Fiji Personal Names

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Understanding customs used in surnames and given names can help you identify your ancestors in records. Learn to recognize name variations and see clues in names.

Online Tools[edit | edit source]

Personal Names[edit | edit source]

  • Naming conventions in Fiji differ greatly, both between and within ethnic groups in Fiji.
  • Indigenous Fijians have a set of cultural practices which today are more loosely followed, and to some extent blended with elements of European culture with regard to names.
  • In the Indian community, traditional Indian naming practices co-exist with influence from the Fijian and European cultures.

Indigenous Fijians[edit | edit source]

  • The use of surnames is not traditional in Fijian culture. In recent years, it has become more common, but remains far from universal. Whether to have a surname, and if so, whether to use it, are very much a matter of personal preference. One's last name is not always, therefore, a surname.
  • The majority of Fijians have two given names: a Christian name taken usually from the Bible, and a traditional name.
  • A child may be baptized or registered with a surname, usually derived from the father's traditional given name. It is not unusual for persons baptized with surnames to discard them; some reclaim them later in life, and some who did not originally have one may later adopt their father's traditional name as a surname.
  • It is not unheard of for Fijians to be known by different names at different stages of their lives.
  • Given the non-universal use of surnames, it is not uncommon for several members of a family all to bear different last names.
  • Many Fijians who do not have surnames register their children with their own traditional given name as a surname.
  • Fijians of chiefly rank use titles with their names. In most parts of Fiji, the title used by male chiefs is Ratu; the female equivalent is Adi. In Rewa Province, the local dialect substitutes Ro for both titles. In the Lau Islands, male and female chiefs are both styled Roko, while in Kadavu Island and western areas female chiefs are titled Bulou. The title is used immediately before the name, or before another title (e.g., Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara, Ratu Dr. Epeli Nailatikau).
  • Today, names may be inherited or passed on between relatives, but traditionally, Fijian names have a meaning and a history surrounding them. Before the arrival of Christianity and European culture, Fijian names were often based on circumstances or events surrounding the birth of the child, as well as other aspects.

Indo-Fijians[edit | edit source]

  • The names of Fiji Islanders of Indian ancestry provide clues to an individual's religion and caste, and to what part of India their ancestors came from. See India Personal Names.
  • Although the caste system is all but dead among Fiji Indians, Brahmins (priests) can be recognized by the surname, Sharma, while the Kshatriyas (warriors) can be recognized by the surname Singh.

References[edit | edit source]