Customary land is land which is owned by indigenous communities and administered in accordance with their customs, as opposed to statutory tenure usually introduced during the colonial periods. Common ownership is one form of customary land ownership.
Since the late 20th century, statutory recognition and protection of indigenous and community land rights continues to be a major challenge. The gap between formally recognized and customarily held and managed land is a significant source of underdevelopment, conflict, and environmental degradation.
In most countries of the Pacific islands, customary land remains the dominant land tenure form. Distinct customary systems of tenure have evolved on different islands and areas within the Pacific region. In any country there may be many different types of customary tenure.
The amount of customary land ownership out of the total land area of Pacific island nations is the following: 97% in Papua New Guinea, 90% in Vanuatu, 88% in Fiji, 87% in the Solomon Islands, and 81% in Samoa.
Aboriginal title is a common law doctrine that the land rights of indigenous peoples to customary tenure persist after the assumption of sovereignty under settler colonialism. The requirements of proof for the recognition of aboriginal title, the content of aboriginal title, the methods of extinguishing aboriginal title, and the availability of compensation in the case of extinguishment vary significantly by jurisdiction. Nearly all jurisdictions are in agreement that aboriginal title is inalienable, and that it may be held either individually or collectively.
Aboriginal title was first acknowledged in the early 19th century, in decisions in which indigenous peoples were not a party. Significant aboriginal title litigation resulting in victories for indigenous peoples did not arise until recent decades. The majority of court cases have been litigated in Australia, Canada, Malaysia, New Zealand, and the United States. Aboriginal title is an important area of comparative law, with many cases being cited as persuasive authority across jurisdictions. Many commentators believe that the doctrine is applicable in all common law legal systems.
Aboriginal title is also referred to as indigenous title, native title (particularly in Australia), original Indian title (particularly in the United States), and customary title (particularly in New Zealand). Aboriginal title jurisprudence is related to indigenous rights, influencing and influenced by non-land issues, such as whether the government owes a fiduciary duty to indigenous peoples. While the judge-made doctrine arises from customary international law, it has been codified nationally by legislation, treaties, and constitutions.Alienated land
Alienated land is that which has been acquired from customary landowners by Government, either for its own use or private development requiring a mortgage or other forms of guarantees. The term refers historically to the appropriation of customary land by European colonial powers. Land was alienated in all colonies.Amung people
The Amung (also known as Amungme, Amuy, Damal or Uhunduni) people are a group of about 17,700 people living in the highlands of the Papua province of Indonesia. Their language is called Damal.
The traditional beliefs of the Amungme people are animistic. The Amungme people did not have the idea of "gods" that are separate from nature where spirits and nature are one and the same.They practice shifting agriculture, supplementing their livelihood by hunting and gathering. The Amungme are very tied to their ancestral land and consider the surrounding mountains to be sacred.
This has led to friction with the Indonesian government, which is eager to exploit the vast mineral deposits contained there. Major changes in the Amungme of the highlands and Kamoro of the lowlands lifestyle have been brought about by the Grasberg mine, situated in the heart of Amungme territory and owned by Freeport-McMoRan, the region's largest single employer. Extensive gold and copper mining have altered the landscape, and the presence of the mine and its infrastructure has attracted numerous other economic migrants from western Indonesia as well as other Papuans, some of whom have tried to settle on traditional Amungme lands. This has caused land dispute regarding customary land rights between the Amungme people against Freeport Indonesia mining company in Timika. In the last 35 years, the Amungme have seen their sacred mountain destroyed by the mine, and watched as their relatives are killed by Indonesian soldiers "defending" it, while the Kamoro have more than 200,000 tons of waste pumped into their rivers each day. All these factors have created complex social and political stresses, and led to somewhat frequent protests and/or social conflicts, some of which have been violently suppressed by the Indonesian police or military.Andrew Nori
Andrew Nori (1952 – 9 July 2013) was a Solomon Islands lawyer and politician, arguably best known for his role in the ethnic conflict on Guadalcanal in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
His father, Nori Nono'oohimae, was one of the founders of the Maasina Ruru movement of civil disobedience against British colonial rule, in the 1940s.A barrister by profession, Andrew Nori was "one of the first Solomon Islanders to qualify as a lawyer", and eventually became president of the Solomon Islands bar association.He began his political career when he was elected to the National Parliament in the 1984 general election, as MP for the West 'Are'are constituency. Prime Minister Sir Peter Kenilorea appointed him Minister for Home Affairs and Provincial Government, a position which he held for four years. He was re-elected in 1989, and, as head of the Nationalist Front for Progress, was for a time appointed Leader of the Official Opposition to Prime Minister Solomon Mamaloni's government. Re-elected to Parliament for a third term in 1993, he was appointed Minister for Finance in Prime Minister Francis Billy Hilly's government. In September 1994, he resigned in the face of reports that over A$70,000 had been transferred to his personal bank account from "an unnamed overseas source". He stated that he had "listed the amount with the relevant leadership code commission", but was stepping down "until his name was cleared". He did not regain his Cabinet position, and was defeated in his bid to retain his Parliament seat in the 1997 general election. This marked the end of his career in national politics.When migrants from Malaita in Guadalcanal began to be subject to violence from local ethnic militant groups in late 1999, and the armed Malaita Eagle Force was formed to defend their interests, Nori, himself a Malaitan, rapidly emerged as the "leader" or "spokesman" of the Eagle Force.On 5 June 2000, he led the Eagle Force into a coup d'état against Prime Minister Bartholomew Ulufa'alu, taking him hostage at gunpoint and demanding that he resign. Nori accused Ulufa'alu of not having prevented an escalation in the ethnic conflicts on Guadalcanal. The Eagle Force was temporarily described as "in control" of the capital city, Honiara. Nori told the Australian media he had led the coup because there was "a need for an immediate change in leadership and for the issues relating to peace to be focussed on more seriously and for a more efficient method and mechanism to be established to attend to peace issues and on the negotiation between the warring parties on Guadalcanal". The coup rapidly led to the arrival of a Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group delegation, which was welcomed by Nori, who expressed his hope that it would result in peace being brokered between the ethnic factions. Parliament voted to elect Manasseh Sogavare to the premiership, replacing Ulufa'alu, and the ethnic conflicts ceased for the most part with the Townsville Peace Agreement in October.In September 2000, the Pacific Media Watch accused Nori of having threatened journalist Duran Angiki and his family over an allegedly incorrect report published by the latter on Nori.In 2009, still practicing as a lawyer, Nori made headlines again by publicly criticising the Political Parties Registration and Administration Bill, saying it would entrench rather than resolve political instability in the country.As of early 2011, he was working as a consultant to the Customary Land Reform Unit, researching rules of customary land ownership throughout the country with an aim towards a government policy "to codify customary land laws and have them elevated to statutory status". In 2012, he was elected President of the National Olympic Committee of Solomon Islands.He died in hospital in Honiara on 9 July 2013, "after a long illness". In its obituary, the newspaper Solomon Star praised him as a "great leader" and one of the "greatest figures" in the country's history.Andrew Nori's wife, Delmah Nori, founded the Twelve Pillars to Peace and Prosperity Party in 2010. She is also the former president of the Solomon Islands Netball Association.Asau, Samoa
Asau is situated on the north west coast of Savai'i island in Samoa. It is the capital village of the Vaisigano political district and serves as the main business centre at the west end of the island.Asau was the centre of the timber industry in Samoa with logging of native forests. In the 1960s a new wharf was completed at Asau for the lumbering operations of an American company Potlatch Corporation. The mouth of Asau Harbour was blocked by a coral reef and both the Samoan government and consultants had difficulties in clearing away the coral. A government dredge sank while trying to remove the coral. Later, New Zealand bombs dropped on the reef did not solve the problem. Villagers claimed aitu did not want the harbour cleared. The large sawmill operating in Asau has since closed. The harbour is seldom used now.
The Asau Airport is an airstrip primarily used for chartered flights. In 2008, an American development company, South Pacific Development, based in Honolulu, made plans to expand Asau Airport and harbour. The company has obtained a 120-year lease for 600 acres (2.4 km2) of prime oceanfront customary land in Sasina village, to build a luxury resort estimated to cost $450 – $500 million US dollars.
The breakwater protecting the bay is an old American airstrip from World War II.
The port was well used in the past as it was well protected on the east and south by the main land and on the north and west by coral reefs.
In September 2008, bushfires inland from Asau and Aopo village destroyed more than two thousand acres (8 km²).Bandar Jasin Bestari
Bandar Jasin Bestari ( Jasin Smart City ) is a proposed central township for Jasin District, Melaka, Malaysia led by Customary Land Corporation (PERTAM). The proposal is to move the center of Jasin Town into a new area that is more suitable for a town center. Jasin's Old Town is quite dense and future development potential is limited. Bandar Jasin Bestari is situated at the main road between Melaka Town and Jasin Old Town. The 25 minute drive to the Jasin Tolls of the PLUS Highway and 20 minutes to the Ayer Keroh Toll make the new city accessible from the major highway. Bandar Jasin Bestari contains residential areas, a business center, a shopping complex (Mydin), a school, recreational areas and petrol stations.Beeliar people
The Beeliar people are a clan or group of Indigenous Australians belonging to the Noongar tribal people of the South West region of Western Australia. Robert Lyon referred to the Beeliar people as one of the five groups of the Perth metropolitan area, but it is now thought that they may have been a family subgroup of a larger group, which Daisy Bates refers to as "Beelgar". When British settlers arrived to establish the Swan River Colony in 1829, there were about 60 Beeliar people, including Midgegooroo and Yagan. The Beeliar group no longer exists, and although some present-day Noongars trace their ancestry to Yagan, they identify as Noongars rather than Beeliar.
The Beeliar people had customary land usage rights over the land from the Swan and Canning Rivers south to Mangles Bay. This area was sometimes also referred to as Beeliar.Customary freehold
Not to be confused with customary land.Customary freehold is in English law a species of tenure which may be described as a variety of copyhold. It is also termed privileged copyhold or copyhold of frank tenure. It is a tenure by copy of manorial roll, but not expressed to be at the will of the lord. It is, in fact, only a superior kind of copyhold, and the freehold is in the lord. It is subject to the general law of copyholds, except where the law may be varied by the custom of the particular manor.Fa'amatai
Fa'amatai is the chiefly system of Samoa, central to the organization of Samoan society.
It is the traditional indigenous form of governance in the Samoa Islands, comprising American Samoa and the Independent State of Samoa. The term comprises the prefix fa'a (Samoan for "in the way of") and the word matai (family name or title).
Of central importance in the system are the matai, the holders of family chief titles, and their role in looking after their family. Fa'amatai is the key socio-political system of governance and way of life (fa'a Samoa) in Samoan culture. Inherent in the fa'amatai system is the welfare and well-being of the extended family ('aiga) and the protection of family property, consisting most importantly of customary land.
In the 49-seat parliament of independent Samoa, all 47 Samoan Members of Parliament are also matai, performing dual roles as chiefs and modern politicians, with the exception of the two seats reserved for non-Samoans.The fa'amatai system is significant in modern Samoa where most of the land, about 81% (567,000 acres), is under customary ownership with the rest under the national government (malo) as public lands with another 4% freehold.The 2011 official census of independent Samoa identified a total of 16,787 matai (8.9%) living in the country from a total population of 187,820. Of the total number of matai, 15,021 (89.5%) were male and 1,766 (10.5%) were female.The Fa'amatai system has been greatly impacted upon by colonialism as well as Samoa's modern politics which came into effect when the country gained independence in 1962.Judiciary of Solomon Islands
The judiciary of Solomon Islands is a branch of the Government of Solomon Islands that interprets and applies the laws of Solomon Islands, to ensure equal justice under law, and to provide a mechanism for dispute resolution. The legal system is derived from chapter VII, part II of the Constitution, adopted when the country became independent from the United Kingdom in 1978. The Constitution provided for the creation of a High Court, with original jurisdiction in civil and criminal cases, and a Court of Appeal. It also provided for the possibility of "subordinate courts", with no further specification (art.84).The court system is under the responsibility of the Minister for Justice and Legal Affairs, who as of June 2013 is Commins Mewa.Prior to the beginning of the international Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI) in 2003, designed to restore peace and order in the country and reinforce its institutions, the "justice system was barely functioning, with courts rarely sitting and those awaiting trial often waiting more than two years for their case to be heard". The judiciary was strengthened over the following years, and as of 2013 RAMSI maintains "19 long-term advisers supporting the Solomon Islands judicial system".Like that of most Pacific island countries, Solomon Islands' court system relies partly on foreign judges, from other common law countries. Thus, the judges of the Court of Appeal "include senior judges from Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea". Foreign judges are also found in the High Court.The court system at present is structured as follows.Land tenure in Angola
The system of land tenure in Angola was addressed by the 2004 land act. While the land act is a crucial step towards normalization of land ownership in post-war Angola, some problems such as competing land claims, land grabbing and the unresolved status of customary land tenure persist.Land titling
Land titling is a form of land reform in which private individuals and families are given formal property rights for land which they have previously occupied informally or used on the basis of customary land tenure. Proponents argue that providing formal titles increases security of land tenure, supports development of markets in land, and allows better access to credit (using land titles as collateral). Peruvian economist Hernando de Soto Polar is the most well-known advocate of the approach, but it has a long history. Recently, "inspired by these ideas, and fostered by international development agencies, land titling programs have been launched throughout developing and transition economies as part of poverty alleviation efforts." The goals of poverty alleviation and urban management, however, can lead to conflicts in the design of land titling programs.Research in China by Landesa and others has found that more than 40% of farmers lack written documentation to confirm their land rights, and that local governments can frequently take away or sell off their land rights. Where policy reforms have been implemented, the organizations report, farmers invest in and benefit from their land, and they estimate that secure land rights represent the equivalent of $1.2 trillion in farmers' hands. UN Habitat launched a "Global Campaign for Secure Tenure".Evidence on the effectiveness of land titling for poverty reduction and economic development is mixed, with the key issue being the impact of titling on the security of land tenure, which varies. Particularly where customary land is involved, the introduction of formal land registration may have unpredictable effects, with the efficiency and marketisation of existing forms of land tenure underestimated, and the costs of formal registration underestimated and the security of formal land title overestimated. In many countries, recipients of formal title have later found that their titles did not give them the expected security in the face of market or state requirements to obtain their land. Some studies have found positive outcomes, albeit less strong than expected; one recent study on land titling in Argentina found that "entitling the poor increases their investment both in the houses and in the human capital of their children."The way in which land titling is carried out may raise gender issues. While titling was expected to promote long term investments and ensure the transfer of land from less efficient to more efficient users, studies assessing the impact of tenure reform in Africa often found few significant effects of privatisation on production and, in some cases, even negative effects (Bruce and Migot Adholla 1994). The impacts of privatisation of pastoral rangelands on production have been particularly contentious (Rutten 1992, Peters 1994, Pinckney and Kimuyu 1994, Archambault 2007)Joint titling successes happen, though most have not been complete successes, even when significant reforms have taken place. Despite Tanzanian legislation providing women the right to land and implementing default joint-titling, there has been little work on
the ground to ensure this is implemented. In India, even with political support for joint-titling policy, institutional backing from local land authority's is needed to make progress. As each reform is important for establishing joint-titling regimes, they are worth considering independently, even if they ultimately failedMina Susana Setra
Mina Susana Setra is an indigenous, environmental and land rights activist from Borneo. She serves as an activist for the Indigenous People's Alliance of the Archipelago and was instrumental in securing a ruling from the Constitutional Court recognizing customary land rights of indigenous people.Ngati Apa v Attorney-General
Ngati Apa v Attorney-General was a landmark legal decision that sparked the New Zealand foreshore and seabed controversy. The case arose from an application by eight northern South Island iwi for orders declaring the foreshore and seabed of the Marlborough Sounds Maori customary land. After lower court decisions and consequent appeals in the Maori Land Court, the Maori Appellate Court and the High Court; the Court of Appeal unanimously held that the Maori Land Court had jurisdiction to determine whether areas of foreshore and seabed were Maori customary land or not. The court also held that, "The transfer of sovereignty did not affect customary property. They are interests preserved by the common law until extinguished in accordance with the law". The effect of the decision was subsequently overturned by the Foreshore and Seabed Act 2004.Outline of Papua New Guinea
The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to Papua New Guinea:
The Independent State of Papua New Guinea is a sovereign island nation of Oceania comprising the eastern half of the Island of New Guinea and numerous offshore islands in the western South Pacific Ocean. Papua New Guinea is located in a region defined since the early 19th century as Melanesia. Its capital, and one of its few major cities, is Port Moresby. It is one of the most diverse countries on Earth, with over 850 indigenous languages and at least as many traditional societies, out of a population of just under 6 million. It is also one of the most rural, with only 18 per cent of its people living in urban centres. The country is also one of the world's least explored, culturally and geographically, and many undiscovered species of plants and animals are thought to exist in the interior of Papua New Guinea.
The majority of the population live in traditional societies and practise subsistence-based agriculture. These societies and clans have some explicit acknowledgement within the nation's constitutional framework. The PNG Constitution (Preamble 5(4)) expresses the wish for traditional villages and communities to remain as viable units of Papua New Guinean society, and for active steps to be taken in their preservation. The PNG legislature has enacted various laws in which a type of tenure called "customary land title" is recognised, meaning that the traditional lands of the indigenous peoples have some legal basis to inalienable tenure. This customary land notionally covers most of the usable land in the country (some 97% of total land area); alienated land is either held privately under State Lease or is government land. Freehold Title (also known as fee simple) can only be held by Papua New Guinea citizens.The country's geography is similarly diverse and, in places, extremely rugged. A spine of mountains runs the length of the island of New Guinea, forming a populous highlands region. Dense rainforests can be found in the lowland and coastal areas. This terrain has made it difficult for the country to develop transportation infrastructure. In some areas, planes are the only mode of transport. After being ruled by three external powers since 1884, Papua New Guinea gained its independence from Australia in 1975.Ownership, Unity and Responsibility Party
The Ownership, Unity and Responsibility Party (or Our Party) is a political party in the Solomon Islands.
The party was established on 16 January 2010 (and officially launched a month later) by the leader of the Opposition (and former Prime Minister), Manasseh Sogavare, and eight opposition MPs. It contested the 2010 elections.
The party has stated its intention to "invest $780 million over a period of 4 years in the rural economy from our own sources to improve the participation of our people in economic development". Provincial governments would be required to take an active part in rural development. It has also promised to consider whether it may be possible to restore customary ownership of land alienated for public purposes during the colonial era, notably in Honiara. In this respect, the party said it would be guided by the customary land ownership policy implemented in Vanuatu.During the party's official launch mid-February, in Gizo, Sogavare added that, despite "millions of dollars worth of logs" exported from Western Province, landowners had received little in the way of revenue or improved government services. He later promised to address citizens' concerns about "the spill-over effects of the Bougainville crisis" on the maritime border with Papua New Guinea, and emphasised that national unity was "one of the core pillars" of OUR Party.Later, in the context of the campaign for the 2010 general election, he stated:
"OUR Party is founded on Christian principles. OUR Party is committed to restore the ownership of this country to the people of Solomon Islands, both indigenous and naturalised. We are also committed to the course of national unity. We believe that we can only progress in developing our country if we are united and see each other as brothers and sisters. We are also committed to encouraging responsible leadership at all levels, including personal leadership. We are also committed to empowering our people through a development strategy that is people-centred, rural-focussed and growth-oriented."Speaking in the party's name, he has also criticised the country's Truth and Reconciliation Commission, describing it as costly, excessively academic and guided by "foreign concepts", as opposed to more effective indigenous means of resolving conflicts and their aftermath.Party secretary general Patterson Oti stated in May 2010 that the party would decentralise development programmes, to empower the provinces. In June, Sogavare "pledged to commit 6.2 million US$ to help relocate victims of climate change" if the party won the election.Politics of Vanuatu
The politics of Vanuatu take place within the framework of a constitutional democracy. The constitution provides for a representative parliamentary system. The head of the Republic is an elected President. The Prime Minister of Vanuatu is the head of government.
Executive power is exercised by the government. Legislative power is vested in both the government and parliament. The Judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislature.
These institutions, which date from the country's independence in 1980, exist alongside traditional systems of leadership and justice upheld by community chiefs.
Though Vanuatu is a full democracy, its political culture is different from that in most Western democracies, with strong elements of clientelism, and political debate that focuses strongly on the distribution of resources among communities rather than ideology. Governments typically comprise coalitions of numerous small parties which change regularly, with parties and MPs "crossing the floor" and Prime Ministers being ousted in motions of no confidence.
Major political issues in Vanuatu include: customary land rights, foreign investment and the sale of citizenship to foreigners, infrastructure development, recognition of West Papua, response to natural disasters and climate change, the tackling of instability and corruption, and the safeguarding of the country's cultural heritage.Satapuala
Satapuala is a village situated on the north west coast Upolu island in Samoa. The village is part of A'ana Alofi III Electoral Constituency (Faipule District) which forms part of the larger political district A'ana.
Satapuala is 40 minutes west from the country's capital Apia.
The village was relocated in 1942 to build the Faleolo International Airport. Like other land in Samoa, customary land in Satapuala was also alienated during colonialism.
Customary land has since come under the government. Part of the former customary village land is where the new Aggie Grey's Lagoon Resort (the Government is the majority shareholder) has been built with a golf course beside the airport. Other Satapuala land includes a large coconut plantation opposite the airport which the government had planned to sell as small freehold lots and to build businesses and resorts. The chiefs (matai) of Satapuala have made legal claims to return customary land from the government for many years. The disputed land is the property of the government's Samoa Trust Estate Corporation (STEC, formerly WSTEC), land which came under the Samoa government when German and New Zealand colonial rule ended in Samoa.Leading Satapuala's legal claim against the government for more than two thousand acres (8 km²) was a high chief of the village, To’alepaiali’i Toeolesulusulu Salesa III, the late Member of Parliament of the A'ana District and a prominent figure in Samoan politics. To'alepaiali'i was a Cabinet Minister in Samoa during the 1980s. He died during a trip to Sydney in November 2008.In the early 20th century this village had also made land claims against the New Zealand colonial administration, since it wanted to put an airport on the village grounds.
Like most villages in Samoa, the geographic boundary of Satapuala covers an area from the coastline and inland. The village is separated into two sections. Satapuala-I-Tai (tai means coastal) is the end of the village nearest to the lagoon shoreline. Satapuala-I-Uta (uta means inland) is the end where most of the village people live, and also the place where the village road ends. The village of Satapuala is famous for having the historic Lapita Site.
There is one narrow and roughly paved road which connects the two ends of Satapuala-I-Uta, although in Satapuala-I-Tai the road is unpaved. The main Upolu Highway is accessible from the main village junction, or also known as the Magafa.
There are a few schools in Satapuala, including district college Satapuala College. Many children from the village attend and so do those from places as far as Leulumoega to Falelatai. There is a large coconut plantation, where coconuts are used to make Samoan Brand Coconut Cream which is sold worldwide. There are some 10 family-owned shops in the village with 3 billiard gaming areas. The traditional 'Sa', evening prayers, takes place each day throughout the village and lasts for about 30 minutes. The 'Sa' is a Prayer Curfew, played throughout most of Samoa. The village is vibrant in colour and culture. Horses used for plantation work are sometimes kept in the village tied amongst the breadfruit and coconut trees. This village is abundant in crops and flowers although the thorny weed vao fefe. Television and radio broadcast reception is reasonable in the village. A few pay phones are found around Satapuala's Main Village Shops, but the majority of pay phones are found at the airport, where there is internet access. Mobile Phones are widely used and through local companies Digicel and Go Mobile. Topping Up, Credit Recharges and SIM Cards can be purchased from the local stores. There are ATM outlets at the ANZ and Westpac branches at the airport. Like most villages in Samoa, Sunday is a sacred day. Churches in the village are Catholic Church of 'Sagato Atonio' and the LDS Church, which is located across the narrow village road from the Catholic Church.
Ten minutes west from the village is Mulifanua Wharf where the inter-island ferry terminal is located for passenger and vehicle transport to Savai'i island. Boats to Manono or Apolima Islands are located at Manono Uta and Apolima Uta, further west on the main road past Mulifanua wharf.Vailoa
Vailoa (Vailoa i Palauli) is a village on the island of Savai'i in Samoa. Vailoa is the capital of Palauli district on the south east of the island.Vailoa attained the status of Pule (traditional political authority) sometime in the 19th century. The village is associated with the chiefly title of Lilomaiava. It is referred to as Vailoa i Palauli (Vailoa in Palau district).
Like most villages in Samoa, the local economy is based on subsistence living. The people live off their land from crops grown in plantations behind the village or fishing.