Birds of Hạf Ahại (ship rock), Hatana


Across from Hatana is a rocky area called Hạf Ahại (ship rock), as it looks a bit like the hull of a ship. This a nesting place for large sea birds that we call “Kanạpu” (gannets). It is also a nesting place for terns. Rotumans have always visited Hạf Ahại to collect eggs and sometime catch birds, for food. We must only ever take from the island what we need, so it remains a good nesting place for the birds to return to, season after season.

To prepare the eggs for eating, we take a green coconut (niu vạrvạri = when the inside flesh is soft for eating; niu ma’ata= ripe for eating). We cut off the top and drink the juice. Then we crack the egg in to the hollow of the niu, add some salt water to taste, replace the top of the niu and put it in the koua (traditional earth oven) to cook. The moisture from the soft flesh and the salt water helps to poach the egg and add flavour. This traditional way of cooking the eggs is a special treat; “an lei lei” (delicious).

Here is a link to my video of the birds of Hạf Ahại. I hope you enjoy it.

Hatana GANNETT HATANA Hatan birds of hạf ahại


Visit to Hatana. For Mama…

This morning I returned from Hatana Island, the sacred island in Rotuma. I am thinking of my mother and the stories she told me and my sisters when we were young, about Hatana Island, where Sau (Kings) are buried and some of the Atua (Rotuman spirits) live. So I dedicate today’s post to Mama, Elizabeth Luisa Konousi Sosefo. She passed away one year ago today. I miss you Mama and thank you for all your love and everything you taught me. My mother taught me most of what I know about Rotuman culture. She wove beautiful mats, composed songs and was a great teacher. She was a very talented, strong and respected Rotuman woman. She told me about lots of Rotuman legends. Some of my paintings are based on these legends, like Hai in Saulei (Stingrays in Saulei), and  the legend of Hạfliua (Split rock island).

Hatana Island is a small island near the village Losa. You need permission from the chief of Losa to go to Hatana.  Raho, the founder of Rotuma buried there and other Sau like Tuimanuka and Famạfu. It is hard to get to Hatana because of the reef and big waves so you usually have to swim in from the boat.You have to be respectful and not make too much noise or laugh at the Kings, or the waves will come up and stop you from leaving the island. It is said that if you break the rules, you have to apologise and say “Nevenev se sau he rua, ‘Is tä pa la’la’ se Rotuma” (Bowing to the two Kings, those of us who want to go to Rotuma).

Here is a link to a video of the trip from Hatana back to Rotuma with dolphins escorting us home. It is said that the dolphins symbolise that the Kings were pleased with our visit.