The Fiji Times
‘Pestiferous’ Suva site
ONE of The Fiji Times stories on December 29, 1880, described today’s Capital City as “Pestiferous (unhealthy) Suva Site”.
It was meant to strongly oppose the move to relocate the capital of the colony from Levuka to Suva and get the governor’s attention.
“Upon glancing at the plan of the proposed city of Suva, the feature most prominently impressed upon the mind is that almost one eighth of its entire area is represented by mangrove swamp.
“In close proximity to these fetid and pestiferous marshes, a town is laid out upon a plan which upon paper suggests nothing so forcibly as the idea of a dilapidated geometric spider’s web after a strong gale.”
The paper said the lanes and alleys “of this abortion of a city” shall be but 40 feet wide and “it is scarcely necessary for anyone to be gifted with a spirit of divination to foresee the consequences”.
It said Suva was devoid of sea breeze.
“…the byways of this rookery appear as though specially designed to retain the malarious (sickening) exhalations which continually arise from these mephitic swamps (Suva’s mangrove forest) by which the town is bounded, and the inhabitants condemned perpetually to inhale the contaminated atmosphere…”
Despite opposition, in 1877, the Home Office and the Queen gave her approval to move the administration to Suva. The shift was made official in 1882.
The move was influenced by concerns that the high hills with steep cliffs surrounding Levuka gave the town no room for expansion.