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The Land Conflict

The development of the Pacific Marine Industrial Zone (PMIZ) is taking place on a state land which has been expropriated in the early days of the twentieth century by the German Catholic Mission. It was sold to the provincial government without the consent and knowledge of the traditional landowners. Today, with population growth, the large alienation of land is driving communities into poverty, leaving no other options for the surrounding villages than to work for the companies and accept their conditions. Many now fear displacement once the project add ever more pressure on their natural resources. 


"The land unfortunately over the decades had been expropriated. That's the colonial history of that part of our country and part of our going forward is to see how this land is then developed economically either in partnership with the people or by government and other developers to see these other developmental opportunities benefiting our people. That's really just part of our history." Sir Arnold Amet (2010 Interview, Canning Paradise)


The provincial government did not follow the agreement that the land should have actually gone back to the people, for their benefit,” Br Becker, (2000, Joyceline Tseraha, DWU Article) 


Forced Evictions for the PMIZ


In October 2011, hundreds of people were forcefully evicted for the project to go ahead. Their houses were burnt down to the ground in front of their eyes by a private security firm. Some of these families had been living on the land for up to 5 generations. They supposedly received compensation between 100 and 500 US dollars from the government. Yet in 2013, many still claim they have not received anything, and they are now squatting around Madang, have literally nowhere to go.  


Listen to an ABC radio story (October 2011)


Read More

Food security


Tribes living on Sek island belong to groups which the government labelled "impact area communities." With the upcoming PMIZ, they live without knowing if the government has plans to relocate them from their traditional land and fear they will have to abandon their island. Since the arrival of the first Filipino owned tuna cannery, RD Tuna, in 1997, catching fish has been getting increasingly difficult due to constant noise and pollution. Therefore, many have lost an important source of income and women are now bound to work for the company in order to survive. They are forced to enter the full cash economy. 


If the project is designed to create thousands of low skilled jobs, its impact might very well be the displacement of thousands of local people living next to the project.


Read how a survey of women roadside sellers in Madang Province of Papua New Guinea found that the traditional economy can help earn a weighted average income of more than three times the national minimum wage (2006).


Title: New Guinea Land Titles Testoration Ordinance 1951-1955 – Provisional Order


Year: 19th July 1956


  • Estate in fee simple as to part not coloured Green by The Mission Holy Ghost Property Trust.

  • This order is made subject to survey and to the exact determination of native rights.

  • The area occupied by Rempi Church is provisionally declared not to be native land.

  • The claim on behalf of the Director of District Services and Native Affairs by Director of Native Affairs to the areas coloured green as Native reserves is provisionally disallowed.


Read the Order


Title: New Guinea Land Titles Restoration Ordinance 1951-1963 – Final Order


Year: 19th November 1966


  • Upon investigating the previous provisional order:

    • No restorable interests owned by the Mission of The Holy Ghost Property Trust

    • No restorable interests owned by the Director of Native Affairs on behalf of Director of District Services and Native Affairs (the claimant on behalf of assertions of interests by native customary tenure)


Read the Order.


Title: The Mission of the Holy Ghost (New Guinea) Property Trust v. Administration of The Territory of Papua and New Guinea and Others


Year: 1970


Publication: Supreme Court of Papua New Guinea - Read in HTML


  • This was an appeal to the Supreme court in relation to the previous Final Order. The court found that the Land Titles Commissioner erred in its findings by not taking into account all the available evidences in compliance with the relevant provisions for the New Guinea Land Restoration Ordinance 1951-1963. Hence, the appeal was upheld and the matter was referred back to the Commission for re-hearing.


Read the full document


Title: New Guinea Land Titles Restoration Ordinance 1951-1971 – Final Order


Year: 2nd July 1974


  • Upon investigating the claims of subject of or relating to the Provisional Order from 1956, in respect of the Rempi land, it established that:

    •  Interests in Estate in fee simple by The Mission of The Holy Ghost Property Trust has existed over parts of the claimed land: portion 622 “Hulahan” (excluding the area known as “Waigaiwain”), 623 “Mailon”, and 625 “Vidar-Maiwara” (excluding an area of 5 Hectares 40 acres adjacent to Budup where full customary rights are retained).

  •  Certificate of Title Volume 28 Folio 65 registered on the 16th of January 1942 restored unto The Mission of The Holy Ghost Property Trust on the 2nd of february 1974 subject of encumbrances for public use.


Read the full document


Title: My Land, My Life


Author: Joyceline Tseraha


Year: 2000


Publication: DWU DIWAI Magazine, Communications and Arts Department.


Read the full article


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