7-year court battle of Napa Napa land ends

The principal landowners of the Napa Napa land in Central Province are Gaudi Logae and the Kuriu Clan Land Group Inc. of Roku village.

A three-man Supreme Court bench upheld the National Court decision after a long court battle of seven years.   

Clan representative, Daure Gabe Pundi, said they had been in court since 2009 and the decision of the Supreme Court dismissing the appeal of the National Court’s decision was a relief.

“We wasted a lot of money, a lot of time but we knew it was our land so sacrificed everything and came to court.  We are happy now,” said Pundi. 

“The next step now is for the government to pay us and we want that payment as soon as possible. There were too many landowners claiming but based on the National Court declaration, we know we are the principal landowners of Napa Napa DA 5 land,” Pundi said outside court last week.

The comments were made after the Supreme Court last Thursday refused an appeal by the Napa Napa Landowners Association and Kore Kore Gaudi challenging the decision of the National Court in not allowing their joinder in the matter.

The Supreme Court found that the lower court did not make an error when it refused the appellants’ application as the application to join was made late in the proceeding.

They found the trial judge had used his discretion in considering evidence before him and supported Gaudi Logae and the Kuriu clan Land group Inc. of Roku village that they were the principal landowners of the Napa Napa land.

The full court dismissed the appeal and ordered Napa Napa Landowners Association and Kore Kore Gaudi to pay the cost.

The decision came after the National Court declared Gaudi Logae and the Kuriu Clan Land group Inc. of Roku village the principal traditional landowners of the Napa Napa, D-A 5 land.

This National Court decision quashed an earlier decision the Central Provincial Land Court made on Dec 21, 2010, that ruled otherwise.

The appeal arose from a long standing dispute over traditional ownership of the large parcel of land.

Background of the land dispute dates back to a colonial transaction parties accepted on or about June 5, 1892, by local landowners of the Napa Napa DA-5 land, which landowners sold to colonial authorities.

On Dec 21, 2010, Magistrate William Noki in the Central Provincial Land Court made orders declaring Pastor Hanua Gadiki, of the Rokurokkura sub-clan of Koita Tribe, the principal landowner of D-A 5 Napa Napa Land based on historical events and facts.

The Central Provincial Land Court also ordered the State to release money held in trust for the purpose of payment of compensation and other benefits to Pr Gadiki.

A judicial review was later filed in the National Court by Kore Kore Gaudi and the Napa Napa Landowners Association Inc. to review the orders of Magistrate Noki’s decision.

(Caption: Kuriu Clan Land Group representative Daure Gabe Pundi, holding a copy of the Supreme Court decision with other clan members outside court this week.)




Sally Pokiton