Land and Development

This project explores the challenges and opportunities presented by land and the desire to expand commercial development and opportunities in the Pacific.  Perhaps 80% of Pacific land is held under customary title, and it is often the case that land alienation or freeholding, or even ascertaining accurately who has rights in land, can be fraught. 

These challenges are increasingly meeting growing Pacific aspirations for wealth creation and commercial opportunities.

Project Leader

Jenny Bryant-Tokalau

Associate Professor Jenny Bryant-Tokalau is a Geographer in Te Tumu, University of Otago and adjunct Professor at the University of the South Pacific.

Most of her career has been spent in the Pacific Islands, at the University of Papua New Guinea, the University of the South Pacific, and working for the UN Development Programme where she was Sustainable Development Adviser for the Pacific.

Jenny has extensive consultancy experience and has produced reports for organisations such as UN Habitat, the World Bank, ESCAP, GEF, SPREP, UNDP, UNEP and WWF as well as for government departments in PNG, Fiji and Australia.

Jenny’s expertise is on donor governance and sustainability; private sector investment and land issues in Fiji; Pacific regionalism; urban and coastal environmental degradation; impacts of natural disasters on Pacific urban dwellers; and adaptation to climate change in the Pacific.

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Iati Iati

Dr Iati is a senior lecturer in the Department of Politics at the University of Otago. He researches governance and development issues in the Pacific, including New Zealand.

In particular, his research focuses on how the ‘good governance agenda’ impacts on domestic and foreign policy, and how political transparency, accountability, legitimacy and the rule of law at the national level are influenced by civil society-state relations. His current projects examine the political implications of customary land tenure reform, and the geopolitics of China in the Pacific.

His research informs the three papers he teaches: New Zealand foreign policy; Pacific Geopolitics in the 21st Century; and Conflicts, Crises and New Zealand Foreign Policy in the Pacific.

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Project Team Members

Professor Peggy Fairbairn-Dunlop - Auckland University of Technology

Professor Fairbairn-Dunlop has been researching and publishing on Pacific development issues for over 30 years and has lived and worked in various organisations in Samoa for just under that same amount of time. She draws on her New Zealand, Samoa and Pacific experiences as a play school mother helper, primary school teacher, teachers college lecturer through to university lecturer as well as her extensive involvement in women’s and youth NGO advocacy and community education programmes for this research.  

The majority of her time has been spent in New Zealand and Samoa but also Fiji, Niue and Tokelau to name a few and in the Pacific she has worked for most donor agencies and has held various UN posts (UNDP, UNIFEM and UNESCO). Her research mostly involves the critiquing of global models for their appropriateness to Pacific peoples especially how these influence the family systems, including issues of sustainable development, family security and family based violence.