Local arguments taken to London
Theft, drugs, assault cases dealt with
Local arguments taken to London
The Privy Council complex at Middlesex Guildhal in London.
This morning the London Privy Council will hear its first-ever Cook Islands land case.
Two Cook Islands land disputes come before the council this week, each having been allocated a one-day hearing.
The first case involves 58 acres of Takitumu land – Tuarea Nui section 40. June Baudinet for Ngati Raina is contesting a decision made by Justice Sir Ian Barker in 2010, which upheld an appeal lodged by Ellena Tavioni for the kopu ariki of Ngati Makea.
Baudinet believes that Barker did not have the authority to reverse a previous decision made by Justice Kenneth Hingston in 2008. She claims that Barker unfairly and illegally delivered a judgment without properly hearing the case.
The story dates back to 1903, when Colonel Walter Gudgeon and Takitumu ariki Pa Ariki Maretu were jointly presiding over a newly-established land court. The pair ordered an investigation into the title of disputed Tuarea Nui section 40, to which Te Au O Tonga ariki Makea Takau claimed she had a vested “life interest only and no power of device”.
Baudinet claims that the above quote – from Makea Takau’s written submissions to the court – should have translated into the land being returned to Ngati Raina upon Makea Takau’s death.
The clause was crossed out with ink, but the correction was not initialled by a judge.
The court ultimately sealed its order, giving rights to the section to Makea Takau. The order did not mention the “life interest only and no power of device” phrase.
In 1933, Ngati Raina applied to amend the court order but their application was denied, and in 2004 Baudinet filed an order to re-claim the section.
Four years later, Justice Hingston amended a century-old order. Then, two years ago, Tavioni for the kopu ariki of Ngati Makea and Meremaraea Macquarie applied for special leave to appeal, and won.
Now Baudinet is taking them to Privy Council.
Last year Baudinet told Cook Islands News: “Makea ariki have no land in Takitumu. The truth will come out.”
She has employed the services of Ross Holmes, who will be accompanied in London by several New Zealand barristers. Tavioni and Macquarie have enlisted principal Tina Browne and counsel Sarah Inder.
The second case to be heard before the Privy Council involves three sections of Takuvaine land and one family.
Appellants Utanga and Arerangi Tumu are contesting ownership of Taurupau section 69, Rarokava section 17, and Te Piri section 73 – all of which are in Takuvaine, Avarua. The respondents are the descendents of Iopu Tumu.
The appellants and respondents are at odds with regard to orders made in 1912. They disagree as to whether all descendents – or just those descended from the relevant titleholder – should claim ownership to the sections in question.
Holmes will appear for the appellants, and Browne and Inder for the respondents.
The cost of being heard before the Privy Council is just 75 British pounds, but each party is responsible for covering its airfare and accommodation costs, and its lawyer fees. Each party is estimating that the trip will cost them up to $40,000.
The Privy Council acts as a final Court of Appeal for the United Kingdom’s overseas territories and dependencies, and for some Commonwealth countries. Sitting on the Privy Council are Supreme Court Justices and some senior Commonwealth judges.
A London-based court reporter has promised to send Cook Islands News a summary of the court proceedings.
Theft, drugs, assault cases dealt with
Justice of the Peace John Kenning presided over a session of the Cook Islands High Court at Avarua on Thursday morning.
Rodney Ngatikao did not appear when called to face a single charge of assaulting a female.
Defence counsel Norman George admitted he did not know his client’s whereabouts, and the bench ordered a warrant for the defendant’s arrest.
Tipora Maihia appeared for call-over on charges of theft, which she has denied. She has previously elected trial by jury, and will again appear for call-over on May 10.
Ricky Carlson appeared to face a single charge of contempt of court.
Described by George as one of the “Operation Eagle stars”, Carlson failed to appear at the police station as required by his conditions of bail.
The defendant explained that he was unaware he had to report to the station on a public holiday, and the court convicted him and fined him $70 and ordered him to pay $30 court costs. It was his first breach of bail.
Tamarua Browne and Richard Vainerere appeared on charges of burglary, which Crown prosecutor Cheryl King says the prosecution intends to dismiss.
Defence counsel Charles Petero requested an adjournment to April 26.
Koro Tangaroa appeared to face two charges of contempt of court and one of threatening to kill. He also faces outstanding charges of burglary and indecent assault, on which he has yet to be sentenced.
Petero submitted that the court grant the defendant leave to travel to Aitutaki, where relatives can look after him.
Kenning questioned whether the fact that the defendant has breached bail twice concerns the prosecution.
“There’s sufficient evidence on the table now that he probably should be remanded in custody,” Kenning said.
After much hesitation, Kenning reluctantly granted the defendant permission to travel to Aitutaki on April 16.
The defendant’s cases were adjourned to June 19. Until then, all bail conditions will continue – the defendant is not to be abroad (on Rarotonga or Aitutaki) between 7pm and 7am, not to purchase or consume alcohol and not to enter into any liquor-licenced premises. He is also required to surrender his passport.
Mere Paitai appeared to face a single charge of driving with excess breath alcohol. The defendant indicated that she intends to employ the legal services of counsel Tony Manarangi, who is currently working overseas and will return to Rarotonga on May 5. On instructions from Manarangi, she sought an adjournment to May 17.
Anania Urirau and Ngametua Kimiia appeared to face joint charges of smoking cannabis and possessing cannabis and a utensil used to smoke cannabis.
Both are being represented by Petero, and both will re-appear in June for sentencing.
Eli Daniel appeared to face a single charge of (being a male) assaulting a female, which he denies.
The matter was adjourned to April 26, and in the interim the defendant was ordered to surrender his passport.
Junior Marekino appeared to face a single charge of possession of cannabis, which he denies. He will re-appear for call-over on April 26, and in the meantime has pledged to seek legal counsel.
Jason Arioka appeared on a single charge of theft.
Petero told the court that police have indicated they intend to downgrade the charge his client faces.
He then requested an adjournment to April 26, which the court granted. Until then the defendant’s bail conditions will continue – he is not to leave Rarotonga and not to associate with Ngatupuna Rata, and he must report to the police station twice weekly.
Perina Tekoronga appeared to face a single charge of driving with excess breath alcohol, which she admits.
She told the court that whilst she does not deny the charge, the police officers who charged her were “unprofessional”. She also alleged that a female police officer “pushed” and “shoved” her, and claims she has bruises and scratches as a result of the incident.
“I felt like I was a most-wanted murderer, how they treated me.”
Kenning advised her to file a formal complaint with the commissioner of police.
“There are two matters. One is driving with excess breath alcohol and the court can deal with thatThe other issue with regards to the behaviour of the police is not a matter for the court and the court should not take your story into account without the opportunity for the police to respondIt would appear to me that you should lay a complaint with the commissioner of police.
“We don’t have an alternative. We don’t have a police complaints committee or anything like that but I think you can rely on his (the commissioner’s) integrity,” Kenning said.
On the charge the defendant was convicted and fined $350 and ordered to pay court costs of $30. She was further disqualified from holding or obtaining a driver’s licence for 12 months.
Tutai Upu King appeared on a single charge of contempt of court after failing to report to the police station as required by her bail conditions.
Petero explained that it was a “genuine mistake” on the defendant’s part, one she attempted to correct by appearing at police headquarters the next morning.
Upon admitting her guilt, the defendant was convicted and fined $50 and ordered to pay court costs of $30.
Ngatupuna Rata appeared in the Cook Islands High Court yesterday on 12 charges.
The defendant has admitted charges of theft and denied further charges of theft, being party to an offence and breaking and entering with intent to commit a crime. He has yet to enter pleas on charges of breaking and entering, aiding and abetting and assaulting a female.
Defence counsel Wilkie Rasmussen requested an adjournment in order to have time to review the charges with his client, and to liaise with the prosecution in hopes of reducing the number of charges his client faces.
“This practice of laying multiple charges against people needs to be re-examined in the sense that it might not be (useful) to charge someone with so many charges when one or two charges would suffice,” Rasmussen said.
He claimed his client faces charges laid under “unusual circumstances”, and indicated he will be discussing those with the Crown.
The defendant was released on bail, with conditions to continue until he appears before the court on May 9 for sentencing.