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A Mission Divided

Chapter Four

Indigenous Agrarian Commerce: Yeoman Claims to Soil

The villages and farms in the north-west of Fiji’s Viti Levu seemed sometimes to be a long way from the mission’s leadership in Suva, and a lot could be done without the chairman’s knowledge or approval. This region was part of the Ra circuit, an area renowned for its history of anti-colonial movements. Many of the indigenous Fijian nationalists in this part of Viti Levu had been, at one time or another, members of the Methodist mission. Though directed not to be involved in economic or political enterprises, Methodist missionaries were often drawn into these potentially volatile spheres of village debate and agitation. Responding to the politics, several missionaries contributed to the development or maintenance of a Fijian yeomanry through support for industrial training and agricultural endeavours. Leaders of this movement included the Reverends A Wesley Amos and Arthur Drew Lelean, nephew of the Reverend Charles Oswald Lelean who had been working in Fiji since the 1890s. These men sometimes operated outside the bounds of the mission and colonial administrations’ regulations and legislations, and challenged the conceptualisations of the ‘ancient’ and the ‘modern’.1 Missionaries and other supporters — usually individuals from Australian-based businesses and banks — sometimes pushed beyond the bounds of the labour regulations designed by the colonial administration. Administrative distinctions between Fijians and Indo-Fijians had established unique challenges for Fijian farmers, who — contrary to the separatist agendas of some administrators — sometimes worked on sugar crops that neighboured Indo-Fijian farms. This went against the standard protocol enacted by the British administration which sought to clearly delineate the two communities, as John Kelly has argued.2 Colonial bids to construct boundaries between the two communities were therefore not finite; there were moments of fluidity and contact between the two, but certainly a developed sense of competition. This chapter examines the ways in which Methodist missionaries mediated and sometimes exacerbated tensions between the Fijian and Indo-Fijian communities around issues of land and labour during the 1920s and 1930s, and the ways in which they negotiated colonial legislation and cultural systems to pursue nationalist, or even ethno-nationalist, ideas. This chapter also highlights missionary efforts to transform indigenous peoples ‘from the ground up’; induction in to systems of commerce and commodification that they hoped would shift Fijian society from communalism to a more civilised, if agrarian, capitalist social stage.3

Ensuring Fiji’s Methodist mission could become financially self-supporting required a steady and significant income from the mission circuits. Missionaries were therefore concerned about Fijians’ limited ability to engage in paid labour. Sometimes the only money coming into villages was from leasing mataqali land.4 The colonial administration’s 1912 Labour Ordinance required that Fijians perform communal labour obligations rather than gain employment in the colony’s various industries, and was seen to protect indigenous workers from abuse and exploitation. It limited the mobility of Fijians beyond their villages.5 Conscious of demands for greater flexibility, the ordinance did establish a galala (independent) farming system. This section of the ordinance was designed to allow men to leave their village and work for themselves, but only if they paid a tax.6 This provision acted as a release valve, letting the steam out of the anti-colonial feeling resulting from the strictures placed on Fijian wealth acquisition. Brij V Lal has claimed that the galala system promoted individuality, undermined chiefs and disrupted the version of traditional Fijian society that the colonial administration under Governor Sir Arthur Gordon had tried to preserve.7 In the 1920s, debate about Fijian labour followed two main streams within the mission, with commentators arguing either that Fijian ‘salvation’ depended on their moving into individualistic agricultural enterprise, or that traditional village life should be maintained due to concerns that agricultural work would lead to social fragmentation and the loss of culture. Missionaries were constantly considering how the ‘ancient’ and ‘modern’ social systems could coexist.8

Missionaries were highly alert to developing nationalisms that repudiated Fijian traditions. Throughout the early twentieth century, opposition to labour restrictions were channelled into support for Apolosi Ranawai, who was born into a chiefly mataqali (family), a son of a Wesleyan minister from Narewa village near Nadi.9 He was known almost exclusively as ‘Apolosi’. Apolosi established the Fiji Produce Company in 1913, which became the Viti Kabani (Fiji Company). The Viti Kabani’s main aim was to advocate for Fijian economic autonomy, liberating those Apolosi believed were bound ‘hand and foot to European and Chinese traders’ by the colony’s labour regulations.10 It sold Fijian produce directly to consumers, increasing the income of Fijian farmers.11 Apolosi’s advocacy for Fijian farmers and his involvement in ‘occult’ activities had important ramifications and influenced discussions around the ‘three selves’ church principle, especially financial self-support.12 His business ideals aligned with the goals of industrial missions, which were established internationally throughout many mission fields to encourage indigenous peoples into agricultural and industrial education. Both Apolosi and the Methodist missionaries sought to inspire Fijian involvement in the colony’s economy through industry, and promoted indigenous commerce and wealth acquisition.13 Such an endeavour relied upon some movement towards individualism and an eschewing of communal obligations — what missionaries generally perceived as a move away from primitivity towards modernity.

Apolosi’s movement did not symbolise a complete break from Fijian traditions. It was not entirely against chiefly claims of authority because of Apolosi’s chiefly ancestry and the support he received from people such as Ro Tuisawau, a ‘dissident high chief of Rewa’.14 However, the primacy given to Fijian economic advancement necessitated, as Nicholas Thomas suggested, ‘an indigenous modernism that repudiated the custom-bound past, and various forms of obligation and constraint that epitomised it’.15 In 1917, Apolosi told a crowd at Tavua that chiefs were the reason for the ignorance of the rest of Fijian society, and that chiefs effectively sold their men’s labour for their own benefit.16 Historian Timothy Macnaught has argued that Apolosi spoke a new language that united Fijians, bridging the provincial and village-level divisions that had previously disconnected people, as well as those detached through status and parochial affiliations. Apolosi crafted a new nationalistic discourse that highlighted the shared experience of Fijians under an exploitative colonial system to conjure a ‘radical pan-ethnic Fijian consciousness’.17 The Viti Kabani went beyond addressing inequity in the colonial economy, giving rise to a new nationalism that had implications for the Methodist mission.18

Though he enjoyed widespread support from villagers and some European missionaries, including Arthur Small, the colonial authorities loathed Apolosi.19 Ratu Sir Lala Sukuna, the highest-ranking indigenous Fijian in the colonial administration in the early 1920s, had a different vision for Fiji to Apolosi, and the two became enemies. Regarding the propensity for Fijians to get ahead, Sukuna said:

the native appears to have reached the height of prosperity commensurate with his degree of development. Any call for the modification of a social system, if it is to be of any lasting advantage, must come from within, from those whose lives are likely to be affected by it.20

Sukuna’s statement demonstrated the hold of evolutionist ideas over Europeans and educated Fijians.21 Evolutionism was being construed in a variety of ways, morphing over time and being deployed in numerous contexts. The colonial administration had designed legislation that would support the chiefly and communal systems, on the pretext that disrupting chiefs and communalism would incite social chaos. As a high chief of Lau, Sukuna had a vested interest in maintaining a communal system that encouraged commoners to pay homage to chiefs. Apolosi’s movement, which promoted the rights of commoners and their access to income, did not impress Sukuna in the slightest. While Sukuna suggested that lasting social change should come from within, he never supported Apolosi’s grassroots efforts. Sukuna also had his own fraught relationship with the Methodist mission, whose leadership had at times been supremely patronising of the young chief.22

Sukuna condemned Apolosi’s depiction of Indo-Fijians as a threat, suggesting that he exacerbated ‘racial feelings’ to acquire status.23 Apolosi continued to emphasise Fijian interests, however, especially Fijian rights to land. Apolosi hoped all lands alienated since cession would be returned to Fijian ownership, and that his company would expand to acquire all Indo-Fijian and European-run businesses.24 In 1917, soon after his release from prison after serving an 18-month sentence for embezzlement, Apolosi discouraged Fijians from leasing their land, advising villagers to ignore chiefs who had been courted by colonial authorities.25 He urged a crowd gathered at a meeting held in Tavua to:

stay in your own town, dig the soil — your own soil, make use of it. Take the profit of it yourself for this is the time for it, and the things we can do for our individual benefit in these days cannot be hidden from us. It is open to us to put money in the bank, to have cheque books, and over drafts of over 20 pounds.26

While his statement suggests otherwise, Fijians at this time were not able to open their own bank accounts without a European guarantor. Banks in Fiji during this period tended to practise what economist Adrian Tschoegi has called ‘ethnic banking’, catering to expatriates from their own countries that worked in Fiji, rather than to all people within the colony irrespective of ethnicity or nationality.27 The colonial administration’s response to Apolosi’s subversive message was harsh. Authorities monitored his activities and reported on the speech he had made in Tavua. He was declared an enemy of the colonial administration, and a warrant was issued, leading to his arrest and exile to the distant island of Rotuma until 1924.28 Despite his absence from Ra, Apolosi influenced the Methodist membership and the approach of missionaries in the circuit for several decades.

Aware of Apolosi’s ideas, European mission superintendents based at Nailaga actively supported Fijian industrial education. The Reverend Charles Oswald Lelean, stationed at Nailaga from 1902 to 1909, oversaw the Nasinu Experimental Farm in 1921.29 His replacement was the Reverend Arthur Wesley Amos, who observed the Viti Kabani at its most active, while anxieties about Fijian land ownership were at fever pitch.30 In Fiji from 1912 until 1924, Amos witnessed the development of a bifurcated land-use system with the lease of many 10-acre blocks of CSR land to Indo-Fijians at the end of their indenture.31 When he was transferred from Nailaga to Lakeba in 1919, Amos tried to meet with Ratu Sukuna to discuss his concerns but was continuously snubbed and grew frustrated with the Fijian leader.32 His ideas about the need for Fijian economic advancement were at odds with Sukuna’s.33 In that same year, Amos trialled a local system of financial self-support in the Lau islands, which, despite being unsuccessful, illustrated his willingness to move towards this goal.34 As missionaries increasingly encouraged Fijians to abandon the strictures of their prescribed daily labour tasks, the mission circuits became sites of change and social adaptation — ‘laboratories of modernity’. As Stoler and Cooper suggest, colonies provided spaces where different methods for ‘social engineering’ and order could be tested on a small or large scale, and this was done at various mission sites depending on the degree of support from the mission’s headquarters.35

All of this occurred amidst constant concern about demographics in Fiji. The 1921 census revealed that the Fijian population was now 84,475, and counted for 53 per cent of the population, while the Indo-Fijian community numbered 60,634 and constituted 38 per cent of the population. Indo-Fijians had been only 28 per cent of the population 10 years before.36 Observers were anxious about the growing number of Indo-Fijians in the face of the high death rates and low birth rates in the Fijian community.37 This only added to unease about the divisive nature of Apolosi’s calls for Fijian rights. Wanting to avoid controversy, Amos started associating with a like mind who had a less dubious reputation, the Ratu Rawaidranu, chief of Navatu in Ra, who established the Navatu Company in 1921, at a time when Fijians were being excluded from the most effective modes of obtaining money through their being forced into low-paying employment.38 The Navatu Company was similar to the Viti Kabani in that it demonstrated a blend of cultural ‘continuity and change’.39 A graduate of Fiji’s medical school, Rawaidranu was astute and progressive. Rather than relying on money from leases, he sought a higher income for his community by encouraging them to earn a wage.40 In earlier decades, he had organised men from his village to work on Taveuni’s copra plantations, and to cut mangroves across Ra province to supply timber to the Fiji Sugar Company.41 His Navatu Company farmed sugar cane, peanuts and watermelons, and had two cargo ships. At its inception, however, Rawaidranu was forced to think creatively about how he would establish the company, which would have been impossible had he not had the support of Europeans who he had befriended — including, in this instance, Amos. He needed their support in order to open a bank account with one of the foreign banks that had been established in the colony, and he sought their advice on business ventures. Establishing a business account was one complication; the payment of the company’s employees — many of whom were illiterate — provided another challenge. Rawaidranu opened an account with Morris Hedstrom supermarkets where workers could obtain basic necessities such as rice and sugar. He appealed to relatives and friends, such as his nephew Samisoni Lalaqila from Nadogaloa, to leave their villages and relocate to a plot of land at Toko near Tavua to start sugar cane crops. The company was established in the face of great opposition from Ratu Sukuna, and tax collectors regularly visited the village settlements and harassed the workers.42

Rawaidranu’s venture had support at all levels of the mission, including from the Reverend John W Burton. In 1922, Burton advocated industrial training as a method for ‘uplifting of races’, and ‘development of the territory through the natives themselves being trained for agricultural pursuits’.43 Involving Fijian people in the market economy was seen as essential to ensuring ‘permanent progress and prosperity in the Pacific’.44 Burton claimed that ‘the function of the white man would be to train the native, and to act as a commercial intermediary between the native producer and the markets of the world’.45 Missionaries were not supposed to be involved in business or political ventures, but in Burton’s opinion this did not limit their potential to be trainers.46 Fijian peoples, according to his social evolutionist philosophy, would have to pass through the inevitable stages of human progress and be incorporated into the market economy, rather than cling to the ‘old’ communal system. Missionaries saw increased economic engagement as a means of ensuring financial self-support in Fijian communities, which would sustain the future ‘native church’.

Questions about both land and labour elicited conjecture about the potential for Indo-Fijian dominance in the colony. Burton collected submissions for a commission into the progress of self-support in 1923, receiving responses from Methodist missionaries throughout the Pacific region.47 In light of their comments, Burton wrote an article about Fijian labour for the Sydney Morning Herald in 1924:

Will labour conditions be so difficult that there will be a further withdrawal of European capital, and the country sink back into a state where the inhabitants cultivate only so much land as will suffice their meagre needs? Or will Fiji, under a system of peasant proprietorship, of both Indian and Fijian, develop into a wealthy and prosperous native state as some West African possessions have done? Will the European be gradually eliminated and his place taken by the Indian and Chinese? None may say.48

Burton seemed impervious to the political ramifications of statements such as these. The colonial administration and mission were aware that promoting agricultural education for the Indo-Fijian community so soon after indenture proved politically problematic; perpetuating the colonial system required keeping the Indo-Fijian community as a peasant class. An anonymous missionary, trying to raise funds for the Davuilevu industrial mission, had suggested that ‘the Indian invariably improves mentally, morally and physically under indenture’.49 The Reverend Richard Piper was unnerved by such statements, worried that if he and others working in the Indo-Fijian mission had not managed certain mission workers, the Methodist mission might have:

owned a coolie line and its complement of indentured coolies just at the time when the agitation in India was getting to fever heat. The agreement to take up this coolie proposition and then borrow the money to pay for them was actually drawn up ready to sign and the Indian missionaries had not even been advised or consulted. Yet if the plan had come off our name would have stunk in India.50

He felt that it was not so hard to understand why there was ‘trouble with the Indian mission’.51 The European arrogance that Piper described exacerbated the growing rift between Indo-Fijians and Europeans within the Methodist community.

Those who, like Piper, were conscious of racial tensions, monitored anti-colonial sentiment as it brewed. In the wake of the Indo-Fijian strikes in 1920, Amos observed that ‘there was a definite attempt on the part of the Sadhu to enlist the sympathy of the Fijians in a racial dispute and for a time there was a danger of a repetition of the Apolosian doctrine of black versus white’.52 While Amos was relatively supportive of Apolosi’s aims, he was clearly anxious about the potential for a merger between Indo-Fijian and Fijian anti-colonial groups, and this no doubt influenced his vision of mission self-support as an effort to quell any disgruntlement. In this environment, the alliance between Fijians and missionaries became crucial, as it was believed to stall alliances between Fijian and Indo-Fijian dissidents.

In 1923, only two years after Ratu Rawaidranu had established the Navatu Company, Indo-Fijian settlers pressured Fijian farmers who had established themselves on the Pfluger estate near Tavua for access to some of the land. Amos wrote to Chairman Small in 1923:

My people are with me in trying to keep out the Indians from settling on ‘Toko’ (part of the Pfluger estate), side by side with our Vuli [school] town. It would make a useful piece of planting ground for our schools, which are pinched out on all sides by the [CSR] and growing Indian settlement.53

Amos managed daily tensions over land, and defended the mission’s land that had been designated for the Methodist school in the face of rapidly expanding Indo-Fijian settlement. His reference to the Fijian Methodists as ‘my people’ suggested that this had enhanced solidarity between the missionary and the Fijian Methodists; there was a sense of ‘us’ and ‘them’.

Amos continued to support Rawaidranu’s work after he returned to Victoria in 1924 to become Secretary of the Wesleyan Overseas Mission Department. His backing proved essential to the farming scheme. Arthur D Lelean replaced Amos at Nailaga in 1923 after five years working on Fiji’s eastern island of Taveuni, where he had learnt Fijian custom and protocols.54 He knew chiefs were essential to ensuring support for the mission, as they dictated how the community’s funds would be spent.55 Lelean entered Ra circuit ready to meet the challenge produced by Apolosi’s supporters, and collaborated with Rawaidranu, carrying on where Amos left off.

Burton visited Nailaga in 1924, and while there scrawled a quick note in his diary about a conversation he had with Arthur Lelean about Apolosi. Burton was wary of the local leader, describing Apolosi as a source of ‘trouble’ and a ‘big problem of Fijians’.56 Burton mentioned that Lelean and Rawaidranu had established Fijian farmers on 48 acres of land leased from CSR.57 The farmers had secured a seven-year lease at a rent price of 3/- per acre, with no right of renewal unless CSR decided to renew again or they bought the land from the owners.58 The costs were high, and the initiative relied on generous donations from the Victorian Methodist community.59 Money raised through selling the crops went directly to their chief, with one crop harvested in 1927 earning approximately £200.60 Arthur Lelean filtered circuit funds into the scheme.61 He poured his personal income into other areas of the mission work. In 1928, buildings at Matavelo School (next to the Methodist compound at Nailaga) were condemned after an epidemic and needed to be demolished and replaced. The cost was £1,307 and Arthur Lelean paid the bill, expecting some remittance from the mission, which was not forthcoming. After a committee was set up to discuss the matter in 1928, Mr F J Cato, a Methodist from Melbourne who had made large financial contributions to the mission and Burton’s mentor, committed £400 to the buildings’ reconstruction and another £200 was raised by the Fijian branch.62

Figure 4: ‘Ploughing bullocks — Nailaga’.

Source: Photo by R H Rickard and others for the Methodist Church of Australasia, Department of Overseas Missions, ‘Series 01: Photographic prints of missionaries and Indigenous people in the Northern Territory, Papua New Guinea, Fiji, Samoa and India, ca 1885–1938’, PXA 1137, 490-535, pic acc 7061, neg 9, Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales. Published with permission of Uniting Church of Australia.

Missionaries were involved in negotiating access to land. On 29 September 1929, Ratu Rawaidranu, Ratu Sukuna, and CSR representatives signed an agreement recognising the sugar settlements as part of the galala system.63 This method of lease was not exactly the ideal system of land acquisition for Fijians so far as Sukuna was concerned; he had come to believe that one of the reasons why the Fijians were ‘contented and loyal’ was because customary forms of land ownership had been incorporated into the systems of the Native Lands department.64 Regardless of Sukuna’s personal and political sentiments, his signature made it possible for the first four farmers to settle on leases at the Toko Estate at Tavua one month later.65 This formalised the support from the colonial administration and CSR.66 Missionaries oversaw the project, with a council established at that year’s synod. The council would be based at Nailaga, would be convened by Arthur Lelean, and would include the superintendent of the Indo-Fijian branch from Ba and Lautoka, as well as the headmaster of the Lautoka farm school, Mr R Stebbins. Committee members hoped that a manager from CSR would act as an advisor to the committee, and that a qualified accountant would be installed as auditor. A constitution, administrative system and parameters for the council had to be considered, as the responsibilities of the council were initially unclear.67 The council deliberated not only on matters regarding industrial education throughout the district, but also independent sugar settlements and the mission’s industrial schools, and asked ‘whether we are satisfied with the farm helping to pay for feeding and clothing boys — or whether we are going to try and make farmers out of the boys’.68 They thus queried their role in enacting and promoting change in the community and in this instance overrode the separation of Fiji’s colonial society, administering the Fijian and Indo-Fijian communities simultaneously in one forum. Again, however, it was Europeans making decisions for all — much like the European synod.69

The galala farming scheme attracted considerable opposition. Victor Clark, a CSR employee, commented that there was ‘opposition and propaganda from Indians and some of the die-hard chiefs’ to the Toko farmers’ project.70 There were attempts to subdue references to racial antagonism, but the farming scheme brought underlying antipathy to the fore. Earlier that year, Richard Piper, working at the Nadi station of the Indo-Fijian branch, wrote to McDonald complaining about statements published in The Methodist magazine. The retiring president of the Methodist mission, the Reverend Frank Lade, who had no experience in Fiji, reported that there was a ‘bitter feud’ between Indo-Fijian and Fijian communities. Piper argued that no missionary in Fiji would ‘subscribe’ to these comments, despite his personally recording the racial tensions in the mission throughout the previous decade.71

Clark had also mentioned chiefly opposition to the scheme and may have had Sukuna in mind as he wrote this, because the colony’s labour regulations created several hurdles for galala farmers. Fijian workers required exemptions from their tikina (districts), but Rawaidranu acted as their chief.72 Clark, stationed at the Varoko galala settlement in 1930, appealed to McDonald to see if the colony’s governor, Sir Murchison Fletcher, would allow the workers exemption from communal work obligations. After McDonald’s consultation with Sir Murchison Fletcher,73 the labour laws were altered so that the 700 farmers working outside their villages could apply for exemption from communal duties for £1 each per annum, but they required support from CSR or the mission to do so.74 The galala scheme did not entirely extinguish chiefly obligations, but rather reshaped the ways in which chiefs worked with their communities. The system at Tavua required a shift in chiefly allegiances. With Ratu Rawaidranu as the leader, a number of new farming settlements were established where men could work and take their families with them.

Prepared to condone chiefly systems, missionaries struggled more with continuity in non-Methodist faiths in the farming communities, aware of Apolosi’s affiliation with occult practices. Within the international missionary community, there were suggestions that accommodating culture would appease strong nationalist elements, but this accommodation would not be to the point where communities were continuing traditions deemed to be non-Christian.75 Charles Lelean attended the International Missionary Council conference in Jerusalem in 1928 with his wife Constance. One speaker suggested that an indigenous church would be marked by an ‘interpretation of Christ and its expression in worship and service, in customs, and in art and architecture, incorporate the worthy characteristics of the people, while conserving at the same time the heritage of the Church in all lands and in all ages’.76 European missionaries would continue to play a role in deciding what ‘worthy characteristics’ would be incorporated into indigenous churches, but this development opened new avenues for missionaries to understand the acculturation of Christianity. Yet, in the Fijian branch, missionaries were unsure about the difference between syncretism and what could be considered a Fijian version of genuine Christianity.77 McDonald and Charles Lelean were concerned when rumours emerged that Arthur Lelean was encouraging syncretic movements.

Charles Lelean heard that Apolosi — now back from exile — had established a ‘new cult called the “Lotu ni Gauna”’ (the ‘religion of the new age’).78 The Lotu ni Gauna had followers in Nadi, Sabeto, Nawaka and Nadrau. Charles Lelean considered this more of a rogue movement than any attempt at an indigenous version of Christianity, but used this case to argue against reducing the European missionary presence in the Ra circuit, citing the need to ensure that Christianity was properly adhered to.79 He was a hardliner, whereas Arthur Lelean seemed to have been slightly more open-minded. When Apolosi was arrested on the beach at Vuda on 30 January 1930, Arthur Lelean saw an opportunity to welcome members of the Lotu ni Gauna back to Methodism.80 Many of Apolosi’s supporters had left the mission prior to his first arrest due to the high demands of the Methodist’s annual vakamisioneri contributions,81 which had led to a significant drop in mission revenue, leaving missionaries scrambling to compensate.82 During Apolosi’s first exile, his supporters who had tried to return to Methodism were met with opposition by the mission, due to their involvement in what were described as occult activities. Arthur Lelean did not want to repeat the same mistake, and allowed their return to Methodist services.

Though Arthur Lelean acknowledged the practice of traditional or occult ceremonies among Apolosi’s followers, he was more eager to address the nationalist and anti-colonial aspects of Apolosi’s movement. Lelean’s support for Fijian land acquisition revealed the impact of allegiances between Methodist missionaries and the Fijian community. He wrote to McDonald in 1930:

The only solid argument Apolosi could put up against the Mission was that the M.M. [Methodist Mission] did not consult the Fijians when the Indians were turned loose to take up residence in Fiji after indenture. I explained that that was done by fools in Australia but not by those interested in the Kai Viti [iTaukei] here.83

Arthur Lelean pointed directly to the tensions between Fijians and Indo-Fijians, and Apolosi’s belief that Australians — most likely CSR, whose headquarters were located in Australia — were complicit in the process of the dispossession of Fijian land in favour of Indo-Fijian settlement. Arthur Lelean was caught in a quandary, pressured to take part in this process of land alienation. McDonald wrote to Lelean, warning that some Europeans expected Lelean to act as an ‘agent in the disposal of lands round there to Indians’.84 McDonald advised that it was not their job:

… there are solicitors and others who can do it and who make their living at it. We will bring ourselves severe criticism if we act in such matters and we will be well advised to keep clear altogether. Give them all the help we can in other ways — but to act as their agent — I think we ought not to agree to it.85

Arthur Lelean’s knowledge of the local community placed him in a position where he was unable to avoid involvement in politics or business, both of which were attached to land negotiations. While it seems that he shirked the demands of a private European investor who had wanted his help to buy land, there is evidence that Arthur Lelean played a personal role in ensuring Fijian access to land, organising land leases for the farming scheme and the mission. In 1930, he informed McDonald that he had paid the lease at Nailaga, including the front garden, at £2 9s86 He wrote again to McDonald about this property in September and apologised for not making the final payment for Vunidilo, one of the mission’s ‘revenue raising properties’, through the mission — he had instead paid for it himself.87 Arthur Lelean blurred the distinctions between his personal finances, those of the mission, and those for the farming estates.

By 1931, Arthur Lelean and Rawaidranu had established 75 farmers at Toko and another 30 men at Varoka, with CSR providing 10-acre plots of land to each farmer, along with plants, seeds and supervision.88 Lelean leased 48 acres of farmland from CSR for rice, maize and sugar cane crops. In all, with the assistance of CSR, the colonial administration and local chiefs, Amos boasted that Arthur Lelean had aided 600 Fijian families to enter the sugar industry, creating a ‘new type of Fijian farmer’.89 Competitions were held at the Varoka settlement to judge who could cultivate the best garden and keep the neatest house. After touring these settlements, Chairman McDonald ‘felt convinced that, with training, the Fijian will prove a first rate agriculturalist and a real asset to his country’.90 Missionaries involved in both the Navuso agricultural school and the schemes in Ra sought to create an ‘industrial man’, but rather than being ‘detribalised’, the so-called ‘Fijian Methodist industrial man’ still had an avenue into ‘traditional’ Fijian society through his continued deference to the chiefly system and familial ties. This had the additional benefit of creating a more ‘productive and predictable’ society for easier governance.91 The Spectator celebrated the farming schemes:

The men told Mr McDonald they would never return to the old conditions. However, they still recognised their obligation to their towns and the old people, but such a chance of making good as they now had [,] they would not miss for anything.92

The farming schemes married missionary ideals of modernity, individualism, and progress with customary social practices. McDonald saw the scheme as a ‘natural development of the Fijian today and nothing and nobody will be able to stop it’.93 Through work, McDonald felt that Fijian communities could contribute to and engage with their nation, becoming active and useful citizens.

The colonial administration was suspicious of Arthur Lelean due to the persistent rumours that he was associating with Apolosi. The mission sister at Nailaga, Miss Brokenshire, reported in 1932 that she had heard that Lelean was permitting Lotu ni Gauna ceremonies on mission premises.94 Lelean had described the Lotu ni Gauna to McDonald:

[Apolosi’s] lotu [church] consists of Methodism plus prayers to Degei, Lutunasobosobo, Savusavu and Vosavakadua. A bowl of grog is used for prayers, and then thrown outside along with this ‘Duka’ or sins. Baptism is by a bowl of grog down the neck, and promising to obey when the command is given … but I’m not out to make fun of those who have been deceived — they have returned, and the hot bed at Vuda (where the king kissed Apolosi’s toe nail) started off yesterday with Vakamisioneri contributions £21-10-0 as a start for this year.95

Arthur Lelean was prepared to accept those who had been involved in syncretic practices into the church. He now had evidence that his inclusive approach would secure more finances for the mission. In May 1931, McDonald continued to interrogate Lelean about his affiliation with Apolosi, and warned:

that someone has indisputable documentary evidence that [Patemo] is first, second and third and all the time to Apolosi, and that Government and Mission are nowhere. That [Patemo] is using you to further Apolosi’s end.96

Though it is exceptionally difficult to find information about who Patemo was, it is obvious that he was one of Apolosi’s followers. Arthur Lelean denied the accusation that he was associated with Apolosi in this way, writing: ‘Is ADL [Arthur Drew Lelean] for Apolosi? No! As a padre, his friend.’97 McDonald persisted, inquiring again in July, after receiving reports that the colonial administration had:

Intercepted correspondence between Patemo and Apolosi in which our henchman makes it clear — though perhaps the meaning of his words would not carry all the Government gives them — that he is awaiting ‘the day’ which is very near at hand for the emancipation of the Fijian. They only await the return of A. [Apolosi] and the move contemplated will take place! It is interpreted as being all this settlement scheme &c is part of a big plan to pave the way for Apolosi’s reign; while perhaps the real interpretation is that the settlement scheme is the objective and end in view and that as is one, but only one, of the avenues, by which it will be reached. However Government officials have accepted the earlier interpretation. In ALA’s report,98 ADL [Arthur Drew Lelean] is a good fellow &c, but he is a missionary, and of course has the point of view of the missionary and is duped by these unscrupulous kai vitis [Fijians]. It was indeed fortunate that ALA went round when he did, as he was able to see for himself and size the position up and take immediate action to counteract the movement! That is the gist of this attitude and Government accepts it.99

In response to this, Arthur Lelean suggested:

Apolosi does not present any great difficulty, but his life is safer where he is now, and there is not any need to unite the Fijians again under communism, now that each individual is trying to make good under European supervision. The genuine desire of the Fijian to become an economic factor in the colony is based on a determination to survive and grow. This is shared alike by those who hate Apolosi, and those who pledged themselves to him some 16 years ago.100

It was perilous to associate with Apolosi, scorned as he was by the colonial administration. Rawaidranu did not voice support for Apolosi, wanting to ensure the ongoing support of the colonial administration.101 Arthur Lelean became withdrawn. His relationship with McDonald was strained throughout 1931, and correspondence became increasingly infrequent.102

Members of the Methodist leadership continued to support the aims of the scheme, but the large investment that it required had placed significant strain on the mission and its reputation. Conscious of Lelean’s precarious financial position and having personally sent significant contributions, Amos scanned Burton’s 1930 publication The Pacific Isles in the hope that the farmers still had his support.103 Burton’s endorsement was crucial to securing the goals of the farmers, so he excitedly quoted Burton to McDonald, that the Fijian ‘requires education in those particular arts that will enable him to cultivate his land and develop the resources of his country’.104 However, the Reverend Norman Wright, working in the Indo-Fijian mission at Lautoka in January 1933 had heard that a Mr A B Herrold had:

suffered considerable financial loss through ADL [Arthur Drew Lelean] inducing him to make land available for Fijians and after considerable delay not doing anything. He further said that this had been done in several cases so that the Public were discussing it freely.105

McDonald came to Lelean’s defence, stating that ‘unless something more definite is reported to me, the matter must just drop’.106 It was clear that the European community was becoming agitated by Lelean’s efforts. As historian Bruce Knapman described, Lelean was attempting to stem a ‘large-scale white settler development founded on dispossession and forced rural proletarianization of Fijians’.107 While on furlough in Donald, Victoria, in 1933, Lelean wrote:

I’ve tried to set the ball rolling to get help for Fijian farmers and Navuso, but have met with opposition so far. If only the Fijians had had Indian mothers and fathers!!! The fool who stands up for the Fijian has a hornet’s nest about his ears in no time.108

In June, a Mr Birmingham, from the Fiji-based company Morris Hedstrom, claimed that Lelean owed him money. He reassured McDonald that Morris Hedstrom was well protected and that he was a friend and well-wisher of Lelean, but admitted:

[he] would welcome some regulation by your governing body precluding him from any of these foolish advances of his to Fijians. I am sure he personally is a heavy loser through these advances but I would not be surprised to hear even he does not know by how much!109

In 1933, Indo-Fijians were demanding greater access to land. Even Sukuna, who was more open than Apolosi to the legitimacy of Indo-Fijian claims to belonging in Fiji, would not concede the best land. Sukuna stated that he believed tracts of land should be set aside for Indo-Fijian use, giving particular mention to those who had been ‘dispossessed through the also legitimate desire of natives to take up economic cultivation’.110 Amos put Lelean in contact with F Oswald Barnett, a Methodist renowned for his Melbourne campaign against the state of the slums in Collingwood and Fitzroy during the 1920s.111 An accountant by trade, Barnett offered his services to coordinate a company that would oversee the business affairs for the farming schemes. He said that men from the Victorian Methodist Laymen’s Movement had ‘voluntarily proposed the establishing of a small trading company for the purpose of financing student farmers and other Methodist folks’.112 The Reverend E A Thompson wrote that the commercial company would operate with:

the main purpose of placing the native Fijian upon the land and assisting him to cultivate and secure the advantages gained thereby … for this purpose we propose to advance him sufficient finance, mainly upon the security of his own character, at a reasonably low rate of interest, which will, of course, vary according to circumstance.113

An Australian board would manage the company with a knowledgeable businessman appointed to manage ‘Fijian affairs’.114 Thompson reiterated to Lelean: ‘You will understand that this is a purely Commercial Company established and to be worked on a business footing, but managed by business men not mainly for cash profits, but the ultimate advancement of the ideal that you and they have at heart.’115

Arthur Lelean was never clearer in his desire to sustain Fijian land access than in his discussions with Barnett’s business group. The minutes of a meeting held on 28 April 1933 at Barnett’s office in Temple Court, Melbourne, clearly stated that the main purpose of the company was ‘to aid the Fijian to acquire his own native land’, and to ‘place Fijians back upon the land as leases fall in’:116

[Lelean] had received a letter from Rev. J W Burton advising caution in attaching himself to any company, but Mr Lelean pointed out that he had no intention of dabbling in business, nor doing anything contrary to the will of the Mission Board. He was of the opinion, however, that anything that could be done to establish the Fijian on his own land should be done, so that the Fijian should regain his birth-right, and the Fijian Church could become self-supporting.117

He stated that ‘at present the Indian was rapidly securing the land, as the Fijian was unable through lack of finance to pay for the improvements as the leases fell in, so that the Indians retained the land under a perpetual lease’.118 Lelean also suggested that one of the difficulties was that the ‘Fijian is a minor in the eyes of the law’, and this was why a company was potentially useful.

Finances were a critical point of discussion. Arthur Lelean admitted that he had guaranteed ‘advances made by the banks and other traders’ and had acted as a guarantor for many so that land could be secured.119 Amos was convinced that this scheme was worth a trial, though he felt that it should not be led by a missionary.120 McDonald was so anxious about it that he wrote to Barnett warning him not to trust Arthur Lelean due to his being ‘most irregular in financial matters’.121 He wrote again to Amos in July and suggested that:

there are cases where land of extinct mataqalis is available for lease, and this might be secured by advances from such a fund as is suggested. Again, where a lad is on his land, and is just getting his crop going, and is in danger of being sent to gaol because he has not been able to pay his tax, a temporary loan against his crop would be a real service.122

But McDonald remained adamant that Fijians should make their own arrangements with CSR or the government, rather than have the mission involved.123 He pointed out that ‘lands are held tribally, and your advance is not to one person but to the tribe, and they disagree amongst themselves with regard to repayment’.124 In 1936, Amos believed that to eliminate this issue, radical change to the village system was required which it would perhaps have a negative impact on the church, despite Rawaidranu’s ongoing commitment to Methodism.125 The Reverend Cyrus Taiveitaua had written to Amos about Ratu Rawaidranu, saying that he was ‘giving splendid leadership to his companions in church affairs’,126 having supported men who had gone to work with the Reverend Theodor Webb at the Methodist mission in North Australia. Amos also recorded:

At the last annual meeting they found their yearly missionary offering only reached £33, and gave them much concern. When Nathaniel [Rawaidranu] heard it he came forward with the balance of £27! This is an extraordinarily fine gift for a Fijian, and is a sign that in the changing order of Fiji he is carrying over to the new system the faith of his fathers. This gift, let it be noted, is to help us Australians discharge our obligations to our own aborigines!! Truly these children of the sun are rising up to challenge the older people of the West!127

Amos believed that Rawaidranu’s donation demonstrated that the mission’s programs could become financially self-supporting, and self-propagating as the investment facilitated talatala spreading the Word of God to non-Christian peoples in other lands. Despite the difficulties, Rawaidranu was seen to embody the successful efforts to institute the ‘three selves’ church policy.

Charles Lelean was concerned about his nephew’s health, as rumours continued to circulate about the difficulties experienced by the farmers and investors. Charles Lelean had also heard that the ‘CSR has been let down badly over one of his tenant farmer schemes at Nadroga’.128 District Commissioner John Goepel claimed that Arthur Lelean was coordinating the migration of Fijians from their customary land to new sites without the colonial administration’s knowledge or involvement. Goepel also claimed that the conditions on the farms were appalling, which was not noted in mission records.129 Despite Amos’s undying support, Arthur Lelean left Fiji in 1936, returning to the Ballarat circuit in Victoria to attend to both his and his family’s health. He was devastated. He confided in his best friend in the field, the Reverend Robert Green: ‘I determined to return outside the Mission, after a year or so, to die later on with the Fijians.’130

While Charles Lelean had not always agreed with his nephew’s activities, he evidently shared Arthur Lelean’s belief in the need to reinstate Fijian land ownership. He publicly challenged the colonial administration’s attempt to open land to Indo-Fijian and European use. In October 1936, Sukuna and the Council of Chiefs passed resolution 30, opening for settlement all lands that were not required by Fijians. The administration would acquire this land for lease on behalf of Fijian mataqalis.131 Two years later, on 27 February 1938, Charles Lelean, in a sermon at Suva’s Jubilee church, commented:

… we had better look after our lands. This is the time for us to get together, to wake up and do something about them! Things concerning our lands must be decided on here and not in any other place. Let us look after our lands, lest, in the future, the government of India will control them.132

Later that year, in a conference held at the Lilac theatre in Suva, land was again raised as an important issue, this time by Hindu scholar and community leader Pandit Hriday Nath Kinzru, with plans made for a commission to explore opportunities for greater Indo-Fijian access to land.133 The issue of land was becoming increasingly inflammatory. Charles Lelean’s comments were more exclusivist and effectively anti-Indo-Fijian than anything Arthur Lelean had written. The farming scheme had been one way in which missionaries were involved in responding to Indo-Fijian settlement. Charles Lelean’s comments signalled the preparedness of missionaries to promote the sense of difference and competition between the two communities over land. The Leleans had walked a fine line, evidently not always utterly against the Indo-Fijian community yet also championing Fijian rights. They articulated the mission’s propensity to promote Fijian paramountcy.

Missionaries played a crucial role in facilitating land negotiations in the Pacific during the 1920s and 1930s. This position as broker left ministers, such as those involved in these farming schemes in north-west Viti Levu, to contend with a situation more complicated than a simplistic binary condition of colonisers against colonised. Nor was it simply a matter of determining the position of chiefs against commoners. Fiji’s colonial society was a site of complex interactions and contests over land, money, power and prestige.134 Ethnicity and status did play a role but this was never in a strictly binary relationship, although there were often allegiances between Europeans and Fijians. Indo-Fijian settlement elicited strong responses from missionaries, including a protectionist response that they perceived to be humanitarian. The farming movement did not promote Fijian engagement with Indo-Fijian workers, but rather developed in competition with them. Fijians formed a nationalist consciousness through Apolosi Ranawai’s movement, based on the sense of competition they felt towards Indo-Fijian farmers over land as well as through their endeavours to establish a Fijian church working towards a sense of citizenship and ‘Fijianness’. The galala farming schemes were based on chiefly, communal systems of social organisation and contributed to the construction of Fijian nationalism at the village level, paralleling the mission and administration’s native protectionist policies.135

The galala farming scheme ignited tensions over land, with a pro-Fijian stance developing and being articulated more frequently by European missionaries. This was a similar attitude to that displayed by British administrators, as John Kelly has illustrated in his research. The administration and the missionaries were using the same lexica of alterity, and were working simultaneously, if not in collaboration, to promote the codification of land use based on perceptions of race.136 Ratu Rawaidranu and Arthur Lelean had — through the way that they had organised and discussed the scheme — solidified a sense of difference, both cultural and racial, between Fijian and Indo-Fijian farmers in the north-west of Viti Levu. The concept of land as the birthright of the Fijians had been sustained in missionary discourse and enhanced the sense of Fijian paramountcy. While not indulging in anti-Indo-Fijian sentiment, A Wesley Amos, and Arthur and Charles Lelean, promoted the rights of indigenous Fijians, which was illustrated through their commentary about land — the vanua. The farming scheme at Toko exemplified the interest in the self-support concept at the local village level. It was no longer an internationally renowned humanitarian ideal, but a frame for Fijian efforts to gain control of their church. The international church concept of self-support had been converted to a grassroots movement.


1 N Thomas, ‘The Inversion of Tradition’, American Ethnologist, vol. 19, no. 2, 1992, p. 223.

2 J Kelly, ‘Threats to Difference in Colonial Fiji’, Cultural Anthropology, vol. 10, no. 1, 1995, pp. 64–65.

3 J Comaroff and J Comaroff, Of Revelation and Revolution: The Dialectics of Modernity on a South African Frontier, vol. 2, Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 1997, p. 120.

4 K J Brison, ‘Imagining Modernity in Rural Fiji’, Ethnology, vol. 42, no. 4, 2003, p. 338.

5 A Bain, ‘A Protective Labour Policy? An Alternative Interpretation of Early Colonial Labour Policy’, Journal of Pacific History, vol. 23, no. 2, 1988, p. 121; M Mamdani, Define and Rule: The Native as Political Identity, Cambridge, Massachusetts, Harvard University Press, 2012, p. 25.

6 T Macnaught, ‘Chiefly Civil Servants? Ambiguity in District Administration in the Preservation of the Fijian Way of Life, 1896–1940’, Journal of Pacific History, vol. 9, 1974, p. 15; G Ward, ‘Internal Migration in Fiji’, Journal of the Polynesian Society, vol. 70, no. 3, 1961, p. 262; Brookfield depicts galala farming as an anti-chiefly movement but the case study I present here demonstrates the pre-World War II galala communities still involved chiefs. See H C Brookfield, ‘Fijian Farmers Each on his Own Land: The Triumph of Experience Over Hope’, Journal of Pacific History, vol. 23, no. 1, 1988, pp. 15–35, 17; J Overton, ‘A Fijian Peasantry: Galala and Villagers’, Oceania, vol. 58, no. 3, 1988, p. 194

7 B V Lal, Broken Waves: A History of the Fiji Islands in the Twentieth Century, Honolulu, University of Hawai’i Press, 1992, pp. 70–71.

8 T Macnaught, ‘Chiefly Civil Servants? Ambiguity in District Administration in the Preservation of the Fijian Way of Life, 1896–1940’, Journal of Pacific History, vol. 9, 1974, p. 14.

9 M Kaplan, Neither Cargo nor Cult; R Nicole, Disturbing History: Resistance in Early Colonial Fiji, Honolulu, University of Hawai’i Press, 2011, p. 80.

10 T Macnaught, The Fijian Colonial Experience: A Study of the Neotraditional Order Under British Colonial Rule Prior to World War II, Canberra, Australian National University Press, Pacific Research Monograph Number 7, 1982, p. 77–8; R Nicole, Disturbing History: Resistance in Early Colonial Fiji, Honolulu, University of Hawai’i Press, 2011, p. 80.

11 N Thomas, ‘The Inversion of Tradition’, American Ethnologist, vol. 19, no. 2, 1992, p. 223.

12 When visiting villages for fieldwork in 2010, many people described the practices of Apolosi and his followers. People who believe Apolosi might return continue them today. K Close, fieldnotes, December 2010.

13 A D Couper, ‘Protest Movements and Proto-cooperatives in the Pacific Islands’, Journal of the Polynesian Society, vol. 77, no. 3, 1968, pp. 269–72; N Thomas, ‘The Inversion of Tradition’, American Ethnologist, vol. 19, no. 2, 1992, p. 223; J Heartfield, ‘“You are not a white woman!”: Apolosi Nawai: The Fiji Produce Agency and the Trial of Stella Spencer in Fiji’, Journal of Pacific History, vol. 38, no. 1, 2003, p. 69.

14 D Scarr, More Pacific Island Portraits, Canberra, Australian National University Press, 1978, p. 179; R Nicole, Disturbing History: Resistance in Early Colonial Fiji, Honolulu, University of Hawai’i Press, 2011, p. 87; K Gravelle, Fiji Times: A History of Fiji, Fiji Times and Herald Ltd, 1979, pp. 180–81.

15 N Thomas, ‘The Inversion of Tradition’, American Ethnologist, vol. 19, no. 2, 1992, p. 223.

16 Cited in B V Lal, Broken Waves: A History of the Fiji Islands in the Twentieth Century, Honolulu, University of Hawai’i Press, 1992, p. 51.

17 T Macnaught, The Fijian Colonial Experience: A Study of the Neotraditional Order Under British Colonial Rule Prior to World War II, Canberra, Australian National University Press, Pacific Research Monograph Number 7, 1982, p. 79; R Nicole, Disturbing History: Resistance in Early Colonial Fiji, Honolulu, University of Hawai’i Press, 2011, p. 85; T Teaiwa, ‘An Analysis of the Current Political Crisis in Fiji’, in B V Lal and M Pretes (eds), Coup: Reflections on the Political Crisis in Fiji, Canberra, ANU E Press, 2008, p. 31; J Baledrokadroka, ‘Fijian Ethno-nationalism’, in J Fraenkel, S Firth and B V Lal (eds), The 2006 Military Takeover in Fiji: A Coup to end all Coups, Canberra, ANU E Press, 2009, p. 416; T Macnaught, The Fijian Colonial Experience: A Study of the Neotraditional Order Under British Colonial Rule Prior to World War II, Canberra, Australian National University Press, Pacific Research Monograph Number 7, 1982, p. 111; R Norton, ‘A Preeminent Right to Political Rule: Indigenous Fijian Power and Multiethnic Nation Building’, The Round Table: The Commonwealth Journal of International Affairs, vol. 101, no. 6, 2012, p. 522.

18 R Nicole, Disturbing History: Resistance in Early Colonial Fiji, Honolulu, University of Hawai’i Press, 2011, pp. 88–89.

19 Ibid., p. 89.

20 CSO 17/1906 as cited in D Scarr, Ratu Sukuna: Soldier, Statesman, Man of Two Worlds, London, Macmillan Education for the Ratu Sir Lala Sukuna biography committee, 1980, p. 47.

21 C M White, ‘Minority Status as a Contested Terrain: Defining the Parameters of Subordinate Status in Post-independent Fiji Discourse’, Social Identities: Journal for the Study of Race, Nation and Culture, vol. 8, no. 1, 2002, pp. 19–20.

22 D Scarr, Ratu Sukuna: Soldier, Statesman, Man of Two Worlds, London, Macmillan Education for the Ratu Sir Lala Sukuna biography committee, 1980, pp. 30–31.

23 Macnaught, The Fijian Colonial Experience: A Study of the Neotraditional Order Under British Colonial Rule Prior to World War II, Canberra, Australian National University Press, Pacific Research Monograph Number 7, 1982, p. 89.

24 Ibid., p. 80; R Nicole, Disturbing History: Resistance in Early Colonial Fiji, Honolulu, University of Hawai’i Press, 2011, p. 87.

25 K Gravelle, Fiji Times: A History of Fiji, Fiji Times and Herald Ltd, 1979, p. 182; T Macnaught, The Fijian Colonial Experience: A Study of the Neotraditional Order Under British Colonial Rule Prior to World War II, Canberra, Australian National University Press, Pacific Research Monograph Number 7, 1982, p. 85.

26 Enclosure 4 in confidential despatch, 6 December 1917, in CO 83/139, as cited in B V Lal, Broken Waves: A History of the Fiji Islands in the Twentieth Century, Honolulu, University of Hawai’i Press, 1992, pp. 51–52.

27 A E Tschoegi, Foreign Banks in the Pacific: Some History and Policy Issues, d1c25a6gwz7q5e.cloudfront.net/papers/1096.pdf, accessed 25 January 2014, p. 8.

28 R Nicole, Disturbing History: Resistance in Early Colonial Fiji, Honolulu, University of Hawai’i Press, 2011, p. 70, 96; T Macnaught, The Fijian Colonial Experience: A Study of the Neotraditional Order Under British Colonial Rule Prior to World War II, Canberra, Australian National University Press, Pacific Research Monograph Number 7, 1982, p. 91.

29 A J Small to A W Amos, 6 December 1921, F/1/1921, NAF; A W Amos to A J Small, 15 December 1921, F/1/1921, NAF, pp. 1–2.

30 A W Amos was also involved with the National Missionary Council of Australia which was formed in 1926. He became Chairman of the Council in 1949. ‘Personal’, The Argus, Melbourne, 6 August 1949, p. 12.

31 ‘Task for Church After War: New Methodist President’s Concern’, The Argus, 1 March 1945, p. 2; M Moynagh, ‘Land Tenure in Fiji’s Sugar Cane Districts Since the 1920s’, Journal of Pacific History, vol. 13, no. 1, 1978, p. 54.

32 A W Amos to A J Small, Fiji District Correspondence, 1919, 16 September 1919, cited in D Scarr, Ratu Sukuna: Soldier, Statesman, Man of Two Worlds, London, Macmillan Education for the Ratu Sir Lala Sukuna biography committee, 1980, pp. 40, 57. Sukuna used the mission’s boat as if it were at his disposal, to Amos’s frustration.

33 A Thornley, ‘Fijian Methodism: 1874–1945: The Emergence of a National Church’, PhD thesis, The Australian National University, 1979, p. 272.

34 ‘Commission re: Native Church: Information Collected for the Consideration of the Commission’, Melbourne, The Methodist Society of Australasia, Spectator Publishing Company, 1923, p. 9.

35 F Cooper and A L Stoler, ‘Introduction’, in F Cooper and A L Stoler (eds), Tensions of Empire: Colonial Cultures in a Bourgeois World, Berkeley, University of California Press, 1997, p. 5.

36 Fiji Bureau of Statistics – Key Statistics: June 2012, Population, 1.2A Census Population of Fiji by Ethnicity, www.statsfiji.gov.fj/Key%20Stats/Population/1.2%20pop%20by%20ethnicity.pdf, accessed 22 March 2013.

37 ‘Fiji’, Townsville Daily Bulletin, 23 September 1926, p. 3.

38 D Scarr, Ratu Sukuna: Soldier, Statesman, Man of Two Worlds, London, Macmillan education for the Ratu Sir Lala Sukuna biography committee, 1980, p. 71.

39 Senivalati Toroki and Emosi Tabumasi, nephews of Nacanieli Rawaidranu, personal communication, June 2013; Thornley, ‘Fijian Methodism: 1874–1945: The Emergence of a National Church’, PhD thesis, The Australian National University, 1979, p. 277; C Forman, The Island Churches of the South Pacific: Emergence in the Twentieth Century, Michigan, Orbis Books, 1982, p. 133.

40 M Moynagh, ‘Land Tenure in Fiji’s Sugar Cane Districts Since the 1920s’, Journal of Pacific History, vol. 13, no. 1, 1978, p. 55.

41 K Close, fieldwork notes, December 2010.

42 Senivalati Toroki and Emosi Tabumasi, nephews of Nacanieli Rawaidranu, personal communication, June 2013.

43 ‘Missionary Enterprise: Stimulating the Work: Interview with J W Burton’, The Register, Adelaide, South Australia, 9 October 1922, p. 8.

44 Ibid.

45 Ibid.

46 Stanley has noted that missionaries elsewhere had similar ideas. B Stanley, The Bible and the Flag: Protestant Missions and British Imperialism in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries, Leicester, England, Apollos, 1990, pp. 71, 76.

47 ‘Commission re: Native Church: Information Collected for the Consideration of the Commission’, Melbourne, The Methodist Society of Australasia, Spectator Publishing Company, 1923, p. 3.

48 J W Burton, ‘Fiji: Labour and the Future’, Sydney Morning Herald, 27 September 1924, p. 11.

49 R Piper, ‘Indian Mission: Problems in Fiji: A Report’, screen 490, item 9, MOM 238, ML.

50 Ibid.

51 Ibid.

52 A W Amos to A J Small, 30 August 1921, F/1/1921, NAF, p. 2.

53 A W Amos to A J Small, 16 January 1923, F/1/1923, NAF.

54 A D Lelean to A J Small, 25 April 1922, F/1/1922, NAF; A D Lelean to A J Small, 19 June 1922, F/1/1922, NAF; A D Lelean to A J Small, 8 September 1922, F/1/1922, NAF, p. 2.

55 A D Lelean to A J Small, 8 September 1922, NAF, F/1/1922, NAF, p. 2; A J Small to A D Lelean, 19 September 1922, F/1/1922, NAF. High copra prices in the early 1920s allowed for steady vakamisioneri contribution in the Lau islands: B Knapman, ‘The “vakamisioneri” in Lau, Fiji: A Reply’, Journal of Pacific History, vol. 13, no. 2, 1978, pp. 113–14.

56 J W Burton, diary, 16 August 1924, MSS 2899 add on 990, ML.

57 B Knapman, ‘Capitalism’s Economic Impact in Colonial Fiji, 1874–1939: Development or Underdevelopment?’, Journal of Pacific History, vol. 20, no. 2, 1985, p. 73.

58 J W Burton, diary, 15 Aug 1924, MSS 3267/2, ML.

59 A W Amos to R L McDonald, 8 March 1931, F/1/1931, NAF, p. 3; R L McDonald to A D Lelean, 4 March 1931, F/1/1931, NAF; Re Cable a/c A D Lelean, A W Amos to R L McDonald, 10 March 1932, F/1/1932, NAF; R L McDonald to Amos 22 March 1932, F/1/1932, NAF.

60 ‘The Great Ba Circuit’, The Spectator, 20 April 1927.

61 For example see R L McDonald to A D Lelean, 3 April 1930, F/1/1930, NAF; A W Amos to R L McDonald, 10 March 1932, F/1/1932, NAF.

62 Records re Commission to Fiji, August 1928, frame 302; ‘Ra Circuit Finances’, mission board minutes, MOM CY 3310 1927–1930, ML; J W Burton, The Weaver’s Shuttle: Memories and Reflections of an Octogenarian, unpublished manuscript, n.d., p. 110.

63 K Close, Talanoa, Yaladro, fieldnotes, 2010.

64 D Scarr, Ratu Sukuna: Soldier, Statesman, Man of Two Worlds, London, Macmillan education for the Ratu Sir Lala Sukuna biography committee, 1980, p. 76.

65 V Clark to R L McDonald, 7 May 1930, F/1/1930, NAF, pp. 1–2.

66 Ibid., p. 3; T Macnaught, The Fijian Colonial Experience: A Study of the Neotraditional Order Under British Colonial Rule Prior to World War II, Canberra, Australian National University Press, Pacific Research Monograph Number 7, 1982, p. 140.

67 Fiji District Synod, European Journal, 1929, Screen Shot 55, CY 3038, ML, p. 45.

68 W Stebbins to R L McDonald, 5 May 1930, F/1/1930, NAF.

69 M Kaplan and J Kelly, ‘On Discourse and Power: Cults and Orientals’, American Ethnologist, vol. 26, no. 4, 2000, p. 852.

70 V Clark to R L McDonald, 7 May 1930, F/1/1930, NAF, p. 2.

71 R Piper to R L McDonald, 14 March 1929, F/1/1929, NAF, pp. 1–2.

72 H C Brookfield, ‘Fijian Farmers Each on his Own Land: The Triumph of Experience Over Hope’, Journal of Pacific History, vol. 23, no. 1, 1988, p. 17; R Nayacakalou, Leadership in Fiji, University of the South Pacific in association with Oxford University Press, 1975, p. 1.

73 Sir Murchison Fletcher was governor from 1929 to 1936. B Knapman, ‘Capitalism’s Economic Impact in Colonial Fiji, 1874–1939: Development or Underdevelopment?’, Journal of Pacific History, vol. 20, no. 2, 1985, p. 77.

74 R L McDonald to V Clark, 14 May 1930, F/1/1930, NAF, p. 1; See also B Knapman, ‘Capitalism’s Economic Impact in Colonial Fiji, 1874–1939: Development or Underdevelopment?’, Journal of Pacific History, vol. 20, no. 2, 1985, p. 79; T Macnaught, The Fijian Colonial Experience: A Study of the Neotraditional Order Under British Colonial Rule Prior to World War II, Canberra, Australian National University Press, Pacific Research Monograph Number 7, 1982, p. 139.

75 B Mathews, Roads to the City of God: World Outlook from Jerusalem, London, Edinburgh House Press, 1928, p. 10.

76 Ibid., pp. 43, 60; Evangelical Dictionary of World Missions, as cited in D Lindenfield and M Richardson, (eds), Beyond Conversion and Syncretism: Indigenous Encounters with Missionary Christianity, 1800–2000, New York and Oxford, Berghahn Books, 2012. This was likely the form of syncretism that missionary Jesse Carey feared would occur if the theological institution in Fiji had been transferred to Fijians in the 1870s. See A Thornley, ‘“Through a glass darkly”: Ownership of Fijian Methodism, 1850–80’, in P Herda (ed.), Vision and Reality in Pacific Religion, Canberra, Pandanus Books, 2005, p. 139.

77 Deryck Scarr has suggested that Apolosi Nawai’s movement was syncretic. D Scarr Ratu Sukuna: Soldier, Statesman, Man of Two Worlds, London, Macmillan education for the Ratu Sir Lala Sukuna biography committee, 1980, p. 46.

78 C O Lelean to J W Burton 3 February 1930, F/1/1930, NAF.

79 Ibid.

80 A D Lelean to R L McDonald, 31 March 1930, F/1/1931, NAF.

81 R Nicole, Disturbing History: Resistance in Early Colonial Fiji, Honolulu, University of Hawai’i Press, 2011, pp. 88–89, 90; A D Lelean to R McDonald, 31 March 1930, F/1/1931, NAF.

82 R Nicole, Disturbing History: Resistance in Early Colonial Fiji, Honolulu, University of Hawai’i Press, 2011, p. 93.

83 A D Lelean to R L McDonald, 31 March 1930, F/1/1931, NAF, p. 1.

84 Ibid.

85 R L McDonald to A D Lelean, 10 December 1930, F/1/1930, NAF.

86 A D Lelean to R L McDonald, 14 August 1930, F/1/1930, NAF.

87 Ibid.

88 A W Amos to R L McDonald, 10 November 1931, F/1/1931, NAF.

89 A W Amos to R L McDonald, 10 November 1931, F/1/1931, NAF; A W Amos, ‘Fiji Revisited’, continued from 20 November 1935, The Spectator, 27 November 1935, p. 975; R Eves, ‘Colonialism, Corporeality and Character: Methodist Missions and the Refashioning of Bodies in the Pacific’, History and Anthropology, vol. 10, no. 1, 1996, pp. 85–138.

90 ‘Across Viti Levu: Rebuilding Towns: Successful Fijian Farmers’, The Spectator, 30 September 1931.

91 F Cooper, Decolonisation and African Society: The Labor Question in French and British Africa, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1996, p. 2.

92 ‘Across Viti Levu: Rebuilding Towns: Successful Fijian Farmers’, The Spectator, 30 September 1931.

93 R L McDonald to A D Lelean, 7 July 1931, F/1/1931, NAF.

94 P Brokenshire – private and confidential notes on the Lotu ni Gauna, Davui/a/2, 1932, as cited in A Thornley, ‘Fijian Methodism: 1874–1945: The Emergence of a National Church’, PhD thesis, The Australian National University, 1979, p. 157.

95 A D Lelean to R L McDonald, 31 March 1930, F/1/1931, NAF, p. 2.

96 R L McDonald to A D Lelean, 20 May 1931, F/1/1931, NAF.

97 A D Lelean to R L McDonald, 28 May 1931, F/1/1931, NAF.

98 I have not been able to identify who this acronym refers to. I assume it was a government official.

99 R L McDonald to A D Lelean, 4 July 1931, F/1/1931, NAF.

100 A D Lelean to R L McDonald, 28 May 1931, F/1/1931, NAF.

101 K Close, Yaladro, Talanoa, fieldwork notes, 2010.

102 A D Lelean to R L McDonald, 5 March 1931, F/1/1931, NAF.

103 A W Amos to R L McDonald, 10 November 1931, F/1/1931, NAF, p. 4; J W Burton, The Pacific Islands: A Missionary Survey, London, World Dominion Press, 1930, pp. 16, 19.

104 J W Burton, The Pacific Islands: A Missionary Survey, London, World Dominion Press, 1930, p. 26, cited in A W Amos to R McDonald, 8 March 31, F/1/1931, NAF, pp. 3–4.

105 N Wright to R L McDonald, 3 Jan 1933, F/1/1933, NAF.

106 R L McDonald to N Wright, 7 Feb 1933, F/1/1933, NAF.

107 B Knapman, ‘Capitalism’s Economic Impact in Colonial Fiji, 1874–1939: Development or Underdevelopment?’, Journal of Pacific History, vol. 20, no. 2, 1985, p. 81.

108 A D Lelean to R L McDonald, 1 May 33, F/1/1933, NAF.

109 Birmingham to R L McDonald, 6 June 1933, F/1/1933, NAF.

110 Sukuna, Legislative Council debates, 26 October 1933, cited in D Scarr, Ratu Sukuna: Soldier, Statesman, Man of Two Worlds, London, Macmillan education for the Ratu Sir Lala Sukuna biography committee, 1980, p. 107.

111 E W Russell, Barnett, Frederick Oswald (1883–1972)’, Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, The Australian National University, adb.anu.edu.au/biography/barnett-frederick-oswald-5138/text8599, accessed 26 June 2013; T Birch, ‘“These children have been born in an abyss”: Slum Photography in a Melbourne Suburb’, Australian Historical Studies, vol. 123, 2004, p. 2.

112 A W Amos to R L McDonald, 20 June 1933, F/1/1933, NAF, p. 1.

113 E A Thompson to A D Lelean, 19 June 1933, F/1/1933, NAF, p. 1.

114 Ibid.

115 Ibid.

116 Those present at the meeting were W A Towler, E H Moad, H A Hedley, A E Allan, H H Murray, S C Brittingham, J F Wilkinson, F O Barnett, E A Thompson, W B McCutcheon, E L Gault and A D Lelean. Minutes, enclosed in letter 15 May 1933, F/1/1933, NAF.

117 Minutes, enclosed in letter, 15 May 1933, F/1/1933, NAF.

118 Ibid., p. 2; B V Lal, Broken Waves: A History of the Fiji Islands in the Twentieth Century, Honolulu, University of Hawai’i Press, 1992, p. 71.

119 Minutes, enclosed in letter 15 May 1933, F/1/1933, NAF.

120 A W Amos to R L McDonald, 20 June 1933, F/1/1933, NAF, p. 2.

121 R L McDonald to F O Barnett, 8 June 1933, F/1/1933, NAF; F O Barnett to R L McDonald, 29 May 1933, F/1/1933, NAF; F O Barnett to R McDonald, 23 June 1933, F/1/1933, NAF.

122 R L McDonald to A W Amos, 3 July 1933, F/1/1933, NAF, pp. 1–2.

123 Ibid., p. 2.

124 Ibid.

125 A W Amos, ‘The New Fiji’, The Spectator, 29 January 1936.

126 Ibid.

127 Ibid.

128 C O Lelean to R L McDonald, 5 March 1934, F/1/1934, NAF. See also C O Lelean to R L McDonald, 10 July 1934, F/1/1934, NAF; C O Lelean to R L McDonald, 28 July 34, F/1/1934, NAF, p. 2; C O Lelean to R L McDonald, 28 July 34, F/1/1934, NAF, p. 2.

129 J Goepel to the Colonial Secretary, 15 April 1935, CSO F20/2 as cited in T Macnaught, ‘Chiefly Civil Servants? Ambiguity in District Administration in the Preservation of the Fijian Way of Life, 1896–1940’, Journal of Pacific History, vol. 9, 1974, p. 14.

130 A D Lelean to R H Green 26 March 1936, M/61, MF, in A Thornley, ‘Fijian Methodism: 1874–1945: The Emergence of a National Church’, PhD thesis, The Australian National University, 1979, p. 34.

131 Council of Chiefs, CP 36/1936 as cited in M Moynagh, ‘Land Tenure in Fiji’s Sugar Cane Districts Since the 1920s’, Journal of Pacific History, vol. 13, no. 1, 1978, p. 59.

132 Colonial Secretary to C O Lelean, 2 March 1938, MOM F/2/vol 2, CSO 143; C O Lelean to colonial secretary, 7 March 1938, MOM F/2/vol 2, CSO 143.

133 B V Lal, A Vision for Change: A D Patel and the Politics of Fiji, Canberra, ANU E Press, 2011, p. 46.

134 A L Stoler, Carnal Knowledge and Imperial Power: Race and the Intimate in Colonial Rule, Berkeley and Los Angeles, University of California Press, 2002, p. 8.

135 J Leerssen, ‘Nationalism and the Cultivation of Culture’, Nations and Nationalism, vol. 12, no. 4, 2006, p. 559.

136 E A Thompson to A D Lelean, 19 June 1933, F/1/1933, NAF, p. 1; J Kelly, ‘Threats to Difference in Colonial Fiji’, Cultural Anthropology, vol. 10, no. 1, 1995, p. 66.


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