With the developing industries in cotton, copra, coffee and sugar in the late 1800s, demand for labour to work in the plantations also increased. The indigenous Fijian communities had been dramatically depleted due to the various diseases introduced through European contact and people showed little interest in leaving their homes to work on plantations.
The infamous practice of ‘blackbirding’ developed around this shortage of labour. Blackbirding involved tricking or kidnapping Pacific Islanders from the Solomon Islands, Tokelau, Kiribati and Vanuatu and transporting them to Fiji and other places that needed labourers. The introduction of the Indentured Labour System saw a decline in blackbirding operations, however, the practice continued into the 1900s. Small island communities brought across to Fiji during this period have established themselves as part of Fiji’s multicultural community.