h. w. walker : surfboards
in fiji, c1900
H. Wilfrid Walker : Surfboards in Fiji,
Wanderings Amoung South Sea Savages and in Borneo and the Philippines.
Witherby and Company, 326 High
Horborn, London, 1910.
First Impression 1909, Second Impression 1910.
A very brief, but highly complimentary, account
of Fijian women riding surfboards on the island of Vuna.
Unfortunately Walker's recollections are undated, however
as they are based on letters he had sent home to relatives in
England and his wanderings covered a period of twenty years, the
dating of this entry at 1900 is conservative, and it is possibly
After arriving in
Vanuatu, the capital of Fiji, Walker sailed to Taviuni where he
stayed with local identity Ratu Lala in the village of
exhibition was observed on the island of Vuna, about twenty
miles from Taviuni.
My Further Adventures with
(At Vuna Island)
We came to
fish, and fish we did, just off the coral reef, but it would
take space to describe even one-half of the curious and
beautiful fish we caught.
When I took
the lead in the number of fish caught, Ratu Lala seemed
greatly annoyed, and I was not sorry to let him get ahead,
when he was soon in a good temper again.
generally fished with nets and a many-pronged fish-spear, with
which they are very expert, and I saw them do wonderful work
They also used
long wicker-work traps.
Ratu Lala, on
the contrary, being half-civilized, used an English rod and
reel or line like a white man.
Ratu Lala told
the women here to give an exhibition of surf-board swimming
for my benefit.
As they rode
into shore on the crest of a wave I many times expected to see
them dashed against
which fringed the coast.
I had seen the
natives in Hawaii perform seventeen years before, but it was
tame in comparison to the wonderful performances of these
Fijian women on this dangerous rock-girt coast.
Geoff Cater (2010-2017) : H.
Wilfrid Walker : Surfriding in Fiji, 1900.