Nukuloa’s Water Supply – Devi K. Lockwood

13_Gau, the view from above

For the last year and three months I have been traveling in the USA, Fiji, Tuvalu, New Zealand, and Australia, mostly by bicycle and by boat, to collect 1,001 stories from people I meet about water and/or climate change. When people are comfortable with it, I make an audio recording of their story. The plan down the line is to make a map on a website where you can click on a point and listen to a story that someone has told me from that place. To date I have recorded 442 stories. I stopped flying to reduce my environmental footprint and am currently based in New Zealand to write a book proposal.

1_One of the few fishing boats. Fish caught on the inner and outer coral reefs are a main source of food for the villagers

I spent October – December 2014 in Fiji and during that time visited the village of Nukuloa on the island of Gau. Nukuloa is renowned for its cool, pure water supply that flows out from beneath the hillside. A woman I met in Nadi, the capital city, insisted that I visit her family in Gau to experience the water for myself. A week later I took a three-hour motorboat ride across the open ocean to arrive at the small, lush, hilly island to the east of Viti Levu.

5_A Nukuloa sunset

3_The village and the hill that the cool water comes from

6_Clothes hanging to dry between two homes in Nukuloa

The word “Nukuloa” translates literally to “black sand.” The water is so fresh in Nukuloa that, legend has it, ancestors of this village stole their water from another island. While being chased by the other islanders, the ancestors threw the water at Gau, forming the river that runs along the top of the island like a thin blue braid. The water is a source of pride for those who live there.

12_Water joy

Two pathways lead up the hillside from the Nukuloa: one to the spring, which is a sacred site; the second leads to a cool waterfall, a favourite afternoon swimming spot for the village children. I had to get permission from village elder Natanieli Seru to visit the spring. While there, he told me this story.

11_The cardboard sign I wear to collect stories -- Eleni wanted to try it on

Years ago, villagers had the opportunity to invite a water company into Nukuloa to bottle and sell their water for a profit. The elders voted against it, believing that the water would be a more valuable asset if kept for their village rather than shipped out to the rest of the world.

Devi K. Lockwood is a poet / touring cyclist / storyteller currently traveling the world by bicycle and by boat to collect 1,001 stories from people she meets about water and/or climate change. www.devi-lockwood.com