Anger over plan to remove Queen from Fiji money

Anger over plan to remove Queen from Fiji money

Anger over plan to remove Queen from Fiji money

Updated 3 December 2012, 18:42 AEST

A decision to remove images of the Queen from Fiji's currency has been met with outrage from the country's chiefs.

A decision to remove images of the Queen from Fiji's currency has been met with outrage from the country's chiefs.

Fiji's Reserve Bank has announced plans to replace the monarch with images of Fijian flora and fauna.

The chiefs say the British royals were given the chiefly title of Tui Viti, and Elizabeth II is the Queen of Fiji, not just of Britain.

Adi Litia Qioniaravi has told Radio Australia's Pacific Beat the royals were still loved by most Fijians.

"[It has] been met with great shock and much sadness [as] the royal family is held in very high regard and passion by Fijians," she said.

"I don't think that the significance of the royal household of Windsor to the original Fijians is clearly understood now.

"I'm saying this because our high chiefs had given the highest position of chief of Fiji - the head chief of Fiji - to the royal household."

One of Fiji's paramount chiefs, Ro Teimumu Kepa, who heads the Burebasaga Confederacy, said in a statement that she was very disappointed there was no consultation over the decision.

She says the Queen's image on banknotes and coins have been part of Fiji since the island was ceded to Queen Victoria in 1874, and even in the wake of independence, the Queen is still held in the highest regard by the people of Fiji.

Ro Teimumu Kepa says it is disappointing that such changes can be made unilaterally without a reason being given.

National symbols

Former opposition leader Mick Beddoes says he is also opposed to the change.

He says the real problem is that the unelected government of Commodore Frank Bainimarama has no right to make such decisions about national symbols.

"Why now, given that we are not operating in a democratic environment?" he said.

"These kinds of decisions - especially the fact that it is a symbolic matter of the Queen, and by association our chiefs and the people of Fiji - this I would have imagined is a matter for the elected representatives of the people.

"This is certainly not a matter that an unelected regime... and the institutions that are currently operating under its control, to make such decisions - I don't believe that they have a right, and frankly they don't have a mandate."

The man who led Fiji's first coup in 1987, General Sitiveni Rabuka, says the move is an attempt to deny an important part of Fiji's historical identity.

"It is a childish way of trying to forget our historical connections with those that were responsible for founding this nation," he said.

"In 1970 we became independent, but Australia, New Zealand and Canada were independent before us and they still use the Queen's head on their currency.

"We have forgotten the colonial past - we are now moving to the future, but there are certain things we cannot change - we can remove the Queen's head but that doesn't me we erase our history."