Judge says land is clan matter

National, Normal

NATIONAL Court judge Justice Bernard Sakora would like to see land disputes solved through traditional means.
He said this on Tuesday when presiding over a land dispute case in Central’s Brown River involving several clans.
Sakora said that traditional PNG land had never been individually owned, rather it had always been group or clan-owned traditional property; and that where there was any dispute arising over the ownership, the group or clan “quickly” sorted the matter.
He said this was no longer the case, with increasing number of disputes over land ownership because of “modernity”.
“Not many land disputes existed in the past but with the introduction of legality and modernity, they have created more problems and land disputes,” Sakora said, adding that these had, in turn, contributed to frictions among villagers.
He noted that modernisation had encouraged the setting up of land groups, associations and incorporated land groups which required chairmanship for leadership of the land groups and organisations.
“This has led to individualisations of land ownership rather than actual clan-group ownerships. Hence, increasing disputes over land ownership.”
Sakora encouraged landowners to solve their problems using local means such as had been done in the past where meetings were held and formal discussions were conducted in which all issues were ironed out.
He said that was why the current legalised Land Dispute Act was in existence which was to provide a just and fair hearing of traditional land disputed issues at land dispute courts.
Sakora was presiding over a court matter between Varagdi Land Group Inc and David Gauve and others in which he ruled in favour of the plaintiff, Varagdi, who had claimed to be traditional landowners of the Brown River teak plantation land.