The Norwegian sailor Henry Lie was sent ashore to fetch drinking water on Hiva Oa in 1909. The skipper was a drunkard and the treatment of Henry and the other deckhands was rough, so he ran away and found a cave to hide in.

He remained in the cave until he was completely sure the captain had given up the search, and established himself on Hiva Oa. He married a local girl and opened a shop, becoming a respectable citizen in the little island community.

The plantation

His wife inherited a large valley on the north side of the island. Tired of dealing with customers in the village of Atuona, he started a copra and fruit plantation in the valley. The valley remains, but the family has since abandoned the plantation, seeking the comforts of civilisation in the village on the other side of the island. The trees are in desperate need of care, and the fruit is rotting away.

More than a century has passed since Henry Lie stepped ashore to escape to his island paradise. Our stay will be shorter, and our footprints lighter. But the quest for a hint of paradise on a South Sea island remains within us, as does the valley of Henry Lie.

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