Throughout Fiji, Kadavu is respected as a province where cultural practices and traditional lifestyles are still proudly maintained. For many visitors to Kadavu, encounters with this unique, vibrant culture is a highlight of their trip. Tourism Kadavu’s accommodation and activity providers all arrange opportunities for their guests to interact with the local communities.
These authentic cultural experiences can include village- and school-visits, overnight home-stays, performances of songs and dances, and culinary experiences highlighting local ingredients and cooking techniques. Visitors may be invited to participate in the ancient sevusevu ritual of welcome, where the mildly-narcotic drink kava is prepared and shared in a mellow bonding ceremony.
More than 2000 years have passed since the first Fijians set foot in Kadavu. Many things have changed in that time – English is widely-spoken, boats are more commonly powered by outboard motor than by sail, the use of mobile phones is widespread – but in many ways the lifestyle of the people of the Kadavu archipelago is very similar to that of past generations.
Most of the population (around 10,000 people) live in small villages located on the coast. Most live lives of ‘abundant subsistence’, fishing, gardening and gathering wild-foods.
The region enjoys a relatively high rainfall compared with other parts of Fiji. This combined with fertile soil and the tropical climate creates ideal growing conditions for a wide variety of fruits and vegetables. The surrounding lagoons are an important source of fresh seafood including fish, crabs, mussels and edible seaweeds. Wild-foods also include fresh-water prawns and watercress from the streams, ferns and nuts from the forest and of course the ubiquitous coconut, an ingredient in many Kadavu dishes.
The Kadavu dialect is very similar to the Fijian language used throughout the nation, but with it’s own special words and expressions.
Kadavu Province is one of fourteen provinces in Fiji, and is divided into nine tikina, districts. Each tikina has it’s own paramount chief, and paramount village. The villages themselves are comprised of mataqali, clans. Each mataqali has a traditional role as either priests, chiefs, messengers, builders, warriors, fishers or servants. While today these roles are now mostly symbolic, the chiefly system is still the primary system of governance at a village level. Fiji’s government through the Kadavu provincial administration office works in tandem with the chiefly system to provide services to the villages.
To learn how and where to experience traditional culture in Kadavu contact your accommodation or activity provider.