MALAITA Premier Peter Ramohia will lead a 22-man delegation on a one-week education tour to Fiji onTuesday to visit the Native Land Trust Board, Native Land Commission and Land Registration Office.
Mr Ramohia will be accompanied by Deputy Director of Malaita Peace and Reconciliation office, Francis Kairi, six provincial members, 13 chiefs representing every language group including Malaita Outer Island and two officials in Auki.
This trip was approved by the Ministry of National Unity Reconciliation and Peace with a budget of $350,000.
The trip specifically focused on:
a) Examination and study of the aim, objectives, roles and functions of the Fiji Native Land Trust Board (NLTB) and the Native Land Commission;
b) Facilitating meetings and dialogues sessions with NLTB, NLC and the Fiji Land Registry Office management and leadership to clarity systems, mechanisms for tribal registration and ownership of land;
c) Study examples of Land Lease Agreements between Fiji Tribal Groups and Foreign Investors, local investors or national government;
d) Study and closely examine the ITAUKEI concept, policies for safeguarding Fiji identity, protection of culture, values and artifacts and important matters relevant to promotion and protection of Fiji cultural heritage;
e) Study and examine relevant legislation and government policy in relation to traditional governance and leadership authority in the communities;
f) Study and examine cultural and legislation and mechanism for settlement of land and community conflict;
g) Field visits to villages and meeting with tribal leaders to discuss land matters, challenges and matters on community peace, security and order.
Mr Kairi said it’s an effort between Ministry of Peace and National Reconciliation and Malaita Province to fix land issues in the province.
“The Malaita people had to tell us what they want.
“If they don’t want their land to be registered, it’s up to them,” he said.
Mr Kairi said if Malaitans think that development is important for its growing number of people they can actually have the land available for development, foreign investors, government and of course Malaita people to work on land that is secure.
“So Malaita business people in Honiara can go back and actually lock on to a land that has title.
“And confidence come to registration of land,” he said.
Mr Kairi said Malaita can learn from Fiji land management because it’s a Melanesian country and had developed in tourism and sugar business now.
He said the Maori in New Zealand have also a land system where white people work for corporation of Maori tribes.
“So why don’t we do this,” he said.
Mr Kairi said the talk of the country now is Malaita should organise itself so that its big population can go back and develop their own land and not cause friction on highly populated Guadalcanal.
“It’s not a response to Guadalcanal people. It’s time we develop Malaita.
“All the islands in Solomon Islands belong to the people of this country. So we can stay anywhere, but Malaita needs to open up too,” he said.
Mr Kairi said at the end of the tour, they will produce a report and present to Ministry of Peace and Prime Minister’s Office.
He said they will use the report to prepare agenda and programme for Malaita Land conference later this year.
By EDDIE OSIFELO