8 Oct 2015

Cooks chiefs urge family to solve issues outside of court

2:31 pm on 8 October 2015
Cook Islands:  Puna Rakanui

Cook Islands: Puna Rakanui Photo: Daniela Maoate-Cox

The Cook Islands House of Ariki says people should strengthen familial relationships to avoid court disputes over land ownership.

Up to 24 high chiefs from various islands belong to the parliamentary body and provide feedback on policy issues such as permanent residence and preserving traditions.

Last month a draft practice note written by the country's law society and judges was accidentally released which detailed proposed changes to occupational rights.

It suggested granting occupational rights for 60 years instead of indefinitely which was met with overwhelming opposition from traditional chiefs.

The clerk of the house, Puna Rakanui, says many land issues could be solved before involving the court.

"There are problems, they have family issues, but come on, strengthen our traditional family structures so when it comes to dealing with land, we don't argue over it. We can easily say, yes you can use the land [and] when you're finished you can bring it back to the family."

Puna Rakanui says people living overseas can give someone in the Cook Islands their power of attorney to one person and reduce the number of family members who must be consulted over land use.