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Chronology of Fijian History

1643 Dutch explorer Abel Tasman discovered the Fijian Islands, but did not attempt to land because of reports of cannibalism.

May 4, 1789 Captain William Bligh, after mutiny on the HMS Bounty (April 28), sailed through the Fiji group.

1792 Bligh revisited Fiji in the HMS Providence.

October 12, 1835 The first Christian missionaries -- David Cargill and William Cross -- arrived.

May 1840 The United States Exploring Expedition reached Fiji.

1843 The siege of Suva, in which 400 people were killed, started over a pig.

1844 The first Roman Catholic missionaries arrived.

June 1845 The 11-Year War began.

1848 Ma'afu set up a government at Lakeba, complete with a Parliament and a system of land tenureship and lease holdings and taxation. He would subsequently relocate to Lomaloma in Vanua Balavu

April 7, 1855 Cakobau, aided by King George of Tonga, swept through the Kaba promontory killing 200 defenders and capturing a further 200 (the Battle of Kaba).

1860-1870 Settlers began to arrive in droves, making Levuka their home by choice.

1864 Blackbirders arrived in Fiji and with them brought the first New Hebrides and Solomon Island laborers, to assist in the cotton plantations.

1865-1867 A confederacy of native kingdoms was mooted and Fiji's first constitution was drawn up and signed by seven independent chiefs of Fiji, representing the states of Bau, Lakeba, Rewa, Bua, Cakaudrove, Macuata and Naduri, each to form part of the General Assembly. Cakobau was elected president for two years in a row, and when Ma'afu sought the seat in the third year, the Fijian chiefs refused to be governed by a Tongan and withdrew, causing the confederacy to collapse.

1867 Ma'afu established the "Confederation of North and East Fiji" (Na Tovata ko Natokalau kei Viti), consisting of Lau, Cakaudrove and Bua. Ma'afu managed to assume chairmanship later, as Tui Lau.

1870 The Levuka Charter was ratified by Seru Cakobau, giving the settlers the authority to set up and police municipal regulations. However, the Charter was voided by a letter from the Governor of New South Wales.

June 1871 Cakobau announced a government, complete with Ministers.

July 1871 Ma'afu arrived in Levuka and swore allegiance to Cakobau, in turn receiving a salary of 800 pounds, title of Lieutenant Governor of Lau and ownership of Moala, Matuku and Totoya.

August 1, 1871 The House of Representatives -- composed primarily of "whites" -- sat for the first time.

1873 Cakobau dissolved the Assembly.

September 28, 1874 The Council of Chiefs gave Fiji to the Queen of Great Britain.

October 10, 1874 Fiji was formally ceded to Great Britain.

1875 Fiji's first Governor, Sir Arthur Gordon arrived from Australia.

May 14, 1879 The ship Leonidas -- bearing the first group of indentured labourers from Calcutta -- arrived in Levuka. All in all 87 vessels, carrying indentured labourers came to Fiji over a five year period.

August 30, 1882 The capital was moved from Levuka to Suva.

January 1, 1915 The first Fijian contingent sailed for Europe (WWI) aboard the RMS Makura.

1920 Indians forced the government into making radical changes in attitude towards free Indians, especially in politics.

1929 The Indian community was given the authority to have elected representation on the Legislative Council.

1932 The first gold bullion was exported from Fiji, sparking a gold rush.

1940 The Native Lands Trust Board was set up to look after the welfare of indigenous Fijian through better management of their land.

1963 The first general elections which gave Fijians total franchise were held.

June 21, 1964 The National Federation Party became the first political party to be formed.

July 1, 1964 A membership system was introduced in the Legislative Council.

1967 Council of Ministers replaced old Executive Council; Ratu Mara assumed the post of Chief Minister.

October 10, 1970 Prime Minister Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara received the Instruments of Independence from HRH Prince of Wales, Prince Charles.

Fiji gains independence

1972 The first general elections under the 1970 constitution were held.

May 14, 1987 Lieutenant Colonel Sitiveni Rabuka, third in command of the Royal Fiji Military Forces, executed a bloodless military coup.

September 1987 A second coup was staged, after which Fiji was declared a Republic and severed ties with the British Monarchy.

1990 A new constitution was promulgated by the first President of the Republic of Fiji, Ratu Sir Penaia Ganilau, giving Fijians 37 seats, Indians 27, General voters 5, and Rotumans 1.

1992 The first general elections under the new 1990 constitution were conducted.

See Also

Abel Tasman
William Bligh
Great Britain

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The Robinson Library >> Fiji Islands

This page was last updated on 10/08/2018.