The origins of the red prawns in Fiji is said to have begun on the island of Vatulele, which is also known for the exquisite taoa designs. Story goes that long ago on the island, lived a beautiful daughter of a chief.
She was so beautiful that every eligible chief who visited Vatulele wanted her as his bride.
Yalewa-Ni-Cagi-Bula, however, was hard to please and scorned all their approaches.Not far away on Viti Levu, lived a handsome Chief's son - heir to the thrown of mainland tribes.
He heard of Yalewa-Ni-Cagi-Bula and decided she was the one for him. After much preparation, the bold young chief set off, laden with gifts, to seek Yalewa's hands.
He was welcomed by the Vatulele Chiefs and confidently, he produced the special gift which he had personally carried from Viti Levu.
This gift was Fiji's greatest delicacy, a bundle of giant prawns from the coastal streams of Viti Levu, cooked to perfection in coconut milk.
Any other maiden would have melted at the sight of this gift but Yalewa-ni-Cagi's heart was cold. She got very angry and commanded her servants to capture the young Chief and throw him off Vatulele's highest cliff into the sea. As he tumbled down the cliff, his gift of bright red prawns fell from his hands into a rocky pool at the base of the cliff, and the leaves in which they were wrapped fell among the rocks around the pool.
Fortunately the young chief survived the fall and returned home heartbroken. And his spent his days pining for his lost love. Everyday he went down to the sea and look towards the South where on clear days, he could just make out Vatulele on the horizon.
And what of the red prawns? They came alive where they fell into the rocky pool, and today, the pools under Vatulele's cliffs are filled with bright red prawns. The prawns are called ura-buta [cooked prawns].
Considered sacred by the people of Vatulele, who believe that anyone who harms them will surely be shipwrecked. Their respect for these prawns are so high that no one is allowed to catch it or eat them.