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.
The National Trust of Fiji in partnership with the Fiji Museum, Suva City Council, Sustainable Strategies Consulting (SSC) Private Limited, the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and JICA Alumni Association of Fiji (JAAF) commenced implementing tasks developed under the Suva City Heritage Project in 2021.
This project which focuses on Fiji’s built heritage will increase awareness, civic pride and community support for built heritage. The overall aim is to expand Suva’s tourism to include a ‘Suva Heritage Tour’ which will enrich a visitor’s experience of the city.
Deliverables in place by June 2022:
- Historic walking trail of Suva city
The Suva historical walking trail which is a self-guided tour commences from the Ivi Triangle along Scott St toward the Market, Usher St, around Tappoo City building to Thompson St across the Nubukalou Creek back to Scott St, along Victoria Parade through to Thurston Garden and ending at the Fiji Museum.
- Tour Brochure to compliment the walking tour
4000 copies of tour brochures containing information on Suva heritage buildings and sites of interests are now being distributed from the National Trust HQ office, Fiji Museum and the Suva City Carnegie Library. The brochure features the Suva heritage walking trail for visitors who are interested in a self-guided tour along the trail.
- Interpretation/Information Panels on Suva’s heritage buildings and sites of interests
Five interpretation panels historical information and interesting facts will be installed at five different locations around the Suva City:
- Stephens House
- Albert Park
- Government Buildings – Administrative Seat of the Nation
- Suva City Carnegie Library and the Old Sea Baths and
- Nabukalou creek, Cumming Street and the MH Buildings.
- Historical walking trail virtual tour
A first draft of the Historical walking trail virtual tour is now completed and under review. As part of the virtual tour, visitors will be able to view and enjoy the interior structures of several heritage buildings along the trail. This virtual tour will be made available on the National Trust, Fiji Museum and Suva City Council websites upon completion.
The NTF is appreciative to the JICA Alumni Association of Fiji (JAAF) and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) for funding the production of the materials designed for the project, and to all project partners for their cooperation and support.