reasons for the petition

PRESS RELEASE | group for the protection of maori land

Under customary law, as landowners, we are custodians of the land, entrusted with title to the lands of the Cook Islands.  Our duty and that of all other landowners is to preserve that title and pass that title onto our children, grandchildren and those children not yet born.

We respect the views of our Ariki and Koutu Nui:

Our Ariki through the Ariki Council and Koutu Nui have expressed that the Bill is still hasty especially when the consequences of the act are still being determined.

Existing laws covering Land leases, Foreign Ownership, Building height and density restrictions,  environmental issues, and Immigration should be looked at and all loopholes which ill benefit landowners and our people should be closed, before the Unit Titles Bill is passed.

Under the present system landowners are consulted and must give approval for any resale of  their land. Under a Unit Titles Lease the landowner is not consulted if the developer or owner of the unit wants to onsell their Unit.

The Unit Titles Bill is a Bill which encourages intensive development  If laws are not put in place to control foreign investment and development, then we will have more foreigner investors who do not have knowledge or concern for our land, our people, our customs or our environment. The Cook Islands is a small land mass with a very small local population. And this intensive development will very quickly impact negatively on the people, the land and the environment and therefore the whole culture and social structure of our country.  

If we look at other Pacific Nations such as New Zealand, Hawaii and Fiji we can see that the Maori people of the land are the poorest people in their own country. Intensive development encourages speculation of property which drives up the cost of land, housing, and rents, making it difficult for local people to turn down exorbitant land lease prices.  Our people are left with money in their hands, while the Developer or Investor has their land for 60 years or more if released. This is their own choice.  In the end they make the choice; money or  land. Rents and land prices will increase, and many Cook Islanders who do not have land will not be able to afford to lease land or pay local rentals.  

We have a wonderful way of life on our Islands.  Our people are happy and afford a good standard of living, better than most of our neighbouring Pacific Nations.  We have to ask ourselves do we want to hold on to this or do we want to become another Fiji, or Hawaii.  It is still our choice.

“We are caretakers of the lands, the lands our god has gifted to our forefathers to look after and pass on to us, today’s generation.  We in turn must pass those same lands on to our own future generations – and definitely not to developers/investors.

The Unit Titles Bill suits people who want to develop land.  We can see that a number of landowners will benefit from the Bill, but the overall impact on the majority of people in the country will be negative.

When a Bill is to be passed that effects the customary land laws of our people it must be considered seriously and given time, and all doubts and questions cleared before it is passed and perhaps it should even go to referendum

It is dangerous and irresponsible that the government of the people of the Cook Islands should allow a single development such as Vaimaanga and Ootu Aitutaki , to cause this Unit Titles Bill to be rushed through, without relevant laws to protect landowners, culture, environment and social structure.

We pray that the Honourable members  delay the passing of the Unit Titles Bill, until relevant laws which effect this Bill are put in place to protect our land, people, culture, environment, and social structure.

If you have any doubts, find a copy of the Petition in a local store and sign.



The Unit Titles Bill does change the nature of Landownership by turning our customary land into a commodity which can be bought and sold.

The Unit titles Bill Grants Unit TITLES to investors buying units on lease land.

have your say on the unit titles bill – vote here in the avaiki online poll


Anonymous said...

The petition and supporters does not understand the Bill. Currently,leases can be bought and sold with the consent of the landowner. Likewise, Unit Title Leases can also be bought and sold with the consent of the landowner. The Government/Islands Councils will control what kind of unit title developments can take place - thats why they have to go to Environment.

Anonymous said...

Kia orana. Congratulations on your input in supporting the petition against this Unit Titles Bill. Thank you for the opportunity to comment about it.

It is our understanding that the 'people' who can sign the petition are individuals who are eligible to vote in the CIslands. If this is correct, then we are unable to sign the petition.

However, surely people like us who were born in the CIslands and have birth certificates that state that we are CIslanders must have some form of fundamental human rights and freedom to speak out and object this bill. We may have been living overseas for years, but return home regularly. We all live in New Zealand, but the Cook Islands is our home / ipukarea.

According to the Human Rights Act of any country, it is our understanding that the Human Rights legislation of the CIslands(according to the Cook Islands constitution), article 64: Section 2, it states that, "It is hereby recognised and declared that every person has duties to others, and accordingly is subject to the exercise of his or her rights and freedoms to such limitations as are imposed, by any enactment or rule of law for the time being in force, for protecting the rights and freedoms of others or in the interests of public safety, order, or morals, the general welfare, or the security of the Cook Islands."

We understand and believe that this Unit Titles Bill is unjust and unfair because it is removing and treading on our legal and moral rights under CIslands, customary law as landowners (unfortunately absent ones) (regardless, we are still landowners by birthright), this bill must be abandoned.

The tangata whenua in NZ are endeavouring to overcome an unjust treaty that was signed way back in 1840, and the CIslands want to go down this track in 2005.

The 'delicate' and unique infrastructure of the Cook Islands cannot cope with the 'big picture' development future foreign ownership is proposing and envisaging. The contaminated lagoons around Rarotonga and excessive number of people suffering from 'fish poisoning' ailments is proof that the country is already under strife and the environment is not coping. If this truth was made public to the visitors that arrive in the Cook Islands nowadays, I am sure that they would not be happy to hear that one day our lagoons may be too 'dangerous and polluted' to swim, let alone eat fish from.

Please lodge our objection/patoi to this unjust and unfair bill.

The negative impact this bill will bring to the CIslands is something no one will be able to comprehend. Any landowner who supports this bill must be a landowner who never owned the land in the first place. Probably acquired it through devious means.

A true CIslander never sells their land as they are aware, (should be) by now, that the land is only yours for your lifetime, then it is to be passed on to your children and their children etc, not foreigners. Ownership of our lands is what distinguishes and makes us 'different' from other people in other countries - our land belongs to us. It needs to remind as it is - for Cook Islanders who have a conscience and are not motivated by greed and financial short term gain.

Thank you.

Teremoana Napa
Chantal Napa
Tereapii Puri
Dora Elizabeth Koteka Poiri
Henry Ngariki
Ngavaine Metua
Enuapuni Anzac Day Vaevae
Tangitamaiti Nooroa
Taetetangi Poiri
Marion Puri
Ngametua Puri
Tonu Kerekorio
Ngaro Taverio
Taverio Taverio
Teina Ataera
Rangi Rio
Sam Ataera
Daniel Ataera
June Wichman
Ivirangi Monowai

Anonymous said...

The land can never be sold.

All a Unit Titles is a a lease - a right to use the land for a period of time, and the cost of improving the land if met by the tenant.

A wise man sows seeds for the next generation, he never leaves his family land to grow weeds or make dust.

Obviously a lot of people are being mislead. It is a shame.

Anonymous said...

I agree... the land can never be sold because it is a lease, not a freehold land like in Hawaii and New Zealand.

Give our politicians and ministers some credit! We have leases of up to 60 years so the land will at least return to the next generation. Noone can sell their land forever, only rent it out

Someone wants the Cook Islands to stay like a third world country. Avaiki should see if the Cartel or big business is behind this petition to make it hard for landowners to get a good deal cos it would be a good piece of journalism.

auntyani said...

My main concern about this bill is that the 'progress' will be too much for our small island nation, and it will be a cost to the people, the land and the culture. Potential for ugly developments such as highrise apartments not only will contribute to pollution levels in the land and lagoon but also to visual polution. Obviously we already have the power to 'lease' land but with this bill the potential 'trap' lies in the landowner never being able to get the leasee off the land once something substantial is built, OR being left after 60 years with a development past its 'use by' date which then had to be cleaned away and dumped - further degrading the envirionment. The landscape is forever changed, and the land will never go back to the family if it sits under someone else's very expensive property. If living in a natural paradise is living in the 'third world' then why do wealthy people from the 'first world' want to come here...its not for the architecture and fancy restaurants surely, its for the unspolied landscape and genuine chracter of the people. There are many places in the world that offer that experience, and I hope that the Government of Rarotonga will see that it should be developing the country in other sustainable ways, not sell ourselves short of a quality of life envied by the rest of the world.

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dom said...

It's a shame so many people are being mislead and lured into all this by the evil land developers.
Does the Cook Islands have its own flag ? If so could you pop by my site and leave one ( you don't have to leave a comment )I've got 88 countries so far :)