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Koutu Nui welcomes reduction in Land Court fees, brochures

Wednesday 15 February 2023 | Written by Melina Etches | Published in Court, Culture, Local, National

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Koutu Nui welcomes reduction  in Land Court fees, brochures
Members of the Koutu Nui on the last day of their annual general meeting in June this year. 21061727

Te Koutu Nui, the group comprising Cook Islands sub-chiefs, has welcomed the reduction in Land Court fees announced by the Ministry of Justice earlier this month.

Ministry of Justice earlier his month announced a fee reduction, recognising that the High Court Fees Regulations 2016 had significantly increased Succession Order fees.

The three primary changes include the Land Succession Application fees which has been reduced by $25 per application, an increase in Meetings of Assembled Owners (MOAO) fees by $50, and a reduction and simplification of fees relating to copies of court documents to $2 a page (capped at $50 per document).

Koutu Nui co-secretary and treasurer, TePa Mataiapo Imogen P Ingram said they also welcome the Ministry’s decision of only one application for succession matters to all lands.

“Previously, applicants had to file a separate application for each land in each separate district (oire) which resulted in big fees for people wishing to succeed to their deceased parent,” Ingram said.

Over the past 18 months Koutu Nui has lobbied for Succession Order fees to be reduced after the issue was raised during workshops and annual general meetings (AGMs) by its members both in the Pa Enua and Rarotonga.

Koutu Nui members also raised and discussed the Succession Order fees through radio broadcasts on Matariki FM.

“All landowners found this a great burden, and several championed the issue,” said Ingram.

A retired registrar has also spoken out at Koutu Nui AGMs about how people had pleaded to help get the Land Court fees reduced, she added.

The Ministry of Justice started reviewing their High Court fees in 2019 and 2020 but was put on hold due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Ministry also released three brochures relating to the Land Division of the High Court that will assist the Cook Islands community in understanding the court process around succession, occupation right, and lease applications.

Along with these brochures, the Ministry released samples of the three types of maps needed as part of the occupation right and lease process.

Secretary of Justice, Tamatoa Jonassen earlier said: “These brochures are part of our ongoing commitment to improve our services and help our community.”

Te Koutu Nui also applauded the release of brochures setting out Land Court processes and other court processes. 

“Of special interest was the step-wise approach, where an applicant can pay around $100 for succession order application and advertising for up to five lands, and then after the hearing has concluded, pay $80 total to check and seal the order together with registration fee,” said Ingram.

“Similarly, fees for Occupation Rights and Lease are separated into filing fee and advertising prior to Court Hearing, then checking and sealing orders for $55 and registration $25 which can be paid after the Court Hearing.”

President of Koutu Nui, Paroro Mataiapo Rongo Preston, the executive committee and members congratulate Justice for the “clarifications about its processes that are set out in the brochures, and for the step-wise approach which makes fees payment more manageable”.