Oarsman’s Bay Lodge is run by the local Mataqali (pronounced Maa ten ga li) Natia community, which are the high ranked chiefs of the village of Nacula.
Every Fijian belongs to a hierarchical social unit or structure, which is usually attached to a village. The smallest unit is a tokatoka or family group. The next social group in the chain is the Mataqali which is made up of a group of tokatotas (family groups). There are often five or six different tokatokas making up one Mataqali. A Fijian village has two or three different Mataqali. The Nacula Tikina is made up of seven villages and approximately 3,500 people. This village is approximately 25 minutes walk away from the Resort.
The resort was named by the Tui Drola after his father, the former Tui Drola and the elders of the village, who often rowed out into Nalova Bay in the evening in their rowboats to fish. In 1998, the Tui Drola (Ratu Epeli Vuetibau Bogileka) returned to Fiji to take up his chiefly position. He recognized that he needed to create jobs in his community. In the village of Nacula and the nearby villages only a few jobs existed around apart from working for Turtle Island Resort, or roles as fisherman and growing vegetables. The main idea of the lodge was to ensure that people of Nacula Village get employed. It provided 45 jobs for the people there and also provides an outstanding guest experience in the Yasawas.
In 1999, the Tui Drola approached Richard Evanson from Turtle Island to help assist them financially in the construction of the resort, which will be still owned by the Mataqali. He agreed under the condition that the loan would be repaid from the profits that are earned over the next few years. Turtle Island funded the entire construction and this was a guarantee that the resort was run commercially and took into account the culture and customs of the community. The Board focused on creating a skills transfer program, whereby all the operations and governance of the Resort would ultimately be the responsibility of the Mataqali