Fijian Native Land - A Mataqali Owned Canoe sailed by a Foreign Crew.


"The mataqali is recognised as the landowning unit under the Land Laws of Fiji. What is the legal effect of a mataqali owning native land in Fiji? By the Deed of Cession Treaty 1874, Fiji became a British Colony. It became an Independent Sovereign Democratic State in 1970 and a Sovereign Democratic Republic in 1988 when it relinquished all ties to the Queen of England. Yet the mataqali has been adopted since Sir Arthur Gordon the first Resident Governor stopped all land sales and set up the first Royal Commission to investigate Fijian land ownership in 1876. The vesting of control of native land in the Native Land Trust Board (NLTB) creates a statutory trust relationship between the Board as trustees and the native owners as beneficiaries. While Customary Law and Traditional Rights are recognised and entrenched in the Fijian Constitution to protect the Mataqali the writer believes that this operates to the disadvantage of the very people it was designed to protect. In addition, they do not have a voice nor do they participate in the decision-making processes made by the NLTB in the administration of their resource. This paper examines the Laws of Fiji that leaves the Mataqali Landowner a 'Landowner' on paper and by name only while the NLTB continues to steer the destiny of its canoe fraudulently in the 21st century. And why it is opportune under the current Government's Blueprint policy to reform Fijian land laws to enable the Mataqali to be the master of its own canoe."



customary law, legislation, sovereignty, colonisation, indigenous institutions, landowners