Meli Bolobolo

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Meli Bolobolo
Tu Navitilevu (Paramount Chief of Rakiraki)
Tenure30 September 2005 to 16 February 2015 (his death)
PredecessorRatu Tevita Bolobolo

Ratu Meli Bolobolo (died 16 February 2015) was a Fijian chief[1] and academic, who lectured at the Fiji Institute of Technology.[2]


Bolobolo was installed on 30 September 2005 as the third Tu Navitilevu, or Paramount Chief of Rakiraki, in Ra Province, he succeeded his father, Ratu Tevita Bolobolo, who died in 2003. Ratu Meli Bolobolo died on 16 February 2015 and was buried beside his father, the Fiji Times reported; the title Tu Navitilevu is currently vacant, with the successor to be installed once the Yavusa Namotutu decides.

Legal case[edit]

Bolobolo's installation as Tu Navitilevu was not without controversy. Ratu Esira Nawaqalevu, a spokesman for rival claimant Osea Cawaru Naitura, said that two of the three families making up the mataqali, or tribe, had not endorsed Bolobolo, and threatened to challenge his appointment by appealing to the Native Land Commission (NLC) and, failing that, to the courts. Bolobolo maintained, however, that he had been endorsed by the 42 yavusa under the jurisdiction of the Tu Navitilevu. The chief was for the people, he said, and saw no grounds for the NLC or the courts to overturn a decision made by the people.

On 15 December 2005, the NLC ruled in Bolobolo's favour, and on 19 December, Nawaqalevu announced Naitura's intention to appeal the decision in Fiji's High Court; the NLC had based its decision on inaccurate information, the spokesman said. Naitura's line of descent was senior to Bolobolo's, and hinted that political interference had played a role in the NLC's decision to recognize Bolobolo, with Cabinet Minister Jioji Banuve (also of Rakiraki) supporting a pro-Bolobolo faction led by Rasekaiya Tanoa.

Nawaqalevu claimed that Bolobolo's grandfather and father had held the Tui Navitilevu title improperly. "How the title came to be in the hands of the younger branch of the family is a question that the NLC admits it cannot answer," he told the Fiji Sun on 19 December, by which he cast doubts on how Bolobolo came to hold the title in favor of descendants of Isikeli Sabua, who was registered as the head of the Tokatoka Vaividi during the Registration of Native Land Owners at the time that Ratu Luke Vutiqica of the Tokatoka Dakuivakadreketi held the Title of TU Navitilevu.

Documentation of ancestry[edit]

Bolobolo was a direct descendant of Naduva, the older son of Natadra. Banuve's descendants claim that Banuve gave the title to Naduva to validate their right to the title of Tu Navitilevu; according to the "Tukutuku Raraba of the Tikina of Rakiraki", Baleikanacea was the only one to mention the link to Banuve; this version of history was never substantiated by the rest of those who gave recorded evidence at the time. Ratu Luke Natavuto (Lei Matarua), one of the direct descendants of Banuve from the Matarua clan of Navolau, brought Meli Bolobolo's grandfather from SPSM to be installed as the first Tu Navitilevu, although the Fijian Landownership archives record that Ratu Luke Vutiqica was the first officially recognised Tu Navitilevu.

Ratu Luke Vutiqica was a direct descendant of Naudreudre, the last cannibal chief of Rakiraki. According to records held at the Fiji Archives, Ratu Luke Vutiqica of the i Tokatoka Dakuivakadreketi was Chief and head of the Mataqali Tuinavitilevu concurrently with Ratu Isikeli Sabua's time as head of the Tokatoka Vaividi. Tokatoka Vaividi was the only one that survived and his descendants are the rightful holder of the Title Tui Navitilevu. Ratu Meli Bolobolo was a member of the Vaividi clan which gave him a claim to the title equal to that of any other male in the Tokatoka. Records in the NLC and Archives, including studies by American anthropologist Martha Kaplan - author of "Neither Cargo Nor Cult", would substantiate this.


  1. ^ "Ratu Sakiusa to stay away". Fiji Times. December 13, 2008. Retrieved 4 August 2011.
  2. ^ Communications Fiji Limited. "Ratu Meli Bolobolo laid to rest".