The plantation era in Fiji began in the early 1860s when some European long-term residents had obtained land and started growing cash crops such as cotton and sugarcane. When the world cotton prices increased as a result of the American Civil War, many Australians and New Zealanders came to Fiji to start cotton plantations.
Initially, establishing a plantation was similar to setting up a sandal-wood or beche-de-mer station. After a suitable location was found, it was necessary to negotiate with the local chief for the purchase of the land and for laborers to clear it and build houses (see Forbes 1875; Ryder n.d.). The expenses for a newcomer to set up a cotton plantation in 1868 were published in the Fiji Weekly News and Planters Journal (described by Wall 1923:12). In addition to the expenses for land, laborers, tools, and a cotton gin, the cost for an interpreter was also listed. On the early plantations, the laborers were Fijians, and their language was used to run the plantations.
Pacific Studies, Vol. 9, No. 3 July 1986