Rennell Island

The two Polynesian island 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.

Rennell Island is serviced by Solomon Airlines. On Rennell there are guesthouses near Tingoa airfield (Moreno Guesthouse) at Te Nggano lake (Kiakoe Lodge, Tahamatangi Guesthouse, Mata’ake Guesthouse)

East Rennell makes up the southern third of Rennell Island, the southernmost island in the Solomon Island group in the western Pacific. Rennell, 86 km long and 15 km wide, is the largest raised coral atoll in the world. The site covers approximately 37,000 hectares plus a marine area extending three nautical miles to sea. A major feature of the island is Lake Tegano which was the former lagoon on the atoll. The lake, the largest in the insular Pacific (15,500 hectares), is brackish and contains many rugged limestone
islands and endemic species. Rennell is mostly covered with dense forest with a canopy averaging 20 m in height. Combined with strong climatic effects of frequent cyclones, the site is a true natural laboratory for scientific study. The site is under customary land ownership and managementRennell is the world’s largest raised coral atoll. Throughout the Pacific there are about 25 such atolls, most of which have been significantly modified by human activity (except for Henderson Island World Heritage site which is one-tenth the size of Rennell but is more pristine).


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