Volume 83 1974 > Volume 83, No. 3 > A drift voyage from Futuna to Cikobia, by Bruce Biggs, p 361-365
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SHORTER COMMUNICATIONS A DRIFT VOYAGE FROM FUTUNA TO CIKOBIA

The Fiji Times for April 11, 1972 reported the experience of a man and a youth who were swept away from Futuna in an open boat and reached Cikobia, the northernmost island of the Fiji group, eight days later. During recent field work in Futuna 1 I talked with the man, Sōsefo Vanai, intending to ask him to recount his experiences on my tape recorder. It turned out that he had written down his impressions of the voyage and of the treatment he and his companion Pēato Lakina had received in Fiji, especially in Cikobia where the people apparently share with Futunans the belief that there are strong traditional links between the two islands. This is perfectly plausible since they are only about 180 miles apart, and the present account makes it clear that contact must have occurred, perhaps quite frequently, in the past.

This account is a literal translation of a transcription from Sōsefo's reading of his own manuscript. The Futunan text is appended. I have added glottal stops and indications of long vowels, neither of which are normally written by Futunans. The language is interesting in that it is one of only five languages to have retained the proto-Polynesian glottal stop, the other four being Tongan, Easter Island, Rennellese and East Uvean (Wallis Island) No other texts indicating glottal stop and vowel length have been published in Futunan.

LO MĀ TAFEA MEI FUTUNA KI TIKOPIA OUR DRIFT FROM FUTUNA TO CIKOBIA
Sōsefo Vanai Sōsefo Vanai
1. 'I le 'aso kau lua tupu tolu o Malesio, 'i le 'afe kau le lau e iva kau fitu tupu lua na soko ai le tu'utāmaki ki a māua, koia loa e tonu ke fai mu'a e māua se gā fakamatala ki le tupu'aga o lo ma tafea. 'I le felia lima, ola ono 'usu, 'aso kau lua tupu tolu o Malesio na kakau māua mo Pēato e Patita ke ano māua ki Sagole, o 'au mai le paopao na tau i ai, o 'au mai ki Faletoa ke pena mo 1. On the twenty-third of March 1972 misfortune befell us. It is appropriate for me to explain the circumstances of our being swept away. On Thursday, at 6 o'clock in the morning on March twenty-third we two were sent by Patita to Sagole to fetch the small boat that lay there, and bring it to Fale-toa to paint it
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teuteu'i ona ne'a māta'u. Ti na ano māua o fai fuli a ne'a na faka'ilo'ilo mai e Patita, ti na fakama'uli le masini, o 'au māua 'i tai, ti fokifā, kua mate le masini. Ti na to'o e au le taula fatu o māua, o tuku ki lalo. Ka e fa'u e Pēato le masini. Ti ma'uli ti pati mai a ia ke toso e au ke vave le taula na ku mālie le masini. and prepare it for fishing. Then we went and did all the things that Patita explained to us, and the engine started, and we put out to sea, when suddenly the engine died, so I took the anchor and let it down, and Pēato wound the motor. It started and he told me to pull up the anchor quickly because the motor was all right.
2. 'Oki ake le taula ki 'aluga ti toe mate le masini, ti pati mai a Pēato ke tuku ai fa'i le taula i 'aluga, ka e nofo māua tokalua māua o fa'u le masini. E se koi tokaga māua ki paopao, ti e lē'ai se kau 'amanaki e tafea māua. E 'amanaki fa'i au e toe ma'uli le masini. Ti tu'u au o tio ki 'uta, kua puli le 'one, ti pati au ki a Pēato, “'Aloa, ko tāua ku tafea!” Talie kua tio au ki le matagi ku lalasi ai, fakatasi mo le tafe. Ti ku kau 'aga o 'iloa ku faigata'a ai, talie ko le foe e tasi na fano mo māua. 2. No sooner was the anchor up than the motor stopped again, and Pēato told me to let down the anchor and we both sat down to wind the motor. We were not familiar with European style boats, and I did not expect us to be swept away. I expected the motor to start again. Then I stood up and looked landwards. The beach was out of sight, and I said to Pēato, “Friend, we are adrift.” For I saw that the wind had strengthened, together with the current. Then I realised that things were going to be difficult because only one paddle had come with us.
3. Ti na pati a Pēato ke sopo māua ki lalo, o tule le paopao ki 'uta. Ti sopo a ia ki lalo. Ti pati atu au, “Pēato, sopo mai ki 'aluga nā kē mate!” Ti sopo ake a Pēato ki 'aluga. Ko le tēmi lēnā e lē'ai se koi ma'ua se pule'aki, ti ku kau 'amanaki loa ko māua ku tafea. 3. Then Pēato said we should jump overboard and turn the boat towards the shore, and he jumped down. Then I said: “Pēato, jump back on to the boat, lest you die.” And he jumped up on to the boat. From that time we had no control (over the boat) and I finally accepted that we were being swept away.
4. Ti ko le ne'a mamae na tali e māua ko le vevela o le la'ā mo le fiainu, ti ku kamata lulua a Pēato, ka ku faka'au loa ke galo la'ā. Ti pati au ki a Pēato, “'Aloa, kua tonu loa ke fai so tā kole.” 4. The things we suffered from were the heat of the sun, and thirst, and Pēato began to be seasick, and the sun was going down. Then I said to Pēato, “Friend, we had better pray.”
5. Na ku po'uli. Oiau, ne'a mamae kese ai na lave ki a māua ko le momoko o le po'uli, talie e susū o mā ne'a lava. Ti ko au e lē'ai se mafai kau moe i le po'uli mo le 'ao lolotoga lo mā folau. Ti 'i le ola ono afiafi o le 'aso tapu, ti kau pati ki a Pēato, “Kua tonu ke papitema lo tā vaka,” ti na kau 'aga o fakaigoa ko Malia Asopesio. “Ti kua tonu loa ko tā folau 'i le 'aso nei, o fakalogo ki le Kapiteni, ko Malia, pē ko fea se fenua e tau ki ai le folau.” 5. Then it was dark, and, alas, we suffered from the cold of the night, because our clothes were wet. For myself I was unable to sleep either by day or night during the whole voyage. At six o'clock on Sunday evening I said to Pēato, “We should baptise our boat, and so I named it Mary of the Acception. From that day we sailed straight on, obeying our captain, Saint Mary, as to the direction in which there was a landfall.
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6. Na kau pati ki a Pēato, “'Ui o mā kofu o lava ki ai, ka e to'o o mā kie lava o fai e au lo mā lā. Ka ku kamata tu'u mai le matagi fakatasi mo le'ua ti toe veli ai mo le moana, ka ku kamata folau lo mā vaka i lo mā gā lā. Mei le ola tasi, o kaku ki le ola ono afiafi, ti na kau 'aga o 'u'utu le vai na sū ai le vaka ki le ne'a tuku'aga penisini mō o mā inu. 6. I said to Pēato, “Let us take our shirts off and wrap them round us, and use our lavalavas for me to make a sail.” The wind increased and it rained, and the sea remained rough, but our boat began to sail on with our little sail. From one o'clock to six in the evening I scooped the water that had drenched our boat into the petrol container so that we would have drink.
7. Ti le lolotoga o le po'uli ku lalasi ai le 'ua, ti kua sopo foki mo le galu ki le loto, o tupu ai le kona o le vai, ti tio au kua lasi le vai'i le loto paopao, ka lē'ai sona ne'a 'asu. Koia loa na to'o e au le ne'a 'utu o le vai, o liligi ki tafa, ka e 'u'utu e au le vai 'i le loto paopao ti tautau ligi ki tafa, talie kua vave goto le paopao 'i le vai, talie e fakatasi le 'ua mo le tai na sopo ki le loto vaka. 7. During the night the rain was heavy, and with the splashing of the waves into the boat the water in it became salt. I saw that there was much water in the boat and we had no bailer. Then I took the thing into which I had put the water and poured it out, and bailed water from the boat over the side, because our craft was sinking rapidly, what with the rain and the splashing of the sea on board.
8. Ti na sā foki 'i le pō a ia a ika lalasi ai e tolu. E kau masalo ki lona loa i laku tio e fē'ala ki meta fitu, talie ko le vaka na mā folau ai e meta ono, ka e to'eto'e a ia 'i ika. Koia loa na kau 'amanaki ai e soko se tu'utāmaki ki a māua, talie e puli lātou 'i le 'ao, ka e sā mai 'i le po'uli, o kaku ki le motu ti o puli. 8. Then suddenly in the night three big fish appeared. I think they were about seven metres long, because the boat we were voyaging in was six metres, and it was shorter than the fish. At that time I expected disaster to overtake us because the fish disappeared during the day, but appeared at night, until we reached the island when they disappeared.
9. Oiau, ne'a mamae kese na tali e māua lolotoga 'aso e valu mo po e fitu na mā folau ai 'i le moana. Ko le fiainu mo le fiakai, ti mo le vevela o le la'ā, mo le momoko o le po'uli. 'I le felia lima 'usu, 'aso kau tolu ola ono, 'oki la mā kole 'i le 'usu, ti tio au, kua kite le fenua. Oiau, ne'a fakafiafia lasi ki a māua talie ku mā 'aga o 'iloa, ku 'alofa a Malia mo Sagato Pētelō Sanele. Saofaki māua! 9. The different things that we suffered from during the eight days and seven nights that we drifted were thirst, hunger, the heat of the sun, and the cold of the nights. On Thursday morning, the thirtieth, we had finished our morning prayers when I looked and saw land. This was a great joy to us because we now knew that Saint Mary and Saint Peter Chanel 1 had taken pity on us, and we were saved.
10. Ti ko 'aso e valu mo pō e fitu na mā folau ai 'i lo mā gā lā, na sa'ele tokotasi fa'i le vaka, lē'ai setasi na 'aga o foe, ka e sakinake fa'i e iai setasi na 'aga o foe a le vaka. Ti na 10. Now for the eight days and seven nights that we voyaged with our scrap of sail the boat sailed on by itself with no one paddling, but it was as if someone else held the steering paddle, for we were enabled to reach an island, and landed there
1   Pierre Chanel, R.P. was killed on Futuna in 1841. He was canonised in 1954.
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faiga ki le motu o tau ki ai 'i le afiafi ola fā ti na tali fakafiafia māua, mo vesili mai pō ko māua e 'au mei Toga, ti ka e vesili fakapilitania mai. Siasia fa'i e kau logo 'i le pati fakapisilamā, ti na kau tali ki ai, “Lē'ai, ko māua e 'au mei Futuna.” at four o'clock in the afternoon. Then we were received joyously and questioned as to whether we had come from Tonga, the questions being in English. I understand a little pidgin English and I replied, “No, we come from Futuna.”
11. Ti na 'oso mai le fenua o siki māua mo le paopao ki le loto mala'e 'i le lasi o lo lātou fiafia 'i le logo ko le folau Futuna. Oiau, ne'a fakafiafia lasi ki a māua le 'oso mai o le kakai o le motu o sogi ki a māua, mo tagi lātou. Ti na mā manatu ki lo mā fenua, ko Futuna, o mā tagi foki 'i lo mā tio ki le 'alofa fela'aki o le fenua ki a māua. Tāfito o lo lātou 'alofa ko le fakamatala na kau fai 'uiga mo le tafea o māua mei Futuna, na 'aso e valu mo pō e fitu 'ē se ne'a kai, 'ē se ne'a inu. 11. The people rushed forward and lifted us and our boat on to the village plaza so great was their joy at hearing that this was a voyage from Futuna. We were overjoyed when the people of the island rushed forward and embraced us, and wept. We remembered our own land, Futuna, and we wept too when we witnessed the affection of these people towards us. The reason for their compassion was my recounting how we had been carried away from Futuna, and had been seven nights and eight days without food or drink.
12. Ti 'ave māua e le fakafofoga o le motu, ko le tagata Fiti fa'i. Ti na 'ave māua e le tagata ki lona fale ti mo le kakai o le motu o 'avake ki a māua a ne'a 'alofa o lātou, ti mo ne'a kai. Ti na fakatasi fuli le kolo 'i le fialogo ki le fakamatala o le tafea. Na fai e au le fakamatala ki le tagata pule 'i le pati fakapisilamā, ti o fakasoko fakafiti e ia ki le fenua. Ti na pati mai e le tagata pule ke fai'i le afiafi o lēnā le 'aso la, ola lima, le telefoni fakasā ki Suva, ti o telefoni felia ono ke fakasā ki Futuna. 12. We were taken by the head man on the island, a Fijian, to his house, and the people of the island brought to us their gifts, and food. And the whole village gathered wanting to hear an account of the drift voyage. I told the story in Pidgin English to the chief, who translated it into Fijian for the people. Then the chief said that a message would be sent to Suva at five o'clock that evening, and on Friday a telegram would be sent to Futuna.
13. Ti 'i le felia ono na fai ai le 'umu folau o māua, o ta'o mai le puaka mo le fai 'umu polapola faka-'Uvea. Ta'o 'ufi, mo talo, ti 'au mai iai mo o mā ne'a lava, ko teu faka-Fiti. 13. On Friday the “travellers' oven” was prepared and pork was cooked and other food in coconut leaf baskets, in the Uvean manner. Yams and taro were cooked and brought for us, together with lava-lavas of the Fijian kind.
14. Ti 'i le 'aso tokonaki o le Pasikate na fai ai le kai tasi fakafiafia e le tagata ki a māua, ti 'i le felia tolu 'i mu'a o le Pasikate na fakaafe māua e le kau-Futuna e nofo 'i letasi a kolo, o fai ai le fakafiafia mo le kai tasi. Mei le ola ono 'usu ki le ola lua pō'uli a le tā mako, a tagata mo fafine. Oiau, na kau tagi 'i laku tio ki le 'alofa lasi fela'aki'i o le kakai o le motu ki a māua. Ti na mā 14. Then, on Easter Saturday the people held a feast with entertainment for us, and on Tuesday before (? after) Easter we were invited by the Futuna people who live in another village, who entertained and feasted us. From six in the morning until two the following morning they danced, men and women. How I wept when I saw such kindness from the people of the island towards us.
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nofo 'i le motu 'aso a valu ti o 'ave māua ki Suva. We stayed on the island eight days and then were brought to Suva.
15. Ti na teuteu'i la mā folau e le kakai o le motu. E logo ai fa'i lo lātou mativa mo le faigata'a ia, ka ko le 'alofa o lātou e tu'u ki mu'a, ka e lē'ai se kau 'amanaki e lasi fela'aki'i so lātou 'alofa, talie e lē'ai se lotu Katolika. 15. The people of the island prepared for our departure. They are known to be needy and to have a hard life, but their generosity was to the fore, and I was unprepared for such expression of affection, for they are not Catholics.
16. Ti na 'au le vaka mei Suva o 'ave māua. Oiau, ne'a faka'alofa ko le taumāvae o mātou 'i le 'aso na mā folau ai ki Suva. Ti na 'aso e valu lo mātou nofo i le motu ti mavae māua 'i le felia lima, ola iva. Na tagi le kakai o le motu 'i lo mātou taumavae. 16. The boat came from Suva to pick us up. Our departure on the day we sailed for Suva was an emotional one. We had stayed eight days on the island and we left there on the Friday, at nine a.m. The people of the island wept when we left.
17. Ti folau māua 'i le vaka na 'au mei Suva. O folau mātou 'i le ola iva, tau ola lima ki Natuvotu o moe ai. Ti o folau 'i le ola ono 'usu, o tau afiafi ki Makogai ola lima, o pale ki 'uta o ma'anu mo inu kava 'i le kava fakaFiti, ti moe ai mātou, ti o ala 'usu 'i le ola ono o le 'aso tapu, o folau mātou, o tau ki Suva i le afiafi ola fā. 17. We sailed on the boat that had come from Suva, leaving at nine and reaching Natuvotu, where we slept, at five. Then we sailed on at six in the morning and anchored that evening at Makogai at five o'clock, and went ashore and bathed, drank Fijian kava, and slept, rising at six on Sunday morning and setting sail, arriving at Suva at four in the afternoon.
18. Ti na 'ave māua e le Kapiteni lasi o le fua vaka-Fiti i lona motokā o fakamamata i loto Suva ti o 'ave i le felia lua o tuku 'i le 'otele. Ti na soli mai e ia ki a māua a tola lima mo o mā 'eva. Ti na nake foki ki a māua le fakafofoga falani o soli ki a māua a tola e kau agafulu ti na 'ave māua o tuku 'i le 'otele o nofo 'aso fā ti o 'au le Kapiteni Ualisi mei Niumea, ti o 'ave māua ki Futuna. 18. We were taken by the Captain of the Fijian fleet in his car and shown round Suva, and on Monday we were taken to a hotel. He gave us five dollars pocket-money. Then the French consul came and gave us ten dollars and took us to a hotel where we stayed four days until the Captain Wallis arrived from Noumea and brought us to Futuna.
19. Koia loa ai loku fāmili. Tou fakafiafia ki ai ki a Malia mo Sagato Pētelō Sanele 'i le toe soli mai o loku ma'uli 'i le tu'utāmaki na tonu ke soko kiate au. Mālō! 19. My family were there. We thanked Mary and Saint Peter Chanel because my life had been preserved from the misfortunes that had overtaken me. Malo!
1   My field work in Futuna has been supported by grants from the University of Auckland Research Grants Committee, and by the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research (Grant No. 2725).