Fiji was officially granted independence on 10 October 1970, after 96 years of British colonial rule. On the same day in 1874, the Deed of Cession was signed by King Seru Epenisa Cakobau to commence British rule in Fiji. Both the cession of control and independence is celebrated among Fijians. Thus October 10 is a significant date in the country’s history that is commemorated every year with a week of festivities and celebrations. Almost every town and city in the archipelago organizes its own events in honor of the occasion, which include military parades, speeches, performances, and street parties.

The Process of Fijian Independence: A Story of Negotiation and Compromise

A constitutional conference was held in London in July 1965 to discuss constitutional changes with a view to introduce responsible government (Delaibatiki, 2015). Indo-Fijians, led by A. D. Patel, demanded the immediate introduction of full self-government, with a fully elected legislature, to be elected by universal suffrage on a common voters' roll. These demands were vigorously rejected by the ethnic Fijian delegation, who still feared the loss of control over natively owned land and resources should an Indo-Fijian-dominated government come to power. The British made it clear, however, that they were determined to bring Fiji to self-government and eventual independence. Realizing that they had no choice, Fiji's chiefs decided to negotiate for the best deal they could get.

The following five years saw compromises from both the Indo-Fijian and ethnic representatives which involved the forming of a cabinet system of government in 1967, with Ratu Kamisese Mara as the first Chief Minister.

Prince Charles (left) formally cedes control of Fiji to Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara on October 10, 1970
The Fijian Flag is hoisted in place of the Union Jack for the first time

Now that Britain deemed Fiji capable of self-government, Prince Charles who represented the Queen, handed over the instruments of Independence to the Chief Minister Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara. “The second unique event in our history was the attainment of our independence. Unique in the sense that there was no demand, no struggle, no bloodshed – but through dialogue and consensus as demonstrated by the mood in which we celebrated our independence” he said.

As the Union Jack was lowered for the last time in the presence of Prince Charles, and the military band beat the retreat and played the Last Post, Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara continued “Ladies and gentlemen, let us salute the Union Jack. The symbol that has governed this country for the last 96 years is coming down for the very last time. We are going to be masters of our destiny. We have come of age. Let us say farewell and ni sa moce to Her Majesty the Queen and to the Union Jack”. (Delaibatiki, 2015)

2021 Celebrations

Fiji Day is a public holiday on Sunday, 10th October 2021 while Monday, 11th October will be a normal working day. The Minister for Employment, Parveen Bala has clarified this after some confusion amongst people on whether the public holiday would be on Sunday or Monday.

As per the gazette notice on October 23, 2020, the Ministry of Employment, Productivity and Industrial Relations had confirmed the Fiji Day public holiday on Sunday, October 10th.

The week leading up to Fiji Day is known as Fiji Week and consists of a series of religious and cultural events that celebrate Fiji's diversity.


  1. Delaibatiki, N. (2015, October 8). ANALYSIS: Reminiscing The Lowering Of Union Jack For Last Time. Retrieved from
  2. Fiji Independence Day Celebrations. (2017, November). Retrieved from
  3. Office Holidays (2021). Fiji Day in Fiji 2021. Retrieved from:
  4. Videos

    Fiji Day Celebration. (2016, October 08). Retrieved from

    Fiji Gains Independence - 1970 | Today in History | 10 Oct 16. (2016, October 09). Retrieved from

    Sinusetaki, A. (2012, October 08). Happy Fiji Independence Day! Retrieved October 4, 2018, from