Land - Caught in the conflict between custom and Commercialism

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Journal Article
Land Use Policy, 2003, 20 (3), pp. 203 - 207
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Conflicts in Pacific societies around land issues remain a constant theme at a time when Pacific island nations are still trying to have their place in the world recognized and with a conflict between westernization and tradition, credit, power and self-interest. Is land the cause of the conflict, or an innocent victim? Where do people in Pacific countries want to be located between traditional customary ways on one hand, or western materialism on the other? Such questions need exploring in a search for consensus. The insularity of society amidst the independent and self-governing Pacific countries gives rise to the belief that land holds a special place in the Pacific ([Ravuvu (1983). Ravuvu, A., 1983. Vaka i Taukei: The Fijian Way of Life. Institute of Pacific Studies, University of the South Pacific, Suva.Ravuvu (1983]). Land is regarded as equivalent to culture and life. The reality is, however, that land holds a special place in all societies, whether they are westernized or less `developed. What does vary is the nature and evolution of land tenure systems. What sets the island nations of the South Pacific apart from many other countries is that such a large portion of the land (83100%) remains in customary ownership based on different criteria to those operating in the west ( [Paterson (2001]; [Hann (1998]).
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