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Museum Director Submits Objection To Rezoning Plans

“The Thurston Gardens was also known as a meke ground in the early 1930s and this is very significant.
02 Mar 2019 10:00
Museum Director Submits Objection To Rezoning Plans
Sipiriano Nemani

The Fiji Museum director, Sipiriano Nemani, has claimed that the land earmarked for the India High Commission holds historical and archeological significance.

He said in an interview that the lots deserved protection.

“Secondly, the initial idea of the Thurston Gardens was for recreational use. That was the original intention we are supportive of and perhaps that could be retained because of the unique feature of the site,” he said.

Mr Nemani said Thurston Gardens used to be a village site for the people and there have been sightings and writings to indicate some of the heritage features which can be considered ideological such as mounts, burial.

“The Thurston Gardens was also known as a meke ground in the early 1930s and this is very significant.

People also come and watch cultural performances,” he said.

“The large rain tree in Thurston Gardens has been there for more than 100 years. That is one of the earliest botanical features and other trees along it.

It was planted by the botanist who set up Thurston Gardens.”

He added the cave in Thurston Gardens was used in the 1940s to store all the objects from the National Museum.

“It’s our right to protect the site and we also receive a lot of visitors and Fiji Museum is the biggest attraction in Suva,” the director said.

However, Mr Nemani’s claims were earlier clarified by the Minister for Lands and Mineral Resources, Ashneel Sudhakar saying: “The lot was not a burial site.

According to the Fiji Society and Science and Industry, Mr Sudhakar said: “in the very early days before any Europeans lived in Suva there was a native burial place in the space around the Band Stand in the Thurston Gardens”.

Edited by Percy Kean

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