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Native land is safe and protected under the law, says the NLTB.


Acting General Manager, Meli Benuci was reacting to news reports and enquiries of concern from landowners that all native reserve land was bound to be de-reserved by the government.


Mr Benuci said the law is quite clear on control and protection of all native land.

“Under Section 4(1) of the Native Land Trust Act NLTA, the control of all native land shall be vested in the Board and all such land  shall be administered by the Board for the benefit of the Fijian owners,” said Mr Benuci.


He added that under Section 15(1) of the NLTA, it is lawful for the Board to set aside any portion of native land as a native reserve.


“In other words, de-reservation of native land CANNOT be done without the express approval of a majority of landowners concerned.


“This guideline is enshrined in the Native Land Trust Act itself, and therefore if the Interim Government is now wishing to de-reserve ALL native land – we would need the express approval of a majority of all native landowners in question.


“Notwithstanding the above, such an exercise is not one which the NLTB should even consider given our fiduciary duty to landowners to ensure that they always have sufficient land for their maintenance, subsistence & survival,” said Mr Benuci.


“Any action to de-reserve ALL native land is in itself contrary to this duty, as landowners will no longer have any native reserve to use as they please.”


“It is more than just economics,” said Mr Benuci.


“Land represents life and sustenance, identity and culture.”


“Mindful of its role in providing maximum benefits for the landowner, the NLTB also has other important roles to play in providing for lands for national development and giving access to land for others.


“The system is provided for flexibility in that it can de-reserve customary lands for the need of others. This however, must recognize the special connection the Fijian has to the land.


“It is the one tangible asset possessed by Fijians in an insecure, changing world.”


13th February 2008

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