Almost 40 years after Vanuatu gained its independence six landowners have been approved as the custom landowners of the area where the capital of Port Vila is built.
Vanuatu's Constitution says, "as of July 30 of 1980, all land is returned to the custom landowner".
However, since 1980, various governments had tried to compensate the surrounding communities of Port Vila for the land without identifying the genuine custom landowners.
Now under the new Land Act, the Village Land Tribunal has identified six custom landowners.
The landowners are Chief Denny Kalmet of Erakor Village, Mr Kalsef Tangraro of Eratap Village, Pastor Russell Bakokoto and Mr Richard Kalsakau of Ifira Island, Mr Kalkot Kaltabang and Mr Eric Kaltabang of Pango Village.
The Daily Post newspaper reported President Obed Moses Tallis has officially recognised the group who are now visiting business houses around the sea front and asking them to recognise their rights under the law.
Chief Denny Kalmet said his group is grateful for the positive response from hotel owners towards the traditional namele leaf placed on their premises.
The spokesman said the namele leaf is not used to disturb the operation of any companies but is a wakeup call for the businesses to recognise their rights and sign the relevant agreements to work with them.
Chief Kalmet says all that his group asks is respect from the business houses and the public of Port Vila to work with them to contribute towards the economic development of Port Vila and the country.
Two major resorts - the Ramada and Poppy's have already met and signed the documents to work with the custom landowners.
Chie Kalmet said their next target is to meet the Clerk of Port Vila Municipal Council regarding the seawall of Port Vila and the businesses along it which were all built on reclaimed land, before they continue to other hotels and resorts on the shores of Port Vila.