chapter  8
18 Pages

‘Lost Souls’: Madness, Suicide, and Migration in Colonial Fiji until 1920


During the same year as MacGregor’s gloomy assessment of Fiji as a destination of mad migrants, he bravely took charge of the rescue operation when the Indian immigrant ship Syria was wrecked on Nasilai Reef. In 1884 he recalled ‘people falling, fainting, drowning all around one, the cries for instant help, uttered in an unknown tongue, but emphasised by looks of agony’.3 MacGregor’s intervention parallels his eff orts to rescue ‘wrecked minds’ as during the same year he was pivotal in introducing lunacy legislation into Fiji and the opening of the Public Lunatic Asylum in Suva. This still functions as one of the Pacifi c Islands’ oldest psychiatric facilities and since 1960 has been known as St. Giles Hospital.