24 Dec 2005

Fiji indigenous landowners demand return of capital land

8:39 am on 24 December 2005

Original indigenous owners of nearly 10,000 hectares of land in the Fiji capital Suva are demanding its return.

The Fiji Sun reports that this was one of the resolutions passed at this week's meeting of the newly-established Viti Land and Resource Owners Association.

Its interim president, Ratu Osea Gavidi, says the state had taken this land in colonial times and pushed aside its rightful owners.

Ratu Osea says the land now earns the state, the Suva City Council and the Housing Authority millions of dollars while the original landowners receive a pittance.

He says this land includes the site of the present Government Buildings in Central Suva, the large grounds of the president's residence, the army camp on the outskirts of Suva and many others.

The Fiji government will set up an Indigenous Claims Tribunal next year which will deal with such claims.