A Kiribati Government delegation dispatched to Naviavia, Cakaudrove, over the weekend travelled to the area to quell rumours and debate by its people regarding their land.
Kiribati’s Land and Environment Minister Tebao Awerika said concerns were raised by people of Kiribati who felt that it was a useless investment.
Mr Awerika said this was one of the reasons that the Government delegation led by the nation’s Vice President, Kourabi Nenem, was dispatched to Naviavia on Saturday.
“Rumours have been circulating among the people that others had started squatting on the land,” he said.
“There has been a lot of debate on the land with many saying that it is a useless land and many asking why it was purchased by the Government in the first place.
“We are here to take a quick look but we had ascertained from the Anglican Church who sold the 5000 acres of land to us that it was not true and that the church had earlier gifted a 300 acre land to descendants of estate workers that have worked in Naviavia since 1940.”
Mr Awerika said this land was not part of the land sold to the Kiribati Government.
“We also clarified during this visit to the people of Naviavia that we were not in the settlement to establish ourselves as the new landowners of the piece of land,” he said.
“However, we are here as friends and soon to be neighbours of the Naviavia people.
“We have used public funds to purchase the land and we would like to survey it to see what we can do with it.”
Mr Awerika said they would also like to tap into how they could coexist with the people of Naviavia.
This article first appeared in The Fiji Times on June 13, 2016.