FIJI TO REVIEW ROTUMA LAND ACT

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SUVA, Fiji Islands (May 29, 2002 – Radio Australia)---The Fiji government is about to review the act under which it governs the 1,800 people of the Polynesian island of Rotuma.

Rotuma has been administered by Fiji since 1875.

As Radio Australia correspondent Ofa Kaukimoce reports, Fiji's Native Lands Commissioner is expected to head the review of the Rotuma Land Act, which has been unchanged since 1957.

"The Cabinet endorsed the review of the act after receiving approval from the Rotuma Island Council.

"The Council has been under immense pressure by the Rotuman people to change the current laws. Rotumans want equal ownership of the land between men and women. They also want the land on Rotuma Island surveyed and subdivided, with respective landowning units having their own titles.

"A land claims hearing will take place in a few months time to identify the rightful owners of respective pieces of land on the island.

"It is also expected that the process will enable every Rotuman registered to have special identity as Rotumans.

"However, Rotuma Council chairman Visanti Maktava fears the changes demanded by his people will create problems in the future. Mr. Maktava said the 11,000 acres of land on the island are not enough for the growing number of Rotumans. He said he would prefer the status of the land on the island remain unchanged and people use it communally.

"Ofa Kaukimoce, Radio Australia, Suva."

For additional reports from Radio Australia, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Radio/TV News/Radio Australia. 

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