Dana is a small, uninhabited island, situated thirty kilometres south-west of Rai Jua. The rocky, south side of the island is exposed to deep ocean swells originating in the Southern Ocean, five thousand kilometres away.

Sheep and goats are to be seen on the island. However, the people of Savu and Rai Jua do not go to Dana, except for the annual ritual ceremony. According to Savunese tradition, no one is allowed to visit Dana for any other purpose. Savunese believe that when they die, their spirits reside on Dana. They also believe that it is important to respect the space of others in order to maintain harmony in life. Since Dana is considered to be the space for the spirits of their loved ones who have passed away, it is considered disrespectful for Westerners to visit the island. However, cruise ships and surf charters regularly visit Dana, without consultation with the Rai Jua elders, who are responsible for preserving the tradition.

In 1770, Captain Cook made note of the island, writing in his diary: "At four o’clock in the afternoon, we discovered a small low island, bearing S.S.W. distant three leagues, which has no place in any chart now extant, at least in none that I have been able to procure: it lies in latitude 10° 47’ S., longitude 238° 28’ W."

Dana was also called Nieuw Eiland and Hokki, the latter not known to the local people.

Copyright © 2006 Ina Tali/Francesca Von Reinhaart


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