31 Aug 2004

Fiji's Native Lands Trust Board considers taking back land

7:42 am on 31 August 2004

Fiji's Native Lands Trust Board is preparing to take back land which is considered to have been dishonestly bought from indigenous owners in the 19th century.

Radio Fiji reports that this will follow as soon as the government sets up the Indigenous Land Tribunal, legislation for which is in its final stages.

The NLTB says the Tribunal will determine whether indigenous owners were tricked into selling their land for items such as whiskey, guns and clothes.

The native lands commissioner, Ilaitia Caginivanua, says once the tribunal has made its determination that a particular land sale was not honest, the government will have to correct the wrong that was done.

He says the government could set up a special fund to help the descendants of the original owners buy the land back and play compensation for all developments on it.

The Fiji legislation is modelled on the New Zealand Land Claims Tribunal.