12 Jun 2008

Hearing possible next month in the Cook Islands over Manihiki land dispute

5:45 pm on 12 June 2008

A land court hearing in the Cook Islands may go ahead next month, despite some opposition from people on the Island of Manihiki.

The Government wants to lease land on the island, so the airport can be upgraded.

Last month three people were charged after a flight had to be sent back to Rarotonga, due to a small coconut tree being planted on the atoll's airstrip.

Manihiki MP, Apii Piho, says the Land Court hearing could take place on Rarotonga as requested by the majority of landowners.

"Those who have issues concerning hte successions and that, out of the 48 lots, there is only five which could have requested that their successions or titles can be adjourned til the immediate families actually settle their differences in relation to land."

Apii Piho says most people on the islands want to have the airport upgraded, so it can take bigger aircraft, which bring lower airfares.