Fiji Emigration and Immigration

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How to Find the Records[edit | edit source]

Online Records[edit | edit source]

Polynesian Immigrants Records[edit | edit source]

Polynesian Immigrants Records, 1876-1914, are available at the National Archives of Fiji. These are records of Pacific Islanders who were brought to Fiji as laborers. Although the first ship arrived in 1864, records were not kept until 1876. Laborers came from New Hebrides (Vanuatu), Solomon Islands, Banks and Torres Straits Islands, Gilbert Islands (Kiribati), and Papua New Guinea. There were about 23,000 who went to Fiji. Others were taken to Queensland, Samoa, and New Caledonia. This movement of people is often referred to as "black-birding". These records include general shipping records, agents, and recruiters' journals, plantation records, and personnel documents.

  • To search the records, contact the National Archives by e-mail at archives@govnet.gov.fj. They will advise you of information they need to conduct a search and any fees involved.

Background[edit | edit source]

Primarily three groups of people comprise most of the immigrants to Fiji; Europeans, who started coming in 1835; Indians who came in 1879; and other Polynesians.

  • The first Europeans to maintain substantial contact with the Fijians were sandalwood merchants, whalers and "beche-de-mer" (sea cucumber) traders. The first whaling vessel known to have visited was the Ann and Hope in 1799, and she was followed by many others in the 19th century. These ships came for drinking water, food and firewood and, later, for men to help man their ships. Some of the Europeans who came to Fiji in this period were accepted by the locals and were allowed to stay as residents.
  • The rising price of cotton in the wake of the American Civil War (1861–1865) caused an influx of hundreds of settlers to Fiji in the 1860s from Australia and the United States in order to obtain land and grow cotton.
  • Between 1879 and 1916, tens of thousands of Indians moved to Fiji to work as indentured labourers, especially on sugarcane plantations. A total of 42 ships made 87 voyages, carrying Indian indentured labourers to Fiji. Initially the ships brought labourers from Calcutta, but from 1903 all ships except two also brought labourers from Madras and Bombay. A total of 60,965 passengers left India but only 60,553 (including births at sea) arrived in Fiji. A total of 45,439 boarded ships in Calcutta and 15,114 in Madras. Sailing ships took, on average, 73 days for the trip while steamers took 30 days. Repatriation of indentured Indians from Fiji began on 3 May 1892. The total number of repatriates under the Fiji indenture system is recorded as 39,261.[1]

The primary emigration of people from Fiji are to the following four countries: Australia, U.S.A., New Zealand and Canada.[1]

Immigration Records[edit | edit source]

These records connect individuals with place of origin and current residence to identify further records. They include passenger lists, passport applications, naturalization records, various files kept for minorities entering to work in the country. Records exist from 1870 to the present. A significant portion of the historical population consisted of indentured labor from India in the late 1800s.

These records generally contain the name of the individual, birth date, birth place, profession, names and ages of spouse and children.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 "Fiji". in Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fiji, accessed 22 April 2021.