Many of us are aware that there was a time when people did not need money and relied on the land and the sea to meet their basic needs for food, shelter and clothing. As more complex social structures emerged, self-sufficiency was no longer enough. Increasing contact between different tribes and communities brought about the concept of swapping or barter of commodities.
Europeans were the first to bring money to Fiji. During the early nineteenth century, visiting ships’ captains bartered with Fijians for sandalwood and beche-de-mer. However, once a European settlement was established, hard currency was required by planters and traders to conduct business with the outside world. Attempts at commercial development of these islands were hampered by the lack of any acceptable tender until the establishment of the Pax Britannica in 1874, a period of relative peace in Europe and the world (1815-1914) during which the British Empire controlled most of the key maritime trade routes and enjoyed unchallenged sea power. Before the founding of a recognised regulator of currency in Fiji, paper money used included bills of exchange, cheques on colonial banks in Australia, New Zealand as well as Tonga, notes in hand, drafts, promissory notes, currency tokens, foreign currency and certificate of indebtedness.