Lord (Sione) Fohe has failed in his attempt to kick out a man who had built a house and was living on the land of his Puke estate.
The king’s noble told the Land Court he did not know where Ve’etutu Mahe “had come from” or who allowed him to occupy the land.
Mahe was served an eviction notice but refused to vacate it. Sione sought damages of $2,000.
Mahe told Justice Niu he had asked the Late Lord Samiuela Fohe for a town allotment, and gave him $1,000 before Samiuela showed him the piece of land in March 2007.
He also gave $6,500 to Samiuela as well as presenting to him 20 yams and the traditional large pig in appreciation of the allotment given to him, the court judgment says.
He said he also carried out free repair works and painting of Samiuela’s residential house at the noble’s request.
He said that Samiuela had assured him that he would arrange for the grant and registration of the allotment in his name to be carried out. He said after Samiuela died in 2009 he then proceeded to clear the land. He built a house and started living there in 2014.
He said that “he has an equitable right to possession and the right to be granted and to be registered as lawful holder of the allotment”.
When Samiuela died in April 2009, his daughter Lupe took care of the estate until Sione was appointed in 2016 as Lord Fohe.
Lupe told the court that after Samiuela gave the piece of land to Mahe she negotiated a land surveyor to sub-divide the whole area of land so that the piece of land allocated to Mahe could be registered. She was told that they would work on it, but that her father died before that could be done.
Justice Niu said Mahe had already become “lawfully resident” in the hereditary estate of Puke after Lord Sione was appointed in 2016.
“Accordingly, I have come to the conclusion that the plaintiff estate holder cannot evict or seek an order to evict the defendant and his family as he has sought in this action, or to seek damages for their occupation of his estate”.