Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Historical find : Deed of Cession paper discovered

Ancient manuscript to be moved to the capital

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

The original Deed of Cession taken at the Fiji Museum+ Enlarge this image

The original Deed of Cession taken at the Fiji Museum

A GOVERNMENT delegation will leave for Levuka next week to bring the Fijian version of the Deed of Cession to Suva to be kept at the National Archives.

Lomaiviti provincial administrator Jese Veibuli said the Information Ministry was finalising details of the tour and a small celebration would be held in the old capital.

"The government delegation will also present a traditional ceremony to the Tui Levuka before the document is brought to Suva," Mr Veibuli said.

The importance of the document was discovered last month after it had been hanging in the provincial administrator's office all these years.

Government Archivist Setareki Tale confirmed that the 134-year find.

He went to Levuka to prove the authenticity of the document and said the document was handwritten and a quill was used.

The document would be taken to Australia for further tests.

Meanwhile, Fijian Teachers Association president Tevita Koroi said they welcomed the discovery.

"The discovery is good for students to know the importance of Fiji's history and such discovery is a good thing for us and our future generation to know.

"It is also good for this generation. Many of us did not know there was a Fijian version of the Deed of Cession and was written for our chiefs at that time to understand.

"At that time, in 1874, our chiefs were illiterate and that was how Mr Wilkinson wrote the Fijian version for the chiefs' understanding," Mr Koroi said.

Rewa chief Ro Filipe Tuisawau said that in such discoveries, we should always be cautious until it was proven by scientists.

"The discovery of the Fijian version of the Deed of Cession needs to be treated with caution. It is good that a Fijian version is on hand but the normal verification process which normally applies must be put in motion to verify its authenticity. This means that not only must the paper and ink be analysed but also the handwriting.

"This type of analysis can also be done by qualified scientists who have the tools and experience to examine historical manuscripts," he said.

Historical find : Deed of Cession paper discovered

UNAISI RATUBALAVU-www.fijitimes.com
Tuesday, April 08, 2008

A historical document, the original copy of the Fijian version of the Deed of Cession, was found in Levuka last month by government officials.

Lomaiviti Provincial Administrator, Jese Veibuli said the Government Chief Archivist Setareki Tale who went to Levuka to inspect the document confirmed it as the original copy of the Deed of Cession.

Mr Veibuli said the historical document would be taken to Suva and kept at the National Archives.

"The document is written in Fijian, in a frame hanging here in my office," he said.

"An officer with the National Heritage saw it in the office and mentioned how important it was. It was written by one Wilkinson.

"The document is a Fijian version of the Deed of Cession, it states to the chiefs what they were signing," he said

He said it was written in 1874 for Fijian chiefs to understand what they were signing.

He said the Government Archivist was contacted and he proved the authenticity of the document.

Mr Tale yesterday confirmed the 134-year-old find. "The document was in a pretty good condition considering the time it was written," he said.

"It was handwritten and a quill was used to write the document.

"I don't know the kind of paper used." The document would be taken to Australia for further tests.

Interim Minister for Education and Heritage, Filipe Bole said he would comment later.

Historian, Tevita Nawadra said the discovery was a big thing for the people of Fiji.

"That is good news and I am looking forward to seeing that document," he said.

Mr Nawadra said David Wilkinson, the chief interpreter who translated the Deed of Cession in Fijian was the first chairman of the Native Lands Commission after Fiji became a colony.

"Mr Wilkinson, used to stay in Bua and was the secretary of Ramasima, one of the chiefs in Bua at that time," he said.

"The Colonial Government was looking for someone who was fluent in Fijian and our culture, so Mr Wilkinson became the first NLC chairman," Mr Nawadra said.

He said this was something special for the people of Fiji, especially the indigenous people with the current political turmoil facing Fijian institutions.

He proposed that a big celebration be staged to highlight the importance of such a document.

The Deed of Cession was signed on October 10, 1874 by 13 chiefs of Fiji and Sir Hercules George Robert Robinson, the British Government representative at Nasova in Levuka.

Ratu Epenisa Cakobau, a descendant of Ratu Seru Cakobau, one of the chiefs who signed the deed of cession, said he was eager to see the document.

"I would love to see the document and I would prefer to comment after I actually see," he said.

"I'm really happy that such a document has been found."

Tui Namosi, Ratu Suliano Matanitobua was delighted to hear the news, but preferred to comment after seeing the document.

Levuka mayor, George Gibson said he was thrilled about the discovery but at the same time sad because the document would be kept in Suva.

"I would have hoped that it remains here in Levuka, because the signing of the Deed of Cession was done in Levuka," he said. He was informed about the discovery last month and said such a document proved the history of Fiji in the pre and post colonial era.


  1. Hi Warren we must be related then as he is also my Great great grandfather, I saw his grave when I was in Fiji in the navy he died in 1905

  2. Hello greg72,

    Yes George did pass in 1905 in Suva. We have often wondered if he had more children.
    Send an email and we can talk !