10 May 2005

French Polynesian minister says land restitution a priority

2:50 pm on 10 May 2005

The French Polynesian lands minister, Gilles Tefaatau, says those who can prove that they have a valid claim to land taken over by the state will have it returned.

Mr Tefaatau says it has been a priority of the Oscar Temaru-led government to settle land claims which have again been raised by Joinville Pomare who is a spokesperson for the descendants of the royal families of Tahiti and its islands.

They base their claims on the 1842 Treaty with France whose colonial administration took over commonly owned land.

Mr Tefaatau told the television network RFO in Papeete that the claims have to be proven.

"If they prove to us today that this treaty is void, then the claims made today are in vain. On the other hand if these treaties are proven that they are still in place and valid, as a consequence all these claims are justified."

Gilles Tefaatau.

Claims to Raiatea, Mururoa and Fangataufa have also been made unsuccessfully by the man claiming to be the heir to the Tahitian crown, the prince Royal of Tahaa, Tauatomo Mairau.