14 Mar 2005

Royal families in French Polynesia want customary council

5:36 pm on 14 March 2005

A meeting has been held in French Polynesia of some of the descendants of the pre-colonial royal families who say they want to form a customary royal council.

The meeting was attended by 30 heads of family, with one of the organisers saying that they want to set up an office to contact all the royal families of Tahiti and its islands.

They say they would like to form a body similar to New Caledonia's Kanak customary council which is officially recognised.

France bases its rule in French Polynesia on a treaty signed in 1880 but there is controversy over its validity because the text approved in France allegedly differs from the original signed in Tahiti.

The Tahitian royal title is being claimed by Tauatomo Mairau, the Prince Royal of Tahaa, who has taken legal action against the French government in a bid to reclaim the gold seized from the Kingdom of Tahiti.