The Land of My Father

1 Jan 1989

The demise of the colonial empires and the birth of a small, dependent states of the Pacific Islands in the past two decades created new values that are now being challenge in the region, . A new wind of independent is blowing --- sought by indigenous races wishing to reassert their authority in the land they call their fathers’.

 In Fiji, as in Papua New Guinea New Zealand , Australia, French Polynesia, New Caledonia, Solomon Islands, and Vanuatu the very foundation of western democracy is being shaken by renewed desire to change the new law to accommodate indigenous land rights; fisheries and cultural values which in the past 20 years or so were ‘threatened by the new political system introduced by the colonial masters

For well over 3000 years they have own their land from the sky to the bottom of the earth including anything on it, above it, in it and below it.

But political and administrative changes in the past 200 years changed that ownership. In the cases of Bougainville and Fiji, for example the indigenous land owners no longer won what their forefathers had. Now land ownership is only confined to the few meters of the top soil. The riches that lie beneath belong to someone else.

For the indigenous people of the pacific islands, land is God. It sanctity is based on its ability to provide life. Without land there is no life, and no people, it is this value that has escape the foreigner brought up in the western value system who sees no religious value in land but merely appreciate its economic worth.

The struggle for land and fisheries rights has become the biggest threat to peace in the region. It triggered a successful military coupe in Fiji and was the cause of an attempted coup in Vanuatu. Land is the center of rebellion in Bougainville and Solomon Islands, the Maoris and Aborigines of New Zealand and Australia are using it as effective ammunition in their struggle for political recognition. Land struggle in the region is going through a chain- reaction: as one battle is won, another is started.


Source: PACIFIC ISLANDS MONTHLY 1989