House of Chiefs (Fiji) - Provinces and Confederacies

Provinces and Confederacies

For administrative purposes, Fiji is divided into fourteen provinces, each of which has a Provincial Council in which the chiefs from the province are represented, along with commoners. Each Provincial Council is headed by a Roko Tui, whose appointment must be approved by the Fijian Affairs Board, a government department, which must also approve all bylaws passed and taxes levied by the Councils. (Titles can be deceptive: not every chief styled Roko Tui heads a Provincial Council). The Provincial Councils are significant in that they not only administer communally owned land (more than 80 percent of Fiji's total land area), but also elected most of the representatives to the Great Council of Chiefs. Moreover, the Great Council of Chiefs, which was charged with choosing 14 of the 32 members of the Fijian Senate, the upper house of the Parliament, normally delegates that task to the fourteen Provincial Councils.

All of the chiefs also belong to one of three confederacies: Kubuna, Burebasaga, and Tovata. For the most part, the boundaries of the confederacies correspond to the boundaries of the provinces. An anomaly exists in the west of the country, where the provinces of Ba and Ra are split between the confederacies of Kubuna and Burebasaga. This does not affect administration, however, as the confederacies and the provinces fulfill different roles, the former being based on the relationship of chiefs and clans, and the latter being formal political entities.

The highest chiefly title of all, the Tui Viti (King of Fiji), has been vacant since 1874, when King Seru Epenisa Cakobau and other prominent chiefs ceded the islands to the United Kingdom. But the Tui Viti title was relatively new; it was never a traditional kingly title of Fiji, but came into being after the death of Tanoa Visawaqa and the rise of his son Seru Epenisa Cakobau who proclaimed himself Tui Viti without conquering all of Fiji.

However the title has been recognised since that time and the British Monarch has filled a similar role since; even since Fiji became a republic in 1987, the former Great Council of Chiefs had continued to recognize Elizabeth II as its most senior chief.

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