Pātangata belongs to government says Attorney General

Tonga’s Acting Attorney General ‘Aminiasi Kefu has confirmed the village of Pātanga is a government estate and does not belong to Lord Fakafanua.

Kefu told Kakalu-‘O-Tonga newspaper on June 22 that Fakafanua’s estates consisted of Maʻufanga, Faleloa and Ngaʻakau only according to Tonga’s estate acts. Pātangata is located close to Maʻufanga but it is not considered part of it, he said.

The government distributed Pātanga to settlers in March so they could connect electricity to it.

Lord Fakafanua then claimed the estate was his and wrote to the Minister of Lands and Survey Lord Maʻafu asking him to review the cabinet’s decision. The noble claimed the village belonged to his ancestors and that this was confirmed in a number of past Land Court cases.

In response Lord Maʻafu said the government won in those Court cases.

According to Kakalu, Kefu referred to a 1924 Land Court case which Kaniva understands this was the case between Late Fakafanua Kisione Lēlea and the government. The case established that Pātanga is a government estate.

In 1972 Late Fakafanua successfully claimed Pātangata was his and that he had the right to lease the land to an American business.

However, in 1975 the government then cancelled the lease and informed Fakafanua that Pātangata is still a government estate because of the 1924 Court ruling.

Fakafanua subsequently filed an appeal and the Land Court ruled in his favour – but the government took the case to the Privy Council. The Privy Council then ruled in favour of the government and ordered that the 1924 decision regarding Pātangata was still legally valid.

The government said Fakafanua was free to take them to court again if he still thought he had rights to Pātangata.

Lord Fakafanua could not be reached for comment.

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