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The Cook Islands became self-governing in free association with New Zealand in and Niue followed in The Tokelau Islands were made a British protectorate in A referendum for independence was held in February but failed to reach the two thirds majority necessary for Tokelau to become self-governing; as such, Tokelau continues to be administered by New Zealand. PNG gained full independence in In order to provide for independence or full internal self-government, a written constitution was enacted in each country of the region which was stated to be the supreme law.
However, at the time of independence, none of the countries of the region actually rejected their preexisting laws outright. Laws which remained included:. In addition to the various sources of law indicated above, there is an increasing tendency to incorporate aspects of customary law as well. Legislation is in place currently in Samoa, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Nauru, Kiribati and Tuvalu proposing that customary law be part of the law applied by all courts. Furthermore, all countries, with the exception only of Tonga, have express provisions for customs or customary law to be used as the basis for determining rights to customary land.
Much of what constitutes customary law is, however, not recorded in a written form but is passed on orally by chiefs.
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To summarize, all countries in the region have several different kinds of laws deriving from several different sources:. All the countries of the region have a written constitution, except Tokelau, and all of these written constitutions are stated to be the supreme law in their respective countries. The written constitution of most countries in the region is to be found in the first volume of the revised laws of the country.
Usually it appears as the first law in the first volume. The systems of government adopted by the island states of the South pPcific largely resemble the forms of government in place within the former colonial powers in the Pacific. Countries formerly associated with Great Britain, Australia and New Zealand now have parliamentary systems. Kiribati elects from parliament a head of the executive who is also the head of state.
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Some former Commonwealth countries retained the British monarch as head of state, represented by a governor-general appointed by the Queen on the advice of the executive. Pacific Island legislatures are based on universal suffrage; however, in Samoa only chiefs may be elected to parliament. In parliamentary systems in the region, executive power is held by a cabinet, derived from and responsible to the legislature. Legislative elections are held throughout the Pacific Islands. During the colonial period, court systems were introduced along with laws. These systems have remained in place throughout the region.
The regional model is hierarchical and typically consists of three levels: inferior courts, a superior court, and an appeal court, with the superior court having supervisory jurisdiction over the inferior courts. Outside of this formal hierarchy, customary tribunals and courts often exist at the village level.
These customary courts and tribunals commonly do not have any formal legal recognition but are based on respect of customary authority. The following texts have been selected by Professor Guy Powles of Monash University and Peter Murgatroyd, former Law Librarian at the University of the South Pacific, as particularly useful for gaining a fuller understanding of the historical and socio-cultural contexts of law in the South Pacific:. European Property Law Journal , 7 2 , Creation of estates for services - New Zealand style. Australian Law Journal and Reports , 92 , Blockchain, the Borg Collective and digitalisation of land registries.
Conveyancer and Property Lawyer , 81 1. Griggs, L. Blockchains, trust and land administration: The return of historical provenance.
Faculty of Law
Property Law Review , 6. Pre contract disclosure under the unit titles act - Need for statutory action. Butterworths Conveyancing Bulletin , 17 Blockchain's incompatability for use as a land registry: Issues of definition, feasability and risk. European Property Law Journal , 6 3. Can a body corporate tell you what you can do in your unit?. New Zealand Conveyancing Law and Practice , 2. New Zealand Universities Law Review , 27 2.