A Brief Description and History of Naitauba by Martin Goulding

A Brief Description and History of Naitauba
by Martin Goulding
(From Ad Da Up Close Website)
Martin Goulding first became a formal devotee of Adi Da Samraj in 1984. He has a passion for history, culture and the spiritual process. Martin Goulding
I am desirous to climb the heights of Laucala [1]
That I may see thence the island of Naitaumba,
Floating apparently like a canoe on the Bright water.

Author unknown
from Transactions of the Ninth International
Congress of Orientalists, 1893
Naitauba is pronounced “Ny-tum-ba”. It has been spelled in various ways in the past, including: Naitaba, Naitaumba, Naitamba, Neita-oumba [2].
The island is part of the Northern Lau Group of the Fijian Islands. It is a volcanic and raised limestone island, with a high point (named Padavara Loka by Adi Da) of 186 metres (610 feet) [3]. It was recently estimated to be 2000 acres (just over three square miles) in size.

Naitauba is almost completely enclosed by reef (see the high altitude photograph, left). Certain sections of ocean within the reef are kept as a marine park, restricting fishing and hunting. The island has both cultivated areas and virgin forest.

Padavara Loka
Padavara Loka, the highest point on Naitauba
viewed from The Outshining Brightness

Lau Group of Fijian islands
the Lau Group of Fijian islands

Early History 

Not much information is available about the history of Naitauba prior to the European settlement of Fiji’s Lau Archipelago. (The British explorer James Cook reached Vatoa Island in 1774.)
Some commentators are of the opinion that fresh water would have been an issue on such islands (which have no “above ground” water) and would have prevented a permanent settlement by Fijians.
Nonetheless, when Captain William Bligh (infamously associated with “the Mutiny on the Bounty”) and eighteen of his crew sailed past Naitauba in 1789 (in a small launch, in which they had been set adrift from the Bounty by their mutinous crewmates), it is recorded that they steered West to pass close to Naitauba, where they saw natives on the beach with spears in their hands.

They didn’t stop, because they had no weapons to defend themselves.

Captain Bligh and his men 
Captain Bligh and those eighteen men who remained loyal
to Bligh being set adrift by the mutineers on the Bounty
Captain Bligh and his men
Bligh’s 47 day voyage after being set adrift: from Tonga to East Timor, passing Naitauba

William Hennings (1862-1877) 

The first reliable record of a European owner of Naituaba was of William Hennings, the German Consul to Fiji [13], and at times, a successful copra trader.[5] Hennings also was married to Adi Mere Tuisalalaa, a Fijian woman of title. Several Fijian islands — including Mago and Naitauba — were sold to Hennings by Tui Cakau in 1862.[11] (Tui” is Fijian for “Chief”. “Tui Cakau” is a title for whomever is currently the Paramount Chief of Cakaudrove Province in Fiji.[12])

Walter and Herbert Chamberlain (1877-1899) 

The brothers Walter and Herbert Chamberlain, uncles of Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, and a pair of British adventurers and entrepreneurs, bought the island of Naitauba from Hennings in 1877, for £7,250. In 1899, they sold it back to Hennings at a loss (£4,000), after deeming it an unprofitable enterprise.

From diary notes recorded during a visit to Naitauba by the brothers in 1881:

Cleared much Jungle, planted many thousands of cocoanuts and 300 ac. of South Sea cotton, the proceeds about paying the costs. Then, as the government regulations enormously increased the expenses of labour and we deemed it hopeless as a paying proposition under vicarious management, we sold it in July 1899. [4]

The Hennings Family (1899-1965) 

William Henning’s son, Ratu Gustavus Mara Hennings (the Fijian “Ratu” title goes back to his link to Fijian royalty on his mother’s side), took over from him, and continued to develop Naitauba as a plantation.
The Hennings ran a cotton farm on Naitauba. Under their stewardship, Naitauba became mainly copra producing, known for good labour relations and described as “a model plantation”.[4] (Copra is the dried meat, or kernel, of the coconut. Coconut oil is traditionally extracted by grating or grinding copra, then boiling it in water.)

Raymond Burr (1965-1983)

Raymond BurrThe well-known television actor, Raymond Burr, and his long time partner Robert Benevides, bought Naitauba from Elizabeth Hennings (wife of Ratu Gustavus Mara Hennings, who had died in 1955) [6]. The pair further developed the plantation, including building many wooden structures and introducing cattle. Burr had a great passion for orchids and grew many varieties on the island.
Burr was a noted philanthropist and helped the Fijian residents on Naitauba, providing employment and (among other things) sponsoring several Island children to be educated in the United States. Burr himself always referred to the island as “Naitamba”. His biographer noted, “All religions are respected with dignity on Naitamba” [7].

Adidam (1983 – present)

Adi Da Samraj
Adi Da first setting foot on Naitauba, October 27, 1983

Adi Da had specifically been looking for a place where He could do His Spiritual work with devotees and with the world, that was completely set apart from the ordinary world and its non-spiritual preoccupations. In 1983, Naitauba was acquired for Adidam [8], primarily financed by one patron devotee. Adi Da landed by seaplane, and first set foot on Naitauba on October 27, 1983. The next day, He spoke about the island in Spiritual terms:

Naitauba is not just a piece of land. It is a Divine Place. That is how it will be for as long as the sun shines and rises and sets and the grass grows and the wind blows. Forever — as ever as there can be in this world. Maybe it will become a paradise through Spiritual sacrifice. And, all during that epoch, this Place should be a Sanctuary of Blessing. Over time, then, millions of people — literally, millions of people — should come to this Place and be Blessed. They should come and acknowledge, affirm, and see My Revelation magnified. This place is so great, so great. Civilization has never interfered with it. It is untouched. The water is blue. The fish are happy. Untouched, really untouched. Pristine from the beginning of the world — this place. It has been waiting here since the beginning of time.

Avatar Adi Da Samraj, October 28, 1983

from Carolyn Lee, Adi Da, The Promised God-Man Is Here

Under the custodianship of Adi Da Samraj, Naitauba was slowly transformed into a Hermitage Ashram (formally named “Adi Da Samrajashram”), with some similarities to the Indian model, yet uniquely reflecting the emerging Transcendental Spiritual Way of Adidam. (For more about the Hermitages and Sanctuaries of Adidam, click here.) Adi Da has created many Spiritually potent holy sites on Naitauba. Emphasis for devotees living on Naitauba is on a disciplined and happy life of devotion, service, and meditative practice.
The conservation of the island flora, fauna, and reef was a priority from the beginning of Adidam’s acquisition of the island. A report into the health of the reef (named “The Garland of Whales” by Adi Da) was undertaken in 1986 [9]. The necessity of supplying food to the residents of the island in a self-sufficient manner moved the plantation model into that of an organic farm. (Click here for much more.) In the late 1980’s, Bill Mollison, one of the founders of permaculture [10], was invited to Naituaba to research and advise Adidam on the development of this practice. A constant weed eradication program continues. Many thousand of the coconut trees have been removed as they become unclimbable (and therefore unusable) and a hazard to human beings. Similarly, all cattle were removed and gifted to local island communities.
Naitauba garden
the organic garden where many of Naitauba’s vegetables are grown
(click picture for enlargement)
Cooperative association between devotees and the indigenous residents of the Fijian village of Ciqomi (thing-GO-mee) on Naitauba was an imperative from the beginning. Finiasi Cakacaka, a Fijian resident of Naitauba while Raymond Burr still owned Naitauba, who continues to be a resident of Naitauba right up to the present, reminisced, on the first anniversary of Adi Da’s Divine Mahasamadhi (November 28, 2009): 
Finiasi Cakacaka
Finiasi Cakacaka

We liked Raymond Burr very much, because he brought new things to the island. He brought the movies . . . Before, we had never watched movies! When Raymond Burr came, the [movie] screen was on the ground in the [village] square. So we sat on the ground and watched the movies.

Raymond Burr came to us one day, and he told us, “I’m going to sell this island, Naitauba.” He told us, “A lot of buyers came to me, who want to buy the island. One Australian millionaire brought the money with him to buy Naitauba. But I said, no.”

“I’m only going to sell this island to people who will help you [the Fijian residents].”

And so it was on the understanding by Raymond Burr that Adi Da was a holy man, who had great respect for the Fijian people, and who would care for the residents of Ciqomi as Burr himself had, that Burr finally gave his consent to sell Naitauba to Adidam.
On December 30, 1983, the residents of Ciqomi invited Avatar Adi Da to a celebration in His honor, held in Ciqomi. Several days before the celebration, two of the elders of the Fijian village had come to make a traditional offering of kava to Avatar Adi Da, approaching Him in the traditional manner, and inviting Him to Bless their village with His Presence. They addressed Him, in Fijian, as “Dau Loloma” (meaning “The Adept of Love”), recognizing Him as a holy man.
Even though the village of Ciqomi is completely independent of Adidam, over the years, many Ciqomi residents have worked for Adidam on projects from new building infrastructure to developing the extensive gardens. For its part, Adidam supports Ciqomi village in many ways, including employment, school scholarships, health clinic service, transport, water supply and sanitation.

Adi Da, devotees, and Fijian residents regularly held
celebrations together during Adi Da’s lifetime

* * *
Naitauba remains a place of pilgrimage and spiritual retreat for devotees of Adi Da Samraj. It continues solely on the sponsorship of members and friends of Adidam, as a place of personal and spiritual sacrifice. The intention of all devotees of Adi Da is to protect and preserve this Island Sanctuary as an esoteric and conservation treasure of humanity, in perpetuity.

Beach near Aham Da Asmi Sthan
(click for enlargement)

Laucala is a small island off of the island of Taveuni, near Naitauba.
Geody reference for Naitauba.
Arthur L. Dahl, Review of the protected areas system in Oceania, International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources, 1986.
Philip Snow, The years of hope: Cambridge, colonial administration in the South Seas and Cricket, I. B. Tauris, 1997.
Donald Denoon, Malama Meleisea, Stewart Firth, Jocelyn Linnekin, Karen Nero, The Cambridge History of the Pacific Islanders, Cambridge University Press, March 2004.
Ona L. Hill, Raymond Burr: A Film, Radio and Television Biography, McFarland, 1999.
Adi Da Himself was a legal renunciate who owned no property; all the sanctuaries of Adidam are held in a trust (The Avataric Samrajya of Adidam Pty Ltd) for the sake of all present and future practitioners of the Way of Adidam.
J. E. Brodie and G. D. Brodie, The state of the Naitauba Island fringing reef, Institute of Applied Science, Suva, Fiji, 1987.
About Bill Mollison, Tagari Publications.
R. Gerard Ward, Land Use on Mago, Fiji: 1865 – 1882, the Journal of Pacific History, Vol. 37, No. 1, 2002.
Entry on Tui Cakau, Non European Royalty Website.
Sir Bernard Burke, A genealogical and heraldic history of the colonial gentry (London, U.K.: Heraldry Today, 1970), volume II, page 673.  

Thank you for your work Martin.  Beautiful post.  sarah


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