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The Governance of Common Property in the Pacific Region

The Governance of Common Property in the Pacific Region

edited by Peter Larmour
Copyright Date: 2013
Published by: ANU Press
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  • Book Info
    The Governance of Common Property in the Pacific Region
    Book Description:

    In a region where mining, forestry, fish and other primary resources are so basic to income, employment and national prosperity, an understanding of rights to land, water and minerals is fundamental. Tenure regimes in the Asia-Pacific region are vastly more diverse and complex than in those of any other part of the world for comparable population numbers. These studies will overcome the simplistic misunderstandings that have obscured understanding in so many instances. This book provides an up-to-date overview of the main patterns of indigenous property rights, particularly those held by corporate groups, in the South Pacific Forum region (Australia, New Zealand and the independent Pacific island nations) plus a valuable comparative chapter on Canada. It explores the relative success and failure of a variety of approaches to the management of these complex systems, and offers insights and suggestions for the amelioration of present and likely future stresses in the systems. It is a valuable contribution to the understanding of both governance and property, and to the effective sociopolitical development of the region. - Ron Crocombe, Emeritus Professor, University of the South Pacific

    eISBN: 978-1-922144-75-1
    Subjects: Law, Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Abbreviations
    (pp. vii-vii)
  4. Contributors
    (pp. viii-viii)
  5. Foreword
    (pp. ix-x)
    Ron Duncan

    With the inevitable lessening of the importance of traditional forms of management of land and water resources in Pacific island countries accompanying the development of the state and the internationalisation of these economies, common property problems have arisen in many natural resource areas. This publication covers many of the problem areas which have arisen and discusses various approaches to better management.

    The papers in the volume were initially presented at a conference organised by the National Centre for Development Studies and held at The Australian National University on 19–20 September 1996. The conference was generously financed by AusAID and...

  6. Introduction
    (pp. 1-18)
    Peter Larmour

    Common property has often been regarded as an obstacle to development and best—or inevitably—replaced by private or state ownership. However, there are now many well-documented examples of successful management of open-access resources, and experiments in ‘co-management’ by users, owners, and government officials. The idea that the government should intervene to remedy the defects of common property, perhaps by registration, is now contested by a celebration of indigenous systems of self-management (Bromley 1989, Bromley and Cernea 1989). Government intervention may sometimes make things worse. Common property claims are also part of indigenous peoples’ defence and reaffirmation of political sovereignty....

  7. 1 Changing forms of communal tenure
    (pp. 19-32)
    R. Gerard Ward

    Practices in relation to customary land are changing in the Pacific islands. The changes include a tendency for people to want to privatise, or individualise, control of holdings within the realm of customary land; for current practice to diverge from what is stated to be custom; and for practice to diverge from the law where tenure has been codified.

    It is also necessary to question whether we are dealing with common property at all in Pacific island land tenure. We might also consider whether customary land tenure, especially as often practised, is necessarily the inhibiting factor for development which it...

  8. 2 Resolving property issues as a precondition for growth: access to land in the Pacific islands
    (pp. 33-46)
    Satish Chand and Ron Duncan

    The island states in the South Pacific are heavily reliant on their natural resources for output, employment and earnings of foreign exchange. While these countries have had poor growth performance over the past two decades, improvement in access to natural resources is one area where there is potential for significant economic gains. This paper argues that subsistence affluence is non-existent in these countries and that their future prosperity depends on engagement in international trade, including inflows of foreign investment capital. Promotion of land-based investments, such as in agriculture and infrastructure, is one of the preconditions for growth. It is imperative,...

  9. 3 It’s the land, stupid! The moral economy of resource ownership in Papua New Guinea
    (pp. 47-66)
    Chris Ballard

    In her novel, Postcards, Annie Proulx sets about providing an identity for Loyal Blood, her rural American, Anglo-Saxon protagonist

    A sense of his place, his home, flooded him... His blood, urine, feces and semen, the tears, strands of hair, vomit, flakes of skin, his infant and childhood teeth, the clippings of finger and toenails, all the effluvia of his body were in that soil, part of that place. The work of his hands had changed the shape of the land, the weirs in the steep ditch beside the lane, the ditch itself, the smooth fields were echoes of himself in...

  10. 4 Customary land tenure and common/public rights to minerals in Papua New Guinea
    (pp. 67-72)
    Andrew A.L. Lakau

    Throughout Papua New Guinea a wide range of natural resources or substances were extracted from land, sea and waters, using a variety of techniques. In coastal areas coral reefs, shells and other marine resources have always had great value. In the highlands, there is widespread evidence of stone quarries and other extraction sites which were worked on for thousands of years. Haynes (1995:33) summarises the evidence on the use of natural resources

    for pre-colonial trade, significant sub-surface substances were extracted for use in the manufacture of items for trade, or for trade in their original form. These included mineral pigments...

  11. 5 Improving security of access to customary-owned land in Melanesia: mining in Papua New Guinea
    (pp. 73-88)
    Ron Duncan and Rod Duncan

    This chapter takes as its starting point that land ownership arrangements in the South Pacific will continue to change very slowly. Therefore, existing forms of customary or communal ownership will remain in place for a long time. This does not necessarily pose the problem for economic development that many perceive: that communal ownership means insecurity of access for potential users of the land, reducing the incentive to invest in the land with adverse consequences for productivity. As, for example, Crocombe (1995) says, the form of ownership of land is not as important for making the most productive use of the...

  12. 6 Common property, Maori identity and the Treaty of Waitangi
    (pp. 89-102)
    Hugh Kawharu

    In the terms of the Treaty of Waitangi, New Zealand became a British colony and the Maori people, together with their lands and estates, were given Crown protection as well as the rights and privileges of British subjects. In 1975, the New Zealand Parliament, for the first time since 1840, gave statutory recognition to the Treaty by setting up a tribunal to hear claims by Maori people that the Crown had failed to honour its guarantees under the Treaty. Claims lodged since then have been made mostly by kin-based tribal groups. They depend heavily on recitals of history, tradition and...

  13. 7 Common property and regional sovereignty: relations between aboriginal peoples and the Crown in Canada
    (pp. 103-122)
    Peter J. Usher

    In a world where even nation–states have declining power and authority in the face of global markets, international trade agreements, and harmonised laws and regulations, what does sovereignty mean at the subnational level? And what is the connection between common property and sovereignty at the subnational level? What challenges and opportunities confront minority indigenous populations in these contemporary circumstances? The situation of aboriginal peoples in Canada provides distinctive perspectives on these questions. In our country, new understandings are being reached, new arrangements forged and implemented, but also, new difficulties and challenges are emerging.

    Aboriginal peoples not only used and...

  14. 8 Property, sovereignty and self-determination in Australia
    (pp. 123-126)
    Henry Reynolds

    The concept of national sovereignty is under siege in many parts of the world as states lose power from above to global markets and global organisations and are challenged from below by regions, minorities and entrapped nations. Such developments are particularly apparent in Europe with the break-up of the Soviet Union, Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia, and with the ceding of power within the European Union to the Commission, the Parliament and the Court. At the same time regions are asserting new or rediscovered identities.

    John Keane, the British political scientist and biographer of Thomas Paine, has called for a decentring of...

  15. 9 Common property regimes in Aboriginal Australia: totemism revisited
    (pp. 127-144)
    Deborah Bird Rose

    In the closing years of the twentieth century, debates in Australia about Indigenous institutions of common property ownership and management are inseparable from the highly political issues of Native Title. In this chapter I intend to move beyond debates about the politics of land tenure and toward an analysis of a dynamic jurisprudence of duty in which responsibilities and rights are considered together. I will examine totemism as a common property institution for long-term ecological management. The purpose is to describe and analyse this Indigenous regime in order to examine some of the principles which inform it. The implications of...

  16. 10 Cooperative approaches to marine resource management in the South Pacific
    (pp. 145-164)
    Colin Hunt

    New cooperative approaches to the management of marine resources are imperative in the delivery of sustainable incomes and livelihoods in the South Pacific. While recent international agreements have strengthened the sovereignty of states over their adjacent ocean resources, the actual development and implementation of management regimes for tuna, arguably the region’s most important renewable resource in terms of income-generating potential, will require a much more concerted approach by Pacific island states. This will need to be matched by a willingness on the part of the non-coastal states that traditionally harvest the bulk of the region’s oceanic resources to cooperate in...

  17. 11 Common property management of highly migratory fish stocks: tuna in the Pacific
    (pp. 165-182)
    Janaline Oh

    The purpose of this chapter is to consider possibilities for sustainable management of highly migratory tuna fisheries in the Central and Western Pacific—specifically the area covered by the 200 nautical mile exclusive economic zones (EEZs) of South Pacific Forum member countries and contiguous high seas areas. The chapter adopts a definition of common property as property that is controlled collectively by a defined group of decision-making units, rather than as no property or open access. Sustainability is defined as management that will enable long-term harvesting of the fisheries resources at their maximum sustainable yield. This chapter does not attempt...

  18. 12 Common property conflict and resolution: Aboriginal Australia and Papua New Guinea
    (pp. 183-208)
    Kilyali Kalit and Elspeth Young

    It is often assumed that customary concepts of common property must hamper development, and must be eradicated in favour of more individualistic ownership which promotes entrepreneurial approaches and wealth generation. Such assumptions are not new. History presents some strong supporting evidence for their validity, but also raises questions, particularly in relation to equity in resource distribution. In Scotland, for example, the transformation two centuries ago from the communally based run-rig system to the enclosure of the land into individual plots laid the basis for land improvement, agricultural intensification and the introduction of new crops and livestock. Without such changes the...

  19. Author index
    (pp. 209-213)