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Land Tenure in the Cook Islands

Chapter 8 — The Form and Function of Introduced Laws

page 155

Chapter 8
The Form and Function of Introduced Laws

The mission role

The Tahitian teachers made no conscious modifications to land custom, and in some cases not only condoned acquisitions by conquest but actively participated in them. When the European missionaries arrived, however, and were confronted with land disputes which threatened to develop into open warfare, they set about effecting changes. Largely as a result of their influence the extent of warfare lessened year by year, and from the mid-1830s onwards it became a rare occurrence. Ritual plunder, too, seems to have been abolished by the missionaries, for no instances of it are recorded after the first few years of contact.

The abolition of warfare and ritual plunder, and a lack of formal provisions for settlement of disputes between districts led to an increase in settlements by negotiation, often with the advice or participation of the missionaries.1 While missionaries were instructed from their London headquarters to avoid interference in land matters, they frequently found themselves involved. It was not only European missionaries who participated in land disputes, for references to the involvement of their native

1 Re Atiu see Buzacott to LMS 18.8.1845 SSL; re Rarotonga see Pitman, Journal, November 1828; re Aitutaki see Lawrence to LMS 23.9.1887 SSL.

page 156 counterparts are not infrequent.1 While the missionaries usually accounted for their participation by describing it as a search for peaceful settlement, this objective was not always attained. The missionaries were anxious that native custom should be codified into law, though with certain modifications to make it compatible with their conception of Christian justice. Having already made law codes for the Society Islands, they used the Raiatea code as a model for the Rarotonga one of 1827 - the first legal code ever made in the Cook group. The earliest example of Cook Islands legislation to have survived is a copy of the laws of Rarotonga as they were in 1879, which, though based on the original prototype, had been amended and expanded.2

The missionaries who initiated the Rarotonga code assure us that it was based on prevailing custom, and that they merely advised and recorded. The laws relating to land appear to be compatible with what is known of existing usage, though they provided for only a small part of the total body of custom, laying down only broad general principles and in some cases a scale of penalties in the event of their infringement. The relevant clauses are as follows:

Clause 5: Disputes about Land

If a chief3 enter the land of another chief and claim it, the law shall decide between them. If the chief who is wrong persist in that wrong, then all the chiefs shall assemble and decide what his punishment shall be….

1 E.g. ‘It is not a good sign to hear so frequently of their complications with traders and with land affairs.’ - Harris to LMS 20.8.1881 SSR; Chalmers to LMS 23.12.1872 SSR; Vivian, Journal, April 1871 to 4.6.1872 SSJ.

2 ‘The Laws of Rarotonga…’ 1879 CIA. A copy of the original Raiatea code is preserved at the Mitchell Library. Summaries of all legislative provisions relating to land are attached as appendix A.

3 Unfortunately the vernacular version is not available, but the use of the word ‘chief’ in other parts of the law suggests that the original referred to ariki and not to all classes of chiefs.

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There was no provision for disputes between lower ranks, or between commoners and titleholders.

The system of inheritance was not specifically laid down, though some provisions were included in the following rules:

Clause 10: The Widow and the Fatherless

When the husband dies, if the widow be left with children they shall remain upon the land; but if she do evil and be found guilty three times she shall be removed…. If she marries again she shall also leave the land. Her children will remain, and the land be with them. If there be no children, the brother of the dead husband will take the land. If no relation be alive the land will go back to the chief or the Mataiapo, and remain with him.

Clause 14: About Wills

When a person is dying let him make his will openly, in the presence of the Ariki, Judges, and many witnesses…. But if a man will a plantation to his friend, and his Ariki, or his Judge, or the authorities did not know of that will, it will be useless. This is the law of the will, and it is for the Ariki, the Judge, and the authorities to watch over it.

Clause 31 provided that every man had to plant food crops on penalty of a fine, but the nature and quantity of the crops were not defined. The custom of confiscating land for certain crimes was written into the law on ‘House-burning’ which provided that a person found guilty of this crime would be kept in irons for two years ‘and his land be given to the owner of the burnt house’.1 Confiscation was also provided for in cases where a man shifted his allegiance to another mataiapo or ariki and tried to retain control of the land while owing allegiance to the other chief.2

In 1896, with the guidance of the missionary Cullen, land laws were drawn up for Manihiki and Rakahanga.3 This

1 ‘Laws of Rarotonga…’ 1879 clause 4.

2 Ibid. clause 11.

3 ‘Te Au Ture Enua i Manihiki’ 1896 (The Land Laws of Manihiki). It is unlikely that this was the first law ever made relating to land in Manihiki and Rakahanga, though prior to that time the existence of chronic land disputes was evident - see e.g. Harris to LMS 2.8.1880 SSR; Hutchen to LMS 30.12.1895 SSL. These indicate that, if laws had been adopted earlier, they were not functioning effectively.

page 158 )was the only comprehensive land code adopted in the group during the period of mission influence. The introductory paragraph begins:

There is always much trouble caused in the land on account of disputes as to land, and on account of disputes as to testaments of dying persons and also through land grabbing.

These laws were made at a meeting of the ‘High Chiefs, Governors, Subchiefs and Chiefs and the three Land Courts of Manihiki’. For islands with a combined population of only 800 souls, this is indeed an extensive list of leaders, but none of them was specifically charged with the duty of executing the law. All disputes were to be taken to the ariki or the governor and the ‘investigators under the law’ (judges presumably, though this is not specified) were not to be consulted in the first instance.

Each of the islands had its own code, but relatively little is known of their precise nature, for, though references to them are numerous, no copies of most of them have been preserved.1 There is no evidence to suggest that they contained detailed provisions with respect to land matters, and at least one of them, that of Mangaia, had no reference to land tenure beyond a clause dealing with boundary disputes.2 Even the most comprehensive codes omitted provision for vital aspects of land tenure3 and most of them dealt with only limited aspects of the system.

2 ‘Laws of Mangaia’ as at 1891.

3 The Manihiki-Rakahanga code, which was by far the most comprehensive, lacked provision for the land rights of adoptees, and adoption was a major cause of land disputes.

page 159

Of considerable importance also, and frequently of greater significance than the formal codes, were the informal rules and arrangements made by those in authority. For example in 1837 islanders who went aboard foreign ships forfeited their land rights as punishment.1 In 1845 the chiefs of Rarotonga decided to forbid all sales of land.2 While not provided for in the law, the first man convicted of murder after the introduction of the laws was chained to a peg for five years and ‘the parties who obtained possession of his lands were bound to provide him with food and clothing’.3 In 1849, the ‘king and chiefs’ of Mangaia made rules to provide for the control of wandering cattle.4 On some islands church members were excommunicated for altering boundary marks,5 and on Aitutaki church membership rose from 349 to 383 when those who had been ‘suspended on account of land troubles’ were readmitted.6 In Aitutaki, too, Moss found that an informally constituted body was not only making rules, but levying fines for their infringement.7

1 Pitman to LMS 1.11.1837 SSL. It appears that this ruling was made to control the prostitution of women and the emigration of men.

2 Gill to LMS 18.6.1845 SSL.

3 Buzacott, Mission Life… 151.

4 Deeds Register, item 117 NLC.

5 Hutchen to LMS 16.2.1891 SSR.

6 Lawrence to LMS 18.12.1890 SSR.

7 Moss to Governor, October 1891 NZPP A3 1892.

The functioning of the laws

Of greater significance than the laws and rules themselves was the manner in which they operated in practice, for none of them ascribed clear roles to particular persons or groups, nor did they lay down adequate rules of procedure. page 160 To the extent that they did function, they were administered by the persons or groups who had most power in the society at any given time, and according to procedures adopted by those power groups.

In land matters the key figure in the power structure in most districts was the judge, one (or sometimes two) of whom was appointed at the time the laws were introduced. The initial appointments were in most cases made by the missionaries, though later ones were usually made by the local ariki.1 Judges invariably belonged to the district or island over which they exercised their jurisdiction2 and were either themselves ariki, or their younger brothers, or holders of titles immediately subordinate to those of the ariki.3 Through his own land rights and his kinship bonds a judge was probably an interested party in many cases and would be obliged to support members of his own lineage against those of other lineages. Moreover, as he was either the ariki or a related chief appointed by the ariki it would generally be in his interests to support the higher rank orders rather than the lower, and the senior minor lineages rather than the junior ones.

1 On Rarotonga the first judges were appointed by the missionaries themselves. - Pitman, Journal 19.9.1827. So far as can be ascertained subsequent appointments were made by the normal processes of inheritance, until in 1890 legislative provision was made requiring that in future judges would be appointed by the ariki of the district. - E Akamoni i te Au Ture 1890 (Law for Upholding the Law).

2 With the exception of Ngamaru Ariki, who held the post of Chief Judge of Avarua from 1898 until 1903. While not a Rarotongan, he was the husband of Makea Ariki of Avarua, as well as being an ariki of Atiu in his own right. - Ioi Karanga 17.12.1898.

3 For many years the Chief Judge of Atiu was the leading ariki, but when he took up permanent residence on Rarotonga he appointed leading mataiapo who were subordinate to him as Chief Judges. Tupe, the Chief Judge of Ngatangiia from 1827 to 1840, was the younger brother of Pa Ariki. From 1827 to 1898 the title of Chief Judge at Avarua was held by the holder of the Vakatini title, passing from father to son.

page 161

A feature which stands out clearly in this period is that land problems were least serious on islands with powerful hierarchical rank structures, and most acute on Aitutaki, Manihiki and Penrhyn, the three islands whose rank structures had been most seriously damaged in the course of their contact experiences.1

Within each of the three districts of Rarotonga, after the first decade of mission influence the ariki and judges had a degree of control sufficient to avoid the outbreak of open conflict, but serious interdistrict disputes continued until the middle of the nineteenth century.2 Naval vessels called there more frequently than at any other island in the group, but on no occasion did the ariki ask for naval or any other form of foreign intervention (other than by missionaries) to control the people of their districts, or to determine land disputes within or between districts. In the Northern Group, on the other hand, naval commanders were frequently called on to adjudicate on land matters.

On Atiu, after the death of Rongomatane Ngaakaara, the ariki who led the conquest of Mauke and Mitiaro and who was in position of de facto authority over the whole island,

1 On Aitutaki this was due to two factors: firstly, power in the indigenous society was diffused through a number of separate but equal chieftainships between which there was inadequate cohesion; and secondly, Reverend Henry Royle, who was in charge of the mission there from 1839 to 1876, was a man of powerful and autocratic personality who, unlike most of his fellow missionaries, chose to destroy the chiefly structure rather than work through it. On Penrhyn, where a similar diffusion of power existed, the situation was further complicated when slavers took away many of the chiefs and left the balance of power upset. Here again the dominant role was assumed by the resident missionary, a Rarotongan named Ngatikaro. On Manihiki the indigenous social order was typified by two groups between which there was considerable friction and jealousy, but neither of which was able to gain complete ascendency over the other; the balance of power was therefore liable to frequent disturbing fluctuations.

2 The laws appear to have been of little relevance in settling the serious interdistrict disputes which arose during the first twenty-five years of mission influence.

page 162 there was a period of tension and disputes over land between the three component tribes on the island. The fact that a law-code had been enacted,1 and that further laws were adopted,2 did little to alter the situation. However, by the 1860s Ngamaru Ariki had gained supremacy over the whole island, and no further land disputes are recorded. In Aitutaki, on the other hand, Reverend Lawrence found on his arrival in 1885 that ‘the law book, the jail, the book containing the names of those convicted - all have gone and the people follow their own will’.3 Despite his attempts to have a new code introduced, nothing had been done by 1887 and there was ‘simply no law on the island, and even if we had there is no one with sufficient authority to enforce it. The consequence is that in all matters relating to land etc. the man with the most stubbornness is sure to have his way in the end. It matters nothing whether he is right or wrong’.4
In 1896 a Special Judicial Commissioner of the Western Pacific High Commission called at Manihiki to settle some outstanding land disputes. One of these was a complaint by Kairua to the effect that certain of his lands had been confiscated by the judge. Though the Island Council had already decided that the land undoubtedly belonged to Kairua, they had been unable to enforce their decision. In another case the Council had given a decision but it had been reversed by the missionary. The Commissioner upheld the Council's decisions in all cases but enjoined them to ensure

1 Gill, Gems… 237.

2 Buzacott to LMS 18.8.1845 SSL.

3 Lawrence to LMS 7.12.1885 SSR.

4 Lawrence to LMS 17.1.1887 SSR. The same state of affairs still existed a decade later. - Lawrence to LMS 20.12.1897 SSL.

page 163 that they were put into effect in future.1 The disorganized state of the authority structure was such, however, that the processes for settlement did not improve and unresolved land disputes remained a continued threat to the stability of the island's political organization.2

Conditions were no better on Penrhyn, where in the event of land disputes the law was ‘put aside and nothing [was] done to prevent them fighting’.3 One of the Penrhyn villages asked Chalmers to draft them a separate code from that used by the main village, and he did so accordingly.4 Mangaia was in a marginal position, for as long as a centralized hierarchy of authority functioned land disputes lay dormant, but on the death of the ‘king’ who had exercised authority over the whole island, his title was split and land disputes burst out afresh.5

It has been indicated that where there was a clear-cut status hierarchy land disputes were contained and seldom developed into open conflict. But as the administration of the land laws was entirely in the hands of the top strata of the social order the institution of law-codes served to strengthen their position relative to that of the lower classes. The European missionaries generally succeeded in their attempts to contain disputes by centralizing judicial

1 Hunter to High Commissioner 31.8.1896 and 10.9.1896 WPHC.

2 Te Karere September 1902.

3 Chalmers to LMS 4.7.1872 to 13.9.1872 SSJ.

4 Ibid.

5 It was the ‘king's’ power over the governors of the six districts that stopped disputes from developing to serious proportions. Both he and the mission realized that there would be disputes over succession to his title and that the new incumbent would not be recognized by all six districts. As expected serious land quarrels broke out very soon after his death and a disturbed political situation developed. - Harris to LMS 5.6.1879 SSL.

page 164 authority for each district or island, but were probably not aware of the degree of personal power which was thus vested in the executors of the law. Not being aware of the complexities of custom, they had of necessity left the judges with very wide discretionary powers. Moreover, with a weakening of traditional sanctions over them1 and with no provision for appeal or other restraint in the introduced system, the judges became powerful indeed. Judge Tupe, who, in conjunction with Reverend Pitman, had tyrannized his district for thirteen years, was said to have had immense influence in land affairs.2 As Judge Tupe was the brother of the ariki, chief executive for the mission, controller of the police force, and Chief Judge called on to decide issues which were not specified at law, this claim appears to be valid.
The law-codes themselves seem to have been of little consequence in determining the course of action taken in any particular circumstance. Though the codes were drafted under guidance and persuasion from the missionaries, their execution was generally a matter for the high chiefs and judges except on Aitutaki and Penrhyn, where the missionaries had assumed the de facto position of high chiefs and therefore had a considerable say in the execution of land laws. On the other islands, while the missionaries exerted considerable influence over the chiefs, their advice was only acted upon to the extent that the high

1 It was no longer feasible to banish a chief for despotism, as had not infrequently occurred in the pre-contact era, and the leavening effect of the supernatural sanctions of the heathen priests was replaced by a new supernatural system which operated more directly through the people who administered the law.

2 Pitman to LMS 9.6.1840 SSL.

page 165 chiefs through whom the missionaries worked found it expedient to do so.1

In the rule about land disputes on Rarotonga, no principles were stated apart from the fact that ‘the law’ would decide.2 One would assume that ‘the law’ referred to the judges, for they had been appointed to administer it, but this particular clause stated that all the chiefs of the island were to determine the issue. It is hardly conceivable that the individual chiefs would deliberate on lines other than those of tribal affiliation, especially in view of the fact that the law did not require them to recognize any particular principles, and it is accordingly not surprising that (before the time of the Protectorate) no example has been noticed of the chiefs functioning as a group to determine any intra-district land dispute, but rather the ariki and the judges invariably controlled such matters for their respective districts.

1 For example, on Rarotonga, shortly after the laws were adopted in 1827, Makea Ariki had a difference with the mission and remained aloof from its activities. The law in his district was accordingly disregarded until Makea's rapprochement in 1833 when ‘the word of God became established…and the law of the island then became effective’. - Maretu, MS 136.

2 ‘Laws of Rarotonga’ 1879 clause 5.

Protection and federation: 1888–983

With the coming of the British Protectorate in 1888, the power of the high chiefs was reinforced by naval support.4 The proclamation read at each island clearly stated that

3 The Protectorate was declared over the inhabited islands of the Southern Group in 1888, and over all the remaining Cook Islands during the succeeding four years. The Protectorate lasted until 1901, but the direct administration of the group by New Zealand, though not provided for by statute until 1901, in fact began in 1898.

4 Previous to this time the principal actions taken by the navy in the group were to support European trading interests and discipline natives who interfered with them - see e.g. Lawrence to LMS 17.1.1887 SSR.

page 166 there would be no interference with the existing administration by the high chiefs.1 The assembled peoples were told that the customs and laws of that day were to remain, and that foreigners as well as local people were to conform to them.2 During the following decade various high chiefs reminded the British Resident and other foreigners of these assurances whenever their actions were questioned.3
No changes were made in the indigenous political structure until 1890. In that year Mr F.J. Moss, an exmember of the New Zealand Parliament, was appointed as British Resident and took up his post at Rarotonga. He was specifically required to ‘leave the natives in the possession of their existing rights of legislating for themselves, reserving to yourself a veto….’4 Hitherto each of the islands (excepting Atiu, Mauke and Mitiaro) had functioned independently of the others, but in 1891 Moss formed a Federal Parliament for all the islands of the Southern Group.5 The Parliament was composed of the various ariki and their nominees, but the executive consisted of the ariki alone.6 The first Federal law provided that each island would remain self-governing in ‘local matters’7 -

1 Bourke, Form of Proclamation 27.10.1888 CIA. While technically within the jurisdiction of the Western Pacific High Commission, the Commission was instructed not to interfere in administrative affairs in the group, thogh it was given a nominal judicial role. - Colonial Office to Governor 7.1.1895 CO 209 PRO.

2 Bourke to Admiralty 13.11.1888 CO 225 PRO.

3 E.g. see Moss to Governor 11.12.1893 NZPP A3 1894, and 25.4.1898 NZPP A3 1899.

4 Governor to Moss 25.2.1891 NZPP A1 1891. Moss informed the people of the Cook Islands accordingly. - Moss to Chiefs and People of the Cook Islands 22.4.1891 NZPP A3(a) 1891.

5 The jurisdiction of the British Resident and of the Federal Parliament was limited to the Southern Group.

6 The Resident acted as adviser to both bodies.

7 ‘A Law to Provide for the Good Government of the Cook Islands’ 1891.

page 167 a term which in the particular circumstance included land tenure.

The first provision of any kind to apply to more than a single island was the ‘Declaration as to Land’, which was made by the Federal Parliament in 1894 for all the Southern Group and which purported to lay down ‘the customs of the Maori in that matter from time immemorial to the present day’.1 The declaration did not take the form of legislation, and noted that it was ‘for each island to make its own laws’ in this regard. Local councils were constituted on Aitutaki and Mangaia and laws for peace, order and good government were passed.2 These made no specific reference to land tenure, but did provide for the appointment of judges and for hearings in open court.

Moss conducted an investigation of land matters in Aitutaki and found that disputes as to ownership were ‘constant’, usually as a result of adoptions or disputed wills.3 Boundary disputes were also numerous.4 He accordingly persuaded the Council to adopt a law ‘to settle disputes about land’,5 but it merely provided that future disputes as to ownership or boundaries were to be heard by the island's three judges sitting together, rather than individually as they had done previously. As with the mission inspired laws of half a century earlier, no clear principles were specified. Whether the courts kept records, how many cases they heard, and how effective their

1 ‘Declaration as to Land’ 1894.

2 ‘Law for the Future Government of Mangaia’ 1891; and ‘A Law to Provide for the Good Government of Aitutaki’ 1891.

3 Moss to Governor, October 1891 NZPP A3 1892.

4 Moss to Arikis and Governors and People of Aitutaki 28.9.1891 NZPP A3 1892.

5 ‘[Law] To Settle Disputes About Land’ 1891.

page 168 jurisdiction was can only be guessed.1 Moss thought that, as he had provided for the Aitutaki Council to be composed of elected members, and as the new Council had passed the new law and was made responsible for the appointment of the judges, he had transferred control over land matters from an hereditary chiefly hierarchy to a democratic body. However, an examination of the actual composition of the ‘new’ Council shows it to have been composed exclusively of ariki and other titleholders.2
On Aitutaki provision was made for appeals from the decisions of the judges to be heard by the Island Council.3 On Rarotonga, while no appeal was provided for by way of legislation, the Island Council (which was controlled by the ariki) frequently spent a considerable amount of time deliberating on land disputes and issuing decisions on them.4 In addition, the ariki had been given the power of pardon in respect of sentences imposed by district judges;5 and a Supreme Court had been established with an ariki as its sole judge, with power to hear any case involving foreigners and natives, as well as all cases involving Federal law.6 This legislation further strengthened the position of the ariki in Rarotonga, and in 1894 they were given legal

1 Though one of the judges of Aitutaki reported that he had ‘judged many land disputes’, but that there were many still outstanding. - Judge Te Taura to Moss 10.12.1891 NZPP A3 1892.

2 The names of members are listed in ‘A Law to Provide for the Good Government of Aitutaki’ 1891. I am indebted to Mr Mokoenga Kavana for details of the rank status of the members. The Mangaia Council consisted solely of ariki and ‘governors’. - ‘Law for the Future Government of Mangaia’ 1891.

3 ‘[Law] To Settle Disputes About Land’ 1891.

4 E.g. Moss to Governor 19.7.1892 NZPP A6 1893.

5 ‘Power of Pardon Act’ 1890.

6 ‘A Law to Establish a Supreme Court’ 1891.

page 169 sanction for the control of all land matters, for a law was passed providing that after any land case had been heard by a judge, he was to ‘send his judgement to the Ariki of the district, whose decision thereon would be final’.1 This system of appeal and rehearing by the ariki, despite its informal basis, served to reinforce ariki control over land in Rarotonga, but no such system was introduced to other islands of the group.
Moss tried to interest the people of the Federation in a programme of land reform and hoped to create a society of peasant farmers, independent of obligations to their chiefs and kin. He proposed that the government should assume control of all lands and collect fixed cash rentals from each occupying family. The government would then pay those rentals to the chief under whose jurisdiction that land was held.2 Sale or lease could only be negotiated through the government, which was to protect the rights of both chiefs and commoners.3 Moss was afraid that what had happened in Hawaii and elsewhere, where the chiefs had irresponsibly alienated their lands, would happen in the Cook Islands also. However, while the matter was recommended to the Council of Ariki, he found that owing to the fact that they controlled the lands of Rarotonga, they were not anxious to ‘give up the power which the present system gives to the owner of the land’.4 Failing to achieve his aim, he later urged the chiefs of the whole Federation to allot to every family sufficient land on which to grow their

1 ‘Land Occupants Act’ 1894.

2 Te Torea 19.10.1895. This proposal was similar to the system prevailing in Tonga, which Moss considered appropriate for the Cook Islands.

3 Ibid.

4 Moss to Governor 18.11.1895 NZPP A3 1896.

page 170 food crops ‘and a little coffee or other produce to sell’. This proposal would appear merely to have confirmed the existing situation, but he further proposed that the name of the family and of the land should be recorded by the respective Island Councils, and that the occupier should if possible commute the existing obligations to a cash rental.1 The balance of the land, he assumed, belonged to the high chiefs, and he felt confident that in time they would be induced to make it available for lease.2 None of these proposals was adopted.

At the time he assumed office, Moss had complained that under the then existing system each ariki followed or disregarded the laws of his island at pleasure.3 The indications are, however, that the same situation applied at the time of Moss' departure from the island in 1898. Like the missionaries before him, he could only advise and persuade, for he had no compulsive power. In short, he could not have any significant effect on the actual balance of power in the society and accordingly although he could sometimes get legislation enacted, he could get it enforced only to the extent that it was acceptable to those who held the power in their hands. The Federal Parliament itself, which Moss had designed as a popularly elected body, was in fact invariably composed of appointees of the ariki and no election ever took place.4 The actual functioning of the Parliament and of such land laws as it passed served merely to make chiefly power more effective.

The land laws initiated by the mission were instituted in order to reduce dispute and ensure more ‘justice’ by

1 Te Torea 12.10.1895 and 19.10.1895.

2 Moss to Governor 18.11.1895 NZPP A3 1896.

3 Moss to Governor 17.1.1891 NZPP A3 1891.

4 Moss to Governor 17.10.1897 CO 209 PRO.

page 171 safeguarding the rights of the common people. Whether there was any overall reduction in disputes is not known. Such practices as warfare and the ritual plunder of land did not die out as a result of law-codes, in fact neither were mentioned in any code, and the extent of dispute has been shown to have depended not on the existence of such codes but on the unity and strength of the power hierarchy. In fact, the evidence suggests that a lack of land disputes was probably correlated with a minimum of ‘justice’ to the lower rank orders.

In his recommendations for modifications to land laws the British Resident aimed at security of tenure and increased productivity, but the most important of the reforms proposed by him (dealing with registered titles, rent commutation, and government control of land) were never adopted. Those which were adopted resulted in less security of tenure for commoners, though they may nevertheless have been a factor contributing to the increased production during the period, due to the increased chiefly power to organize and control production. This, however, was not the type of development which Moss had hoped to engender.