Monday, July 19, 2010

Fiji Times Newspaper

This paper started in 1869 and has run continuously. For this reason it is a valuable source of information and trends in the history of Pacific people.

Up until WW1 the paper was European centric and only recorded accidents etc of the native people. But then something amazing happened which all centered around one man, Ratu Joseva Sukuna who later became the first Prime Minster of Fiji.

A chief's son, he was sponsored by the Fijian government to study law in Britain. When WW1 started he tried to enlist in Britain but was told that they were not accepting native colonials. Later on, after Britain's army had been decimated, they would accept anyone but by that time Ratu Sukuna had travelled to France and had joined the French Foreign Legion where he rose to Lieutenant and had been awarded a Medaille Militaire. He was wounded in the battle of Champagne and returned to Fiji.

During the war, officers of any sort were saluted in the street. They commanded respect. But some Europeans complained to the editor of the Fiji Times about saluting Ratu Sukuna. The editor reminded them that Ratu Sukuna had fought for them and had been wounded for them and that
yes, they should salute him. After this date, the tone of the paper changed to include more news and articles about the native people and the Indians in Fiji.

At the present time the Fijian Times is owned by Rupert Murdoch of Australia and Fiji's military dictator, Frank Bainimarama, censors it and has even threatened to close it down. We hope sincerely that this newspaper survives.

There are two places for obtaining the Fiji Times on microfilm in New Zealand, the National Library and Massey University Library. It is available for inter-loan and Massey University's copy would be the best, it's probably more under-utilised.
Thanks to Christine Liava'a for this information.

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