23 Oct 2002

Land dispute in Fiji won't hinder Studio City says chairman

4:53 pm on 23 October 2002

The company at the centre of a land dispute in Fiji says there is no substance to the claims and a leasehold agreement for the proposed Studio City will go ahead.

Philip Gerlach, the executive chairman of Paradise Entertainment Limited, says the area at Yaqara in north-eastern Viti Levu, is actually crown, not native land despite indigenous landowners saying they are the rightful owners.

Mr Gerlach says there have been talks about reverting it to native land but unless that happens, the government makes the decisions on what happens with crown land.

And, he says it's likely the lease agreement will be signed shortly.

"It's essentially a storm in a teacup really, because the government may never really revert the land to native title, if they did then the land will come under the Native Lands Trust Board, and currently we intend to lease the land from the Crown and that lease should be signed in two to our weeks."

Philip Gerlach says the issue hasn't prevented work going ahead at the site.

And, he says there's been a lot of interest worldwide in Studio City and he expects a film studio will be set up within a year.

Studio City is being set up as a creative hub where audio visual, information technology, music and sports people can reside tax free if they commit money to the project.