Native Land Distribution

March 21, 2018, 6:39 a.m.


THERE are three major categories of land in Fiji:
a. Freehold Land – managed by the Registrar of Titles and can be sold or leased.
b. State or Crown Land – managed by the Lands Department (Government) which can be leased but not sold.
c. iTaukei Land – managed by TLTB which can be leased but not sold.

How did freehold land came into place?
When the European settlers first came to Fiji they bought some parcels of land from the landowners using guns, alcohol
and other valuable items at that time as a
medium of exchange.
After Fiji was ceded to Great Britain in 1874, the Colony then decided to investigate all land parcels bought by the European.
In 1876, the first land laws came into force and were called the Land Claims Ordinance which allowed for the establishment
of the Land Claims Commission whose responsibility was to investigate all land sales in Fiji. All those land that were found
by the Commission to be properly procured were then given to the Government and recorded as Crown Grant.
Close to 400,000 acres of the total landmass in Fiji were recorded as freehold after the work of the Land Claims Commission was completed in 1881.
In 1582 all Crown Grants were approved by the Government before land sales were stopped and deemed as illegal.
However, between 1905 and 1908 Governor of Fiji Sir Everard Imthurn allowed for the selling and buying of iTaukei Land for
development and public purposes. Land that were sold and bought during this period were called Native Grants and was
about 206 parcels altogether. There was no other itaukei land sale after that.
In 1905, the Native Land Ordinance came into force and the sale of iTaukei land became permanently illegal.

What type of land are those that are now known as State Land?

Again there are four major types and are
described as follows:
1. Schedule A Land – These are itaukei land that was transferred to the Government when their owners
have become extinct under the Native Land Ordinance and the iTaukei Land Trust Act [all these land have been reverted back to to TLTB in 2002]
2. Schedule B Land – All land that were unclaimed during the initial Land Claims Commission in light of our laws particularly the Native Lands Ordinance and Section 19 of the iTaukei Lands Act (unclaimed/vacant lands)… [all have been reverted to TLTB in 2002]
3. State Freehold Land – Land initially acquired by some individuals and later bought by the State - most of which
were bought from the Colonial Sugar Refining Company Ltd (CSR).
4. State Foreshore – land under the water in rivers and streams and under the sea’s high water mark anywhere
within Fiji’s EEZ.

How was the itaukei land distributed to the native people and by whom?
• Ordinance 21 of 1880 – Legalisation of the owners of itaukei land (Native Land Tenure).
• Ordiance of 1882 – Work of the Native Lands Commission began and a Commissioner appointed to start the investigation of itaukei land ownership.
• Ordinance IV of 1905 – all itakei land laws put together under the iTaukei Lands Act (Cap. 133).

• The iTaukei land laws gave power to the Native Lands Commissioner to divide all land in Fiji between the native people with clearly marked boundaries.
• The first Native Land Commissioner was Mr Basil Thompson who started his work in Rewa in 1890 then moved to Naitasiri, Tailevu and Colo-East.
• Mr David Wilkinson was the next Native Land Commissioner and worked in Ba and Yasawa in 1892. Mr Wilkinson did not divide the land to each yavusa, mataqali and
• G. V. Maxwell and Boyd continued the work of the Commission together with Ratu Savenaca Seniloli and Ratu Vereniki Raiwalui. They covered Colo-West, Nadroga, Lau and Ba in 1911 and helped put together the Register of Native
• Ratu Sir Lala Sukuna then carried on the work until its completion in 1938 although the province of Lau was yet to be demarcated.
• It was at this time when the investigation of land under Native Reserves started as well as the ground work for the birth of NLTB, now known as TLTB.


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