4 – 6 April 2013

Google Earth map of the Great Sea Reef showing distance from Mali Island to Kavewa Island

Google Earth map of the Great Sea Reef showing distance we travelled from Mali Island to Kavewa Island.

We departed Mali Island soon after our last amazing crab lunch to make it to Kavewa Island with the incoming tide, so we could dock right in front of the village beach. When we reached Kavewa by mid afternoon, a welcome meke started as we reached the beach (which we presumptuously thought was performed in our honour) and we exclaimed “Oh how wonderful that they waited for us to arrive to have a special meke welcome!” Apparently and begrudgingly we realised, it was the Fijian Ministry of Information’s activity and initiative to document all current tradition of dance and chanting from all island villages. We were just extremely lucky to reach Kavewa as the meke started. The sun was beautifully golden and the island setting was stunning for an afternoon meke – just like what an idyllic South Pacific island village should be.

The traditional Fijian communal dance is called a 'meke' combines dancing, singing, chanting, clapping and drum beating.

The traditional Fijian communal dance is called a ‘meke’ combines dancing, singing, chanting, clapping and drum beating.

As the ladies danced, the men & women seated on the ground chanted and sang their hearts out in tune to drum beats.

As the ladies danced in the background, the men & women seated on the ground chanted and sang in tune to drum beats.

That very evening, we had our formal sevusevu with the chief Meli Silibaravi and we gave a little slideshow presentation of our past WWF Coral Triangle photo expedition to show him similar types of images we wanted to photograph in his area and nearby islands. After the formalities, Ratu Meli asked Yogi straight questions and to explain to him what climate change and rising sea levels were all about and why it was happening. He said how, through the years, the water level slowly encroach their island’s shoreline. And with each coming cyclone, the strength and power of the winds seem to be getting stronger and stronger. Kavewa village is vulnerable being so very exposed to the elements.

Kavewa Island Chief Meli Silibaravi driving the fiberglass boat to show us around his island.

Kavewa Island Chief Meli Silibaravi driving the fiberglass boat to show us around his island.

Massive trees fallen or will soon fall into the water as the high tide mark has reached their root level causing the inevitable erosion of the sand.

Massive trees will soon fall into the water as the high tide mark has reached their root level causing the inevitable erosion of the sand.

Massive tree fell during Cyclone Evan hitting the northern part of Fiji in December 2012.

Massive tree fell during Cyclone Evan hitting the northern part of Fiji in December 2012.

On our first evening, as the clear dark skies glittered with stars and the Milky Way, we went out to the shallows to capture the island village and the brilliant night skyline. The men were still going strong with their kava session calling upon Yogi to join them. But we had work to do and beauty to capture so Yogi cheerfully waved and said no thank you. The men were singing and strumming their guitars and music wrapped the air around us that evening. It was a classic South Pacific scene that filled all our senses.

Panorama of Kavewa Island at night.

Panorama of Kavewa Island at night. (Click image for a bigger view)

For the next 2 days, we walked all around the island and mangroves like village paparazzis, being in people’s frontyard, backyard and gardens to see what they did in their everyday lives. Here’s a little photo gallery of the villagers of lovely Kavewa Island.

Boy maneuvers the fiberglass boat away from the shallow shore, silhouetted against the light.

Boy maneuvers the fiberglass boat away from the shallow shore, silhouetted against the light.

Gleaning and looking for bivalves at lowtide as the sun sets along the coast of Kavewa Island.

Gleaning and looking for bivalves at low tide as the sun sets along the coast of Kavewa Island.

Fijian ladies gleaning the Kavewa Island coast at low tide for bi-valves.

Fijian ladies gleaning the Kavewa Island coast early in the morning at low tide for bi-valves.

As the kids play and frolic, their mothers wash their family's laundry by the creek with water flowing out from a nearby spring.

As the kids play and frolic, their mothers wash their family’s laundry by the creek with water flowing out from a nearby spring.

Mereia prepares freshly harvested pandanus leaves to dry and later for mat weaving.

Mereia prepares freshly harvested pandanus leaves to dry and later for mat weaving.

Mereia fishing with a hook and line in the coast of Kavewa Island. After a few camera clicks, she told Yogi he was frightening the fish away.

Mereia fishing with a hook and line in the coast of Kavewa Island. After a few camera clicks, she sternly told Yogi he was in the way, frightening the fish away.

Taking advantage of last remaining sunlight, Fijian ladies chat and process dried pandanus leaves to ready for weaving.

Taking advantage of last remaining sunlight, Fijian ladies chat and process dried pandanus leaves to ready for weaving.

Hairdressing Kavewa Island style - Fijian lady cutting or pruning kinky hair of another Melanesian woman.

Hairdressing Kavewa Island style – Fijian lady cutting or pruning kinky hair of another Melanesian woman.

Just because I couldn't resist showing off a classic Fijian beauty - Talei Silibaravi, the chief's youngest daughter studying environmental science in a university in Labasa.

Classic Fijian beauty – Talei Silibaravi, the chief’s youngest daughter studying environmental science at the University of the South Pacific, Labasa.