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The Colonial administrators developed the land tenure system we have adopted after Fiji was ceded to Great Britain in 1874. Immediately after Cession, the Governor Sir Arthur Gordon discontinued all land sales that had been rampant throughout Fiji immediately before 1874. In 1876, the Governor established a Commission, led by Victor Williamson, to investigate all claims to land made by Europeans in Fiji.

The Commission confirmed the sale of about 400,000 acres of the best land in Fiji. Those that were confirmed were granted requisite Crown Grant titles to the land. The alienation of these lands saw the establishment of freehold titles in Fiji.

At the completion of Mr. Williamson’s work, another commission was established to investigate the customary land ownership structure of the indigenous Fijian. That Commission recorded the names of individual members of each landowning unit. The Commission also recorded the migration of each landowning unit who were then recorded as landowners in the place there were occupying at the time of Cession. Confirmation of the boundaries of land belonging to each landowning unit was recorded against the evidence given under oath by a representative of the unit. These proceedings established the native land tenure structure in Fiji.

During the inquiries mentioned above, some land were found to be vacant while some were owned by landowning units that had become extinct at the time of the hearing. Land that was subject to this phenomenon was turned over to the Crown by virtue of Clause 4 of the Deed of Cession document.

Native Land

The term "native land" is defined as land above high-water mark, not being freehold nor owned by the State in accordance with the provisions of the Crown Lands Act. It comprises approximately 88 per cent (88%) of the total landmass in Fiji.

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