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Western Pacific Archives

Western Pacific Archives

New Zealand - the University of Auckland Libraries


The archives have great significance for the history of the Western Pacific and for the indigenous peoples of the region as they document the impact of British colonial administration on the area, during the final period of British colonial expansion. They cover the period from 1875 to 1978 and throw light on many facets of administration including health, taxation, land policy, indigeneous medical practices, food consumption, intermarriage, and the attitudes of colonial authorities and expatriates.

The Western Pacific Archives comprise the records of the Western Pacific High Commission, the New Hebrides British Service, and the British Agent and Consul to Tonga. The Commission was established in 1877 to extend British authority over British subjects in the islands of the southwest Pacific. The High Commission was located in Fiji for the first 75 years of its existence and in 1952 moved to Honiara in the Solomon islands.

When Fiji became independent in 1970 some of the High Commission’s records remained in Fiji and the rest formed the newly established “Western Pacific Archives”. The countries covered by the archives include the British Solomon Islands, Gilbert and Ellis Islands (Kiribati and Tuvalu), New Hebrides (Vanuatu), Pitcairn Islands and Tonga.

With de-colonisation, the Western Pacific High Commission became increasingly redundant and in 1978 the Western Pacific Archives closed. Some records were sent to the successor governments of the relevant countries and the remainder were sent to the United Kingdom Foreign and Commonwealth Office. In 2002 these records were transferred to Special Collections at the University of Auckland Library.




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