Traditional leaders and local government in Pacific Island countries

Authored by: Graham Hassall , Paul Mae

The Routledge Handbook of International Local Government

Print publication date:  September  2018
Online publication date:  September  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138234727
eBook ISBN: 9781315306278
Adobe ISBN:


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Throughout the numerous small states in the Pacific Islands, traditional leaders continue to play influential roles at local level. Local governments must, therefore, work with such leaders if they wish to be fully effective. Although such traditional leaders may not have positions recognised in law, they are frequently key actors in the resolution of disputes, especially over land allocation and use, and in decisions concerning the exploitation of natural resources. As legal systems in these new nations mature, ‘traditional’ social values and leadership roles, and the existence of custom as a source of law, are gaining more attention in formal laws and practices. These ‘informal’ rules and relationships bring a unique feature to the operation of local government in the Pacific.

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