5 Jun 2012

Report into Tongan land ownership released

8:34 pm on 5 June 2012

The Tongan Royal Land Commission has released a long awaited report into land ownership recommending women and expatriates be given rights to land.

Under the current law Tongans are not allowed to own land outright but men over the age of 16 are allowed to hold land by grant or by lease.

Women are allowed to lease land but are not given grants and Tongans who move overseas forfeit their land rights.

One of the Commissioners, Lord Tevita Tupou, says it has recommended changing the law so women are given rights to town allotments, which are used for housing, but not larger rural allotments which are used for farming.

"That will give them the right over that piece of land to lease out or to mortgage out for further development of that piece of land. The other allotment we thought would not be appropriate for women because that's really for men to work, for planting crops and things. It's not for homes."

Lord Tevita Tupou says he hopes some of the recommendations will be made into law by the end of the year.