10 Mar 2006

Samoa land court case implicates New Zealand

4:22 pm on 10 March 2006

A New Zealand-based lawyer says the land claim by Samoa's Siumu District chiefs now in the Supreme Court in Apia will have implications for South Pacific countries.

Olinda Woodroffe, who is acting for the chiefs, says the title for 2,000 acres of land was never legally transferred to the colonial powers, such as the United States, Germany or New Zealand.

The plaintiffs also contend that therefore the New Zealand government had no legal title to the land to pass on to the government of Samoa.

Mrs Woodroffe says various Samoan governments have made promises to the District but nothing has been done to resolve it.

She says the prime minister of Samoa, Tuilaepa Sailele, challenged the District representatives three years ago to take the matter to Court which she says her clients have now done.

The case lists the governments of Samoa and New Zealand as defendants.