Historical document emerges from obscurity
THE official Fijian deed of cession document was handed to Government yesterday at a handover ceremony at Nasova in Levuka, Ovalau. The historical document was given to the government archivist, Setareki Tale, by Tui Levuka Ratu Kolinio Rokotuinaceva. Mr Tale said the event was an important one in our history. He said the document was read to the chiefs in 1874. He said the next step would be to determine the accuracy of the Fijian translation to the English version.
“We heard about the document after an Australian attach, Derek Cleyland, noticed the framed document in the provincial administrator’s office. I went the next day to check it. “The National Archives in the UK also has a copy of the translation so after verifying with them the document was found to be the original Fijian translation of the deed of cession.”He said the document needed to be restored and repaired and would be taken to Australia for further testing.
Provincial administrator Jese Veibuli said the 13 chiefs of Fiji signed the deed after the Fijian translation by chief interpreter at the time David Wilkinson.”Although we would like the document to remain in Levuka, we are leaving it in good hands.”It is required by law to be kept at the National Archives of Fiji.”Some writings in the document are interesting. Lomaiviti and Levuka have come out with a lot of historical facts so this is not the last historical documents from Levuka.”
He said no one really knew how the document went unnoticed for 134 years. Department of culture and heritage director Peni Cavuilagi said people should realise the significance of culture and heritage in Fiji. “We are trying to convince and encourage people to preserve their culture and heritage. It is part of their identity. We are also trying to push for a cultural committee to be formed at provincial council meetings to discuss issues concerning the preservation of culture and heritage. The Fijian translation of the deed of cession holds a lot of significance.”
The handover was attended by government officials including media and officials from the provincial administration.