THE remains of six Solomon labourers buried more than a century ago on an island in the North was exhumed yesterday to allow for hotel development.
With police presence, the graves on Nawi Island were dug out by the Miller family of Nukunuve in Savusavu.
A bottle of liquor, a mouth organ, coffin nails and pieces of a coffin were also found in the graves.
The family, whose ancestors employed the labourers, described the occasion as an opportunity to assist with development plans of government and hoteliers.
Alsace Miller said they were approached by the company — Nawi Island Ltd — asking for permission to remove the graves.
"The reason is that the hoteliers want to build residential lots in the area so we agreed because we know it will bring development to the people of Savusavu," he said.
"It will also benefit the people here with employment opportunities and so the family agreed to remove the skeletons.
"We will take the remains to Nukunuve and bury it there.
"These Solomon Islanders are like our family because they were hired by our forefathers who came to settle on Nawi Island."
Mr Miller said the graves had been on the island for the past 170 years.
"Those are very long years and we are blessed to have them buried on this island where my ancestors settled," he said.
"The first member of the Miller family who came to Fiji is known as D.B Miller and we are trying to find out what that initial D.B means.
"He travelled to Fiji through Samoa and he eloped to Nawi Island with a Samoan princess known as Mouga.
"They lived on this island and hired the Solomon Islanders during the time of blackbird."
Mr Miller said the grave of Princess Mouga would remain on the island.
Nawi Island Ltd officer Asenaca May said the grave of Princess Mouga would be turned into a historic site for tourists.
"The story is quite valuable and precious and we will treasure the site of her grave."