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.