Efforts are continuing underway to restore buildings in the port town of Levuka, Fiji’s first registered heritage site.
Founded in 1820 by European settlers and traders, the former capital was Fiji’s first modern township and became an UNESCO World Heritage Site three years ago this month.
According to Bart van Aller, the National Trust of Fiji’s Built Heritage Officer, their focus has been centred on the restoration of Levuka’s listed heritage buildings, following the devastation of Tropical Cyclone Winston in mid-February.
“I’m also working on getting access to the authentic materials like tongue and groove wall lining etc, and getting skilled people for restoring the buildings of Levuka,” he said.
There are currently 45 listed buildings in Suva and within the boundary of UNESCO, all buildings in Levuka are protected, he added.
“Fundraising and preparing for proper restorations are the main efforts at the moment.”
He said investments in proper restorations such as colonial bungalows would pay off and attract interest in the ownership of authentic colonial (second) houses in the country.
“Virtually the money invested is not gone but added to the value of the property. The aim is to create awareness of the historical values and potential of Built Heritage in Fiji. Old buildings can be turned into new restaurants or accommodation etc.”
Recent projects include the restoration of the Queen Victoria Memorial Hall in Levuka. Built in 1904, the property houses the Levuka Town Council and recently marked the 112th anniversary of its opening last month.