Category Archives: Cultural Value

Traditional Customary ways versus Western materialism

This episode of of The Customary Land Podcast explores worldviews constitute the ‘Plurality of Registers‘ and the tension of navigating between customary and traditional relations to land as ‘ours’ versus the western materialism of possessive individualism that sees land as ‘mine’.

In part, this episode is triggered by the anachronism of a coronation in 2023, particularly when former empire and commonwealth is viewed from the  plundered and brutalised indigenous perspective. The associated myth, embeddedness and tradition leads me to reflect on our recent proposal for a CLS team to review the role in Fiji of a contemporary Great Council of Chiefs to lead iTaukei society.  These two events provide a segue to look at the customary counterpoint of the Melanesian Indigenous Land Defence Alliance (MILDA) from the perspective of Joel Simo (Symoh Joel) in a talk he gave at a meeting of AID/Watch in Sydney (14 November 2014 – the transcript is on pp.11-14 of this paper).  As outlined in their Declarations, MILDA are against and form of land registration or leasing of customary land.  This is a view that is reinforced by Act Now in PNG (see their 90 second very powerful video on ‘The Real Value of Customary Land‘). I also refer to the Declaration and Resolutions of the 2002 South Pacific Land Tenure Conflict Symposium.

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The Timber Creek Case – Property Rights Insights – Boydell & Sheehan 20 March 2019

In this launch episode of Property Rights ‘Insights’ I take the opportunity to discuss the High Court of Australia Decision of 13 March 2019 in what is known as the ‘Timber Creek Case’ with my colleague Professor John Sheehan AM. The High Court upheld Justice Mansfields approach to recognising ‘Customary Value’ as a major component of compensation under the Native Title Act. John has been involved in many Native Title Assessments for compensation on indigenous land over the last 20 years and in many ways the Timber Creek Case, which is the first compensation case of its kind to navigate the Federal Court system, serves to validate his approach to solatium, special indigenous value, or ‘cultural value’ as it is called in this case. We also discuss the applicability to this Australian High Court decision for customary land owners in other countries.

Our conversation should he viewed in conjunction with the full decision, which can be accessed at

Northern Territory v Mr A. Griffiths (deceased) and Lorraine Jones on behalf of the Ngaliwurru and Nungali Peoples
Commonwealth of Australia v Mr A. Griffiths (deceased) and Lorraine Jones on behalf of the Ngaliwurru and Nungali Peoples
Mr A. Griffiths (deceased) and Lorraine Jones on behalf of the Ngaliwurru and Nungali Peoples v Northern Territory

13 March 2019

D1/2018, D2/2018 & D3/2018

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