A Brief History

The iTaukei Land Trust Board (TLTB), previously known as the Native Land Trust Board (NLTB), was established by the Native Land Trust Act of 1940. To understand the reasons behind its creation, it is helpful to review a brief history of land in Fiji.

When Fiji was ceded to the British Crown in 1874, there were numerous foreign occupiers and claimants to Fijian land. These claims resulted from interactions between chiefs and European beachcombers. However, resident Governor Sir Arthur Gordon halted all land sales immediately after the cession.

In 1876, a commission led by Victor Williamson was formed to investigate these land claims. Many claims were rejected, and others were significantly reduced. Nonetheless, around 400,000 acres of Fijian land were registered as freehold titles under Crown Grants, representing a significant portion of Fiji’s prime agricultural land. By 1880, it became clear that all land recognized as owned by Fijians needed to be recorded and registered, and an authority was required to resolve boundary and ownership disputes. Consequently, the Native Land & Fisheries Commission (NLFC), now known as the iTaukei Land & Fisheries Commission (TLFC), was established in 1880 to investigate claims by indigenous landowners. Simultaneously, a leasehold system was introduced to allow land use under various lease agreements.

In the 1930s, extensive debates about land issues took place in the Legislative Council, the Great Council of Chiefs meetings, villages, settlements, and government circles. The government engaged in discussions with leading chiefs to devise a better system of landlord and tenant relations. A key figure in these discussions was the late Ratu Sir Lala Sukuna. In 1936, the Great Council of Chiefs resolved that it was in the best interest of the iTaukei people for all lands not needed for landowners’ use and maintenance to be made available for national development.

These debates and deliberations led to the establishment of the NLTB 1940.

President of the Board (1940): S. R. Harry Charles

Chairman of the Board (1940): P. R. Charlton

General Manager: Ratu Sir Josefa Vanayaliyali Sukuna