You are here


My version of complete truth about Fiji

Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea


I wish to thank Mr Fale for attempting to further explain his version of a successful dictator and again naming examples of a few people to try to make the point. However the arguments on Bainimarama and Fiji still ring hollow and uncertain leaving me reluctant to accept them as full truths. This I refer to as half truths and questionable points.

The English (U.K.) Thesaurus defines truth under three headings i) fact, reality and certainty, ii) accuracy, genuineness, precision, exactness, legitimacy, veracity and truthfulness and iii) honesty, candor, integrity, dedication, loyalty, devotion, fidelity, uprightness and sincerity.

I will try below to provide examples of open and complete truths regarding Fiji and its past governing systems as opposed to the current half truths being presented on Bainimarama’s Fiji. In doing this I highlight failed wannabes and make my point clear on how generations of Fijians benefited under past and pre-coup government system as compared to the stalemate and uncertainty they face today.


Ma’afu had arrived and set up government at Lakeba. He put in place a Parliament and a system of land tenure, lease holdings and taxation, before finally relocating and moving lock stock and barrel, to Lomaloma in Vanua Balavu


Tanoa dies and Seru Cakobau assumed the title of Vunivalu and styles himself as Tui Viti, and on a Sunday, April 30, Cakobau became a Methodist Christian and the death drum ‘Rogorogo i valu’ was beaten to herald his first church service.

April 7, 1855

The Battle of Kaba, as Cakobau, aided by King George of Tonga, swept through the Kaba promontory killing 200 defenders and capturing a further 200, whom Cakobau, in a religious fervor pardoned. Ratu Mara was captured later at Levuka and taken to Bau where he was hanged. Before the hanging he was approached by a village elder to pronounce the birth of a son whom he named Madrai-wiwi (sour bread) saying his life had turned sour as he was to die. Ratu Joni Madraiwiwi became the father of Ratu Sir Joseva Lalabalavu Vanaaliali Sukuna, the father of modern Fiji.


Settlers began to arrive in droves making Levuka their home by choice


Blackbirders arrived in Fiji and with them brought the first New Hebrides and Solomon Island labourers, to assist in the cotton plantations.


A confederacy of native kingdoms was first mooted and Fiji’s first constitution was drawn up and signed by seven independent chiefs of Fiji, representing the states of Bau, Lakeba, Rewa, Bua, Cakaudrove, Macuata and Naduri, each to form part of the General Assembly. Cakobau was elected president for two years in a row, and when Ma’afu sought the seat in the third year, the Fijian chiefs refused to be governed by a Tongan and withdrew causing the confederacy to collapse.


Ma’afu did not mind and went ahead with his own plans, coming up with the “Confederation of North and East Fiji” (Na Tovata ko Natokalau kei Viti), consisting of Lau, Cakaudrove and Bua. Ma’afu managed to assume chairmanship later, as Tui Lau.


The Levuka Charter was ratified by Seru Cakobau, giving the settlers the authority to set up and police municipal regulations. However, the Charter was voided by a letter from the Governor of New South Wales.


The villagers of Lovoni were auctioned off as slaves by Seru Cakobau. In June of that same year Cakobau announced a government complete with Ministers. Ma’afu arrived in Levuka a month later and swore allegiance to Cakobau, in turn receiving a salary of 800 pounds p.a. title of Lieutenant Governor of Lau and ownership of Moala, Matuku and Totoya (yasayasa Moala)

August 1, 1871

First sitting of the House of Representatives, which was predominantly a white affair, however they managed to establish a postal service, currency, bank regulations and a land commission.


The Klu Klax Klan was formed to oppose the Cakobau government and a Taveuni planter joined Government, John Bates Thurston. The arrival of the HMS Cossack set things in place as the master, Captain Douglas, threatened anyone crossing Cakobau. England, indirectly, had given a firm nod of assurance to Fiji’s King.


This year saw Cakobau’s government battle the Kai Colo, following an incident which saw two European cotton planters slaughtered by the Kai Colo. Involved in the fight were the people of Bulu, Nasau, Nanukunuku, Savanunu, Nasautabu, Cubu, Magodro, Nubutautau, Qaliyalatina and Naloto. Cakobau also dissolved the Assembly


On September 28 the Council of Chiefs gave Fiji unreservedly to the Queen. Following this Sir Hercules Robinson, Ratu Cakobau and Thurston went island hopping to get all the necessary signatures. October 10th Fiji was ceded to Great Britain after a meeting of the first Great Council of Chiefs, who were there to witness the solemn occasion


Measles killed over 40,000 in Fiji, reportedly after Ratu Cakobau and his two sons returned from Australia, where they contracted the disease. Fiji’s first Governor, Sir Arthur Gordon arrived from Australia.

28th October 1876

Sir Arthur Gordon issues a proclamation pardoning all hill tribes, bringing to an end all the wars in Viti Levu.


The Home Office and Queen gives approval for Fiji’s capital to move from Levuka to Suva.

May 14, 1879

The ship Leonidas arrived in Levuka, and the first group of indentured labourers had arrived from Calcutta. All in all 87 vessels, carrying indentured labourers came to Fiji over a five year period.


Special constables enrolled to guard Levuka from possible attack and the first land sale was conducted in Suva at the Ivi Tree.

August 30, 1882

The Governor, Colonial Secretary and other departmental heads left Levuka on board the Ocean Queen, for the new capital.


The Trans-Pacific cable linking America with Australia, and New Zealand reached Fiji.


The first motorcar arrived in Fiji and was put on public viewing at the park..


30 years after the expiry of the indentured labourers agreement (girmit) 16,000 acres had been leased to Indians. Lautoka sugar mill was receiving 50,000 tons of cane and independent farmers had raised 10,000 head of cattle.

January 1, 1915

The first Fijian contingent sailed for Europe (WWI) aboard the RMS Makura.


Indian community given go ahead to elect to have elected representation on Legislative Council.


First gold bullion exported from Mt Kasi, and by November a gold rush was officially on.


Establishment of Fiji Airways, but it later fails.

October 1934

The Dolphin, Emperor and Loloma mines were opened. Ten years later they were producing gold valued at 15 million dollars.


Broadcasting services begun in Fiji by a local subsidiary of Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Ltd.


Non-official Legco membership becomes partly elected and partly nominated.


New Government Buildings opens in Suva. First airfield built at Nadi. Pan-Am begins trans Pacific flying boat service.


Native Lands Trust Board set up to look after the welfare of the indigenous Fijian through the better management of their land.


WWII was now in earnest and government had started recruiting the previous year, managing to recruit a force of 6500 which included three regular Battalions, two commando units artillery section labour Corp and all the necessary supporting units.


Introduction of residential permits to restrict immigration.


Harold Gatty restarts Fiji Airways, later renamed Air Pacific.


On the 8th of January 800 men of the 1FIR boarded the troopship Asturias for Malaya, to take part in the Malayan Emergency, a tour of duty that would take four years

December 17, 1953

Queen Elizabeth II arrives in Fiji on her first visit, and the first ever of any reigning British monarch.


Ratu JLV Sukuna (soon to be knighted) is appointed first Speaker of the Legislative Council. Fiji Broadcasting Commission is formed and the Credit Union movement is established.


Formation of the Housing Authority, to look at the problems of housing in the urban centres, for low income earners.

May 30, 1958

9.45am Ratu Sir Lala Sukuna died on the Arcadia enroute for England

December 14, 1960

The United Nations General Assembly passes a resolution defining colonial domination as repression of basic human rights.


The first general elections which gave Fijians total franchise, earlier elections saw Fijians being elected into the Legco through the GCC, and for the first time an Indian dominated political party had entered the race. First South Pacific Games held in Suva.

January 1963

The Great Council of Chiefs met in Wakaya and drafted what became known as the Wakaya letter, what was to become the basic negotiating document of Fijians in the 1960s., asserting the principles of Fijian paramountcy signed by Ratu George Cakobau, Ratu Mara, Ratu Penaia Ganilau, Semesa Sikivou, Ravuama Vunivalu, AC Reid, John Falvey and RM Major.


Establishment of the Fiji National Provident Fund and the Methodist Church in Fiji becomes an autonomous body.

June 21, 1964

The National federation Party became the first political party to be formed the formalised in Fiji, after the adoption of its constitution.

July 1, 1964

Membership system was introduced in the Legislative Council: John Falvey - Member for Communications & Works; Ratu Kamisese Mara -Member for Natural Resources; and AD Patel -Member for Social Services.

26 July - 9 August, 1965

A Constitutional delegation left Fiji to finalise talks on the Constitutional process for the Independence of Fiji. The delegation was made up of Government and opposition members, led by the Chief Minister, Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara. The conference was held at Marlborough House, in sixteen separate sessions. Fishing industry established in Levuka.


Formation of political parties including Alliance as Legco is enlarged and reconstituted. FEA established and the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Suva is established.


Council of Ministers replaces old Executive Council and Ratu Mara assumes the post of Chief Minister.


University of the South Pacific established.

October 10, 1970

Fiji’s first Prime Minister Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara receives the instruments of Independence by HRH Prince of Wales, Prince Charles.


First South Pacific Arts festival held in Suva.


The first general elections under the 1970 constitution which introduced a bi-cameral Parliament composed of an Upper House (Senate) and a Lower House (House of Representatives. Alliance won 33 of the 52 seats in the Lower House.


Ratu Sir George Cakobau is appointed Govenor General.


Fiji had to have two general elections this year after the first, which was won by the National federation Party could not get started because of internal bickering amongst NFP members, notably Siddiq Koya and Karam Ramrakha. The Alliance took a 20 seat majority in the second elections.

June 1978

Fijian troops leave Fiji for Peacekeeping duties in Southern Lebanon with the United Nations Interim Forces in Lebanon (UNIFIL).


The Alliance Party again won the general elections. Another Battalion of Fijian soldiers live for Peacekeeping duties in the Sinai Peninsula with the Multi-National Forces and Observers (MFO) a US brokered initiative.


Ratu Sir Penaia Ganilau sworn in as Governor General. Hurricane Oscar causes US$70m damage. Monasavu hydroelectric dam comes on stream.


Reserve Bank of Fiji opens and QANTAS takes over management of Air Pacific.


Four cyclones devastate the country early in the year.

The labour party is formed and two FM radio stations begin broadcasts.


The General Election was won by the Coalition NFP-FLP, and resulted in the relegation of former PM, Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara and Alliance MP to the Opposition, while Dr Timoci Bavadra was sworn in as Prime Minister.

May 14, 1987

On a cloudless Thursday, Lieutenant Colonel, Sitiveni Rabuka, third in command of the Royal Fiji Military Forces executed a bloodless military coup at 10am.

There is a second coup in September, after which Fiji is declared a Republic and severs ties with the British Monarchy.


Former Governor General, and Vunivalu of Bau, Ratu Sir George Cakobau passes away


A new constitution was promulgated by the first President, of the Republic of Fiji, Ratu Sir Penaia Ganilau, giving Fijians 37 seats, Indians 27, General voters 5 and Rotumans 1.

It is apparent from the above that there were a lot of failed wannabes in Fijis history, a clear standout being the Ku Klux Klan and Kai Kolo in 1872 and 1873. Dictatorship is an abnormal phenomenon in Fiji as various proponents in her history have found out to their detriment.

I do not claim to be an authority on Fijian Dictatorships or have the full wrap on Bainimaramas rise to power as Mr Fale appears to have, but many of us in the Pacific continue to be dismayed at the turn of events in Fiji under Bainimarama. Mr Fales earlier description of Bainimaramas ascension appears to be a lot of ‘get evens’ from a section of Fijian society that had been disenfranchised by the ruling cadre and now want their piece of the action. (Wannabes). Unfortunately, and we have seen this happen time and again, the wheel of time will turn, the wannabes will find themselves disenfranchised again, but the damage that will have been done to communities and the country will be enormous, reprehensible, regrettable and in most cases deeply entrenched, complicating and sowing the seeds for further turmoil.

Just as Tongans were involved in the mishmash of early administrative, missionary and land tenure system of Fiji from the early days (Ma’afu, King George and Sioeli Bulu), we in this generation are also interested in what happens to and in Fiji, the Fiji that led the economies of the South Pacific after the first and second world war and the Fiji whose educational and health institutions trained many of the Pacific leading lights in the 50’s 60’s and 70’s. If anything this is the watch that we are obliged and commended to do; on our watch we should have nothing to do with dictators whether successful or failed.

Tu’a ofa atu.

Sam Tupou

stupou [at] pngsdp [dot] com