There are 1171 registered villages in Fiji.
And out of those villages, 1151 have been demarcated with 657 villages gazetted.
A total of 494 villages were approved by the iTaukei Affairs Board Regulations for gazetting at its last meeting on November 31, 2021, with the remaining 20 awaiting the consents of the Land Owning Units.
These were revealed by Attorney General and acting Prime Minister Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum in Parliament this week in response to a question by Opposition MP Mikaele Leawere on the arrangements in place for the administration of gazetted villages under the iTaukei Affairs Act 1944.
Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said the arrangements in place were under the iTaukei Affairs Act.
He said under the Act, there were numerous pieces of regulations – iTaukei Affairs Provincial Council Regulation, the iTaukei Affairs Tikina and Village Council Regulations, iTaukei Affairs Board Regulations, iTaukei Affairs Declaration of iTaukei Settlements as iTaukei Villages (Bylaws of 2010), and, the iTaukei Affairs Boundaries Regulation that go back to 1966.
Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said when assessing an iTaukei settlement’s suitability for registration as a village, the Board must ensure that the:
– Proposed site must be on i Taukei land within the land boundary of its parent Yavusa;
– Proposed village must be sited on i Taukei land and where majority of the members of the Land Owning Unit of the land concerned has agreed to surrender in the traditional manner, ownership rights to such land which would, after the registration be owned communally by the new village;
– Inhabitants of the village are from the yavusa and have recognised and accepted a leader of the new village;
– New village when registered will be the new village of the inhabitants and will be accepted for such purpose for all official transactions including the Vola ni Kawabula (VKB) which shall go through the processes as required by written law. The new village will also be registered as such by the iTaukei Lands Commission;
– Site has been certified by the health authorities to be posing no threat to the health of the inhabitants and that it has a reliable source of fresh water;
– Site has been certified by the Director of Disaster Management Office as safe from natural hazards such as flooding, landslide or erosions;
– Request for registration must be made in writing with the endorsement and support of the relevant tikina and provincial councils;
– The boundaries on the proposed village has been demarcated by the iTaukei Lands Commission.
“This is obviously a growing issue as we have seen many villages that become large.
“It is critically important that those settlements that want to be classified as villages go through this process so they can also take out the money from FNPF and build their own homes because the theory behind it, of course, and it is obviously in practise that if you are a member of the VKB in that particular yavusa, no one can take away the land from you because you communally have ownership of the land.”