18 Aug 2011

Tahiti assembly member defiant over land law

11:41 am on 18 August 2011

An assembly member of the ruling French Polynesian party says she is vehemently opposed to a proposed law which would see the territorial government take possession of land presumed to be unclaimed.

The issue has alarmed indigenous groups, which have collected more than 20,000 signatures amid their claims that under the colonial treaties, they own all land.

Sabrina Birk says a mere ten percent of Tahitians complied with French 19th century rules to register titles.

She says the proposed law is a desperate attempt by the government of Oscar Temaru to find assets to sell in order to pay for its reforms.

"This law is touching the varua, the spirit of our people. You can't touch the land, and so it's not just me not voting this law. If they vote this law, they can set a fire to this country."

Sabrina Birk