In the Fiji archipelago no chief established paramount authority. From 1871, a constitutional government based on the person and influence of Seru Ebenezer Cakobau, Vunivalu of Bau, began a process of centralization under stipended provincial chiefs and settler officials, until the ‘kingdom’ was annexed by Britain with the agreement of Fijian chiefs. The first governors incorporated the chiefly hierarchy into a structure of provinces and districts, with taxes and laws under Crown Colony government. The early practice of consulting provincial chiefs was institutionalized within ‘Fijian Administration’ and the internal colonization of Viti Levu was completed with Fijian levies. Fijian leaders did not become civil servants and retained considerable initiative in accessing rents from lands and securing posts for subordinates. The whole structure of local government was called into question from the 1960s by advances in elected representation for Fijians and a large Indian population. Ethnic loyalty and deference to chiefs became an important factor in party politics, as Fiji moved towards independence in 1970 and continued to polarize politics up to the military coups of the 1980s.
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