29 Jun 2010

Bougainville women struggle with land issues

5:52 pm on 29 June 2010

A workshop in Wellington has been told that women in the Papua New Guinea province of Bougainville face wide ranging problems involving land.

The workshop, organised by the Pacific Co-operation Foundation, brought together women representing NGOs on Bougainville to explain the difficulties they face and to assess whether New Zealand could help.

Helen Hakena of the Leitana Nehan Women's Development Agency says while land in the province is mostly held matrilineally, men often ignore that and make sales without seeking the approval or backing of the women in the clan.

"Our husbands or our chiefs, our male members are signing agreements with the companies and they are getting all the money, whereas they should be consulting women, because women are the resource owners. They should be sharing the money they are getting from the resources equally with the women folks. These are problems that women on Bougainville face."

Helen Hakena

The workshop also heard from Judge Caren Fox, the Deputy Chief Judge of New Zealand's Maori Land Court on issues in this country concerning the legal issues surrounding customary land.