10 Jun 2003

Cook Islands tribe hopes for binding agreement from church

4:35 pm on 10 June 2003

The Makea tribe in the Cook Islands will decide later this week whether it needs to take further court action over the desecration of an early Christian graveyard.

The tribe's lawyer, Brian Mason, says they're waiting to see whether an agreement can be reached between the Cook Islands Christian Church and the Historical Places Trust before any decision is made about pursuing further court action.

Mr Mason says the Historical Places Trust is continuing its negotiations with the church over the restoration of the grave sites after the church bulldozed a section of the graveyard.

"The trust, if it declares an area to be an archaeological site, then must seek and agreement with the owners on how that site will be preserved, maintained and perhaps to some extent developed and we would like to see that any agreement is done formally and that the two parties are bound to it."

Mr Mason says there's been no indication from the church as to whether it will abide by an agreement.

He says the high court injunction granted last week prevents the Church from carrying out any more bulldozing of the graveyard.