The Cook Islands government says a precedent may have been set when it advanced land claimants thousands in compensation before the cases were settled by the Land Court.
In a highly unusual process, 10 Manihiki landowners were given about 26 thousand US dollars from the government's contingency fund - a reserve of public money meant for emergencies.
This occured after the Manihikans became aware that compensation funds in the Land Court couldn't be accessed, and they threatened to turn off the islands' power systems and re-enter their lands.
The prime minister Henry Puna says the government was faced with a situation that needed to be resolved quickly.
He says it is a precedent the government hopes will never be repeated.