Monday, October 09, 2006

Fiji archive document - Deed of Cession


10TH OCTOBER, 1874

Instrument of Cession of the Islands of Fiji by Thakombau, styled Tui Viti and Vuni Valu, and by the other high Chiefs of the said islands to Her Most gracious Majesty Victoria, by the grace of God, of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland Queen, Defender of the Faith, &c &c &c:

Whereas divers of the subjects of Her Majesty the Queen of Great Britain and Ireland have from time to time settled in the Fijian group of islands and have acquired property or certain pecuniary interests therein; And Whereas the Fijian Chief Thakombau styled Tui Viti and Vuni Valu and the other high native chiefs of the said islands are desirious [sic] of securing the promotion of civilization and Christianity and of increasing trade and industry within the said islands; And Whereas it is obviously desirable, in the interests as well of the native as of the white population, that order and good government should be established therein; And Whereas the said Tui Viti and other high chiefs have conjointly and severally requested Her Majesty the Queen of Great Britain and Ireland aforesaid to undertake the government of the said islands henceforth; And Whereas in order to the establishment of British government within the said islands the said Tui Viti and other the several high chiefs thereof for themselves and their respective tribes have agreed to cede the possession of and the dominion and sovereignty over the whole of the said islands and over the inhabitants thereof and have requested Her said Majesty to accept such cession,- which cession the said Tui Viti and other high chiefs, relying upon the justice and generosity of Her said Majesty, have determined to tender unconditionally,- and which cession on the part of the said Tui Viti and other high chiefs is witnessed by their execution of these presents and by the formal surrender of the said territory to Her said Majesty; And Whereas His Excellency Sir Hercules George Robert Robinson, Knight Commander of the most distinguished* order of Saint Michael and Saint George, Governor Commander in Chief and Vice Admiral of The British Colony of New South Wales and its dependencies, and Governor of Norfolk Island, hath been authorised and deputed by Her said Majesty to accept on Her behalf the said Cession:

Now These Presents Witness,

1. That the possession of and full sovereignty and dominion over the whole of the group of islands in the South Pacific Ocean known as the Fijis (and lying between the parallels of latitude of fifteen degrees South and twenty two degrees South of the Equator and between the Meridians of longitude of one hundred and seventy seven degrees West and one hundred and seventy five degrees East of the meridian of Greenwich) and over the inhabitants thereof, together with the possession of and sovereignty over the waters adjacent thereto and of and over all ports harbours havens roadsteads rivers estuaries and other waters and all reefs and foreshores within or adjacent thereto, are hereby ceded to and accepted on behalf of Her said Majesty the Queen of Great Britain and Ireland her heirs and successors, to the intent that from this time forth the said islands and the waters reefs and other places as aforesaid lying within or adjacent thereto may be annexed to and be a possession and dependency of the British Crown.

2. That the form or constitution of government, the means of the maintenance thereof, and the laws* and regulations to be administered within the said islands shall be such as Her Majesty shall prescribe and determine.

3. That, pending the making by Her Majesty as aforesaid of some more permanent provision for the government of the said islands His Excellency Sir Hercules George Robert Robinson, in pursuance of the powers in him vested and with the consent and at the request of the said Tui Viti and other high Chiefs the ceding parties hereto, shall establish such temporary or provisional government as to him may seem meet.

4. That the absolute proprietorship of all lands not shown to be now alienated so as to have become bona fide the* property of Europeans or other foreigners or not now in the actual use or occupation of some Chief or tribe or not actually required for the probable future support and maintenance of some chief or tribe shall be and is hereby declared to be vested in Her said Majesty her heirs and successors.

5. That Her Majesty shall have power, whenever it shall be deemed necessary for public purposes, to take any lands upon payment to the proprietor of a reasonable sum by way of compensation for the deprivation thereof.

6. That all now existing public buildings houses and offices, all enclosures and other pieces or parcels of land now set apart or being used for public purposes, and all stores fittings and other articles now being used in connection with such purposes are hereby assigned transferred and made over to Her said Majesty.

7. That on behalf of Her Majesty His Excellency Sir Hercules George Robert Robinson promises (1.) that the rights and interests of the said Tui Viti and other high chiefs the ceding parties hereto shall be recognised so far as is and shall be consistent with British Sovereignty and Colonial form of government, (2.) that all questions of financial liabilities and engagements shall be carefully scrutinized and dealt with upon principles of justice and sound public policy, (3.) that all claims to title to land by whomsoever preferred and all claims to pensions or allowances whether on the part of the said Tui Viti and other high chiefs or of persons now holding office under them or any of them shall in due course be fully investigated and equitably adjusted.

In Witness whereof, the whole of the contents of this instrument of Cession having been, previously to the execution of the same, interpreted and explained to the ceding parties hereto by David Wilkinson Esquire, the interpreter nominated by the said Tui Viti and the other high chiefs and accepted as such interpreter by the said Sir Hercules George Robert Robinson, the respective parties hereto have hereunto set their hands and seals.

Done at Levuka this tenth day of October, in the year of Our Lord one thousand eight hundred and seventy four.

Cakobau R. Tui Viti and Vunivalu (Seal)
Maafu (Seal)
Hercules Robinson (Seal) Tui Cakau (Seal)
Ratu Epeli (Seal)
Vakawalitabua Tui Bua (Seal)
Savenaca (Seal)
Esekele (Seal)
B. V. Tui Dreketi (Seal)
Ritova (Seal)
Kato-nivere (Seal)
Ratu Kini (Seal)
Matanitobua (Seal)
Nacagilevu (Seal)

I hereby certify that,(etc. about interpreting document to the chiefs) I fully and faithfully interpreted and who one and all approved thereof. A copy of such interpretation is hereto annexed marked A. Dated this tenth day of October, A.D. 1874.

Chief Interpreter
The interpreter named in the foregoing instrument of Cession


Peceli and Wendy's Blog said...

Okay, okay, it is a very long post, but if you read the fine print (that's why I didn't summarize it) there are some interesting points about land which may be relevant to the present situation re the Land Claims Tribunal.
Also, do later Deeds/ Independence/ Republic legalistic documents cancel out the first one?

Anonymous said...

My understanding is that most freehold land was created prior to this date in a series of Crown Grant proceedings recorded in Fiji's archives. I think most of the Crown Grant hearings were in 1872 but don't hold me to that date. The Indigenous Claims Tribunal Bill being considered will only allow for reversion of Government owned land and payment by the Government, if and only if, the claim is deemed valid by the soon to be created Land Claims Tribunal Commission. It will not affect other freehold land currently owned by others in both cases of reversion or payment. The Torrens title system provides guarantee of title in both instances. In my humble opinion I feel that the Fiji Government is creating a hornet's nest for itself on this bill. There is also a deep lack of understanding among locals that this bill "will revert all the freehold land back to the traditional landowners." That is simply not true. There was a great Op-Ed piece by Rev. Akuila Yabaki in the Fiji Times recently on this matter. I couldn't agree more with his position.

Peceli and Wendy's Blog said...

Thank you Anonymous for your comments. I agree that the expectation by some Fiji people is based on a hopeful wish-list of gifts of land - and perhaps money. The gimme mentality is very disturbing. I'll try and find that article by Akuila.

Peceli and Wendy's Blog said...

The link to Akuila's article is as follows:
though sometimes archives won't open.

laminar_flow said...

Check out the fine print, did the rights to Mineral Resources or Intellectual Property ever change hands?

Ms. Vakaivosavosa said...

I think the hope among locals at the moment is for the Tribunal to hear disputes between families/mataqali/vanua over eg the descendants of women who were given land when they got married and the descendants of her male siblings/cousins and over arguments that the previous land commissions erroneously records rights of 'usage' as 'ownership'.

I'd like to see the Fijian translation and if someone has a picture of the actual documents that are in the National Archives or the Museum.