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By Moana Moeka'a

RAROTONGA, Cook Islands (Cook Islands News, Feb. 27) - A meeting which was to be convened today at the High Court to resolve a dispute over the title of Manavaroa mataiapo has been suspended until further notice.

The Registrar Nooapii Tearea will seek independent advice on guidelines for such a meeting before he calls together the two families contesting the title.

Lawyers for the two claimants, George Nicholas and Fanau Tepapaura Nicholas, agreed in principle with the Registrar on Wednesday afternoon on how the meeting would be run. But that changed yesterday.

Counsel for Fanau, Norman George, says his client wants the meeting extended to include the wider Manavaroa tribe, as opposed to restricting it to just the Akinuku line.

However George Nicholas' lawyer, Tina Browne, says she was surprised by the change in position by Fanau, especially as they had come to an agreement on the ground rules for the meeting.

"Our position has always been the same and it is supported by the court of appeal's decision, in that Akinuku was the starting point of the Manavaroa title and that line should decide the title," says Browne.

The two claimants, who are second cousins, were both invested with the title on separate occasions in 2002. The newly-built Iva Nui marae in Ngatangiia, where Fanau held her investiture in November 2002, was bulldozed by supporters of George Nicholas a few days later.

The dispute ended up in the high court in March 2003, which deemed George Nicholas as the rightful owner.

However, Fanau successfully appealed against the decision and the court of appeal in September 2003 directed that a meeting be held with the relevant families to be convened and chaired by the Registrar.

Both claim the title, through their common great grandmother, Mata Tuiatua, who was the wife of Henry Nicholas. Fanau is the granddaughter of Robert, and Nicholas the grandson of Kaitara. Both Robert and Kaitara were sons of Henry and Mata.

March 5, 2004

Cook Islands News: http://www.cinews.co.ck/index.htm


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