Commission of Inquiry


Land Dealings and Abandoned Properties on Guadalcanal
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Steven Tahi

Citizenship: Ni-Vanuatu


Contact Details:

PO Box G1, Honiara, Solomon Islands, Email: Ph/Fax: +678 7495143

Nationality: Ni- Vanuatu Security Clearance level: Police


Enrolled for Masters Degree in Law Program (LLM) at USP (Part Time) “Main focus- customary land law” – Program is suspended due to work commitment.

Professional Diploma in Legal Practice (PDLP) (USP)

Diploma in Legal Studies (USP)

Bachelor of Law Degree (LLB) (USP)

Bachelor of Arts Degree (BA) (USP) – Majoring in Land Management and Valuation

Other relevant Participation in the Alternative Dispute Resolution Workshop conducted by
Training: the Honourable Justice R Market of the Federal Court of Australia

I did 2 years of my law studies at James Cook University in Australia and completed the study at the University of the
South pacific.

Planning/Organizing/Performance Management – Department of Public Services

Program in Company Directorship – AESOP


Registered Land Valuer in the Republic of Vanuatu

Admitted to Bar in Fiji as Barrister & Solicitor

Summary of Skills:

I am a Lawyer with a particular interest and experience in Land laws and land matters. I am currently working as one of the commissioner for the commission of inquiries in the Solomon Islands. The Commission of Inquiry enquires into land dealings and abandoned properties on Guadalcanal. Before engaging in the Commission, I worked as a private land and property consultant and as Registered Land Valuer in the Republic of Vanuatu. I held the position of Director General (equivalent to a permanent Secretary’s post) for the Ministry of Lands in the Republic of Vanuatu. During my tenure as the Director General for Lands, I was involved in restructuring, drafting and making amendment to land legislation to suit the current changes which Vanuatu is going through. I have worked as a Senior Lands Officer, Principle Lands Officer and the Director General (PS) for the Department and the Ministry of Lands in Vanuatu for about 15 years. I tendered my resignation in 2004 to practice law with Trans-Melanesian Lawyers for 12 months before forming a land and property Consultancy services; “Tahi Consultants.”

Professional Development Experience:

18th August to Present;

I am currently working as one of the Commissioners for the Commission which inquires into Land Dealings and abandoned properties on the island of Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands.

Tahi Consultants: (Privately owned consultancy business)

Vanuatu Land and Property Consultant assists custom land owners land who wish to develop their land. I have assisted with the preparation and have written a final Report for the Vanuatu National Lands Summit which took place in 2006. I was also engaged in minor research project on land disputes in Vanuatu for the World Bank before taking up the position as a Commissioner in the Solomon Islands. I assist (from time to time) with the land Reform Program which is currently taking place in Vanuatu. I also render legal advice on other legal issues, however, my main focus is dealing with land laws, land policies development, customary land issues and matters relating to land issues.

Practice Law with a Law Firm – Trans Melanesian Lawyers. (2005- 2006)

During my tenure with Trans-Melanesian Lawyers, I dealt mainly with cases relating to land. I had taken case in the Magistrate and the Supreme Courts in the jurisdiction of Vanuatu. I practiced law with ‘Trans-Melanesian Lawyers” for a year before leaving the Firm to create “Tahi Consultant” which deals mainly with land issues.

Director General for the Ministry of Lands (2003-2004)

I was involved mainly with Government Policies regarding Land matters in Vanuatu. I was given a task my the Government to restructure and amalgamate the Department of Lands, Department of Land Survey and Department of Land Records Office into one Department, make amendment to the legislation to accommodate the powers of the Director regarding the amalgamation. The amalgamation program took about 2 years to complete. I was responsible for advising the Minister of Lands and formulating policy papers regarding land. I was responsible for establishing Corporate Services in the Ministry of Land in Vanuatu which took about a year to complete. The main responsibility here is oversee the Departments of Lands, Department of Waters, Department of Geology and Mines, Environment Unit, land Registry, Survey and the land Tribunal Office through the Directors of the Departments and the officer in charge of the Sections. Advise the Minister on the developments taking place within the Departments under the Ministry of Lands,

Attend Law School: (University of the South Pacific) 1999 – 2002

At the University, many of the subjects selected as electives deals with Land. I did a research on identification of customary land as a Research Project. The title of the research is “problems of identifying rights to customary land in the Republic of Vanuatu” The research Project identifies the issues and problems relating to customary land ownership and the mechanism established by the Government to address the issue.

Principal Lands Officer (1989-1998)

The responsibilities attached to the above post included the supervision of lands Officer to negotiate Government leases for Government Development projects and to assist chiefs to identify custom land owners. While still holding a position of the Principal lands Officer, I took 2 years off to study Law at James Cook University. I withdrew due to my family who did not prefer living in Townville which also has a negative impact on my studies in Australia. I completed the Law Studies at the University of the South Pacific.

Senior Lands Officer (1987-1988)

I was involved in negotiating Government leases with the custom land owners for Government Projects, held meetings with the people regarding leases and customary rights to land, explain conditions to leases, assisted Chiefs to arrange meetings to identify and declare custom land owners.

The task here is similarly to the Principal Lands Officer Position. The only significant difference is that the former was a supervisory role.

Other Positions Held:

- Vanuatu National Representative for SOPAC for 2 years (Year: 2003 & 2004)

- Vanuatu National representative for SPREP for 2 years (Year: 2003 & 2004)

- member of the National Sport Council of Vanuatu until I was appointed as a member of the Commission.

- Commissioner to the commission of Inquiry in the Solomon Islands.


Mr.Simeon Athy
Director General, Office of the Prime Minister
Private Mail Bag 9053
Port Vila
Republic of Vanuatu
Tel (678) 23032

Mr. Wilson Tari Vuti
Director General
Ministry of Infrastructure
Port Vila,
Republic of Vanuatu



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