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Bentley family papers including letters of Cakobau government and military authorities of Fiji

  • AU PMB MS 1429
  • Coleção
  • 1873 - 1965

These papers were found in a suitcase in Victoria, Australia in 2013. The suitcase was labelled with the name of Mr Leonard Charles Norman Bentley. After Leonard’s death, his son, Mr Wilfred Waring Bentley, packed up Leonard’s house and transported many of his belongings to Australia, including the suitcase in which these papers were found. The papers were discovered by Elizabeth Howarth (nee Bentley) after the death of her father, Wilfred Waring Bentley. Though the suitcase had Leonard Bentley’s name on it, there were personal items in the suitcase that indicate it had been packed by Wilfred Waring Bentley.

The Bentley family arrived in Fiji in 1867 when Henry Bentley left Australia to join the cotton boom. In 1871, he left agriculture to work in the government of King Cakobau. He held various posts including chief police magistrate, superintendent of police and controller of general labour. After annexation, he served as sub-agent-general of immigration.

Captain Robert Crawford Miller Bentley was one of Henry’s eleven children. He was five years old when the family arrived in Fiji and at age 13 he was articled to barrister and solicitor Mr W. Scott. In 1883, he was appointed associate to the Chief Justice and later as clerk to the Attorney-General, before moving on to acting-registrar of the Supreme Court and curator of intestate estates. His later posts were as sub-collector of customs and post-master at Levuka. He was the commanding officer of D Company of Levuka in a volunteer defence force under the governorship of Sir George O’Brien.

Robert’s son, Leonard Bentley, worked in the commercial sector, first with Burns Philp and later with Pearce and Co. He was also involved in Levuka Town Council, Chamber of Commerce, Levuka Cricket Club and Levuka Regatta Committee. He was also active in the Anglican Diocese of Polynesia and the Holy Trinity Cathedral chapter. He married Margaret Annie Allport Waring who appears in some of the photos in this collection. Margaret was awarded an MBE for her services to the community including her involvement with the Colonial War Memorial Hospital (aka CWM Hospital). Their son, Wilfred Waring Bentley, who brought these papers to Australia, also worked for Pearce and Co.

Many of the papers in this collection appear to be official government correspondence, mostly to or from James Harding during the years 1873-1874. Many of the letters relate to the Ba campaign that was fought throughout 1873, in which Harding played a significant role. There had long been friction around Ba between the Kai Colo of the interior, coastal Fijians and European planters. There was also tension between some of the planters and the Fijian government. A group of rebellious planters, led by Colonel Whyte and J. de Courcy Ireland, were preparing to travel to Levuka with the goal of deposing government, when the Burns family and many of their staff, were murdered by Kai Colo people on the Vunisamaloa plantation. The government responded by sending Fijian troops under the command of Major W.H. Fitzgerald to set up a defensive outpost at the headwater of the River Ba. The settlers were angered by the arrival of this force, believing it incapable of defeating the Kai Colo and putting their own lives and plantations in more danger. They took up arms against Fitzgerald, who was forced to withdraw until he was joined by Captain James Harding, then head of police, with approximately 50 more Fijian troops.

Fitzgerald and Harding lead an attack on the Kai Colo at Na Korowaiwai, killing approximately 170 people. On their return to the coast, there was a skirmish between the armed settlers and Harding’s men. The situation was diffused when White and de Courcy Ireland were detained and the group of armed settlers disbanded. Major Fitzgerald and Major H.C. Thurston then lead a campaign to wipe out the Kai Colo, which came to a head at the village of Na Culi, where many Kai Colo were killed and many were taken prisoner. Having captured Na Culi, the campaign was paused when Harding and H.C. Thurston accused Major Fitzgerald of cowardice and had him court martialed. There are papers relating to the charges against Fitzgerald in this collection.

The letters also describe plantation disputes including land acquisition, evictions and murder, the collection of taxation and other matters. Most letters are between James Harding and government officials G.G. Whalley, G.A. Woods, J.B. Thurston, H.C. Thurston, M.H. Fraser, John Langford, Thomas Mackenzie, and planters such as A. Eastgate, David Hannah, J. de Courcy Ireland and others. There are also a number of letters in Fijian language, including from Josaia Sorowali. There is also a hand drawn map of action near Na Culi on 19 July 1873.

It is unknown how or when these documents came into the Bentley family. Henry Bentley was employed in law enforcement during the years in which much of this correspondence was written but it is unknown if he knew Harding, or if he had contact with these papers in any way. His son Robert Bentley also held government positions, though post-Cession. There are also papers related to the Waring family in this collection, though less is known about this side of the family. There are two letters addressed to Henry T. Waring Esquire, including an offer of the post of government arbitrator in the acquisition of Makogai and Makodraga islands and from the employees of Messrs Henry Cave & Co of Levuka. A Henry Thomas Waring worked as a plantation manager for Colonial Sugar Refining Company on the Rewa River in the Nausori area and was later a customs officer in Levuka.

Also included in these papers is a collection of verses, Government Gazettes, photos of the Waring family, other photographs and Turpin’s Almanac 1873. There are also envelopes addressed to Mrs LC Bentley (Margaret Bentley), hospital Christmas cards from 1955 and a newspaper article on Mr Leonard Charles Bentley.

Bentley Family

Ai Tukutuku Vakalotu Suva: Methodist Mission. No.1 (1893) - No.698 (Nov. 1964)

  • AU PMB DOC 199
  • Coleção
  • 1897-1903

Fijian language periodical, published by the Methodist Church in Suva, Fiji, where it was microfilmed. Quarterly in 1896, became monthly in the mid 1900s. Mitchell Library, Sydney, has 1893-1905 (complete): 1906-15 (impf.): 1937-1950 (impf.): 1951-1964 (complete). No complete runs are known for 1906, 1907 and 1909. Covers articles and news of the Methodist Mission in Fiji, the South Pacific and elsewhere. For later volumes see PMB Doc .200-205.

Issues for 1897-1900 (complete): 1901-1903 very incomplete

Ai Tukutuku Vakalotu

John Baker slides of Fiji and Tonga

  • AU PMB PHOTO 127
  • Coleção
  • January - September 1971

These slides were taken by John Baker while he was undertaking fieldwork for a PhD at the Australian National University (ANU) on the relationship between shipping transport costs and patterns of spatial development in Fiji and Tonga. John and his wife Liz (Elizabeth) lived in Suva and Nuku’alofa and were fortunate to travel extensively by ship around Fiji, as well as visiting the Vava’u Group in Tonga. The collection mostly includes ships and other vessels (including Japanese fishing boats, punts and whaleboats), as well as shipping infrastructure. It also includes landscapes, street scenes and personalities encountered.

In Fiji, shipping infrastructure includes Queen’s Wharf, Suva Wharf and the CSR (Colonial Sugar Refinery) wharf/jetty in Lautoka. Cargo is loaded and unloaded, including sugar, cars, timber and copra. Businesses include Pacific Fishing Co. and Morris Hedstrom. People photographed are Barry Shaw, Bill Erich, Dorothy Toussaint, Ian Fairbairn and Heidi Fairbairn and their son John Fairbairn, Liz Baker and John Baker, as well as the ANU House caretakers Manuele and Asenat. Places photographed are Sigatoka, Walu Bay, Deuba, Mualevu village and Lomoloma at Vanua Balavu / Mbalavu Island, Munia Island, Cikobia Island, Korotoga, Levuka, Yacata Island, Kanacea Island, Nayau Island, Naivaka Village, Bua coast of Vanua Levu Island, Nadura, Macuata coast, Undu Point, Somosomo, Taveuni, Taveuni coastline at Naikelemusu, Rewa Delta and Laucala Bay, Suva. There are general views of sugar cane / sugarcane fields and other agriculture (including rice, copra and use of bullocks), coral reefs, Suva housing, including new and informal housing, as well as the ANU house at 30 Beach Road.

In Tonga, photographs include shipping and other vessels (including steel barges, cutters, landing craft, sailing boats and others), as well as shipping infrastructure at Faua Harbour, Touliki Harbour, Neiafu wharf and Queen Salote Wharf at Nuku’alofa. Ships carrying passengers and cargo. Places photographed are Makaha'a Island, Pangaimotu Island, Tokulu Island in Ha'apai Island Group, Ha'afeva Island, Pangai village on Ha'apai Island, Vava’u Island (including abandoned airstrip), Onetale Bay and Neiafu town. People photographed are Liz Baker, Bill Toussaint and Elizabeth Toussaint. Scenes include coral blocks for Langi tombs, lakes, horses, vanilla gardens, Wesleyan church and Burns Philp store, amongst others.

Selection of slides for digitisation was made by John Baker.

Baker, John R.

Extracts from the autobiography of William Diapea alias Cannibal Jack

  • AU PMB MS 1432
  • Coleção
  • 1843 - 1847

William Diaper was born in Ardleigh, England on 11 November 1820. His parents died when he was young and in 1937, at the age of 16, he left England for Hobart Town on board the Joshua Carroll, using the alias John Jackson. He spent the remainder of his life as a beachcomber, living in, and travelling around the islands of the Pacific Ocean and neighbouring countries.

Diaper (spelled Diapea in this manuscript), who came to be known as Cannibal Jack, filled 19 copybooks with accounts of his life. This manuscript is books 9, 16 and 17 only; the remaining books were burned after his death. These three books were given to the Rev James Hadfield by Diaper in Mare, Loyalty Islands (New Caledonia) in 1889. They describe his life and travels in Fiji, Fortuna and Tonga, covering the period 1843-1847. The manuscript was not considered appropriate for public consumption until 1928, when it was published by Faber and Gwyer of London, albeit with the omission of one passage from this the original manuscript.

In these pages, Diaper gives his accounts of fights and other close encounters, observations of various cultural practices, trade of beche de mer, tortoiseshell and other commodities, Tongan communities in Fiji, absconded sailors, the volcano at Tonualei, tensions between traditional and Christian beliefs, pig farming and court cases, amongst other stories and observations.

He refers to places such as Ovalau, Monta, New Caledonia, Wallis Island, Manila, China, India, Horne Islands, Fortuna, Vanuau Levu, Cikobia, the Macuaca coast, Neteva Bay, Naviu, Udu Point, Taviuni, Somosomo, Lekeba, Ogea, Wacewace, Vatoa or Turtle Island, Hapai Islands, Komo, Moce, Tonga or the Friendly Islands, Tofua, Kaau islands, Tugua, Lefuka, Vavao, Niafu, Tonualei, Utue, Fonualea and other places.

He mentions plantations managers Mr M (R. Estate) and Mr E (Deumbea Estate), missionary Rev J Hunt, Bonavidogo, Tue Macuaca and his widow, George Rodney Birt, Proctor, Sam the King, King of Lomaloma, Tuecakau, Cakobau, C. Pickering, Dr Lythe, Chief Lua, Vuetasau, Mr and Mrs Calvert, Ratu Finau, Captain Bligh, Ande Litia, missionary Paula, Komo, Mara (half-brother of Cakobau), Uluqalala, Josiah alias Lauji, missionary Mr Webb, King George alias Tupo or Tuekanokopulu, missionary Mr Raborne, Miss Lepone, Master Joele, Mr J. Williams, old Joe, Netane, Utue, Maata, missionary Mr Turner, Old John, American whaler Powel, Robert Stevens, Captain Dillon/Chevalier Dillon and others.

Diaper, William

Ai Tukutuku Vakalotu Suva: Methodist Mission, 1937-1960

  • AU PMB DOC 205
  • Coleção
  • March 1937 - March 1960

For details see PMB Doc .199

Issues for March 1937 - March 1960. Following issues only: No.369 (March 1937): No.547 (Oct. 1952): No.583 (Jan. 1956): No.633 (March 1960)

Ai Tukutuku Vakalotu

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