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Koutu Nui calls for systematic review of Cook Islands land law

Thursday 16 November 2023 | Written by Supplied | Published in Local, National


Koutu Nui calls for systematic  review of Cook Islands land law
The Koutu Nui’s elected office bearers and members during their 2023 Annual General Meeting (AGM) at Palmerston House in June. MELINA ETCHES/23061631

Koutu Nui, a group of sub chiefs, has presented its submission to the Parliamentary Select Committee considering two amendments to the Cook Islands Act 1915, proposed by Opposition Leader Tina Browne.

In a statement, Koutu Nui said it recognises the merit of clarifying which landowners appearing on the Registers of Title have died without successors, as this could facilitate the process of obtaining the necessary consents for an Occupation Right.

“However, some concerns remain about those who, for whatever reason, have not succeeded to the lands of their deceased parent,” the group said.

Koutu Nui members, including some from the Pa Enua, stated that they were unable to afford to file their succession applications until the Land Court fees were reduced in February 2023.

Instead of rushing to address a small portion of the Act, which could lead to unintended consequences, Koutu Nui advocates for a comprehensive review of the entire Cook Islands Act 1915.

“While it has served Cook Islanders well, the current Act has seen many sections repealed over the past century. These views are based on concerns raised by participants at a Koutu Nui land law workshop in 2021, from which recommendations were drawn up and from which their policy for land law reform was developed.

Although Koutu Nui submitted its land law reform policy to the Prime Minister’s Office and Minister of Justice in June 2023, Opposition Leader Browne has confirmed with Crown Law that there is no immediate intention to overhaul the Act, the statement said.

Yesterday, Koutu Nui requested that the current Bills Petitions & Papers Committee, or a similar body, undertake a systematic review of relevant sections of the Act.

“Another submitter, presenting later in the day, suggested that the existing Committee should continue its deliberations until mid-2024 on several land issues that are considered of great importance by Cook Islanders.”

Koutu Nui encourages all landowners to attend the remaining vaka meeting in Rarotonga to express the same concerns they raised with Koutu Nui and to present their views to the Bills Petitions & Papers Committee at Parliament.

The final vaka meeting will be held tonight at the Calvary Hall in Arorangi from 5pm.