UNAISI RATUBALAVU - www.fijitimes.com
Thursday, March 13, 2008
A new survey of native land ownership proposed by the team investigating Fijian institutions will be a massive exercise, says Native Land Commission chairman Ratu Viliame Tagivetaua.
Ratu Viliame said another survey of native land ownership and boundaries (veitarogi vanua) would be costly.
He said that he had not been informed by his permanent secretary on the proposal by the team headed by Colonel Apakuki Kurusiga.
"As far as I know, there is no formal correspondence between our permanent secretary and myself on that team's proposal. But if the survey does take place, it will be a massive exercise," he said.
"They will travel the width and the depth of Fiji and collect all the information from the people."
Ratu Viliame also questioned why there was a need for a new survey when previous surveys from the 1820s to the last survey by Ratu Sir Lala Sukuna in the 1930s were correct.
"All the records of land boundaries and ownership are there and people were given time to query and make changes at that time. If the majority of the Fijian people agree with all the records here with us, why have another survey," Ratu Viliame said. Last week, one of the investigative team members assigned to investigate Fijian institutions, Kalivati Batibasaga, said the team hoped to carry out the survey once it was given the green light to investigate the NLC.
Mr Batibasaga said they submitted their proposal and budget of $1.3million to the Finance Ministry and were awaiting approval.
Rewa chief Ro Filipe Tuisawau said the basis of the review was erroneous.
"What it will do is cause uncertainty and instability because we will be questioning our current records," said Ro Filipe.
He said for the Rewa province, the survey was recorded and established in 1923.
He said a fresh survey would shake the foundations of Fijian society.
The Tui Cakau and the paramount chief of the Tovata confederacy, Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu, said the team needed to tread carefully with its proposal to carry out a survey.
"They need to tread carefully as it is a very sensitive area and they should do their homework well to see if they want to proceed with it or not," said Ratu Naiqama.
"I would be interested to see the parameters or their terms of reference regarding the NLC and whether they will look at the land issue or the social structure."
Tui Macuata Ratu Aisea Katonivere said his view was that the decision made by Ratu Sir Lala Sukuna had stood the test of time and had been the backbone of the vanua.
He said a fresh survey would be a huge exercise to undertake and urged the team to review its proposal