa'tau.
At Tofaraki, 100 men buried. All dead of battle gathered together and counted and buried.
'orno'a = leaf wrapped round the head like a turban
Battle of Saukama
Maraf Leav, the chief of Noa'tau, had a brother named Fakrofonu, who asked Maraf for a big canoe in which he could sail around Rotuma. Maraf ordered his people to make a canoe for his brother, and the people turned out a fleet of large canoes, called a fau and twelve in number. Fakrofonu sailed back and forth with his fleet to the different districts of Rotuma. One day in passing the shore of Faguta, he did not obey the custom of saluting the sau, who was then living with the Faguta people at Saukama. It was direct insult not to lower the sails of a canoe when sailing past the place where the sau was staying. On Farofonu's return the people of Juju hailed him and beckoned him to land. But Fakrofonu paid no attention and went on to Noa'tau.
When he returned his brother asked him of his trip, and what he had seen. Farofonu told him that he had passed Saukama without dropping his sails in respect to the sau, and that the men of Juju had challenged him on his return, but that he had not gone ashore where there would have been an immediate fight. Maraf became very angry at his brother and called him a great coward, and fool for his insult to the sau and Faguta people. His arrogance meant war with Faguta and against Maraf's best friend Riamkau, the chief of Faguta. Riamkau and Maraf had been great allies in all the wars that had come to either district, but their friendship and alliance could not deny the rupture that the brother of Fakrofonu had brought between them.
Maraf realized that war was inevitable, and held a meeting of his chiefs to decide how it should best be carried on. They decided that they would go through Faguta and be prepared for battle, and announce by showing themselves that they were ready to fight. There was at this time a man named lrava of Toakai living in Noa'tau. He had been requested by a relation to supply some pigs. Maraf planned to carry these pigs to Toakai, and in doing so would have to pass through Faguta. He divided up the men of his district into four parties, one to travel by the trail through the center of the island, a second by the road near the coast, a third to walk along the coast itself, and the fourth to go by sea. It is said that four hundred men of Noa'tau district went to Toakai. Those who traveled through the village of Faguta showed their willingness to fight by breaking all customs of civility and politeness. In spite of their intentional rudeness, the people of Faguta allowed them to pass through without trouble. It had been arranged that if any noise or shots were heard from the direction of Faguta the parties in the bush and at sea were to come to Faguta to help in the fighting. However by noon, all the Noa'tau men were in Toakai, and presented seventy pigs to the family of Irava.
That evening Maraf asked if there was a ri mane'a, or playhouse, for he wanted to spent the night dancing and singing with his people. It would probably be the last night for many of them. The dancing started that evening, while some men watched outside for any surprise from the men of Juju. Late in the night a messenger appeared from Riamkau, with a request from that chief to Maraf asking him to stop in Faguta the next day on his return home. Riamkau had "some things in preparation for him." This was a definite challenge to fight. That night a bowl of kava was set in the house of the tu'ura of Toakai and the god Fereituanak was called. When the tu'ura showed sign of shaking and going into a trance, he went over to the corner of the house where the bowl of kava had been put and drank it for the god who had entered him. Then Irava asked Fereituanak what the outcome of the battte would be the next day. The god waited a long time and then began to answer. He said that Maraf would lead his men against Pepjei and defeat them, but Juju would take up the fight and rout Noa'tau. In this battle Irava and Maraf would die.
The next morning Maraf lead his men to Faguta. Irava told the Toakai people who wished to fight with Noa'tau and their relation, not to come. Maraf marched into Pepjei and met there the men of that district. The old men had seated themselves in front hoping that in the fight some stray bullets would kill them so that they might die with the young men in battle. Maraf attacked and fought valiantly, driving the men of Pepjei before him. The men of Noa'tau gave a great cry that signified victory. When the Juju people heard this, they rushed out of the bush where they had been hiding and set themselves against the attack of Noa'tau. Noa'tau was easily driven back for they were now few in number.
At the beginning of the battle against Pepjei, the men from the Kalvaka section of Noa'tau had fired their guns over the Pepjei people, and then retreated into the bush gaining the inland road and returned home. They had for some time borne a grudge against Maraf for a cruel act he had committed in Kalvaka. For some act of disobedience many months before, he had set fire to a ri sipaki filled with young Kalvaka men and then had cut its supporting poles so that they were all burned or killed. The Kalvaka people, because of this, refused to support their chief and left him at the beginning of the fight. When Juju entered the fight, Noa'tau was too weak to withstand this fresh onslaught and started to run away. Maraf had fought courageously and had been wounded by three shots from the few guns that were used in the engagement. Irava approached him and asked him if they would run with their men. Maraf replied that he would rather die. Just at that moment, a Juju man filled his musket with odd pieces of rock and steel and fired at Maraf. He killed him and Irava as well. This settled the fight, and the remainder of the Noa'tau warriors returned through the bush to their home.
All the Noa'tau dead were gathered together and buried in a great pit near Saukama. Maraf was laid on the bottom and his men were piled on top of him. The Faguta men who had died in the battle were wrapt in mats by their people and laid on top of the the Noa'tau dead, as was the custom after any war in Rotuma.
While the burial of dead was going on, there arrived from Itu'muta a large body of men all keyed up to fight. They had heard that fighting was going on in Faguta over the sau who had been insulted. They were ready to join against Noa'tau for this outrage, for the sau was a man of Itu'muta. But the Noa'tau men had fled to their district, and there was nothing left for the Itu'muta men to do to ease their anger other than kick the bodies of Noa'tau men who had not been buried and return to their district.
The day following the battle the families of Noa'tau petitioned Riamkau for the body of their chief. Riamkau returned word by messenger that the Noa'tau people could come to Faguta to disinter Maraf and bear him back to Noa'tau. He also sent a messenger to Toakai to tell the family of Irava that they might send men down to help the Noa'tau people open the pit and take the body of Irava out to be buried in Toakai. This the two families did, and Maraf was buried under the ri hafu that stands now in the old tamura in the middle of Noa'tau village, and Irava was buried in the old tamura near the house Afioa in Toakai.
ri sipaki = house built on stilts (see photo)
ri hafu = stone house
Death of Maraf Leva
Maraf Leva passed through Faguta without taking off his tapa turban, which was the proper mark of respect. This was done intentionally because he knew it was a challenge to a war. Maraf went on to Toakai where there was a dancing that night.
In Juju, the chiefs met to consider the insult and agreed to war on Noa'tau.
The next day Maraf returned, and while passing Saukama in his whale boat he was beckoned in. When the boat touched the sand, Juju people fired on them. But Maraf ordered his crew to bring the boat up on the beach first, and then fight. The people evidently had guns which they fired, but with little effect. Stones were the most dangerous weapons. Maraf was a very strong and hairy man. He ran up and down the beach with bullets dropping off his body. Finally he was killed by a stone, and buried at Saukama. The Noa'tau crew returned home.
His burial outside his district annoyed his allies. (It may have been that he was vakai at the time.) An army marched on Saukama the next day, but the Faguta people would not fight. "They said you may have the body and all the things and we will be just as before."
The body was brought back to Noa'tau on a litter and buried under a stone chamber which is near the fuag ri Lalo.
Maraf received the name Leva from the fact that he was covered with long hair. It was so long that Isaac said they tied the body to the litter with it.
vakai = paramount chief