Buying of customary land is now illegal

The buying of customary land is now illegal, according to the Constitutional Law Reform Commission (CLRC).

CLRC Chairman, Dr Eric Kwa, says amendments to the Land Act and the Land Registration Act forbid the purchase of customary land.

In Port Moresby, the expensive real estate market and the potential business opportunities in the capital has brought a dramatic increase in customary land being sold, often cheaply, by landowners.

Dr Kwa says this practice is illegal and is calling on landowners, particularly the Motu and Koitabuans, to register their land and open it up in an appropriate manner for business.


“Some of you that are going into these customary places and buying land by yourselves, we are coming to tell you that’s illegal.

“We want to have landowners within the city and towns to register their customary land and lease it. No sale!” says Dr Kwa.

The announcement by the CLRC will not go down well for many who have invested in building homes and conducting business on land purchased from landowners.

The Taurama Valley is an example of the number of people and businesses who have invested heavily in the land and infrastructure.

Dr Kwa made his comments during the Certified Practicing Accounts Annual Conference in Port Moresby.


  • Totally agree with you Dr Kwa.
    Please do more awareness and put the LOs to task for their actions.

  • More awareness to the Landowners … fully agree with the doc!

  • VeVAnotherry good direction taken. Another matter that is tied to registering our customary land is the process of surveying and registering. The cost of engaging a surveying company can be costly especially when the land area is a large.

  • Dr Kwa … this is a step forward something Solomon Islands should now be thinking along as well. We have similar situation at the moment only end up in tribal court cases at the SI High Court and drags on for ages.. Aggrieved members of tribe not being aware of the sell of their customary land by those others because of economic gains and influence especially certain portion of the customary land – all ended up in conflict sometime brutality involved. I will be interested to know as well the penalty imposed of a sale in this regard is done regardless of the new law prohibits ..

    Well done ..

  • Dr. Kwa, a very positive approach but the reality on the ground is the opposite. Clans & clan members, families go around each other’s back to sell off their heritage for hard cold cash or material goods. Education & Awareness will be the most effective way to get this mindset off our people of Motu-Koitabu and even around the country where land in many urban centres are being illegally gained.

    What about the future our children and the generation yet to come? Are they going to be only mere spectators on their land or do we leave something behind?

    Thank you for timely speech. Hope something positives comes out of it.

  • Very Positive move for a Win-Win for landowners in and around Urban Cities and Rural Townships in their generations to come. The government of the day should enact Laws thru National Parliament to empower appropriate Provincial & Local Level Authorities and duly Registered Landowner Groupings to be part of the decision regard the buying or leasing of Customary Land. The Law should prevent landowners from selling their land at will that lead to unauthorised developments and informal settlements that exert pressure to limited and or less capacitated existing services such as water, sewerage, power, educational institutions such as lower to upper level schools, colleges, universities, private educational & training institutions and many other services.

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