The first step in a Cook Islander determining his or
her land entitlements is to have a complete picture of the genealogy of the
mother and father, and where there have been legal or feeding child adoptions a
picture of the genealogy of those persons as well.
Land Court Services, taking as much or as little of
your genealogy as you already have to hand, can search public and private
records to complete the picture.
Identification of Family Lands
Many Cook Islanders have not had the advantage of an
elder to teach the location of Family land whether on Rarotonga or her outer
Land Court Services can assist through the search of
public and private records to locate your maternal and paternal lands.
Determination of Relative
Knowing where your land is located is only part of the
story. How many landowners do you share a particular block of land with? What
allocations, by occupation right, or lease, have been made from your block of
land? Is there any land left or has it all been allocated?
A Cook Islander does not automatically inherit land
rights from a parent. It is necessary to apply to the High Court for a
Succession Order, where the High Court hears evidence of the genealogical
linkage and determines if the applicant is entitled to succeed to a parentís
interest. Without a Succession Order, there are no land rights and a person is
legally without a say in his parents land, and cannot collect any rentals that
may be due from that land.
Land Court Services can prepare your application to
succeed and stand in the High Court to assure that your best evidence is put
before the Court, and then follow up to see that your Succession Orders are
With the consent of a majority of fellow landowners in
any given block of land, you may be given a residential or even a commercial
right to occupy a section of land. This involves an application to the High
Court along with a survey map showing the proposed area of the right of
Land Court Services can arrange for a private surveyor
to prepare your map, obtain the necessary signatures from your fellow landowners,
make the application, stand in Court, and then if there is an approval follow
up to see that your occupation right is surveyed and that the Court seals an
order recording your right.
Where there is a small number of Landowners in a block
of land it is possible for all of those Landowners to agree to and sign a lease
for a fellow Landowner or indeed for any Cook Islander or for a foreigner who
has been given approval to carry on business in the Cook Islands.
Where there are numerous Landowners in a block of
land, a meeting of landowners is held, and so long as there is a legal quorum
and other requirements, that meeting can resolve to grant a lease.
Land Court Services is able to make all necessary
arrangements for a Cook Islander or an approved foreign investor to obtain a
new 60 year lease, from obtaining signatures, holding meetings, instructing a
private surveyor, obtaining Leases Approval Tribunal consent, and having the
High Court confirm the lease before it is finally recorded at the Department of
The Department of Justice maintains a trust account
that holds rentals that have been paid in for the benefit of Landowners. Every
so often, by law, unclaimed rentals are taken from the trust and put into the
general fund of the government. Many Cook Islanders have no idea that they have
rental money sitting in the trust. It may be that there is money in a parents
or even grandparents name, and no one has succeeded to the interest of that
person, and so no claim can be made on that money.
Landcourt Services can assist Cook Islanders to
determine what money, if any, is held in trust, and show Landowners the steps
to drawing out any rental money that they are entitled to.