Totoya is a volcanic island in the Moala subgroup of Fiji's Lau archipelago. It occupies an area of 28 square kilometers, making it the smallest of the Moalas. Its maximum altitude is 366 meters. The main economic activity is coconut farming. Totoya falls under the provincial administration of the Lau group.
The island is an inverted horseshoe well protected by high reef. There are a number of boat passage through the surrounding reef, with the most famous being "Daveta Tabu". If one ones to pass through this passage one has to follow protocol by observing all the Taboos like making noises, yelling, wearing a hat or even smoking. One has to go through in total silence. Failing to observe the taboo reaction from the sea passage would follow.
There are three waves that would rise out of nowhere to punish the intruder. The first a low one serves as a warning to stop the taboo, the second a bigger wave then the first serves as a last warning with the last the biggest of the three comes in with sand and rocks from the ocean depth to bury the intruder into the sea depths. It still works today as when it was first sanctioned by Kubuavanua when he left Verata. Legend goes that when he saw Totoya from afar off he says that it is Totoka meaning beautiful. He sailed through this very passage and bestowed the Taboo on it saying, I am the first chief to sail through here and anyone that comes after must follow protocol on those things that he proclaimed taboo.
This passage leads in to the beautiful deep bay that is surrounded by the horseshoe shaped island. The island's unspoiled, untouched white sandy beaches are comparable with any in Fiji or the world. Its surfing is world-renowned, but the difficulty in reaching the island keeps most away. The island has a well-placed jetty, 4 primary schools, not including Vanuavatu, which has its own, a Post office/shop, and radio station at Ketei and Dravuwalu. It is accessible with satellite phone, but not mobile phone.
The island has 4 villages with Tovu the capital and seat of the Turaga na Roko Sau whose household site is known as Mataiilakeba meaning first in Lakeba or Eyes of Lakeba, Ketei is the seat of Tui Keteni traditionally known as Ramalo, Dravuwalu the seat of Tui Dravuwalu traditionally known as Nakorowaiwai and Udu the seat of Tui Udu traditionally known as Muaicokalau. The island of Vanuavatu, although closer to Lakeba than Totoya is the fifth village and is the seat of Tui Vanua.
The island of Vanuavatu traditionally is not an independent Island that is obliged in servitude to the chiefly islands of Totoya within the "Yasayasa Moala" group. The agreement was in place from our forefathers Ravuravu when he gave back the supreme power of the ownership of land and its people to the forefather of the Roko Sau of Totoya after he made his decision to take Vanuavatu as his island during those ancient days. Traditionally the high chief of the Totoya is the most respected chief of Vanuavatu island in which he is the only chief that has the rights and power to installed the recognised chief of Vanuavatu until now.The Vanuavatu clan traditionally address the elders of Vanuavatu as "Matua i Valelevu", which is symbolic of historic respectation of our forefathers ties and agreements.
The chiefly village of Tovu (Dawaleka) was shifted from its former site at the opposite side of the island (Navuli) in the 1800 through traditional request from Ramalo and other island chiefs to ease their undertaking of traditional obligations to the Roko Sau.
One episode that shows the link between Lakeba and Totoya was the arrival of Christianity. The Tui Nayau at that time sent his wife and herald to Dawaleka. The Bete was performing his ritual when he envisaged the canoe coming in through the boat passage at Yaro and he proclaimed, I will stop here as the one coming in white is shining and much stronger than me. He disrobed and came down to shore with the villagers to greet the group from Lakeba.
The island is very rich in marine resources and one could have a field day out at sea. One famous delicacy is Lairo or land crads which is plentiful all year around. Giant sea clam, sea weeds and just about any variety of fish can be caught through fishing line, spearing, fishing net or underwater diving.
The soil, although not very fertile, is good for subsistence farming. Cassava, sweet potato, and yams grow well in the island, with dalo being planted in waterlogged well drained areas. The island has its fair share of wildlife, too. This includes pigs, dogs, cats, bats, birds, and reptiles, including snakes.
Prominent people from Totoya
Famous people of Totoya include:
- Mataika Tuicakau, who made Fiji world famous by winning the shotput gold medal in the 1958 Empire (Commonwealth) Games in Auckland. He also won the silver medal in the discus/javelin event.
- Enele Malele, who was the former Fiji rugby rep and captain.
- Takayawa family who are known for sporting attributes Viliame Takayawa Snr was the father of judo in Fiji. Eldest son Viliame Waka Takayawa, a sport administrator and scientist, younger brother Nacanieli Takayawa, who won the Manchester's Commonwealth Games gold medal in judo.
- Aisea Taoka, who was the Deputy Commissioner of Police before becoming the Commissioner of prisons.
- Captain Nacanieli Saumi, who was an Air Pacific pilot.
- Josateki Savou, who was a former Fiji sevens failure and failed coach.
- Viliame Waka, who was a former school teacher, airport administrator, and Fiji rugby rep.
- There were also Drs Jiko and two brothers Dr Salesi and Dr Jioji Savou (the latter a Physician and Dentist) from Ketei.
- Trevor Savou, who was a former Manawatu and New Zealand Rugby Sevens player.