Viti Village in Fiji is one of many underwater communities that stretch across the South Pacific. Their clan is referred to as the “Vanua”. The Vanua are very long-lived, some have special abilities that allow the communities to live safely in a sometimes dangerous and changing environment.
Once or twice a generation there’s a teacher’s council called “The Great Learning”. Dolphins and whales spread the word across the Pacific and the community leaders decide who will attend.
We decided to ask three members of Viti Village to talk to us about who they are and how they ended up in Viti.
Heidi — Please tell us about your “Amazing Braids”, your family, and how you ended up in Viti.
“My mother told me that many generations ago, the women in our village began to have our head fins change. In the beginning they were very small, but these braids allowed us to easily move among the corals. With every generation they continued to grow and now are an important part of who we are. They help me to move quickly through the reef and supply information to our village about our surroundings.
“When I was young my family lived close to a great “Fire Mountain”. Years ago it started to leak lava and everyone in our village had to leave. During our search for a new village, the dolphins told us of “The Great Learning”. My mother decided to go and bring me with her. That’s where I met Seeker and his friend Simeon. After the “Learning” the three of us were sent to Viti where our talents were needed.”
Seeker — I understand that you’re a scout and Simeon’s best friend. Please tell us about your time at “The Great Learning”.
Ok. Like Heidi, I come from a village near another Fire Mountain where we learned to use the lava tubes for safety. Our Vanua live in waters where the currents run faster. My father learned from a giant tavuto (whale) about the next Great Learning. He felt it was time for me to learn more from the council, so when the Mantas came by, we hopped on and went to the next event.
“When I got there, the first person I met was Simeon. He’d been with the teachers since the last Learning and had already been matched with Slider. He’s the smartest person I’ve ever met and we soon became best friends. Once we met Heidi, we all became inseparable and at the end of the teaching we were sent to Viti to share our learning.”
Simeon — I understand that you’ve been at TWO of the Learnings. How and why did that occur?
“Well… a while before my first visit to “The Great Learning” my village was hit by some tremendous ground shakes that moved the waters over long distances. I was separated from my family and village.
“When I was lost I was discovered by Doc and a couple of his friends. They helped feed and take care of me. I stayed with them and when it was time to leave I went with them. Doc knew about the Learning and, even though I was young, felt that I would be helped by going and took me there.
“After it was over, I stayed with a group of teachers and learned more about our Ocean Ecology and other sciences. When the next Learning happened, I was already there and partnered with Slider – who is a great navigator.
“That’s where I met Seeker and then Heidi. After the Learning, the four of us were sent to Viti where Doc had requested my help.”