WHEN God looked down from heaven after he created the earth, he gave a satisfying nod of accomplishment over one island in particular which was the masterpiece of his creation and his gift to the earth.
Throughout the ages, successive empires emerged to rule the earth, imposing their subjects to serve their gods whom they believed represents the forces of creation and their energy must be carefully handled by priests.
But, as the pagan pantheons discerned the ferocious sacrileges of the human race, for their own reasons, they obscured the island from the mortals.
Exaggerated tales of a mysterious island where wishes can come true, where you can live side by side with the amazons, where satyrs are at your command, where you are privileged to chat with nymphs was so irresistible that it has been the whisper of all adventurous sailors from the Aegean Sea down to the Pacific Ocean.
Countless quests to ascertain the whereabouts of the island proved futile so the island was long given up for a myth and seldom referred to as the enchanted island.
Twenty-five generations ago, our revered ancestors of Tongan descent from Wallis and Futuna were led by their deities to the enchanted island through an inspired dream.
They sailed by many beautiful islands, even risked landing on a hostile few with excuses to replenish their supplies but actually, to spy on the layout of the island whether it matches the particulars of that dream. When they discovered Rennell (Mugava), the deities thwarted the mission but our renowned ancestor (Kait’u), with very strong convictions, did came back to the dream land and conquered the island from the demi-god inhabitants (hiti) so that we can have a place called home.
Oblivious to him (Kaitu’u) down to the colonial era, the mystery of the island has remained intact and jealously guarded by its formidable coasts and its rugged landscape to dishearten intruders from exploring its priceless resources.
Its isolation is also another compliment that has even discouraged the colonisers from giving it a second thought, only labelling the strait as “an uneconomical route”.
Most of these overstated assumptions are meant to incite the curiosity of whoever is out there to take a closer look at the island which hosts the only World heritage site (WHS) in the country but has frequently made headlines not for its prestigious world heritage status but for its sneaky logging and mining activities.
Our unfortunate circumstances has forced some local residents to give in to the whims of the reckless oriental syndicates who has been closely eyeing the latent resources of the legendary island from afar and obviously will bend the rules to rob it and that is exactly what they are doing now while the residents of the far off World Heritage region of Lake Tegano are watching with stupefied silence, taking into consideration its inevitable spilt over effects.
I appreciate the efforts of many others from West Rennell who are trying all they can to stand up to these oriental syndicates. It left me with this simple question.
If the government with its unlimited financial resources and others up there with conflict of interest could not adhere to their vowed obligations, what hope do we have to stay up in front of those spending millions?
When the Bintang Borneo mining company conducted their consultation meetings around West Rennell prior to” the rise of the machines”, their appealing memo was, “your arable land will never yield much because there’s too much Bauxite in it. You need to get rid of the Bauxite”, and because of that, the landowners enthusiastically opened up their doors and let them in.
Instead of extracting the Bauxite, they removed the soil. Several consignments of the precious soil (ore) has been shipped abroad to be smelted in foreign forges.
After they’ve extracted the Bauxite and the other listed bio- products, do you think they will return whatever remains of the soil and dump them where they exhumed them? Go and see the excavated sites yourselves and tell me, what can you plant in there? Can you plant crops on rocks?
It is also rumoured that negotiations is going on between a third party to a pending mining company and certain elders from Lake Tegano to pump water from the lake to west Rennell.
That’s a very healthy initiative and if the rumour is true, I’m in for it but it’s not the third party who should do the negotiation. For the initial phase, yes!
But given the green light, the third party should stay out of this and concentrate on the other aspects of their operation while the investors deal directly with the LTWHSC (Lake Tegano world heritage site committee) which is the only certified body that governs the wellbeing of East Rennell.
We have a constitution and all agreements must be in our own terms and documented. Take it or drop, we have nothing to loose and money is not everything.
To the travelling public, if you are looking for a place where you can get yourself carried away by its hypnotising beauty, you don’t have to look very far.
Lake Tegano is all there is to make you get in touch with nature.
It’s also an ideal spot for holiday makers, adventurers, sightseers, cliff hangers, hikers, smugglers, opportunists etc. Or if you want to put yourself together, don’t think twice. If you’re in a plane and approaching Tigoa airport, you might strain your neck to chance a glimpse of the glittering lake Tegano in the fading horizon before touch down.
Taking a smooth ride from Tigoa to Lavagu is not what you expect from Lavagu to the lake.
At Lavagu, you need to make up your mind whether you abort the mission or pursue the dangers in beauty. If you decide to give it ago, all you need to do is brace yourself for that dangerous drive.
Once you overcome the last mountainous obstacles and plunge into the wilds, you will come to believe the truth that becomes a legend and why the region was listed as one of the 12 hardest to reach World Heritage sites in the World.
It is also the only natural world heritage site in the whole pacific and the site was listed without being nominated by the third party responsible as required.
On arrival, I won’t be surprised if you are shocked by the breathtaking beauty of the lake that can sometimes deceive the eyes.
In its serenity the lake can be taken as an ocean of its own and can sometimes duplicate the North Atlantic.
I will conclude this in my next edition should I live long enough so stay around.
By D.S. NGAIMONO