... 5,000 square kilometres of land.
His insistence, however, on being allowed to retain his questionable title of Tui Viti proved unacceptable to the British government, which turned his offer down after four years of consideration in 1862.
This followed a report from Colonel W.J. Smythe, who had come to the conclusion, after interviewing every Paramount Chief in Fiji, that Cakobau's title was self-assumed and by no means universally accepted by his fellow chiefs, and that he did not have the authority to cede the islands.
The Kingdom of Fiji
Cakobau next turned to the Australian-based Polynesia Company. The rising price of cotton in the wake of the American Civil War (1861-1865) had interested the Polynesia Company in acquiring land in Fiji for planting.
In return for 5,000 km², the company agreed to pay Cakobau's debt. Australian settlers landed on 575 km² of land in Viti Levu, near what was then a Fijian village called Suva, in 1868.
The Polynesia Company settlers were joined by a further several thousand planters throughout the 1860s and 1870s.
Often fraudulently, they obtained Fijian land, often in exchange for weapons or alcohol.
Competing land claims followed, with no unified government to settle the disputes.
Frustrations peaked following the collapse of cotton prices and the destruction of the crop by hurricanes in 1870.
In June 1871, John Thurston, the British honorary consul, forged a "marriage of convenience" between Cakobau and the settlers, and persuaded the Fijian chiefs to accept a constitutional monarchy with Cakobau as king, but with real power in the hands of a cabinet and Legislature dominated by settlers.
The Legislative Assembly met for the first time in Levuka in November 1871.
Cession to the United Kingdom
The new arrangements proved no more workable than the old. Within months, government overspending had led to the accumulation of another unmanageable debt.
In 1872, following continuing economic and social unrest, Thurston approached the British government, at Cakobau's request, with another offer to cede the islands.
The British were much more sympathetic to annexing Fiji this time than they had been almost two decades earlier.
The murder of Bishop Paterson of the Melanesian Mission at Nukapu in the Reef Islands had provoked public outrage, which was compounded by the massacre by crew members of more than 150 Fijians on board the brig Carl.
Two British commissioners were sent to Fiji to investigate the possibility of an annexation. The question was complicated by manoeuverings for power between Cakobau and his old rival, Ma'afu, with both men vacillating for many months. On 21 March 1874, Cakobau made a final offer, which the British accepted.
On 23 September, Sir Hercules Robinson, soon to be appointed the British Governor, arrived on the HMS Dido and received Cakobau with a royal 21-gun salute.
After some vacillation, Cakobau agreed to renounce his Tui Viti title. The formal cession took place on 10 October 1874, when Cakobau, Ma'afu, and the Paramount Chiefs of Fiji signed two copies of the Deed of Cession. Ninety-six years of British rule followed.