Fiji Research Strategy and Case Study

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Research Help[edit | edit source]

Background Information[edit | edit source]

Located in the southwestern Pacific, north of New Zealand, Fiji is made up of over 300 islands, but only 110 are inhabited. The larger islands are volcanic, although none of the volcanoes are now active. They are mountainous, humid, and tropical, and are surrounded by coral reefs. The largest islands areViti Levu, Vanua Levu, and Taveuni, where most of the population is concentrated. Population in 2000 was 832,494.Fijian, English, and Hindustani are the main languages. Freedom of religion is guaranteed by the constitution. In 2008 there were 14,866 members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Navala village, Viti Levu, Fiji.

Historical background[edit | edit source]

B.C. Inhabited by Lapita people from Asia.
B.C. Inhabited by Polynesians and Melanesians.
1643 Visited by Abel Janzsoon Tazman, who was Dutch.
1774 Visited by Captain James Cook of England.
1792 William Bligh explored the islands.
1800 Traders visited to get sandalwood.
1820 European traders hired Fijians to harvest sea cucumbers.
1854 Chief Ratu Cakobau, a Fijiian, became a Christian through the efforts of Methodist Missionaries.
1860 Civil War in the USA made cotton valuable, and Europeans emigrated to Fiji.
1865 Ratu Cakobau united rival tribes and ended cannibalism.
1867 A rival chief of Tongan descent, named Ma`afu, became governor.
1871 Ratu Cakobau became King of Fiji.
1874 Fiji became a colony of the British.
1875 Sir Albert Gordon, the first British Governor-general of Fiji, established the policy of government through the chiefs,

   Placement of the land in trust to the tribes, and the hiring of laborers from abroad.
   Measels killed forty percent of the population.
1879 Large numbers of immigrants from India were brought in under a system of indenture to work sugar plantations.

    As a consequence, slightly more than half of the population of about 848,000 in the year 2000 are Indian.
1882 The capitol was moved from Levuka to Suva.
1914 Fijians served as allies to France in World War I.
1920 The indentured system was cancelled.
1935 Australians establish radio broadcast in Fiji.
1943 Fiji was occupied by Allied forces. Fijiians served in the army in the Solomons and a Bougainville.  They terrified the Japanese. Indian emigrants did not serve in the army.
1951 A national airline, now Air Pacific, was established.
1953 Queen Elizabeth visited Fiji
1954 missionaries of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints began serving in Fiji.
    Ratu Sir Lala Sukuna was elected to the Legislative Council.
1965 A constitutional convention was held in London.
1970 Fiji became independent.
1971 The Fijian mission of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was created.
1975 The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints opened a Technical college.
1983 The first stake of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is established.
1987 Political rivalry of Fijiians and Indians brought on a coup and military rule by Fijians.
1990 A new constitution created the Democratic Republic of Fiji, with an elected House and and appointed senate.
1992 Elections name Sitiveni Rabuka as Prime Minister.
1998 A new constitution provides for a multiracial cabinet
1999 Labor party candidate, Mahendra Chaudhry is elected as prime minister.
2000 A temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was dedicated in Fiji and there are 4 stakes established.

Cultural background

Traditional Fijian society was hierarchical, with tribal groups led by chiefs chosen according to rank based on descent as well as personal achievement. For this reason, some oral genealogies were memorized, going back as far as 11 generations. Tribes were divided into Mataqali, or clans, and sub clans according to where they lived. By alliance or conquest, tribes might form confederations led by paramount chiefs. Land and government still are influenced by remnants of this system.

Case Study[edit | edit source]

We are Raveendra Rama and my wife, Ulamila Lewenikeli Kalou. I was born in Rakiraki, on the island ofRa in Fiji, and Ulamila was born in Navuso, on the island of Naitasiri, Fiji. We were married in Suva on the island of Viti Levu and we have two children. We now live in Hawaii.

My father was Edward Rama, and my mother was Dhanraji, daughter of Bodh Remy and Ram Kali. My father’s father was Krishna Aivappan. Since we became members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I have been trying to learn more about my ancestors. They came from India to work on the sugar plantations in about 1871, and it has been difficult for me to learn where in India my ancestors came from. I have begun to visit the Family History Center here, and hope to find more records that contain the names of my ancestors.

The only information I got was directly from my maternal grandmother's mouth. All I got are names of who is related to whom without any birth dates or death dates. My mother was Maini Ratukutava, her father was Emori Ligica, and his father was Iliave Nasisilisili , and his father was Waisake Wakanitavola. My mother’s mother was Vilimaina Daurewa, and her parents were Jaisea Ratokalau and Venina Rasinuvati. I thought maybe I could start with those.

I am sure that some of the names my grandmother gave me went back further than 1850. The Fiji Archives have some records but they can be complicated. I have not gone there to search yet, but some have and said how hard it was to figure out who was related to who and which line to follow.

As for me, I had to make some estimations on even my grandmother's birth year according to stories she told, and by comparing the dates with an older man's recorded birth year in his family bible. One of the ways in which to check for birth dates is in the family bible. If a designated keeper of the old family bible is careful with it, one can always find all the names of the children and their parents in order from oldest to youngest.

Resources Available[edit | edit source]

Click on this link to  Fiji in the Familysearch Wiki. There is a lot of information there.

FamilySearch Catalog

Also, you can try the Internet at and click on the Library. From that tab, click on the FamilySearch Catalog. Click on Place. Then type in Fiji. A long list of record types, including archives and libraries, census 1861, church record, civil registration, colonization, emigration and immigration, gazetteers, genealogy, land and property, language, maps, medical records, military history, minorities, native races, nobility, obituaries, probate records, etc.

If you click on Fiji - genealogy, then on Pedigree Sheets for Various Fijiian families, you will get a description saying there is an index of personal names and pedigree charts and family group sheets for 80 families. The microfilm number is VAULT INT Film 181746 Item 6.
We also can use a Film/fiche number search and look at the descriptions of these microfilms, all of which contain information about Fiji: 83142, 83143, 181746 Item 7, and 1515054.

The year 1875 marks civil registration for Fijians, so records become available then. In the year 1895, civil registration and immigrant records for Indians began.
Lots of oral genealogies and land records are available

See also Fiji Page in FamilySearch Research Wiki.