The President of the Vaturisu Council of Chiefs, Chief Henry Manlaewia of Paunagisu Village on North Efate, has called on all chiefs of Mainland Efate to return to their original nasaras on inland Efate, or appoint their people to move into these empty plots of land to occupy them as soon as possible.
Chief Manlaewia made the call at the launching of the 13th Vaturisu Conference at Piliura Village on Pele Island last Sunday.
He said while the Conference has important issues on its agenda to deal with, one of the challenges faced by chiefs of villages on Mainland Efate is that a constant influx of new arrivals from other Provinces is taking place both day and night on Efate.
Where exactly do these people settle?
That is the current question facing the Vaturisu Executive to deal with which is why Chief Manlaewia is pleading with current custom chiefs to think seriously about moving back to their original nasaras, which their forefathers were ordered by the early missionaries, to vacate to move to the coast with the argument that their villages were infested with mosquitoes which threatened their health.
While that might be the case, the main reason to create new villages along the coast was to preach the Good News to what the missionaries referred to as “the heathen”.
The truth was that along the way the missionaries recognised the bright students and selected them to become local ‘chiefs and misi’ to assist with missionary work.
However they did more damage than good to the chiefly system of Efate by appointing “new chiefs” while ignoring the chiefly blood line title holders, which gradually spilled over to give rise to the current chiefly bloodline disputes.
While those foreign missionaries must be congratulated for spreading Christianity throughout the country which in the process wiped out cannibalism and polygamy, on the other hand they contributed towards the chiefly title disputes which continue today.
Meanwhile Chief Manlaewia has appealed to all chiefs of chiefly bloodline, to hold on to their chiefly titles and continue with their chiefly duties.
One of those duties is to move back to claim their nasaras on inland Efate.
His concern is that when a plot of land is empty, it could invite illegal settlers from other islands to help themselves to the empty spaces.
When you take off on a plane or helicopter across Efate, you’d be amazed at the green and beautiful seemingly empty rolling hills and valleys across the island.
The truth is that there is no guarantee that there are no shelters with people in them under the green foliage.