15 Aug 2006

Power struggles over chiefly titles in Fiji usually about money - says expert

7:21 pm on 15 August 2006

An expert in Fijian language and culture says power struggles over chiefly titles are usually about money.

The University of the South Pacific's language director, Paula Gereti, made the comment amid a dispute over who holds the title of Tui Labasa in the north of the country.

Mr Gereti says most disputes over titles have little to do with tradition and are more about financial gain.

Three Labasa families were subjected to attacks in the latest dispute which ended with a man being stabbed and hospitalised.

Mr Gereti says rows over Fijian chiefly titles are an ongoing problem and often end up in court.

"The Tui Labasa dispute has arisen in recent times but mainly because of the money that goes to the title holder from the lease of land. And in Labasa there is a lot of leasehold land as a result of the sugar cane industry."

Mr Gereti says in colonial days chiefly titles were handed down along patrilineal lines.