Last modified: 2003-01-11 by santiago dotor
Keywords: fiji | viti | coat of arms (cross: red) | coat of arms: chief (lion: passant guardant) | coat of arms: chief (lion: yellow) | coat of arms: quartered (dove) | rank | president | south pacific commission |
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by Zeljko Heimer
Flag adopted 10th October 1970, coat-of-arms adopted 4th July 1908
Chris wrote, "Fiji got kicked out of the Commonwealth as a result of the coup d'etat in (I think) 1987. Didn't change its flag, which is a defaced pale blue British ensign." Apparently (according to The Flag Bulletin) a public design competition was held in Fiji in 1990 for a new flag. A committee narrowed down the entries to six designs. But for some reason, the (now) republican government went cold on the idea, and dropped plans to change the flag. The six designs have never been made public. So Fiji retains the pale blue British ensign as its flag, despite it being a republic and, after being kicked out of the Commonwealth, having absolutely no relationship with Britain whatsoever other than historical. This struck me as being quite bizarre after a coup to make Fiji a republic in 1986, why such timidity in changing the flag?
Brendan Jones, 10 August 1995
Fiji still retains very close economic and political ties with the UK, which may possibly have influenced its decision to retain the old flag. Remember that the British Foreign Office does not recognize Fiji's withdrawal from the Commonwealth and therefore treats Fijian citizens as through they were still in the Commonwealth. The Fijian ambassador is still the High Commissioner, for example, and Fijian students can still apply for Commonwealth scholarships (I know this because I used to help administer one). I think the Foreign Office is basically turning a blind eye to the problem (something they are very good at!) in the hope that it will somehow disappear.
Stuart Notholt, 23 August 1995
Fiji held a competition on independence to design a new flag. The fact that they ended up with one so similar to the colonial ensign suggests a certain lack of imagination either on the part of the competitors or the judges! Anyway, the only main differences made were that the white disk behind the coat of arms was removed and the colour changed to light blue. A dark blue version, which must look virtually the same as the old colonial flag was adopted for use as the state ensign.
Stuart A. Notholt, 9 February 1996
Colours of the botanical specimens on the shield. They are probably emblazoned 'natural', so there's plenty of scope for artistic licence, but suggest that the trunk of the coconut-palm in the second quarter should be brown rather than blue, and that the stem and 'dead flower?' at the ends of the bunch of bananas in the fourth quarter, should also be brown.
David Prothero, 27 May 1998
The new Constitution (1998) altered the official name of the country to Republic of the Fiji Islands. No reference to any discussion concerning national symbols is apparent from Fijian sources. Probably nobody is aware of the obsoleteness of the Fijian flags.
Jan Zrzavy, 16 September 1998
From the Fiji Government Official Site:
Fiji's flag flew for the first time on Independence Day, October 10, 1970. It includes the red, white and blue Union Flag of Britain in the top left-hand corner and the shield from the Fiji Coat of Arms on a light blue background in the fly. The design for the national flag was selected as the result of a competition won jointly by Mr. Robi Wilcock and Mrs. Murray MacKenzie.
Dov Gutterman, 25 December 1998
About five years after the 1980 coup, Fiji decided to return to the Commonwealth, following at least a partial return to democratic rule. Interestingly the committee of Rautu (Chieftains) decided to make a formal apology to the Queen, for dispensing with her services (at least temporarily). They presented her with a sharks tooth [whalebone?] as a sign of deep apology.
J.B. Oates, 5 April 1999
May I make some corrections here. The coup was in 1987, not 1980. Fiji was ultimately re-admitted to the Commonwealth quite recently, I think it was in 1997, but it remains a republic. There has been talk that Fiji will seek to become a monarchy under the House of Windsor again, but as far as I know it has not been acted upon yet.
Roy Stilling, 6 April 1999
I do not know whether the President of Fiji continues to use the old Governor-General's flag or not.
Roy Stilling, 6 April 1999
The car flag of the President of the Republic is a 3:5 dark blue flag with the full coat of arms, outlined in golden only, set above a golden 'knot'. Source: Album des Pavillons 2000. Michel Lupant reported about this flag in his lecture at the XIX International Congress of Vexillology 2001 in York, and showed a photo he took from the presidential car in Suva.
Zeljko Heimer, 1 September 2001
From the Fiji Government Official Site
Coat-of-arms adopted 4th July 1908
According to Smith 1985, the specimens depicted in the Fijian coat-of-arms are three sugar canes, a coconut palm, a dove with olive branch and a bunch of bananas. The lion in the chief is holding a peeled coconut. The coat-of-arms was granted by Royal Letter Patent on 4th July 1908 and confirmed on 30th September 1970. Other elements which appear in the coat-of-arms when depicted on its own (and also in the Colonial Flag) are:
Also according to Smith 1985, the dove with olive branch and the motto were pre-colonial Fijian symbols.
Santiago Dotor, 20 November 1998
From the Fiji Government Official Website [broken link]:
Fiji's national Coat of Arms consists of the images of two Fijian warriors on either side of a shield and the motto Rerevaka na Kalou ka Doka na Tui below the shield. These words mean 'Fear God and honour the [King or] Queen'. The shield from the coat of arms has the image of a heraldic lion holding a cocoa pod across the top. Sugarcane, a coconut palm and bunch of bananas are represented in three of the sheilds sections. The fourth contains the reproduction of a dove of peace, the main feature, of the Cakobau Government's flag before cession.
Dov Gutterman, 25 December 1998
According to Crampton 1990 p. 38, the motto was adopted by the independent Kingdom of Fiji before colonisation by Britain (which was in 1874). (...) This remains the motto of Fiji, despite becoming a republic.
Roy Stilling, 19 January 2000
Fear the God Respect the King sounds strange. In the King James version of the Bible it reads "Fear God, Honour the King".
Andrew Yong, 19 January 2000