The Rotuman expression, “the land has eyes and teeth” is the starting point for a project looking at how communities across the Pacific have established models of economic engagement that challenge negative perceptions around customary land.
Academics from New Zealand’s Massey University and the University of the South Pacific presented preliminary findings of their research project at the Pacific Update conference in Fiji recently.
Regina Scheyvens, Litea Meo-Sewabu and Suliasi Vunibola have looked at businesses in Samoa and Fiji. What they have found challenge the belief that limits to freehold title and ownership are a barrier to long term planning and access to finance, and that such limits necessarily create conflict.
The team found that the businesses, from tourism ventures such as Taufua Beach Fales and, Faofao Beach Fales in Samoa, to Aviva and Nayarabale Youth Farms in Fiji, share several common characteristics.
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