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The general result of all the available records is that the state of society which prevailed among the natives of Fiji previous to the arrival of the beach-comber was not without a certain admirable orderliness, despite the prevalence of cannibalism and club-law'; but that this was transformed by the influx of white desperadoes into a condition in which atrocious and inhuman cruelty was substituted for all that had been good and orderly. Two influences, of very different character, took up the task of bringing order into this state of confusion. Missionaries passed from Australia to the Pacific islands; and ships of war of the Great Powers began to sail through and about the islands, for purposes of discovery and control. These two forces, working on the whole well together, gradually and with much trouble introduced some sort of order into the island society which had been troubled by the coming of the beach-combers.
The rough preliminary work of civilising was thus being done; but it is important to note that, though there was trade, it was for some time trade in natural products only; and it was not till an article of commerce was produced artificially that opportunity for a settled government-for the formation of a Crown Colonyarose in any of the islands. It was only in the early sixties of the last century that the Civil War in the United States and the dearth of cotton thereby caused gave the Australians and New Zealanders an opportunity of establishing profitably the business of cotton-growing in one of the island groups, i.e. in Fiji; and this resulted a few years later (1874) in the establishment of Crown Colony government in Fiji.
By that time the European population in Fiji had increased considerably in numbers since the days of the beach-combers, and had advanced more than proportion. ately both in respectability and in wealth. It was, however, a very heterogeneous and discordant crowd. It comprised men of many nationalities, chiefly British citizens who had mostly come in by way of Australia and New Zealand, but also Americans from the United States, and many Germans. The centre of European habitation was at Levuka, on one of the smaller islands (Ovalau); but there were many European plantations widely scattered over the native-owned lands along the coasts of the should be fully aware of all that goes on. The arrangement, however, is open to objection; and the difficulty might be met by relieving the Chief Justice of the duty of occasionally acting for the Governor.
The Legislative Council was formerly constituted entirely of nominated members, most of them being public officers, but a few being unofficial residents in the colony. But since March 1904 it has consisted of the Governor, as president, ten official nominated members, six unofficial members (all of whom are elected by duly qualified European residents), and two native members, whose status will hereafter be described. The creation of the six European members by election first introduced a representative element, but was no step towards responsible government. Not unnaturally, the six representatives of the people have constituted themselves into an 'opposition,' generally good-humoured enough, to the government of officials. This is partly due to their having long lived in the neighbourhood and imbibed the traditions of Australia, where responsible government has long prevailed, and partly to their failure to recognise that their proper functions are those of an advisory and not a responsible' body. Thus it occasionally happens that, when all six elected members are united on some question against a more or less compact official majority, they pretend to complain against the understandingnecessary in a Crown Colony, in which all the administrative officers are appointed by and subject to the Crownthat in any important matter the Governor can and must command the votes of his officials in Council.
Lest it should be assumed that the official command
votes mentioned at the close of the preceding paragraph-which is well explained in the Duke of Buckingham's despatch of August 17, 1868 (quoted by Sir Charles Bruce, i, 234 seq.)—is too severe a check on the wishes of the representatives of the people, it may be pointed out that, in any case in which the Governor may use his artificial majority against the real interests of the Colony as properly represented by the elected members, these latter have a remedy in their right of appeal to the Secretary of State, who, after proper enquiry and if convinced that a mistake had been made, would certainly take steps to reverse the erroneous
policy of the local Governor. As a matter of fact, there has been hardly any real and serious conflict of opinion between the two parties, the members of both of which have, outside the Legislative Council Chamber, combined on the most friendly terms. There have, it is true, been appeals by the elected members against the refusal of the Governor and his majority to grant some demand made by the elected representatives—for instance, for representation by officials on the Executive Council, or for trial by jury (instead of by a judge assisted by assessors) of criminal cases in which the interests of both natives and Europeans are concerned. But there can be no question that any impartial person acquainted with the local circumstances would decide that the colony is not yet ripe for either of these developments.
As already indicated, the native system' of Fiji is peculiar. Before the invasion of Europeans the community was only kept together by custom, i.e. by unwritten law in a constant state of unrecorded evolution, and administered at the will of those members of the community who excelled the rest in strength or cunning, and in proportion as each of these self-made chiefs' so excelled. It is practically certain that Fijian custom was never in any degree fixed, in the sense that our laws are fixed; and that the custom varied in different parts of the islands. The European invasion was immediately followed by the more or less irrational vitiation of native custom. Finally, the British Government, out of the less undesirable fragments of the native custom of one part of the islands, created, for all parts of the group, a 'native system.' Probably, in the difficult circumstances of the moment, this was the best thing to do.
Here we are concerned with the new native system only in so far as it deals with the keeping of order in the native communities. For this purpose the colony was divided into provinces, each originally under a native chief called Roko Tui; the provinces were divided into districts, each under a minor native chief or Buli; and within each district a larger or smaller number of towns or villages are recognised, each with its village chief and its own council. The village chief manages his village, more or less in accordance with such part of the native
custom as has been, or is, from time to time incorporated into the native regulations'; similarly, the Buli of each district controls the village chiefs within that district; and the Roko of each province controls the Bulis within his area of jurisdiction. In turn the Rokos are responsible to the Native Commissioner, who is always a European ; and the Commissioner is directly responsible for native affairs to the Governor.
There is thus--in theory at least-a very complete administrative system for native affairs, for the due maintenance of which the Governor, working through his native department,' is ultimately responsible. There is, however, one way in which native affairs have, from almost the first days of the colony, come within the purview of the European officials (other than the Governor and his native Commissioner) to whom is entrusted the administration of the Colony apart from the native system. The Native Affairs Ordinance, 1876, provides for a Native Regulation Board, consisting of the Governor, as President, the Chief Justice, the AttorneyGeneral, the Native Commissioner, the Chief Medical Officer, nine Rokos of provinces, and four other natives, these nine and four being nominated by the Governor. The function of this Board is to frame the native regulations; and these regulations have to be submitted for the approval of the whole Legislative Council before obtaining the force of law. In other words, the draft native regulations have to be approved in the first instance by a Board on which thirteen picked natives sit as members. Till lately this was the only legislative function in which the natives shared; and even this was confined to purely native affairs.
But in 1904, when, as has been said, provision was first made for the election of European members of the Legislative Council, the opportunity was taken to allow natives a voice for the first time in the council which makes the laws of the colony. Unlike the European unofficial members, these natives, two in number, are not elected, but nominated under a somewhat peculiar system. From time to time a great and solemn Council of Chiefs, called the Bose-vaka-Turaga, meets to discuss affairs in which they are concerned, and to speak of these directly to the Governor, who is the Great Chief or Turaga Levu.
Under the arrangemant made in March 1904, the Bose, when it meets, may present to the Governor a list of six names of chiefs--they must be able to read and speak the English language-who, in the opinion of the Bose, would be suitable as representatives of their fellow-natives in the Legislative Council of the colony. From this list the Governor
may select two names, or, if he does not find on it any suitable names, he may demand a further list from his chiefs. In this way, by a combined system of modified election-by the chiefs, that is, not by the people—and nomination, two native members are added to the Legislative Council.
Unfortunately, owing to the system which has hitherto prevailed of teaching the Fijians in their own language instead of in English, the names available for submission for nomination by the Governor are very few; and the choice of native legislators is very limited. Moreover, owing partly to innate shyness in the presence of Europeans, and partly to a want of interest in and knowledge of European affairs, the native members as yet have hardly ever taken any intelligent part in the business of the Council. But the innovation was a step in the right direction; and many further steps in the same direction must be justified and taken before the colony, as a whole, is ripe to pass from the status of a Crown Colony to that of responsible government.
At the time when Fiji became a Crown Colony, most of the other islands more or less under British influence in the Western Pacific were still in the beach-combing' stage ; i.e. there had settled in them from time to time refugee sailors, living among, and even upon, the natives, a few small traders in native produce, and sometimes a few overtasked missionaries. There was no law and order in these places, unless, as sometimes happened, the missionaries, by force of personality, had righteously obtained some small degree of control over some of the natives. Many of these islands were recruiting grounds for the blackbirders,' whose unrestrained operations, more often than not, led to disorder among the natives; and among all these islands passed from time to time one of H.M. ships dispensing a sort of rough justice as between the natives and their white visitors, doubtless as well as