24 Apr 2014

New Caledonia Kanaks draw up charter

3:14 pm on 24 April 2014

New Caledonia's customary Senate has prepared a charter of the Kanak people following a year of discussions.

A Kanak leader, Raphael Mapou, says it's a novel approach for an indigenous people and defines its founding principles while it is finding its place in the current setting that should flow into a future constitution.

The document covers ties to the land, the role of the spoken word and the name, customary forgiveness, the importance of the sweet potato, the signficance of myths and legends and the Kanak languages.

Mr Mapou says there is no intention to undermine western institutions but there is a wish that Kanak customs are being taken into account in public policy.

He says the charter, which will be launched on Saturday, is also an expression of concern that customs risk being lost.

The Senate president, Paul Vakie, says the Kanaks' expression on a legal level won't happen until there is what he calls a balanced legal pluralism.