The Island Court has declared the descendants of Matova Toatau Manlaewia as the rightful custom owners of the chiefly title Manlaewia.
This is recognised through their bloodline, rules and custom practices of Efate.
The court also declared that the chiefly title Manlaewia belonged only to a small custom chief which is originated from the Malasaliu Customary Governance within the bigger custom governance of Tanomiala, in North Efate.
Given the Island Court judgement which was handed down on May 31, 2019, the Matoa Toatau Manlaewia and Descendants (the third defendants in this case) represented by Kennedy Kalfau stated their tribe have welcomed the decision and declared that the 51 years of conflict involving the chiefly title concerned has finally ended.
They are echoing the message of unity for Paunangisu village, also known as Malasaliu Custom Land.
“We, the declared party want to see Paunagisu reunite. Our village has been divided for so long. This is the time to end the division,” Mr Kalfau said.
He said from today onwards, they are welcoming any government services or projects and want to ensure that any proposed projects that would be in their community requires their consent.
During the commemoration of SHEFA Day 2019, the declared tribe established a Council which is chaired by Elder Graham Kalmar and comprised seven members. The council is tasked to undertake works mandated by Matoa Toatau Manlaewia towards the best interests of the people of Paunangisu.
If the people encounter land disputes or any other community issues, the declared tribe would deal with it.
The Matoa Toatau Manlaewia representative also called on the people to accept the transition and be part of it.
“Today we expect change. We want to see that our people flow with the transition to ensure peace is maintained in our community.”
Mr Kalfau also took the opportunity to convey his appreciation to all who have assisted financially and provided moral support towards this journey and finally got what they deserved.
He further appealed to the “Malvatumauri National Council of Chiefs and Vaturisu Council of Chiefs to refer to Mr Henry Cyrel Kalsurai as an ordinary person” as he is no longer entitled to the chiefly title, ‘Manlaewia’.
The Matoa Toatau Manlaewia and Descendants spokesperson, Robert Tasaruru also joined Mr Kalfau said to express their satisfaction over the decision.
He said this week, they are expected to receive their Green Certificate which would officially support future decisions concerning their land.