1840: United Starts Exploring Expedition, squadron of four shipsy way of Vatoa Passage, on 5th May

The outstanding event of 1840 was the visit of the United Starts Exploring Expedition. The squadron of four ships – the sloops-of-war – arrived by way of Vatoa Passage, on 5th May.;

Vincennes (flagship of Commodore Charles wiles); and

• Peacock (Captain Wm. L. Hudson);

• the brig Porpoise (Lieut.Commandant C. Ringgold); and

•  the tender Flying fish

Surveys and mapping: The four were attended with a staff of scientists including zoologists and geologists (among them the famous Dana), botanists and artists, and a philologist The Expedition spent three months in Fiji waters, during which time the officers made surveys of all the important islands and reefs, and gathered material for a new chart of the Group; and it left again, by Mali Passage in the Great Sea Reef, on 10th August.

Treaty with the Bau chief Tanoa;Within a week of his arrival, Wilkes negotiated a treaty with the Bau chief Tanoa, regulating the treatment of visiting ships and the conditions under which they were to be suppled with water and provisions.

Whippy of Levuka, translated: In the conversations with Tanoa, Whippy of Levuka, translated the Regulations, “but the old chief seemed dull and confused, and unable to take their meaning”. Wilkes took advantage of the presence in Tanoa’s party of the Tongan chief Tubou Totai, who spoke English, and readily understood and explained the terms of the treaty; and on 14th May, Tanoa affixed his mark. The Regulations were subsequently approved by;

•  Tui Dreketi of Rewa (about 20th May);

•  Tui Bua (5th June), Tui Kilakila of Cakaudrove (10th June);

•  and Tui Macuata (21st June).


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