National Geographic : 1968 Oct
EKTACHROME BY CHARLESALLMON(E N.G .S . The easy way aboard ship-a lunch of bread and salami. Eating became a matter of necessity, rarely a pleasure. Off New Guinea, Robin logged: "Last night I fixed a real nice dinner of potatoes and cabbage and canned roast beef. That was a real feed. But it's no fun eating good food like that when you're by yourself. I could have had a sandwich and I'd have felt just the same." Few people live on these islands. Villages are tiny-little more than fishermen's rests. I spent as much time looking downward as out and around. Glass-clear waters were win dows on the world of clean white sands, multicolored fishes, scurrying crabs, and swaying coral fronds. I dived for little round shells with markings like cats' eyes. Steamed, the tender meat they contained was delicious. Tongans Give Robin a Salty Name At Nuku'alofa, in the Tongatapu Group, I met a local chief, Kalaniuvalu, who bestowed on me my second native name-Kai Vai, which means "eat water." "In the old days," he told me, "certain men had the honor of sitting in the bows of our war canoes to protect the king from spray. Such a man had the title Kai Vai." I stayed in Nuku'alofa until mid-June to witness a rare Tongan ceremony. This was the laying of the black stones, or kilikili, on the grave of the late Queen Salote Tupou III, who ruled Tonga for 47 years. The ceremony took place on June 15, 1966, six months to the day after her death and a little more than a 466 year before the new king would be crowned.* To attend the ritual at the queen's grave in the palace grounds in Nuku'alofa, I donned a mourning costume of all-black shirt and lava-lava (page 459). Each person present wore a ta'ovala, a woven mat bound tightly around the waist. A group of men positioned themselves be side the queen's grave, sitting on fine pan danus mats overlaid with superb tapa cloths. The mats and tapas were casualties of the occasion as the men poured coconut oil over thousands of smooth-worn black stones which lay piled on the cloth. These symbolic volcanic stones had been gathered on the island of Tofua, 100 miles away. They were laid one by one, carefully and deliberately, on the queen's grave. Three days would pass before they all were placed to mark and protect the grave forever. While sailing through the Vava'u Group in northern Tonga, I had hailed the round-the world yacht Kelea, from Vancouver. Now at Nuku'alofa other circumnavigating boats *See "South Seas' Tonga Hails a King," by Melville Bell Grosvenor, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC, March, 1968.