The Fiji Times

‘Pestiferou­s’ Suva site

- By JOHN KAMEA

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.

 ?? Picture: GPH Library Collection ?? Old photo of the Grand Pacific Hotel in the 1920s.
Picture: GPH Library Collection Old photo of the Grand Pacific Hotel in the 1920s.
 ?? Picture: GPH Library Collection ?? Inset: An old photo of Suva’s public library along Victoria Pde.
Picture: GPH Library Collection Inset: An old photo of Suva’s public library along Victoria Pde.

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