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Niuean leaders ponder over role of 'leveki'

03 November 2017

Posted in: Pacific Radio News,

By Ruci Farrell and Mabel Muller - ruci.farrell@pmn.co.nz, mabel.muller@pmn.co.nz

Land ownership, entitlement and the role of leveki was a topic of discussion for Niuean community leaders who met in Auckland last week.

Traditionally, the role of leveki is to act as a guardian for the family land in Niue.

A leveki is a guardian for the family land in Niue. Photo/ BV Motufoou.

Niue Leadership Network spokesperson George Makapatama says they wanted to find out whether the role of leveki was still relevant to the modern Niue community.

"It's something that served us well over history and what it stopped over time was individual claims over land," he says. "It kept us as a family and part of the Niue Leadership Network is to bring form some of our cultural concepts to see how we can apply it to our every day world now."  

Latest figures show 26,000 Niueans live in New Zealand compared to 1618 who remain in Niue.

Makapatama says because the majority of Niueans no longer live on the Rock, the role of leveki has become a topical issue.

"A lot of our people are going home and claiming land under individual titles which contradicts the wisdom of our elders who set up that system," he says. "[Leveki] A paradigm that was supposed to benefit the collective is now becoming redundant as more and more families take their issues to court as opposed to the traditional method."

Senior development manager Anne Fitisemanu says the discussion brought together sector leaders who brought their own understanding of leveki.

"How did they maintain the concept of leveki? Given that back in those days there wasn't a judge and there weren't lawyers and people didn't have the court processes," she says.

The Niuean community gathered in Auckland to discuss the role of leveki. Photo/ PMN.

Tags: Niue,