Vanuatu World Heritage Site

Fels Cave on Lelepa IslandIn July 2008 several sites relating to the legendary Vanuatu leader Chief Roy Mata were inscribed on UNESCO's World Heritage List. In 1967 French archaeologist Jose Garanger discovered the burial site of Roy Mata and 50 sacrificed members of his entourage on tiny Eretoka or Artok island off the west coast of Efate. Garanger had been attracted to the area by oral traditions, which is rather remarkable considering that Roy Mata lived in the 16th century! Over the years, Eretoka has been protected by customary taboos, and only today are visits to the mass grave site being allowed. Also on the itinerary of visitors are Roy Mata's residence at Mangaas on Efate Island and his place of death in the large chamber cave of Fels (pictured here) on Lelepa Island. Chief Roi Mata's Domain is Vanuatu's first World Heritage Site. The designation was made possible through the collaboration of the people of Lelepa and Mangaliliu, the Vanuatu National Museum, and Australian researchers. For information on the Roi Mata Cultural Tour, contact the Vanuatu Cultural Center or email roimata AT vanuatuculture DOT org. Tour operators and travel agents in Port Vila should also have information about the tour.

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