Chief Roi Mata's Domain
Chief Roi Mata's Domain is a group of archeological sites associated with the oral traditions surrounding the late chief.
It consists of three early 17th century sites on the islands of Efate, Lelepa and Artok associated with the life and death of the last paramount chief, or Roi Mata. The property includes Roi Mata's residence, the site of his death and Roi Mata's mass burial site.
John Booth - June 2014
I arranged a half day trip fro Port Vila through Island Holiday Tours to Chief Roimata's Domain at short notice. For 10,000 vatu I was taken by private bus to Mangaliliu village and from there along a rough track to Roimata's former village of Mangaas. Here I met my guide, who showed me some sacred stones and drums dating back to Roimata's time.
From Mangaas I was taken by boat to Lelepa Island and made the steep climb up to the entrance of Fels Cave. There was evidence of fairly recent rock falls but the guide and I entered and with the aid of a torch he showed me a number of ancient rock drawings of fauna, flora and village scenes.
Roimata's grave area on Artok (Hat) Island is tapu and only accessible by local villagers on special occasions.
Julien - September 2011
We landed on Efate Island in August 2010, the 14th. Just four days after a 7.3 magnitude earthquake which epicentre was only 35km from Port-Vila. We didn’t know about it, the earthquake was very impressive to local people because of its proximity but nothing seemed to be destroyed.
Nothing? … hum well … unfortunately the WHS of Chief Roi Mata has suffered a landslip just at the entrance of the Fels Cave in Lelepa Island (just north-west of Efate). Of course it was prohibited for us to get into the cave during our tour. The guide told us that a Unesco representative would come and see what can be done. I don’t know what is the situation one year later …
Nevertheless, we had a very pleasant guided tour. Let me explain what you can expect:
-Introduction to the Chief Roi Mata story at the museum in Port-Vila.
-Visit of the domain where Roi Mata lived, a dance show is performed by local people.
-Entrance in the cave where he died (if you are luckier than us).
-Boat trip to Hat Island where he was buried with hundred of its followers.
-Lunch in a village with local people.
I won’t tell the story of Chief Roi Mata here cause you can find it easily on the net, but I can tell you that this WHS was very pleasant to visit as it is one of the very few cultural Unesco site in this part of the world. Everything looked well preserved, the guided tour was quite rustic with a very little boat but this is part of the Melanesian folklore.
To conclude visiting Chief Roi Mata’s domain is probably one of the best way within Efate Island to learn about Vanuatu history. As you will automatically land in Port-Vila if you go to Vanuatu, don’t miss the visit of this WHS which starts in the town.
You can easily find phone number in a guide book, or ask for information in the town center. Tour is probably not offered every day.
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Full name: Chief Roi Mata's Domain
2008 - InscribedReasons for inscription
2008 - Advisory Body overruledBy ICOMOS (later overruled by the Committee) for legal and management issues
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- Assassinations Roy Mata was poisened by his brother.
- Cannibalism Chief Roi Mata ended cannibalism when he came to power: This was not an easy task to accomplish given that many of the tribes actively practiced cannibalism
- Human Sacrifice "The mass sacrificial burial on Artok Island, in which Roi Mata was accompanied in death by more that 50 voluntarily sacrificed individuals" (Nomination Dossier)
Religion and Belief
- Built in the 17th century Roi Mata lived around 1600, the sites are from the early 17th century
- Cultural sites taking up an entire island The whole of Artok Island
- Customary ownership Most of the land in the core and buffer zone is in customary ownership (AB ev)
- First inscriptions Vanuatu 2008
- In private ownership The land on which Chief Roi Mata's Domain, Vanuatu is situated is privately owned by two families or the villages on Lelepa Island and Mangaliliu.
- Named after individual people Vanuatu's last paramount chief, Roi Mata.
- Role of Women Resolution of marriage and conflict through matrilineal descent (Naflak)
World Heritage Process
- Associative Cultural Landscape Cultural Landscape & criterion vi: continuing association of the landscape with the oral traditions of Roi Mata, continuity of chiefly systems of authority and customary respect for the tangible remains of his life evident in the continuing tabu prohibitions on these places (AB ev)
- First sites filling gaps cited by ICOMOS non Australian cultural sites of the Pacific 2008
- Only WHS in their country