Seen from the open ocean, the island takes the form of a dome raised above the waves. Its bulging form has given rise to a legend, handed down through the oral tradition. According to the legend, a rat, pursued by the inhabitants of Lifou Island, ran away onto a rock called “taetawanod”. He cried and cried until a turtle agreed to transport him on its back to Maré. But to play a dirty trick on him, the turtle stopped between the two islands. And that’s how the turtle became Tiga.
The island, located halfway between Maré and Lifou, is attached administratively to the latter. Tiga (Tokanod in the Drehu language) is home to a single tribal village with around 150 inhabitants in the northwest, belonging to Lössi District. The village has a postal agency, a dispensary, a Protestant church, and a grocery, but no hotel or restaurant. Tiga is connected to Noumea and the other Loyalty Islands by the “Ienec”, a 20-metre catamaran that can transport 80 passengers and two tonnes of freight, and by the airline company Air Loyauté.
Light years from New Caledonia’s main island, the most discreet of the Loyalty Islands lives at its own pace and has learned to depend on its self-sufficiency. The tribal village, which is accessed by a paved road more often used by pedestrians than the few cars on the island, is nestled in the only easily accessible corner of the island. Everywhere else bold cliffs defend the approaches. From their meeting with the English, the first Europeans to land in Tiga around 1840, the island’s inhabitants have kept the Protestant faith. Testimony to this is the Protestant church, which has pride of place in the middle of the village, a few steps from the community hall where the women gather on weekends to prepare a joint meal and play bingo.
For several years, the association "Ininata Son'ore Ededo" has been working for the population of Tokanod to revive its culture and history. By accessing sites that were falling into oblivion, the creation of new hiking trails has allowed the rehabilitation of ancestral trails and certain elements of the collective heritage. These hiking trails offer an opportunity to gently discover a Tokanod, concerned with openness to the world, but also with preserving its way of life. This new dynamic of openness is also manifested in the creation of the Watermelon Festival, organized in January every year.