5 Apr 2005

There's growing concern in the Cook Islands over Unit Titles bill

1:53 pm on 5 April 2005

There's growing concern in the Cook Islands over a proposed bill that could change the way leasehold land is dealt with.

The Unit Titles bill, which is specific to two pieces of land planned to be developed into resorts, proposes to offer a title to anyone investing in a unit within the hotels.

Currently, land in the Cook Islands can not be sold but is able to be leased for up to 60 years.

Mike Henry, who runs a resort on Aitutaki, says the bill could be the beginning of big changes to the way land is owned or leased.

"The biggest single concern is opening a door that we could never close again. At the moment, we own our land and it can NEVER be taken away from us. We can lease it for 60 years but at that time, whatever mistakes we have made in that lease, it reverts back to the original owners. This Unit Titles Bill seems to me the first step of changing the way that we deal with our land."

Mr Henry says he is concerned that the land could be sold and then onsold again to people who aren't Cook Islanders.