The men who started it all
27 September, 2014, 12:00 am
FROM January 1, 1897 onward, The Fiji Times was published in Suva after leaving Levuka.
Founder of Fiji’s first and longest serving newspaper so far, George Littleton Griffith, became a great supporter of the pigeon post, which was established between Levuka and Suva to get messages through. This included shipping news, sights of vessels, race results and other news.
When Griffith’s brother, Arthur, a Glasgow paper merchant died, Griffiths immediately sent for Arthur’s three girls who had been orphaned. At Levuka, they joined the rest of the Griffith’s children, originally 10 in number, together with five more who had been taken into the household out of the kindness of heart that was characteristic of Griffith and his wife.
Two of these children were an Indian boy and girl whose parents died of smallpox on the Leonidas, one of the ships that brought Indian Indentured labourers to Fiji.
The Griffith household at Levuka became well-known as a place where the hungry were welcome to help themselves from a “generous stock-pot that always stood at the back of the stove”.
He was estimated to have given more than $9234 in interest-free loans to people who wanted to make a start in life.
In 1918, 10 years after Griffith’s death, The Fiji Times merged with Western Pacific Herald to become Fiji Times and Herald when Sir Alport Barker bought the company that same year.
In 1956, veteran journalist Robert William Robson who was also the founder of the prestigious Pacific Islands Monthly magazine, bought all shares of The Fiji Times and Herald Ltd.