Fijian people are the major indigenous people of the Fiji Islands, and live in an area informally called Melanesia. The Fijian people are believed to have arrived in Fiji from western Melanesia approximately 3,500 years ago, though the exact origins of the Fijian people are unknown. Later they would move onward to other surrounding islands including Rotuma, as well as blending with other (Polynesian) settlers on Tonga and Samoa. They are indigenous to all parts of Fiji except the island of Rotuma. The original settlers are now called “Lapita people” after a distinctive pottery produced locally. Lapita pottery was found in the area from 800 BC onward.
As of 2005, Fijians constituted slightly more than half of the Fijian population. Indigenous Fijians are predominantly of Melanesian extraction, with some Polynesian admixture. Other ethnic groups in Fiji include Indo-Fijians, the Rotuman people, and minority communities, which include Caucasians, Chinese, and other Pacific Islanders.
New Zealand has a large Fijian population, according to the Ministry of Pacific Island Affairs. In 2001, Fijian people were the fifth largest Pacific ethnic group living in New Zealand. There was a decrease of 8 percent between 1996 and 2001. The estimated Pacific Islander population size is 231,800 in 2001 Fijians comprising about 7,000 of that.
The Bose Levu Vakaturaga (Great Council of Chiefs) once passed laws and regulations governing the Fijian people. Today, the Great Council of Chiefs meets yearly to discuss Fijian concerns. The council is responsible for appointing the Fijian president. The council is made up of 55 chiefs selected from the 14 provinces. Included in the council are three appointees from the island of Rotuma and six appointed by the Minister of Fijian Affairs. The Minister of Fijian Affairs consults with the Fijian president as part of the selection process. Finally, former Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka serves a lifetime appointment on the council.
Excerpted from Wikipedia’s article on the Fijian Peoples