State returns land to Woodlark islanders

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The Government has declared that 60,940 hectares of land on Woodlark Island (Muyuw) in Milne Bay is customary land.
Lands and Physical Planning Minister Benny Allan made the declaration at a small ceremony witnessed by the Woodlark people.
Allan told the 8000-plus people, including those who travelled from outer islands of Egom, Budibudi, Nasikwabu and Iwagawo Koiwata, that it was the first time the Government had decided to hand over state land back to its customary landowners.
“The two portions of land that will remain as state land will be the land under the Mining Department as they have obtained a Certificate Authorising Occupancy (CAO) for mining activities on the island,” he said.
The three portions that will be returned back to the people are: Portion 138-19, 160 Ha, Portion 139- 29,000 Ha and Portion 140-12,280 Ha.
The portions of land come under eight traditional land groups or clans.
Minister Allen encouraged the land groups to register their land under the customary land registration system so they could obtain a customary land title under an Incorporated Land Group to pave the way for them to conduct economic activities.
Muyuw United Clans Association chairman Jimmy Morona said development was something they had always embraced and this time, they would not continue to beg instead; work on their land in compliance with laws and regulations.

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