The National Trust of Fiji (NTF) was the recipient of the INTO Small Grants Program Grant of USD 1,360 from November 2013 – November 2014 to assist the NTF introduce a built heritage program for the organization. A Built Heritage Advisor, Mr. Bart van Aller, of the Netherlands, was identified through the INTO Volunteer Program, and placed at the NTF for a period of one year (Sept 2013 – Nov 2014).
We were thrilled to be able to be a part of this project, which included work in the World Heritage Site town of Levuka. In fact, the built heritage project was structured around 3 key areas:
a) To develop the Suva City Built Heritage Trail : building on the unique cultural heritage of Fiji’s cities and towns; promote the heritage of Fiji’s cities and towns; and educate members of the Fiji public on the significance of Fiji’s built heritage to ensure its future conservation and continued relevance to the community.
Suva City has a rich heritage of Colonial Buildings, smaller vernacular buildings and landmarks together with associated structures and places which represent different periods of our country’s rich heritage. These buildings and places form the physical evidence of a part of our cultural identity.
b) To conduct community oral research into the Grand Pacific Hotel (GPH) will re-open in 2014 to coincide with the centenary year of its opening in 1914. The GPH was built by The Union Steamship Company in 1914 to serve the needs of passengers on its transpacific routes with rooms designed to resemble first-class staterooms, complete with saltwater bathrooms and plumbing fixtures identical to those on an ocean liner. The GPH is today listed as a Heritage Building of National Significance.
c) Providing advisory capacity on the implementation of the building code for heritage buildings in town of Levuka, Fiji. The historical inception of Levuka Town on the UNESCO World Heritage List on 22 June 2013 as a historical town bodes well for the future enhancement of historical buildings and structures in the country and their recognition as wonderful resources for cultural heritage tourism, diversifying attractions in the cities and towns, income generating opportunity and generating a sense of pride and ownership amongst communities.
You can read the National Trust of Fiji update report here.
The work of the Built Heritage Advisor has been especially recognized in Fiji and it is pleased to note that the NTF has been able to secure support funding for accommodation, salary and a small operating grant for a two year period from 2015 – 2016. Support has been provided by the Fiji Government Public Service Commission, the Department of Heritage and Arts and the National Trust of Fiji. A new working arrangement has also been made with Heritage New Zealand financed by NZAID.
Many interactions have been made with communities, the private and government sectors and work is underway to secure funding for a project to record the heritage buildings of the Fiji Islands.
Find out more about Levuka’s World Heritage Listing on the UNESCO website http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1399/.