BUILT HERITAGE PROGRAM
The principal objectives of the Built Heritage Program are to:
- Promote the conservation of listed heritage buildings in a strategic manner consistent with best practice for built heritage conservation.
- Foster relationships between building owners, planners and historians.
- Support conservation works for public heritage buildings and places.
Our heritage buildings, a part of our cultural heritage.
A concerted effort to preserve our heritage is a vital link to our cultural, educational, aesthetic, inspirational, and economic legacies – all of the things that quite literally make us who we are (Steve Berry).
Cultural heritage is defined as an expression of the ways of living developed by a community and passed on from generation to generation, including practices, places, objects, artistic expressions and values (ICOMOS, 2002) and is often expressed as either tangible or intangible cultural heritage. It gives people a connection to certain social values, beliefs, religions and customs.
One of the National Trust’s priorities is to support the conservation of historic built structures in Fiji, which are part of our tangible cultural heritage (moveable and immovable heritage). Buildings that are of historical and national importance are preserved under the Town and Country Planning Act, through Scheme Statements, and under the National Trust Act.
Within the capital city of Suva, historical and architectural buildings are classified as Grade A and Grade B buildings – a system used by City and Town Planners. However, it is not known as what other criteria was used to determine the grades for various heritage buildings. The National Trust’s, Suva City Heritage Project, developed over several years, provides a forum for research, information sharing and learning more about the buildings that have defined the city landscape since it was first established.
Fiji’s rich cultural heritage should be valued and protected for future generations. The stories we select from our past say something about us as people. The National Trust has a responsibility to work with people in places with cultural values and in national landmarks around the country to help conserve, protect, sustainably manage and conduct research for the benefit and enjoyment of the people of Fiji.
Suva City Heritage Project
The original inhabitants of Suva, some 3500 to 2000 years ago, settled in hill forts and areas in the region, before building the town of Suva at the Thurston Gardens site around the early 1800s. Tribal wars were prevalent until the 1860s. Over time European settlers slowly acquired, purchased or simply took plots of land in Suva and cleared it for planting. The Melbourne-based Polynesia Company owned the most land in Suva and changed the landscape significantly. In the 1880s the capital of Levuka was transferred to Suva.
Buildings from the colonial era are concentrated in Suva. The architectural styles of buildings in the city reflects the Victorian/Edwardian and early 20th Century architecture of that period. Most of the buildings have a characteristic open verandah and porches, fenestration and timber cladding. There are a few buildings of stone, mainly the government buildings.
Whilst many remain on the landscape of Suva, there has been an unfortunate loss of buildings over the years. The Suva Heritage Project is a long-term undertaking of the NTF to research, document and develop more awareness of the built heritage of our city.