A Brief History of Taveuni
Unlike in much of the country, the majority of Taveuni's original settlers came from Polynesia, with traces of the Polynesian language stronger in the island's dialects than elsewhere in Fiji. Taveuni warriors were regarded within the South Pacific as being among the region's fiercest. In the 1860s, natives turned back thousands of invading Tongans just off the coast. The tide-turning victory came after the Tongans had conquered much of Fiji, and the natives celebrated by eating their enemies with breadfruit. A 350-meter-long cave formed by a lava tube was used, it's believed, to bury the island's greatest warriors, thereby hiding their bodies from the enemy. The cave, excavated in the 1950s, is now on private property.
In the mid-1800s European settlers realized the great potential in Taveuni's fertile soil and established cotton, sugar, and coconut plantations as well as farms growing pineapples, bananas, and other fruits. A plantation founded by an Englishman in 1871 at the island's southern tip is run to this day by his descendants, who use their acres of palm trees to harvest copra, the key ingredient in coconut oil.
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