Sunday, November 12, 2006

Part-Europeans in Fiji

A comment on one of our blogs was a request for information about a Part-European family in Vanua Levu.

The part-Europeans in Fiji are sometimes called kai loma (group / in the middle) or more politely vasu (relative o Fijians) and are descendants of white Australians, Americans or Europeans who established themselves in Levuka, on the plantations of Vanua Levu or the outer islands of Fiji during the 19th century, and took Fijian wives. By 1881 there were around 800 part-Europeans; today there are about 13,800.

Rob Kaye writes: Part-Europeans generally speak fluent English and can at least understand Fijian, if not speak it fluently. Conversations may be carried on in both languages simultaneously, with jokes made in the tongue that best suits the story.

Many still live in Levuka or Savusavu and of course Suva. Part-European families in Vanua Levu in the early 1900s include the Eyres, Millers, Simpsons, Whippy’s, Pickerings and their descendants are still in Fiji. An example of the ancestor of a Part-European family is Fiji is the story of Mr James Brand Simmons.

From The Cyclopaedia of Fiji 1907 p. 282

Mr James Brand Simmons was born in London, October 5th 1849 and educated in London. On leaving school he was apprenticed to the sea, and served his time as a midshipman in the White Star Aberdeen line. He holds a master’s certificate and has had various commands amongst other is that of the Colonial Sugar Refiing Co’s schooner, but principally sails his own. Arriving in Fiji in October 1870, he started business in Levuka and opened up a cotton plantation on the Dreketi River during the American war. On its ce3ssation, and the consequent fall in price, he planted sugarcane and erected a mill. The cane was of great density, the largest ever obtained in Fiji being got from it. Sugar fall to 8 pounds per ton, through the influx of beet sugar to the Australian market, he turned his attention to cocoanuts and cattle, spare land having in the meantime been planted with a the nuts. Mr Simmons owns two estates, one on either side of the Dreketi River, 1572 acres freehold – Matikovatu and Vataboro – of which 400 are under nuts in various stages. Coffee and coacoa also grown on the estates. Cattle are reared largely on both, as also are pigs and goats. Fijian labour is employed.

The two pictures are of William Miller in Savusavu, taken about 1900 and Albert Miller today.


A website provides an excellent discussion on identity from the Part-European perspective.
Fragmented Identities Among Postcolonial Fijians Extending the Hand of Kinship and Respecting the Right to Choose.

Lucy de Bruce is from the Kailoma community of Fiji and lives in Australia. She is interested in researching Kailoma social history - how they fit into Fiji's race-conscious society… (and) she ponders the question of the Fijian identity and its relationship to equitable citizenship. After the 2000 coup her brother wrote a paper To The Hearing Committee on Fijian Unity. A Position Paper Submitted on Behalf of the Vasu/Kailoma Interest Group of Fiji. This is given on the website.


MDyer said...

Bula Re,

Your article on the Europeans settlers from the 1907 Encyclopedia caught my I'm in the process of trying to trace back my roots.
It would be very much appreciated if you could email me any info in that Encyclopedia of setters with my surname i.e "DYER".

Vinaka vakalevu,

Max Dyer

Peceli and Wendy's Blog said...

Hi Max,
Bula vinaka. Thanks for reading our post. On page 278 of the Cyclopedia of Fiji 1907 there's three columns of info about Mr Michael Dyer who lived near the Wainunu River in Vanua Levu, Fiji.

He was born in Ireland in 1841, went to USA, then Australia to Daylesford and settled in Fiji in 1871.

You might need to find the book for the rest of the details. It's too long to print here.

Anonymous said...

HiMy name is Maxine Simmons who was born in Labasa Fiji. I only have a track of names . My fathers name is Henry Simmons and grand fathers name is Dauglas simmons also known as Senior Dauglas Simmons who use to sell fish aroun Namara in Labasa Fiji. If you have any more information regarding my grand fathers family pls email me at I live in australia now. Thanks a lot

Anonymous said...

Bula Re!

Wow! Very lovely article regarding part-europeans of Fiji.

I am a descendant of William Henry Miller, and also loved the photo of my Uncle Albert.

I am doing the family tree at the moment, and if anyone has any information about the Miller's from Savusavu or the Pickering's from Qalaka, Buca. Please feel free to e-mail me at



I'maStephens said...


I know this is an old post but here's hoping you can provide some information on the history of the Stephens family of Fiji (settled in Vanua Balavu originally ?!?!) Any info on how they came to settle there will be greatly appreciated.


Anonymous said...

Bula to the kailoma community in Fiji.
What a knowledgeable site; /im learning alot from this site after having read my cousin Lucy's posting/comments, Max Dyers posting etc.


Anonymous said... really is intresting to read about the family trying to trace back my roots...but the only thing that I am able to find out is that My great grand father is LUI MILLER who by the way once lived in Rava, along the coasts of Savusavu..where normally most part Europeans are still residing there today.If only you could e-mail me about the history of their comung to will be of great help.

Anonymous said...

Hi to all the kailomas in Fiji..I am Morgan Billings and am a descendant of the Billings and the Simmons. I found it very interesting indeed to read that Vatuboro in Dreketi actually belonged to the Simmons and not the Bulls..can someone please elaborate

Anonymous said...

Hi, I am looking for more information on the early Pickering settlers in Fiji. Their generation has been residing in fawn harbour Savusavu since. All information is to assist in tracing back our roots
Vinaka Vakalevu

Anonymous said...

Hi, I am looking for more information on the early Pickering settlers in Fiji. Their generation has been residing in fawn harbour Savusavu since. All information is to assist in tracing back our roots
Vinaka Vakalevu

kousalya said...

Thank you for the info. It sounds pretty user friendly. I guess I’ll pick one up for fun. Thank u.

Early Learning Centre Geelong

Anonymous said...

In reply to Morgan Billings question regarding land in Dreketi - James Brand Simmons sold both the properties mentioned to the Bull family.

Lester said...

Anything on a Mr. T. Gwilliam. I was told there was an article in the Cyclopedia of Fiji 282.

Lester said...

Anything on a Mr. T. Gwilliam. I was told there was an article in the Cyclopedia of Fiji 282.

Summer said...

Does anyone know of an early settler on Vanua Levu, Named family- Butler?

vinaka vakalevu

Ethelwne Mariana said...

bula vinaka

id like to request if u could please email me any information about my family history i.e the MANUEL family in savusavu, as I am doing a assignment and the topic is based on the history of the MANUEL family.


Anonymous said...

I'm responding to the LUI MILLER post. My grandmother was Mary Miller, her sister was Julia Miller, brother was Henry Miller and I believe another brother was Lui Miller. I couldn't be too sure about Lui but knew that there were two brothers in that Miller family. My mother was Mary Miller's daughter, Julia Harman, from Lesiaceva in Savu Savu.

Robin Smith said...

I am wondering if anyone is descended from a settler called Francis Arthur Jackson who arrived in Fiji in 1868 and settled in Savu Savu where he was a planter (presumably coconuts) and a trader?? He died in Fiji in 1902. His property was called Jackson Dale. He also wrote many articles about Fire Walking, etc, for the Polynesia Society. It is believed he had a Fijian wife but I can't find any proof of this. What I would really love is a photo or to know if there is anything written about him in the 1907 Cyclopedia of Fiji?