Tokaikolo church wins court appeal over land lease and property ownership

Tali 'e he Fakamaau'anga Tangi tautapa 'a e siasi Tokaikolo 'o pehe ko kinautolu 'oku totonu fakalao ki he kelekele mo e ngaahi fale kau ai 'a e fale lotu 'i Kolomotu'a ne nofo'i mo ma'u 'e he feohi'anga Mo'ui Fo'ou 'Ia Kalaisi. 'Oku mahino 'i he tu'utu'uni ko 'eni 'e mavahe leva 'a e kau Mo'ui Fo'ou mei he kelekeleke ni mo e 'ū fale pehē ki he fale lotu'i ha 'aho 'e 21 mei he tu'utu'uni 'a e kau fakamaau tangi. Ne mapaki foki 'a e Mo'ui Fo'ou mei he Tokaikolo pea fai ai 'a e fefusiaki ko 'eni 'i he ngaahi koloa 'a e kāingalotu ni 'o a'u ki he fakamaau'anga.

The Court of Appeal has allowed Tokaikolo church members to reoccupy and own a land and properties in Kolomotu’a.

This means members of the Mo’ui ‘Ia Kalaisi fellowship who broke away from the church in 2014 have to move out within 21 days.

The decision last week came after a dispute over the ownership of a church and other buildings at Kolomotu’a and entitlement to a lease of the land on which they stand.

As Kaniva news reported, a Land Court decision in 2017 has awarded  Mo’ui Foʻou ‘ia Kalaisi Fellowship the lease of lands at Kolomotuʻa which have been the subject of a protracted battle between its members and members of the Tokaikolo church.

The Tokaikolo Church wanted a declaration that the land on which the church stands,  the  church  itself  and  its  furnishings and two houses were the property of Tokaikolo and an order that vacant possession of the same be given.

In his ruling in the Land Court in 2017, Mr Justice Scott said he made his judgement based on the fact that the majority of fund raising, physical work on the land and church building had been done by local people and by members of the Fellowship who now worshipped there.

The Court of Appeal however overturned Mr. Scott’s decision and allowed Siasi Tokaikolo’s appeal finding that it has the better right to a lease and, since the fundraising for the buildings was done in its name, it is their own.

It said the fundraising was authorised by the Church and done on its behalf for the purpose of obtaining a lease and constructing the buildings, which was duly done.

Procedural irregularities within the Church and a failure to comply strictly with its Constitution cannot mean that the Church did not become and remain the owner. Nor do changes in the practices and doctrines of the Church prior to the time of the fundraising entitle the members of the Fellowship to claim title.

Donors must have been well aware of those changes when gifting their money and labour to the Church.

An alleged doctrinal departure by the President of the Church since the dedication of the church building has not been established.

The Court of Appeal has ordered that a lease mistakenly registered in the former name of the Church, for which Cabinet approved was cancelled, should be removed from the register and that vacant possession of the land and buildings must be given to Siasi Tokaikolo within 21 days.

The Court has also said that there would appear to be no reason why a lease should not immediately be issued to Siasi Tokaikolo by the Minister of Lands in accordance with a decision of Cabinet on 5 September 2007.

Sometimes when a business is growing, it needs a little help.

Right now Kaniva News provides a free, politically independent, bilingual news service for readers around the world that is absolutely unique. We are the largest New Zealand-based Tongan news service, and our stories reach Tongans  wherever they are round the world. But as we grow, there are increased demands on Kaniva News for translation into Tongan on our social media accounts and for the costs associated with expansion. We believe it is important for Tongans to have their own voice and for Tongans to preserve their language, customs and heritage. That is something to which we are strongly committed. That’s why we are asking you to consider sponsoring our work and helping to preserve a uniquely Tongan point of view for our readers and listeners.

Latest news

Related news