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After nine years, Land Court settles dispute in favour of widow and adopted daughter

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The Land Court has resolved a dispute over a block of land that has pitted a widow and her daughter against her in-laws in a case that has dragged on for nine years.

The case was heard before Mr Justice   M. D. Scott, KC, and Madam  Assessor  Salote  Fukofuka.

In 2007 ‘Elane Fetaiakimoeata  Tu’akoi (Fetaiaki) died and his widow, Mafi Tu’akoi registered her life interest in the  allotment. She built a house on the allotment  where she and her adopted daughter, ‘Alilia Huni with their family lived.

The following year Cabinet approved Mafi Tu’akoi application to surrender her  interest  in  the allotment.  This meant the land would revert to the Crown and her daughter intended to then seek to lease the land in her own name.

Soon after Cabinet’s decision was gazetted, ‘Elane’s sister Satua and brother Siale, who already held their own town allotments, wrote to the Minister, describing the widow’s  request to surrender the land as “unlawful, unconstitutional and ungodly.”

They asserted that ‘Alilia was not their brother’s daughter and demanded that the land “revert to the family that the property belongs to.”

In 2009 Siosiua Tu’akoi, another brother of Satua and Siale told the Minister he wanted to surrender his own  town  allotment  at  Ngele’ia.

He said this would mean he would be able “become  heir  for  my  older  brother  Fetaiaki Tu’akoi’s town  and tax allotment  at  the  time  his  widow  remarries  or dies  because  they  have  no  legitimate  male  children  or  legitimate female  children.”

Between about 19 and 28 November  2009  the  Minister  received no fewer than eight applications from close relatives of  Fetaiaki, including a sister, an illegitimate  daughter  and  four  nephews,  for the land either to be granted or to be leased to  them.

Satua Tu’akoi and Siosiua Tu’akoi lodged a writ in which they claimed  that Mafi Tu’akoi and ‘Alilia Huni had “practically alienated the allotment from the blood family of the deceased.”

They  claimed  that  the  Cabinet’s  decision  to approve  Mafi’s  application  breached the  rules of  natural  justice   because  the  Minister had not consulted them,  “their  brothers  and  sisters  or  nephews  and  nieces”  before the  cabinet made its decision.

The plaintiff’s claims were denied. In their report, Mr Justice Scott  and  Madam  Fukofuka said it would have been impractical to talk to all family  members, particularly as most of them lived overseas.

They said the land was not alienated because Fetaiaki’s wanted the land to be given to his daughter.

There was no identifiable heir to the land apart from the widow since Fetaiaki’s surviving brothers already had registered town allotments. Neither Satua Tu’akoi or Siosiua Tu’akoi was  able  to  advance  any  claim to  be  the  legal  successors  to  the  land   and the claimants had no right to lodge their challenge.

No claims had been submitted until two years after the deadline for challenging the Cabinet’s decision had expired.

The main points

  • The Land Court has resolved a dispute over a block of land that has pitted a widow and her daughter against her in-laws in a case that has dragged on for nine years.
  • In 2007 ‘Elane Fetaiakimoeata Tu’akoi (Fetaiaki) died and his widow, Mafi Tu’akoi registered her life interest in the
  • The following year Cabinet approved Mafi Tu’akoi application to surrender her interest  in  the allotment.
  • ‘Elane’s sister Satua and brother Siale lodged a writ to have the decision overturned, but this has now been dismissed.

1 COMMENT

  1. @copyright - Tapu ke hiki tatau ʻa e ongoongoni ni ʻo pulusi ʻi ha feituʻu kehe @copyright - Tapu ke hiki tatau ʻa e ongoongoni ni ʻo pulusi ʻi ha feituʻu kehe

    Na’e ‘ikai tali ‘e he Fakamaau’anga Kelekelé ha fakatonutonu ne feʻunga mo ha taʻu ʻe 9 ki ha konga naʻe foaki ia ʻe he uitoú ki hano ʻofefine ohi.

    Ko e keisi ko ‘eni ne fakamaau’I ia ‘e Fakamaau Michael Scott mo e ‘Asesa ko Salote Fukofuka
    ‘I he 2007 ne mate ai ‘a ‘Elane Fetaiakimoeata Tu’akoi (Fetaiaki) pea ne fakauitou leva ‘a hono malí Mafi Tu’akoi ʻi hona ʻapi ʻi Ngeleiʻá. Ne ne langa ai ha fale ʻo na nofo aim o hono ʻofefine ohí ko ʻAlilia Huni.

    Ne tali ʻe he kapinetí hano fakafoki ʻo e ʻapí ʻe Mafi kae lava ke toe lēsisita ʻe hono ʻofefiné.

    Ka ʻi he hili pe ʻa hono kāseteʻi ʻo e fakafoki ʻapi ko ʻení ne tohi atu leva ʻa e tuofefine ʻo e pekia Sātua Tuʻakoi mo hono tuongaʻane ko Siale ki he puleʻangá ʻo pehē ko e fakafoki ʻapi ko ʻeni e uitoú ke toe lēsisita ʻi hono ʻofefine ohí ʻoku taʻe fakalao, taʻe fakakonisitūtone pea toe taʻe fakaʻotua.

    Naʻa nau pehē ko e fakafetongi ko ʻeni ʻoku mole ai ʻa e kelekelé mei he fāmilí ki he kakai kehe.

    Naʻa nau pehē ko ʻAliliá ʻoku ʻikai ko ha ʻofefine moʻoni ia ʻo Fetaiaki pea ko e kelekelé ʻoku totonu ke nofo pe ia ʻia kinautolu fāmili tonú.

    Ka ne ʻikai tali ʻeni ʻe he fakamaauʻangá ʻo pehē naʻe loto pe ʻa Fetaiaki ia ke foaki ʻa e kelekelé maʻa hono ʻofefine ohí.

    Ne toe pehē foki ʻe he fakamāú ko e pehē ko ia ʻe he talatalaakí ne mole ʻenau totonu fakanatulá ke kumi e fānau kotoa ne kau ki ai ʻa e pekiá ke ʻai haʻanau lau ki muʻa pea toki fai ha tuʻutuʻuni ʻa e puleʻangá ki he momoi ʻa e uitoú ʻoku taʻe malava ia he ko e tokolahi ʻoku nau nofo kinautolu ʻi muli.

    Ko ia ai naʻe ʻikai tali ʻa e tangi ʻa e kau Tuʻakoi.