- Yacata was estimated to have been settled well before the 1800s before a second group of settlers came from the neighbouring island of Taveuni They were descendants from the chiefly clan of Vuna, a village at the southern end of Tavueni. Its chief is titled “Na Sau mai Vuna”. The new settlers entered from the eastern side of Yacata facing the island of Vatuvara, as the northern side, Daku, was already occupied. The place at which they landed is now called “Nasau”, and also the name of the chiefly sub clan (itokatoka) on Yacata derived from the chiefly title in Vuna. As in many parts of Fiji, original owners often give title and land to newcomers as sign of respect and full acceptance. Given their heritage and lineage, the new settlers now make up the current chiefly clan of the Tui Yacata, the chiefly title.
- The next group of settlers came from Qamea and Laucala islands at the northern point of Taveuni and legend have it that they arrived at Yacata from the northern eastern end and camped on a rocky island in the lagoon facing the village. As they landed, they laid out their canoe sail to dry in the sun but this was burnt by the warrior clan who then sought the decision of the Tui Yacata as to their fate. They were spared and now the clan perform the role of Herald (spokesperson) to the Tui Yacata. The spot at which they landed is named “Koma Laca” or burn sail.
- The close connection with Vuna in Taveuni is recognised in that both share the same ancestral god, plant, fish and bird. In fact, Yacata was part of the district of Vuna until after the war against the Tongans in 1860s, in the reign of the fourth Tui Yacata, when it came under Cakaudrove, the chiefly district of the paramount chief “Tui Cakau”. This was in recognition of its loyalty in not joining Tongan warlord Wainiqolo and his army of Tongans and Fijians to fight Tui Cakau at Wairiki in Taveuni. Wainiqolo’s defeat triggered off the sale of islands close to Yacata by Tui Cakau and the relocation of its inhabitants as punishment. In the Fiji map, islands close to Yacata; (Mago, Naitauba & Kanacea) were former estates sold to European settlers. Vanuabalavu was initially sold but the sale was reversed after an inquiry following the return from Tonga of Wainiqolo’s master Enele Ma’afu. In these times, Tui Cakau was the paramount chief whose dominion extended to the islands in lower northern Lau including Vanuabalavu. These historical events explain why Yacata, though in northern Lau, remain in the province of Cakaudrove, with close link to the Tui Cakau household, acquiring the title “Qase” or elders who perform the role of guardian to the chiefly family.
- The original dialect of Yacata, as in the neighbouring islands, is that of Cakaudrove where the “k” is dropped. However, this has since been replaced with a new dialect closely aligned to those in the neighbouring islands around Vanuabalavu.
- People of Yacata belong to one of the three clans “mataqali” on the island. Naniti is the chiefly clan, Nadrodrodro as the heralds “matanivanua” clan and Dakuicake as the warrior “bati” clan. Land and fisheries ground in Yacata is allocated along clan lines.
Chiefs (Tui) of Yacata
1. Ratu Motonicocoka – First Tui Yacata.
Nai matai ni Tui Yacata
2. Ratu Valeiwau Maidelanimati – Second Tui Yacata. In his reign there was a prolonged famine and women and children had to be relocated to Bouma in Taveuni until things got better.
Nai ka rua ni Tui Yacata. E na gauna e a Tui Yacata kina a tara na vanua e dua na dausiga levu ka mani vakavuna mera sa kau mada ki Bouma na marama me yacova ni sa tu vinaka tale na vanua mera qai kau lesu mai ki Yacata.
3. Ratu Ilaitia Baleinamoto – Third Tui Yacata. His reign coincided with the Tongan war when the Tongan warlord, Wainiqolo’s army arrived on Yacata to request support in the fight against Tui Cakau. The request was declined as Tui Yacata pledged allegiance to his paramount chief Tui Cakau, and said if they return alive then they will meet.
Nai ka tolu ni Tui Yacata donua na i valu i Wainiqolo nodra i liuliu na Toga. Donua na nona gauna a biu kina o Kakabale ka ra lesu tale mai na qase ki Totokana. A donumaka talega na nona gauna era yaco mai matasawa e Yacata na mataivalu nei Wainiqolo kara mai kerea mera mai lako vata ki Taveuni mesa laki valuti ko Tui Cakau. A mani vakaraitaka na Tui Yacata ni na sega ni rawa me la'ki valuta na nona Turaga. Mera sa lako ga kevaka era sa bula mai mera qai mai sota.
4. Ratu Rusiate Naulumatua – Fourth Tui Yacata and during his reign Yacata separated from the district of Vuna and joined Cakaudrove after the Tongan war. Nai ka va ni Tui Yacata. E na nona gauna a donumaka na kena tawase mai o Yacata mai na tikina o Vuna me sa wili kina tikina o Cakaudrove.
5. Ratu Apete Lalakai - Fifth Tui Yacata. Fiji was ceded to Great Britain in 1874 during his reign. Nai ka lima ni Tui Yacata. A donumaka na nodra gauna ni veiliutaki na loma ni kuila. (1870s-…..)
6. Ratu Eliki Bomani – Sixth Tui Yacata. Nai ka ono ni Tui Yacata
7. Ratu Paula Raikaki – Seventh Tui Yacata. The first native land commission was held during his reign and he swore on information about Yacata at Somosomo in Taveuni on 29 August 1929.
Nai ka vitu ni Tui Yacata. Sai koya talega ka bubuluitaka nai tukutuku kei Yacata enai ka ruasagavulu ka ciwa ni vula ko Okosita 1929 e na veitarogi vanua ka caka mai Somosomo.
8. Ratu Jofiliti Tiko – Eighth Tui Yacata. Nai ka walu ni Tui Yacata.
9. Ratu Savenaca Vue - Ninth Tui Yacata. Nai kaciwa ni Tui Yacata.
10. Ratu Koroi Radredre - Current and Tenth Tui Yacata installed by some members of his own mataqali under some controversy and resulted in a dispute with other members of the chiefly mataqali. Another member of the ruling mataqali lodged his claim to the title and the dispute was in turn settled by a tribunal convened by the Native Lands Commission, the Native Lands Dispute Tribunal. The decision (LEWA) of the Tribunal was announced at Yacata on 11 December 2012.
Yacata is situated in Northern Lau in Fiji, 32 kms west of Kanacea, the same distance south west of Naitauba and 80km south east of Taveuni (Garden island).
Entirely surrounded by fringing reef which is a mile wide at the east end where it is joined to the neighbouring island of Kaibu.
The present village also called Yacata is situated on the north east of the island but its former name is Totokana. The present site was settled after the arrival of missionaries in Fiji in 1835. The original settlement was at the base of the main mountain called Korolevu, in the middle of the island, and was called Kakabale. To this day, remains of the village site and stone fortification can be found at the base of Korolevu and places down from there indicating the descent to the present village site by the sea. In traditional Fijian affiliations, Yacata belongs to the district (tikina) and province (yasana) of Cakaudrove.