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The two Polynesian islands of Rennell (Mu Nggava) and Bellona (Mu Ngiki) are raised atolls, Rennell being the largest example on earth. Rennell also has the largest freshwater lake, Te Nggano, in the Pacific, a unique habitat for many endemic bird species and nominated site for World Heritage status. Legend goes that the two islands were settled from a single canoe of voyagers from the island of Wallis or Uvea (French possesion) 26 generations ago. This would have been during one of the waves of back migrations that occurred after the central and eastern Polynesian islands were settled. A man called Kaitu’u set out with seven families (and two “Gods”) after his mother dreamt of two white islands; a small one surrounded by white sands (Bellona) and a large one with a lake (Rennell). On the way they picked up another man, recognizing their own tribe in his features. After a long voyage they found these very same islands, arriving first at the southeastern end of Rennell where they set the two ‘Gods’ ashore and explored to find the lake, just as in the dream. However, the Gods returned to the canoe,
prompting the party to travel on to Bellona. Bellona was settled after the incumbent Hitis, a race of “small hairy” people, were forcibly eliminated (the last unconfirmed sighting of a Hiti was in the 1970s). You can still visit the Hiti caves. Only two of the voyaging families persisted and everyone on the two islands now is descended from them. Land ownership is passed by firstborn sons but kinship – a persons ‘line’ – is traced via female relatives.