Government took land with a warrant by proclamation for the clearing of an area to form a road and with only limited consultation with landowners. The result was people not being fully appraised and not being able to make informed decisions, says one of the landowners, Tere Carr.
“The consultation was in the form of a public meeting where landowners were called by the Minister (of Infrastructure Cook Islands, Teariki Heather) to attend and to give agreement at that meeting.
“I did not attend but those involved with the land I am personally involved in agreed to a four metre access way for pipes and utilities to be laid at the same time. ICI assured landowners that it was their intention to lay utilities at the same time as the water pipe – it was on that basis many people agreed.”
She says now that landowners know that no utilities are going to be laid, it is clear landowners were duped into agreeing to the proposed laying of the pipes in the first instance.
Carr also confirmed that Infrastructure Cook Islands does not have any written consent forms from landowners on individual blocks who agreed for their lands to be used in the manner proposed.
“Land is the last bastion for landowners in our country in that it is the only thing that allows our people to have a say as to its usage by government.”
Says Carr: “In all other government decisions such as unauthorised spending of public money, the plundering of our oceans by foreigners, the endless financial blunders entered into and so on, we have no say.
“Our rights to our land is enshrined in our Constitution and the law and so landowners must ensure that due process for any use of their lands is in accordance with the law”.
Carr is emphatic that what was done in Titikaveka was a gross abuse of power by government.
“Government really needs to review the many mistakes made, take stock of this situation to make sure that it never happens again. Their mistakes cost taxpayers. At the very outset there should have been full consultations with all the landowners”.