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The Fijians: A Study of the Decay of Custom

6. Ai-Thuruthuru-Ni-Ngone (The child's introduction)

6. Ai-Thuruthuru-Ni-Ngone (The child's introduction)

The child of a high chief was taken immediately after birth into the houses of the inferior chiefs to be exhibited to them. page 374Property of various kinds was given to it, but if there were insufficient chattels in the house, a plot of land was often formally presented. In such cases the tenure was not absolute, and the land reverted after vakalutu had been performed.

All these cases amounted to little more than the transfer of the usufruct of the land for life or for an uncertain period. The person enjoying the usufruct had the right to all the crops and timber grown upon the soil, but the fruit-trees remained the property of the donor. He might improve the land or let it go to waste, and in this respect his rights were superior to mere usufruct, but, as in the usufruct, he had no power to transfer or even to sublet. The reason for this was obvious. He would have been creating rights in the soil, which could not be redeemed by the original donor by the ceremony of vakalutu performed to him alone. It is worth noting that all these systems of transfer, though temporary, did not provide for the reversion of the land spontaneously as at any given time. Unless the donors in their own interest redeemed their property by the ceremony of vakalutu, the transferees acquired an absolute title by prescription.

Under the following kinds of transfer land could never be redeemed—