House of Chiefs (Fiji) - The Social Hierarchy

The Social Hierarchy

Fijian society is traditionally very stratified. A hierarchy of chiefs presides over villages (koro), sub-districts (tikina vou), districts (tikina cokavata), and provinces (yasana). These administrative divisions generally correspond roughly with the social units of the extended family (tokatoka), clan (mataqali), tribe (yavusa), and land (vanua). Each mataqali is presided over by a chief, styled Ratu if male or Adi (pronounced Ahn-di) if female. Chiefs presiding over units above the mataqali have other, more prestigious titles, although they, too, are typically addressed and referred to as Ratu or Adi, although there are regional variations. In Rewa, Ro is used instead of Ratu and Adi, while in the Lau Islands Roko is used. In Kadavu Group and in the west of Fiji, Bulou substitutes for Adi. The method of appointing chiefs is not uniform, although the position is generally held for life (with some exceptions) and there is a hereditary element, although the son of a chief does not automatically succeed to the position on his father's death. A chief may hold more than one title, just as a peer may in the United Kingdom; the late Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara, for example, was both Tui Nayau and Tui Lau.

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