Equipped with their Green Certificate, six custom landowners of Port Vila land on which the Capital is located, are appealing to all business houses particularly all along the Port Vila seafront as well as the Second Lagoon seafront, for respect and cooperation.
The landowners are: Chief Denny Kalmet of Erakor; Mr. Kalsef Kalosil Tangraro of Eratap; Pastor Russell Bakokoto; Mr. Steven Kalsakau of Ifira; Mr. Kalkot Kaltabang and Mr. Eric Kaltabang of Pango.
Chief Kalmet as spokesman for the landowners is appealing to the business houses and people of Port Vila for respect.
“The truth is without the landowners named, there would be no Port Vila”, he says from their Office in the Equity Building in the presence of all other landowners who nod their heads.
“We have come out at this time because now on the eve of 40 years of Independence, we believe the time is right for us to confirm ourselves as the legally recognised custom landowners of the land on which Port Vila is located.
“Where we have placed a namele leaf on the premises of a business house, this is not to disturb its operations. Rather it is our traditional emphasis for respect and recognition of our right where the land has been reclaimed from the sea.
“We are most pleased to be assured that when we placed the namele leaf at Ramada Hotel, the owner who is currently in New Caledonia quickly recognised our presence and our long overdue legal right in this regard and showed a genuine interest to work with us”.
Equipped with their Green Certificate which was issued to them in 2017, the landowners have also been recognised by the Head of State, President Obed Moses Tallis, as the custom landowners of all land on which Port Vila is built.
Currently the landowners are doing their rounds to major hotels in Port Vila to sign the relevant agreements to work with the company owners in line with the law, to make sure that both parties agree to work together to contribute towards the economic development of Port Vila and the country.
The spokesman says so far they have already met with the owner of Ramada Resort followed by the owner of Poppy’s last Friday.
In his group’s latest ceremony, Chief Kalmet presented a mat and namele leaf to the owner of Poppy’s who accepted the symbol and responded by offering them a litre of kava and a ten-kilo plastic of rice to each of the six landowners.
In a historic ceremony on the reclaimed lawn in front of Poppy’s overlooking Erakor Lagoon, Chief Kalmet in his indigenous dialect toasted his ancestors with kava for their blessings as he humbly asked them to recognise what his group’s “walkabout” means in connection to the current custom ceremony offered by the Chinese owner of the company.
The owner travelled all the way from China to Port Vila specifically to be present for the ceremony where he thanked the landowners for their presence and responded to their custom ceremony in a highly relevant manner.
The owner as well as Poppy’s Manager Sydney Grace both shared kava with the six landowners on the lawn before they were treated to a hearty lunch.
The landowners explained that where they have placed namele leaves on the premises, it is not to ban the companies from operating. On the other hand, the traditional symbol of peace is a call for recognition and respect and cooperation to work with them for the economic development on all relevant sites.
Their next call will take place at Port Vila Municipality soon to meet with the Clerk regarding the reclaimed land along the seawall.
The landowners’ spokesman has also named other business houses including Moorings Hotel, Chantilly’s on the Bay, Grand Hotel, and all other business houses with reclaimed land on their front including Star Fish on the Second Lagoon to expect a visit from the six landowners.