Land Tenure in the Cook Islands
Chapter 13 — Tenure Reform and Productivity
Tenure Reform and Productivity
Early experiments in increasing productivity
Both the Resident and the government of New Zealand were of the opinion that the indigenous system of land tenure in the Cook Islands was an obstacle to productivity.1 Changes were therefore proposed, as a result of which, it was assumed, increases in agricultural exports would automatically follow.
Gudgeon was in the unique position of being able to observe the situation at first hand, draft his own plan and legislation, and then put his policy into effect. However, once the Land Court had completed its first year's work it became apparent that the desired increases in productivity were not going to come about as a reaction to changes in tenure alone, and in 1904 Gudgeon requested the New Zealand government that he be granted the power to force the island people to plant their lands.2 Such a step was essential, he felt, since the indigenous people were ‘mere children, and if they are to progress the progression must be forced on them’.3 His request was declined.
1 Gudgeon, New Zealand Illustrated Magazine 2:417. Gudgeon's agrarian policy followed the broad pattern of the thinking of Adam Smith, and was not dissimilar to that of Sir Hubert Murray in Papua, Dr Solf in Western Samoa, Telfer-Campbell in the Gilbert Islands, and other island administrators of that day.
3 Gudgeon to Mills, 12.9.1904 NZPP A3 1905. ‘The Polynesian,’ he claimed, ‘will perform no useful act until he is compelled to do so.’ - Gudgeon, New Zealand Illustrated Magazine 2:418.
4 Gudgeon, Te Karere September 1905.
Compulsive pressures were found to be only partially successful and the next step he envisaged was the possibility of some form of financial assistance and skilled advisory staff to encourage Maoris to plant unused land. An element of compulsion was, nevertheless, still present. Proceeding from the doubtful premise that it was ‘the duty of the administration to see that all waste lands are beneficially occupied as a return for the protection afforded to the owners by the British law and mana’, he gave the Maoris three alternatives in respect to their ‘waste’ lands. Firstly, they could lease them to Europeans; secondly, they could accept government ‘aid’ to plant the lands with coconuts; or thirdly, if they were not prepared to accept either of these alternatives, the government threatened to ‘take the land for small plantations under the powers conferred by Section 3 of the Cook and Other Islands Government Act of 1904’.3 While a plan for government aid was outlined, it was never finally drafted or implemented and, as Gudgeon was aware, the New Zealand government of 1906 would neither allow him to force leasing nor to confiscate the land.
1 Te Karere January 1907.
3 Gudgeon, Cook Islands Gazette 1.8.1906.
4 ‘The Unimproved Land Tax Ordinance’ 1906.
Gudgeon was admittedly not able to have all aspects of his reform programme implemented in full, but he did succeed in clothing all the planting lands of Rarotonga and Mauke with registered titles. At the time of his retirement, in a review of his ten years administration of the group, he expressed the opinion that: ‘The first in importance of all the work we have carried to a satisfactory conclusion is the survey and definition of the titles of the lands owned by the natives.’1
1 Gudgeon, Cook Islands Gazette 28.1.1909.
Productivity changes since annexation2
2 Unless otherwise stated, all cash values quoted in this chapter are standardized to a common buying value. Details of the price index used are given in appendix C. As the income of the islands was almost entirely dependent on agricultural exports, their value gives an approximate measure of the average level (but not range) of non-subsistence consumption. Internal trade within the group was insignificant, as was income from employment prior to 1950.
During the decade 1906–152 the volume of exports increased considerably and the annual income per capita from agricultural production grew to about double that of the preceding dccade (nevertheless, per capita income during the later period probably did not greatly exceed that obtaining in the 1880s).3
As shown by a comparison of tables 1A and 1B, a part of this increase was due to a rise in market prices for the commodities concerned, and the balance to an increase in output. There was a slight increase in the production of copra, while exports of citrus fruits reached double the volume for the previous decade. Neither of these increases, however, can be attributed to changes in land tenure,4 for the coconut and citrus trees which were
1 The only three decades since annexation during which the volume and value of exports has not been depressed by the effects of world wars or trade depressions.
2 The decade 1906–15 (inclusive) was chosen as it was not until 1906 that the bulk of the planting lands of Rarotonga and Mauke were clothed with Court titles, and after 1915 export production fell sharply due to exigencies of World War I.
3 Comparison with the 1880s is difficult owing to the absence of any price index for that period, but even assuming that money values did not drop at all between 1881 and 1905, per capita income for the five-year period 1881–5 (the only years for which export values have been located) was in the region of £15 to £20.
4 Official statements frequently claimed that they were due to the work of the Land Court; e.g. Northcroft (the then Resident) claimed in 1914 that: ‘Individualizing the lands at Rarotonga is undoubtedly the cause of the present prosperity.’ - Northcroft to Pomare, 27.5.1914 NZPP 1914.
|This first table is included for rough comparison only, and cannot be compared directly with later tables for the following reasons:
|Year||Copra||Citrus||Tomatoes||Coffee||Bananas||Pines||Other agric. produce||Total value1||Corrected value2||Population||Income per capita3|
|1895||971||7,253||11,397||2,258||227||7,752||5,496||309||1,498||19,070||66,460||7,180 E||9. 5. 1|
|1896||765||5,309||19,863||3,409||137||4,310||5,313||305||2,153||15,486||52,495||7,005 E||7. 9. 11|
|1897||669||5,380||21,331||3,965||372||10,754||1,890||131||3,592||180||1,341||21,751||71,315||6,825 E||10. 9. 0|
|1898||499||4,505||21,562||3,384||109||2,389||3,304||239||685||101||590||11,208||35,694||6,682 E||5. 6. 10|
|1899||682||6,218||21,481||1,769||100||1,819||12,600||717||3,918||321||743||11,587||40,656||6,540 E||6. 4. 3|
|1900||988||7,120||56,466||5,462||46||1,025||23,955||1,574||21,796||1,158||1,103||17,420||59,050||6,381 E||9. 5. 1|
|1901||No figures available|
|1902||1,310||11,650||36,652||6,120||43||720||34,512||4,150||3,936||650||1,911||25,201||79,750||8,230 E||9. 13. 10|
|1903||1,105||9,313||60,346||10,050||138||2,310||32,560||4,800||5,663||900||2,589||29,962||97,915||8,213||11. 18. 5|
|1904||1,272||15,950||79,330||9,600||58||973||45,804||7,400||5,725||680||1,696||36,299||121,401||8,170 E||14. 17. 2|
|1905||1,212||13,974||76,080||9,364||13||212||53,507||8,909||4,378||616||682||33,757||102,294||8,028||12. 14. 10|
|E = estimate of population derived from mission and government records (Southern Group only for period 1895–1900).
Note: While the bulk of fresh fruit has always been shipped in case lots, some bananas were shipped on the bunch and in a few instances pines and oranges were recorded by number of fruit rather than by the case. These have been converted to case lots at the rate of one and a half bunches of bananas per case, 12 pineapples per case and 150 oranges per case. Accurate comparison of the volume of fruit exports is not possible owing to a lack of standardization of case sizes, though the one and a half bushel case has been the most common throughout.
1 I.e. value in the currency of that date.
3 In 1955 values.
|Year||Copra||Citrus||Tomatoes||Coffee||Bananas||Pines||Other agric. produce||Total value||Corrected value||Population||Income per capita|
|1906||948||13,387||86,220||10,975||104||2,175||81,733||10,445||4,777||590||3,013||40,582||121,868||8,518||14. 6. 2|
|1907||934||15,491||104,201||18,235||45||944||85,113||12,910||5,352||1,070||1,361||50,001||162,341||8,536 E||19. 0. 5|
|1908||1,317||17,368||79,046||21,341||57||1,302||95,697||15,433||9,368||936||1,401||57,781||186,993||8,554 E||21. 17. 2|
|1909||1,705||25,946||98,007||17,200||22||493||105,683||19,426||5,650||708||793||64,566||211,692||8,572 E||24. 13. 11|
|1910||1,535||27,281||94,024||14,220||58||1,243||114,444||35,807||5,128||512||1,128||80,191||260,360||8,600 E||30. 5. 6|
|1911||1,695||31,151||107,612||19,922||16||430||112,814||24,907||3,792||234||3,105||79,749||260,617||8,626||30. 4. 2|
|1912||1,340||26,276||106,878||16,060||67||1,950||95,532||33,200||5,110||501||3,596||81,583||258,994||8,653 E||29. 18. 6|
|1913||1,429||33,679||107,728||16,852||34||970||106,413||35,700||2,329||270||3,568||91,039||282,730||8,680 E||32. 11. 4|
|1914||922||14,630||114,336||18,579||1,201||600||32||877||86,083||28,939||3,691||460||3,128||67,213||202,449||8,708 E||23. 4. 8|
|1915||773||14,114||98,447||20,863||13,119||5,947||33||825||61,988||18,592||1,282||250||2,285||62,876||176,123||8,736 E||20. 3. 2|
|Av. per year 1906–15||1,260||99,650||94,550||4,648||212,417||8,618||24. 12. 6|
|Av. per capita||0.15 Tons||11.6 C/s||11.0 C/s||5.4 C/s|
producing in 1906–15 must necessarily have been planted prior to the establishment of the Land Court.1 It could, of course, be argued that the trees had been producing similar amounts previously, but that they were not being harvested owing to land disputes. Such, however, was never claimed by the protagonists of reform, but rather that the tenure system had discouraged the planting of trees. In view of the marked improvement in shipping facilities and the frequent claims in the previous decade that large quantities of citrus fruits were wasted through the lack of shipping, the increase must be attributed primarily to improvements in transport services.2
There was a significant drop in the output of coffee, but this was due to a leaf blight which first manifested itself in 1898. No concerted effort was ever made to combat the blight and the coffee trade died slowly away.3 The pineapple trade remained at much the same level as it had been, exports remaining insignificant owing to the low price and limited market.
1 It is physically possible that a portion of the crop in the later part of the period could have come from trees planted after the Court was established, but if this were so one would expect a rise towards the end of the period, whereas a slight downward trend is in fact noticeable.
2 Shipping services to New Zealand markets were greatly improved during the first decade of the century, and the inauguration of a scheduled steamer service facilitated increased exports of perishable fruits.
3 Exports dropped steadily until by the 1930s they were negligible. Some small–scale plantings have been undertaken in recent years, but these are not yet in bearing.
Furthermore, informants stated that the bulk of banana output at that period was organized on a minor lineage basis by the various chiefs, and this claim is given some support by the fact that the trade developed on Rarotonga and Mangaia where chiefly power was strong, but not on Mauke, where chiefly powers had been seriously disturbed since 1904 at least. This would indicate, as the evidence from the Protectorate period suggests, that organization by the chiefs was at that stage conducive to higher output.
During and after World War I shipping was severely disrupted and exports accordingly fell to a very low level. The next ‘normal’ decade was from 1921 to 1930, after which the world trade depression caused a further disruption of the economy. During that decade the average per capita real income was slightly lower than that obtaining in 1906–15, though the volume of exports was about the same.2 This was mainly due to an increase in population and consequent drop in production per capita. The output of copra increased, in all probability owing to the additional trees planted under administrative pressures applied duringpage 256
|Year||Copra||Citrus||Coffee||Bananas||Pines||Other agric. produce||Population|
|Total tons||Tons per capita||Total cases||Cases per capita||1000 lbs||Total cases||Cases per capita||Total cases||Cases per capita||£|
|Av. per year||111||0.242||8,240||17.9||460|
|Av. per year||97.1||0.067||13,411||9.3||24||6,540||4.4||804||0.5||662||1,444|
|Year||Copra||Citrus||Tomatoes||Coffee||Bananas||Pines||Other agric. produce||Total value||Corr. value||Population||Income per capita|
|1921||803||11,841||57,523||22,519||34,457||11,169||8||608||52,388||21,680||2,062||361||1,093||69,271||126,870||9,459||13. 8. 3|
|1922||2,222||32,095||117,238||41,018||37,236||17,417||1||50||88,974||42,048||301||84||2,098||134,810||268,011||9,583 E||27.19. 4|
|1923||2,018||26,205||139,820||43,956||24,578||10,033||2||95||70,206||32,719||107||16||1,435||114,459||225,757||9,708 E||23. 5. 1|
|1924||2,250||43,173||178,528||51,844||25,438||13,745||1||45||78,453||40,141||704||196||1,012||150,156||288,761||9,832 E||29. 7. 5|
|1925||2,440||46,516||95,067||37,227||61,084||23,275||12||508||85,451||33,893||20||5||1,126||142,550||268,962||9,957 E||27. 0. 2|
|1927||1,676||35,494||123,021||57,236||41,080||19,319||1||26||45,470||21,296||-||-||1,326||134,697||254,625||10,298 E||24.14. 4|
|1928||1,770||33,071||142,315||58,030||51,955||17,649||5||188||47,480||19,690||-||-||944||129,572||244,015||10,514 E||23. 4. 2|
|1929||2,020||28,648||106,187||47,596||52,685||16,760||4||57||51,026||26,946||-||-||1,760||121,767||229,749||10,731 E||21. 8. 2|
|1930||2,143||23,478||128,268||39,080||30,263||9,870||1||22||53,493||34,272||-||-||2,776||109,498||211,386||10,947 E||19. 6. 2|
|Av.per year||1,859||125,727||43,086||60,364||319||235,826||10,111||23. 6.11|
the earlier period. It is most unlikely that the extra planting resulted from tenure changes, for on Mauke and Mangaia, where the administrative pressures to plant were least felt, the output fell in both absolute and per capita terms at very similar rates, despite the fact that the former island had been investigated by the Court and the latter had not.1
Citrus exports were higher in the latter decade than in the former, but this was due to better market conditions. No one claimed that the land tenure pattern had any effect on this crop, for during the earlier period the planting of it had been discouraged owing to the flooded state of the market, and there is every indication that relatively few trees were planted after the turn of the century.
Tomatoes were introduced, and their successful establishment was due in part at least to the introduction of radio communication which was necessary for the timing of shipments of this perishable crop. The Mauke people, despite registered land titles, did not take to planting tomatoes, but the Mangaians did, though never on a large scale.2 There is thus no indication that the work of the Court contributed to the rise of this trade. Banana and pineapple production dropped: probably due to the reduction of enforced planting and the introduction of tomatoes as a more lucrative alternative crop.
1 See tables 4A and 4B. Unfortunately no records of copra exports from individual islands could be traced for the years 1921–9, and the above conclusions are based on the years 1930–40. Even during these years there were some significant gaps in the data.
2 The difference was not due to shipping services, as (no doubt, due to its larger citrus crop) Mauke averaged slightly more shipping calls during the period than Mangaia. (Here again we are forced to rely on the 1930–40 statistics.)
|Year||Copra||Citrus||Tomatoes||Coffee||Bananas||Pines||Other agric. produce||Population|
|Total tons||Tons per capita||Total cases||Cases per capita||Total cases||Cases per capita||1000 lbs||Total cases||Cases per capita||Total cases||Cases per capita||£|
|Av.per year||6 yrs
|Av.per year||9 yrs
Note: During 1936 and 1937 the majority of growers on Mangaia refused to sell owing to low prices. - NZPP A3 1937:15.
Before the islands' economy had fully recovered from the trade depression it was again disrupted by the onset of World War II and its aftermath. Shipping and marketing services had returned to normal by 1950 and the figures for the decade 1950–9 (the latest available) are shown in table 5. Per capita income from agriculture had dropped to about half the level of 1906–15.1 Copra production in absolute terms averaged 36 per cent less than the 1921–30 volume, and 5 per cent less than its 1906–15 volume. In per capita terms the output for the current decade was 61 per cent less than that in 1921–30. As the tables show, citrus exports fell to less than half their 1921–30 volume (or less than one quarter in per capita terms) and bananas to less than one per cent of their 1921–30 volume. Only tomatoes retained their earlier level per capita. The outstanding exception to the general trend was the pineapple trade, which showed a marked increase, but almost the whole crop was grown on Mangaia.
Production of copra in both Mauke and Mangaia has fallen in both absolute and per capita terms, though more heavily in the latter.2 Production of citrus has also fallen in both islands (as for the group as a whole) though in this instance the drop is more pronounced in Mauke.
1 In view of the increasing proportion of income spent on imported foods (as shown on page 263) and of recent years on purchased local foods as well, and assuming a corresponding decline in production for subsistence, total consumption must have dropped at a faster rate than the above figures alone would suggest. The actual change in personal living standards is, however, difficult to determine, for income from non-agricultural sources has increased markedly since World War II, and the proportion of income spent on ecclesiastical affairs, ceremonial activities and tribal projects (such as the purchase of schooners, the erection of churches and schools and of ornate dwellings for high chiefs) appears to have diminished steadily, leaving a higher residue for personal consumption.
|Year||Copra||Citrus||Tomatoes||Coffee||Bananas||Pines||Other agric. produce||Total value||Corrected value||Population||Income per capita|
|Year||Copra||Citrus||Tomatoes||Coffee||Bananas||Pines||Other agric. produce||Population|
|Total tons||Tons per capita||Total cases||Cases per capita||Total cases||Cases per capita||1000 lbs||Total cases||Cases per capita||Total cases||Cases per capita|
|1959||7||0.003||144||0.1||7,090||3.2||2||407||0.2||1,472||0.7||531 bags c/n||2,185|
Pineapple exports, which boomed on Mangaia in the mid-1950s (until a sudden price recession in 1956 made further planting uneconomic) have never achieved a fraction of the Mangaia volume on Mauke. The banana trade, once the biggest source of income in the islands, has brought in less than one shilling per capita per annum during the last decade. In general the prices paid for fruit have been as good or better than those paid in the two previous decades examined, and while shipping has always been a problem, it appears to have been no more of a hindrance in the 1950s than it was in earlier years.
The causes of productivity decline
It seems clear, therefore, that far from there being an increase in agricultural production during the period from 1906 to 1959 there has, in fact, been a general decline, more particularly when measured on a per capita basis, and that where in the case of individual products an increase did take place, this was seldom attributable to changes in the tenure pattern. It now remains to discuss in more detail various reasons which can be held to account for this decline and the extent to which tenure reform may be said to be one of them.
1 Converted to equivalent values the imports of foodstuffs into the Cook Islands in the five-year period 1906–10 inclusive averaged £53,649 per annum, as against £213,153 for the period 1955–9 inclusive. In per capita terms the amount has more than doubled: from £6.5.5 per annum in the earlier period to £12.8.10 in the latter.
Another view has it that the decline has resulted from the marked increase in numbers of people in the latter decade who were employed in activities other than agriculture, leaving insufficient to work the land. For the group as a whole this view is not supported by the available data which show that, while a total of 1,393 men were gainfully employed outside agriculture in 1956, the total population had increased by 4,434 since 1936 and by 8,025 since 1911.3 The generalization nevertheless has some validity for villages like Ngatangiia and Arorangi, which are sufficiently close to the group ‘capital’ of Avarua for a high proportion of persons resident in those villages to commute to work in Avarua daily.
1 This is probably a generous estimate. The F.A.O. World Census of Agriculture gave an estimate of 2,460 acres not including coconuts in 1950, but the latest ‘Report on the Cook, Niue and Tokelau Islands’ indicates a somewhat lower figure. - NZPP A3 1960:24. Barrau, in 1956 estimated that 0.07 to 0.10 acres per head of land was used for subsistence in Rarotonga and 0.15 to 0.20 in Atiu (excluding coconuts). - Subsistence Agriculture in Polynesia and Micronesia 26 and 29. Barrau's figures would indicate about 2,400 acres for the whole group. My own research in the four tapere known as Turangi ma Nga Mataiapo on Rarotonga showed an average of 0.252 acres in food crops other than exports. The great bulk of this, however, was used to produce crops for sale to the urban population in Avarua. On Atiu, on the other hand, where subsistence crops are not marketed, and where each household grows the bulk of its food supply, there was an average of only 0.11 acres per head in food crops.
2 Based on data in Fox and Grange, Soils…
3 Based on data in the relevant censuses.
In view of the relative incomes obtained in agriculture as against other classes of work, and of the history of fluctuation of prices for agricultural produce, it is not surprising that agriculture is the ‘last choice’ for the majority of people. Paid employment, on the other hand, is not so well-paid nor as yet so secure as to allow a person to leave his land entirely. The result is that the majority take such employment as is offering but almost invariably supplement it with a little subsistence planting and with such cash cropping as time and finance permit. For the same reason, people are reluctant to lease for long periods lands which they are not utilizing fully at present.
1 In addition, some 8 women received regular incomes from work or business.
2 On the basis of research in the Arorangi district of Rarotonga in 1950, Hercus and Faine found that of the 102 resident adult males, 21 were dependent entirely on wages, 31 supplemented their farming by wage labour, and 50 were entirely dependent on their lands for their livelihood. - Hercus and Faine, Transactions of the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene 45:353–62. There has been a considerable increase in the amount of wage labour offering since 1950.
In addition to the above factors, two aspects of the work of the Land Court have hindered increased output from the land. The first of these relates to the Court system of awarding succession, which has resulted in each section of land being associated with an ever-increasing number of ‘owners’.3 This is aggravated by the fact that the Court system allows no basis for leadership or organization of the heterogeneous agglomeration of ‘owners’ of each section. Combined with the emigration to other work or other places by the bulk of those with energy and initative, the result is frequently apathy and neglect of land.4
1 Wages and salaries within the Cook Islands range from a minimum of £145 per annum to a maximum of over £1,000 per annum. The average is probably about £225. Those who migrate to New Zealand probably earn an average of £800 to £900 per annum. Current per capita income from agriculture, on the other hand, is about £15 (or say £75 per family). - See table 5. A regular stream of Cook Islanders is migrating to New Zealand to reside there permanently, and in March 1960 the number in New Zealand was given as 2,950. - NZPP A5 1960:16. In view of the rate of migration since then the figure is now probably about 3,500.
2 The bulk of emigrants to New Zealand are in the 20–35 year age group. - Ward, JPS 70:6.
4 Occasional enterprising Rarotongans have found that the only way to overcome the problem is to lease land from their numerous co-parceners. In one case examined in the field a man had leased an area of 1.4 acres of gardening land from his co-parceners and despite the expense in time and money of arranging meetings, providing transport and attending Land Court he considered that this course of action had been worthwhile. Cases were also encountered wherein persons had been refused leases by their coparceners.
Assuming both islands to have been affected equally by migration, one should accordingly expect a more marked decline in productivity in Mauke than in Mangaia, for in Mangaia indigenous leadership remains and the land is held under customary tenure. An examination of tables 2, 4 and 6 shows that this is indeed the case, and further elaboration of the surrounding circumstances shows it to be more marked than the tables alone would suggest.
1 It is understood that large-scale replanting was resumed in 1961 to supply the new fruit-pulping industry in the group.
The second inhibiting aspect of the Court's work is the inflexibility of transfer of land rights, which was first imposed by the Cook Islands Act of 1915 in order to protect the rights of the indigenous people. Those who have surplus lands are not allowed to will or sell them (though it is unlikely that many would be prepared to sell even if they were permitted to do so). They can lease, but the present multiplicity of ownership makes this a difficult procedure as well as an economically unattractive proposition to the lessors - for there are so many of them among whom the rental must be shared that there is no incentive to lease.1 Owing to the current migration both within the islands and to New Zealand, there are many sections whereon none of the owners reside or live within working distance, and which lie unused for this reason.2
The degree of rigidity which has been introduced can be gauged from the following summary which shows the recognized pre-contact processes of adjustment of land rights in the first column, and the present position in the second:
2 In the area on Rarotonga where field studies were conducted, of unused land which was suitable for agriculture or tree crops, twenty-three per cent lay idle because all owners were absent in New Zealand or elsewhere; or because, though there were owners in the district, the lands concerned had been allotted by family agreement to persons who had subsequently left.
|Pre-contact process||Post-contact change|
|1. Those processes which do not affect lineage affiliation -|
|a. By acquisition of new lands:|
|(i) By conquest||Stopped in the mission period and barred by stature since.|
|(ii) By other processes affecting whole lineages (e.g. admittance of immigrant lineages, or voluntary transfer of lineage and lands).||Barred by statute.|
|b. By redistribution within the lineage:|
|(i) By will||Barred by statute.|
|(ii) By intra-lineage adoption.||Controlled and generally discouraged by the Land Court.|
|(iii) By allocation by the head of the lineage||Limited by statute, and barred by Appellate Court decision.|
|(iv) By gift (not necessarily within the lineage, nor necessarily dependent on change of affiliation).||Barred by statute.|
|(v) By partition||Provided for by statute but strongly discouraged by the Land Court.1|
|2. Those practices which are concomitant on a change of lineage affiliation -|
|(i) By marrying out (except to the extent of express provision or reinstatement)||Barred by Appellate Court decision.|
|(ii) By inter-lineage adoption.||Controlled and discouraged by Land Court.|
|(iii) By banishment of offenders.||Barred by statute.page 270|
|(iv) By admission of refugees and other outsiders.||Barred by statute from 1915–46, but existence of a new provision since 1946 (which is subject to the approval of the Land Court) is little known in this connection.|
|(v) By voluntary departure.||Barred by Appellate Court decision.|
|(vi) By admittance of secondary members.||As for (iv) above.|
It will be noted that the most common modes of transfer of rights have been blocked not by statute but by rulings of the Land Court and the Appellate Court. The only alternative provisions which have been made are firstly those for leases (which are difficult to obtain for the reasons stated) and secondly those for occupation rights. This latter change, which was introduced in 1946, is but little known to the people except in relation to the Citrus Replanting Scheme, which is discussed in the following chapter. Moreover, the granting of such rights is left to the discretion of the Court, and it is not known what attitude it would adopt if the people did wish to transfer rights other than for citrus replanting. The present situation in relation to the transfer of rights to land restricts the islander's spatial mobility in agriculture, as well as his maneouvreability within the ownership group.
Though the tenure situation may not have been the major cause of the overall decline in productivity in the group, the evidence does indicate that the issue of registered freehold titles by the Land Court of itself made little if any contribution to output in the early decades of the century, and of recent years has had a negative effect. It is not intended to imply that security of tenure was not desirable or that the indigenous tenure system was conducive to maximum output (for the case of Mangaia clearly shows that it was not). Rather, it illustrates page 271 the fact that security of tenure is of little value if it is provided in a form which is not adapted to the people's needs and which inhibits the optimum use of the land. As the following chapter will show, even when security of tenure is provided in a form which meets these requirements, it must also be complemented by other measures if major increases in productivity are to result.