Land and Independence in New Caledonia


This is what we had and this is what you have left us," declared the Kanak Grand Chief Atal in 1878 as he emptied two sacks at the feet of the colonial governor - one sack full of earth and the other, rocks.

When Captain Cook "discovered" New Caledonia in 1774, he found the islands occupied by a Melanesian people scattered along river valleys and the coast in small hamlets. It was this social space of family residence, agricultural lands, water channels, and hunting and gathering territories that formed the basis for ritual, economic, political, and social activity. The traditional social structure was closely related to a set of spatial reference points - homestead sites, inhabited places, and various other natural features - all of which were carefully inventoried and served to delimit the rights of the human population over its lands and waters.

"A Kanak Without Land Does Not Exist"

When New Caledonia was annexed by France in 1853, the development of the colony became tied to settler colonialism, mineral exploitation, ranching, and the establishment of a penal colony, all necessitating the expropriation of large tracts of native land. Throughout New Caledonia's history, land has been at the heart of the conflict between settlers and the indigenous Kanaks.

The first settlers arrived in Nouméa in 1855; they occupied a small area in one of the peninsulas where there was no water and no Kanaks. By the middle of the next year a few settlers, looking for better lands, ventured beyond the peninsula and encountered violent opposition from the Kanaks of that area (see Saussol 1990:38). The massacre of a few settlers led to a series of reprisals aimed at pacifying the area: villages were burned, crops were destroyed, and lands were confiscated and redistributed to colonists.

The French administration reasoned that the Kanaks, with their long fallow agricultural periods, were wasting the land, and that pat of this unused land could be given over to colonization. The French minister of the navy and colonies expressed the official French view in a letter to the foreign minister: "The civilized inhabitants of a country have over that country only a limited right of domination, a sort of right of occupation... A civilized power on establishing a colony in such a country acquires a decisive power over the soil, or, in other terms, she acquires the right to extinguish the primitive title" (quoted in Kircher 1986:5).

In 1855 a decree enacted by Governor DuBouzet drew the distinction between occupied and vacant land, limited the Kanaks' right to occupy lands actually under cultivation. Thus the idea of native reserves - collectively owned inalienable surface rights to land - was born in order to "protect" the Melanesians from losing all their land. The expropriation of vacant land completely disrupted the Kanak agriculture system. Kanaks were not only uprooted; this dispossession represented rupture with the symbolic ties that bind humans and land. In the words of one Kanak independence leader, "a Kanak without land does not exist."

The Seeds of Revolt

The first reserve was created in 1868 near Nouméa, on lands owned by a traditional Kanak chief allied to France. Profiting from the alliance and the feelings of security and peace, settler began occupying the lands of the allied group. The allies grew uneasy and the French administration responded by suggesting that the Kanak allies "delimit" their lands, reasoning that an official recognition of tribal boundaries would save them from further encroachments. As a result, these unfortunate allies of France found themselves collective owners of a few parcels of land around their former villages. Allocation was calculated at 7 hectares of mediocre soils per inhabitant - a far cry from the estimated 30 hectares that each Kanak needs in order to carry out traditional subsistence activities (primarily yam and taro production).

From its inception, then, the notion of a reserve was fraught with ambiguities - sometimes protection, sometimes sanction. In each case the creation of reserve meant that Kanaks were dispossessed of their lands to make room for colonization. By sending clans to live on the lands of other clans, the administration created a crisis. The uninvited guests, dispossessed of their own areas, were installed on other lands belonging to the original inhabitants of the village, who then found themselves submerged under the flood of immigrants. Moreover, the administration introduced a new form of land ownership - that is, "collective" native ownership as opposed to the private ownership of the past. Traditionally, there was family private property in New Caledonia; the local family groups, usually lineages, owned land within the hamlet. Apart from common forested areas, there was never a form of collective village ownership before the French arrived.

In order to stimulate migration and finance its budget, the French administration sold Kanak lands cheaply. Between 1860 and 1878 the number of hectares ceded to colonists rose from 1,000 to 230,000 (Saussol 1985:1616). This wholesale approach, however, did not particularly benefit the small landowners it was aimed at. Instead, it was most favorable to the wealthy French elite in the territorial capital of Nouméa, who bought up large tracts and became absentee owners of cattle ranches. Cattle were left to roam unattended, and there were no fences to prevent 80,000 semi-savage beasts from wandering onto Kanak lands and devastating native garden crops. Out of these injustices germinated the seeds of the great Kanak revolt of 1878.

The brutal suppression of the 1878 revolt marked a turning point in Kanak history. One thousand rebels died and many more were deported. Rebel lands, now depopulated, were given over to the penitentiary colony established in New Caledonia in 1864. Four hectares were offered to each convict; for more than 20 years this penitentiary colonization constituted the bulk of French colonial presence in New Caledonia.

"La France Australe"

By the turn of the century, New Caledonia was a settler colony with very few settlers. According to Saussol (1990:42), the penal population was only 8,230 (4,450 convicts and 3,780 paroled). Settlers numbered 9,300 and there were 3,200 civil servants and soldiers. Nevertheless, land expropriations totaled 241,000 hectares in private property and 53,000 hectares of leased land, for the most part controlled by a hundred or so ranchers.Sixty-two percent of the European population lived in the capital of Nouméa; the penal colony constituted the bulk of rural settlement.

The colonial governor of the time, Governor Feillet, decided to end the stagnation and recruit settlers from France. Looking to create "La France australe," Feillet convinced the French government to close the penal colony and rebuild the colonial infrastructure in order to entice a new wave of settlers. He offered the new immigrants 25 hectares of free land, with the possibility of obtaining extra lots up to a total of 100 hectares. When the penitentiary lands ran out, he turned to the Kanak reserves.

At the same time the Melanesian population was in a steep decline - it had dropped from an estimated 60,000 at first contact to 27,000 by the early 1900s - due to epidemics, the aftermath of the revolt, and a low birth rate. Feillet used the declining numbers as an excuse to expropriate even more land and reduce all reserves to 3 hectares per inhabitant, thus shrinking Kanak reserves from 320,000 to 120,000 hectares. Some reserves disappeared altogether, and the displaced clans were grouped together in new areas (Saussol 1985:1618).

Here was the most systematic and radical reduction of Kanak lands to date. Totally replaced by an arbitrary, artificial, imposed system, Kanak geopolitical space no longer bore any resemblance to that of the traditional past. The culturally cohesive and contiguous clan territories of the past were reduced to a shattered collection of isolated communities. In 1903, "cantonnement" - i.e., the practice of confining Kanaks to reserves - as a systematic process ceased, but in particular cases, such as the opening of new nickel mines, reserves were diminished. Unofficially the settlers and their cattle continued to encroach on Kanak reserves. Colonial and expropriation has left deep scars on the collective Kanak memory. The fear of having land confiscated by the administration still lingers today, even though the process has been turned around the by the Kanaks themselves.

Twentieth-Century Recovery

After hitting its all-time low during the early part of the twentieth century, the Kanak population began its slow recovery. Natality rates increased and the Kanak population became a youthful one (just as it is today, with half of the population under 20) - the inverse of what was occurring in the settler population. The growth of the commercial sector saw a general exodus of Europeans from the rural areas to urban Nouméa and an aging of the settler population in the bush. Immigration came to a standstill: the European population of 19,809 in 1911 dropped to 16,867 by 1936.

With the revitalization of the Kanak population came the French administration's increased awareness that New Caledonia's native people were not going to simply "disappear." Neocolonial policies began to talk of "integration." In the 1930s the administration began to promote Melanesian participation in the territory's market economy - Kanaks were encouraged to plant coffee, which in turn put more pressure on the reserves' limited resources.

After World War II colonial rule in New Caledonia grew more liberal. Forced labor came to an end and Kanaks were given the vote. These reforms changed the political power structure in the territory, and the Kanaks did not wait long before using their newfound political leverage to reclaim land. Reserves which in 1946 were estimated at 126,000 hectares soon grew to 162,000 hectares. Nevertheless, colonial inequalities persisted: the Kanaks were still excluded from the developing territorial economy, relegated to a position of petty peasant production and cheap labor reserve.

From the beginning, Kanak entry into the political arena was tied to land claims. Kanak demands to extend their reserves, which were based on a real need for space due to their growing population, soon became a way to repossess lands lost during the cantonnement. According to Saussol (1985:1619), it was a "revenge on history and a concrete expression of a Kanak renaissance."

The enlargements to the reserves were as imprecise and haphazard as the delimitations. The administration, which still refused to recognize individual family property, gave the land collectively to the entire reserve community. This heterogeneous aggregate of clans and lineages thrown together by colonial circumstance was supposed to distribute the land among the reserve members "according to their needs." Conflicts arose among the Kanaks who, because of the lack of recognition of individual family property, were unable to activate traditional mechanisms of land control and redistribution.

It became increasingly evident to the administration that the reserves were not well "adapted" to a modern market economy. Alternatives were proposed - cooperatives, agricultural and pastoral societies, and so on (see Ward 1982 for details). They were all based, however, upon the idea of aiding the "transition" to a modern world in which the goal was assimilation.

A Timetable for Independence

In the early 1970s, when the Kanak-based Front Indépendantiste was being formed, sovereignty over the land and recognition of Kanak cultural identity were at the core of Kanak demands for autonomy. The inequality of land ownership in New Caledonia was blatant. Fewer than 1,000 European settlers owned 370,000 hectares, and half of this land belonged to fewer than 40 families; in comparison, 60,000 Kanaks lived on 165,000 hectares of reserve and 10,000 hectares of private property. European holdings had increased by 100,000 hectares between 1945 and 1976, while the reserves had grown by only 36,000 hectares (Saussol 1990:48). The territory was rapidly polarizing into two irreconcilable communities that had little knowledge of or contact with each other, "each with a vision for the future of New Caledonia, each appealing to a different historical basis for the right to political power" (Fraser 1988:9).

In 1975-1976 the land problem on the reserves became critical due to the economic crisis brought on by falling nickel prices and the ensuring recession. Young, unemployed Kanaks returned to the reserves only to find that there was no land for them. In 1976 the Kanaks asked the French government to recognize their land rights. In response, the government undertook a land reform project to "equilibrate the unbalance between Kanak and European land ownership" - this was accomplished by buying land from the latter and giving it out to the former. An important aspect of this project was the recovery of "traditional" lands.

Significantly, the reform did not question European presence on Kanak lands, leaving European title untouched. This was perceived as an administrative concession to those Europeans who had reacted very strongly to the changes proposed by the project. Land claims were a major issue of debate during the territorial elections of 1977, further dividing the conservative settlers and the pro-independence parties. In 1978 the newly appointed secretary of state for overseas departments and territories developed a land policy embedded in a comprehensive plan "for longterm social and economic development." He tried to steer a course between settler and Kanak demands while reasserting French authority, stating that "It is the government of France who will command" and asking that people forgo independence for 10 years and work actively with France. "Who could be unaware that only France could support real reforms both by her will and by her means?" he asked (Dijoud quoted in Ward 1982:37,38).

In the 1980s the territory was given responsibility for instituting land reform, and 12,000 hectares were immediately claimed by native peoples. Of 1,594,390 hectares on La Grande Terre in 1982, 664,059, or 41.6 percent, belonged to individuals or to Melanesian reserves. The Kanaks were concentrated on the east coast; the Europeans controlled the more fertile lands on the west coast. The Kanak holdings were cramped among mining concessions, state forests, and European farms and ranches. By 1982, 267,000 hectares were under question, 64 percent of which concerned privately owned property. European-owned land was now the object of claims. Demanding the return of ancestral lands was also a way of recovering and affirming group identity. Kanak clans wanted return of their ancestral sites, the sacred places where their clans began.

To these traditional claims a political dimension was added: the total recovery of ancestral lands became a prime objective of the Front Indépendantiste, which began occupying disputed lands and threatening to "clear out" areas. Land claims and independence became one and the same for the Kanaks.

In 1981 the change of government in France led to disenchantment with the land claims. The administration made it clear that it did not accept the Kanaks' "global claim" that all land be returned to traditional claimant clans without condition. The inefficiency of the inventory of clan property and slowness of transfers led to more militant actions. In addition to occupying lands, traditional buildings were constructed on disputed sites as symbols of native claim. In response, and in order to accelerate claims, the new French high commissioner created a land claims bureau - an "Office Foncier" - in 1982. District land commissions advised the office on traditional land claims within their area. The high commissioner then established the perimeters of valid claims and the traditional group to which they belonged. The land was then delegated the responsibility of acquiring the land. Expropriation was a last resort. In this way, 45,000 hectares were distributed (Saussol 1985:1622). although the Front Indépendantiste welcomed the effort, the debate had long since passed from being one of a question of land reform: the Kanaks wanted a timetable for independence.

In 1983 France's Socialist Party government introduced a statute of "enlarged autonomy" for the territory, proposing a five-year transition period and a referendum in 1989. The Front Indépendantiste rejected this proposal as being too slow; in March 1984, in the time leading up to the examination of the autonomy bill by the French Parliament, the Front organized a day of widespread land occupations. Front members occupied 15 European farms and set up traditional buildings on most. A French government official who had flown into the territory to promote the statute was boycotted by the Front while the anti-independence forces demonstrated against Kanak land occupations. The bill was passed, and the polarization in New Caledonia intensified (Fraser 1988:17-18).

Kanak militancy began to mount. Jean-Marie Tjibaou, Front Indépendantiste leader, declared, "Kanaks can only count on themselves for their decolonization." IN September 1984 the Front de Libératíon Kanak Socialiste (FLNKS) was formed out of four of the five Front Indépendantiste parties, as well as a pro-independence trade union, a land rights committee, and a women's group. The FLNKS formed a provisional government and mobilized to boycott and disrupt the territorial elections in November. With the hardening of the Kanak line and the violence of the "evenements" of 1984, more and more European settlers began putting their property up for sale; even those who one and a half years earlier had said they would never sell were now contacting the Office Foncier.

In January 1985 the Socialist government elaborated its plan for "Independence-Association," which offered sovereignty to the Kanaks and firm economic and political guarantees to the European settlers. Land contracts, leases, and concessions would guarantee use of the land, and Kanak first-ownership was recognized. Compensation would be ensured in mining areas (Fraser 1988:28-30). Economic, social, and cultural reforms were proposed in order to alleviate the growing disparities between the largely Kanak, underdeveloped countryside and the wealthy European-dominated urban capital of Nouméa. Elected regional councils would be responsible for economic development, primary education, land reform, agricultural development, and so on.

Introduced in a period of political tension and violence, the Socialist plan ran into difficulties in spite of its innovative solutions. There were killings on both sides. The death of a settler youth led to rightwing riots, and the French police killed the independence leader Eloi Machero. The government declared a state of emergency and modified its plan for the territory to reinforce the "association" part of the deal - revealing plans to build a strategic naval base, for example. Nevertheless, regional elections went ahead, and the FLNKS won control of three out of four provinces. They began a program of "green revolution" - that is, grassroots participation in development.

The Conservative Party government elected in France in March 1986 began eroding the powers of the institutions established under the Socialists. The new government stripped regional councils of their powers, centralizing them in the office of the French high commissioner. The Conservatives also eliminated the Office Foncier and replaced it with ADRAF (Agence de Développement Rural et d'Aménagement Foncier). The administration attempted to redistribute land to the Kanaks, but met with failure - the land development agency was controlled by local interest groups. Instead of continuing the Socialist policy of buying settler lands and redistributing them to the traditional Kanak owners, land was largely distributed to Europeans and to France loyalists. A government report on the activities of New Caledonia's land development agency stated that "choices [concerning land allocations] were made without established guide-lines, without consideration of native land claims, and without the slightest regard for equity in the distribution of land between the two principle communities" (quoted in Libération 9/22/89). Of 26,213 hectares redistributed by the end of 1987, 18,879 had gone to Europeans and others while Kanaks had received only 7,332 (Fraser 1988:49).

By the end of 1987 the territory had erupted into violence. Roadblocks, gun battles, and the destruction of property culminated in a dramatic hostage crisis on the eve of the presidential elections in France, when pro-independence militants on the island of Ouvea killed four gendarmes and took 27 hostage. The Kanaks wanted a mediator and, again, a timetable for independence. The military response was swift and brutal: the island was occupied, and the FLNKS maintains that villages were ransacked and villagers tortured. Three Kanak militants died in custody, and negotiations to avert bloodshed were vetoed by the general commanding the French forces. Nineteen Kanaks died in the military assault staged to rescue the hostages.

The Matignon Accords

The Conservatives were unable to maintain control, and in May 1988 François Mitterand became president of France. In an effort to avoid civil war, France's new prime minister, Michel Rocard, brought together members of the FLNKS and the RPCR ( the settler-dominated conservative political party) to decide the future of the territory. The result of these negotiations is known as the Matignon Accords; it was the third statute France was to impose upon the territory in four years.

The accords herald a 10-year "peace period" during which the French government will attempt to redress the socio-economic inequalities in the territory, particularly by promoting development and training programs in Kanak communities. In 1988, at the end of this period, New Caledonians will be asked to choose between independence and staying within the French Republic.

The territory has been divided into three regions - north, south and islands. The Kanaks now have control of the predominantly rural northern and island regions, where they represent the majority of the population. One of the most interesting aspects of the accords is the decentralization of bureaucratic structures and government services, an effort to better serve the more remote northern and islands regions and put into effect the gradual removal of more than 4,000 metropolitan French public servants. Priority will be given to the training of Kanak civil servants, police officers, judges, doctors, teachers, nurses, and so on.

In order to reequilibrate the Kanak regions with the predominantly white, urban, southern region, the northern and island provinces will benefit from 75 percent of the territory's public investment budget. Development projects will be undertaken and a youth training program will be instituted in order to incorporate young Kanaks into community development projects. The French government has also promised to promote Kanak culture and preserve Kanak heritage in New Caledonia. While France is gambling that this 10-year period will show the Kanaks the wisdom of remaining in the French Republic, the Kanaks are determined to use this time to build the necessary skills, expertise, and infrastructure to bring them closer to independence.

Even though the Matignon Accords provide for a general housecleaning within ADRAF, the question of collective vs. individual ownership remains a stumbling block that the accords have not yet addressed. In the first year of the accords, ADRAF was slow in distributing the 60,000 hectares it had inherited from its predecessor. By 1990, ADRAF completed the setting up of community councils to advise the agency on land acquisition, attribution, and development. ADRAF's new role under the Matignon Accords is one of rural development promoter; its mandate is to acquire productive land and either cede it or lease it to individuals or groups under common or customary law. ADRAF is also responsible for technical support of land development and supplies advisors and technicians, in addition to financial aid to develop parcels of land. Land has now become an object of economic development and advancement for the Kanak people.

The Power of Ancestry

Will the Matignon Accords lead to the ecologically sustainable growth necessary for long-term economic independence in New Caledonia? The current development policies should not be limited to the economic level alone. In precolonial times, access to land was determined by kinship: birth, marriage, or adoption determined which lands one cold cultivate. The penetration of market relations, commercial agriculture, and sedentarization introduced a new set of purely "economic" relationships to the land. The development paradigm needs to embrace the native Kanak culture in the territory. "Progress" is not just improved survival; it also implies physical, historical, social, and cultural continuity. We need to reevaluate the Western definition of progress that guides unsustainable development and land use in New Caledonia; for the area's indigenous people land is not merely "used," but fundamentally "lived" (see Devalle 1990). Kanak demands for independence have as much to do with cultural recognition and respect as with political and economic autonomy. As the late Yeiwéné Yeiwéné said, "For us, independence is a question of dignity, and dignity is non-negotiable."

Kanak development continues to be handicapped by the fact that it is ultimately in the hands of a colonial administration that controls development funds, an administration that still adheres to an idea of paternalistic evolutionism. Development policy in New Caledonia continues to be carried out under a paradigm that assumes that the native Kanak population should adapt to the conditions of production and reproduction imposed by capitalism. For development to be truly sustainable, native wisdom and knowledge need to be incorporated into the development scheme, being used to implement socio-economic change in the territory - not only at the grassroots level but at the national policy level as well. Are the Matignon Accords attempting to turn the Kanak into a homo economicus? As one Kanak has remarked, "We see white collar experts arriving from France and elsewhere who mean nothing to us. In the name of our elected representatives they talk of economic rationality, and the need for profit" (quoted in Kanaky September 1990:27).

The dispossession of Kanak lands in New Caledonia has followed the classic pattern of colonial expansion and development of unequal socio-economic relations, which permit the exploitation of labor, land, and natural resources and are all justified by French-imposed economic models. The Matignon Accords impose Western management structures and measures of success into which the Kanaks have to fit. One of the goals of the accords is to show the rest of New Caledonia that the Kanaks can manage a business or a country like the rest of them. If the fundamental rules of economic development are to be set by France by Western models, then no matter how benevolent the intention one still runs the risk of dislocating local living pattern - not only production, trade, and consumption, but patterns of traditional authority, custom, and culture, too (see Piper 1989).

Moreover, this cultural hegemony denies the legitimacy of Kanak definitions of progress. Development projects are often maladapted to the local context. If any form of development is to be sustainable, it must incorporate indigenous knowledge. Traditional structures exist in the Kanak community that can promote dialogue linking Western and Kanak concerns. The most significant blocks to dialogue are the top-down approach and the attitude of infallibility and cultural superiority assumed by many specialists working in New Caledonia.

The proposed development of mining and forestry under the accords will only lead to increased environmental destruction and depletion of the territory's bio-asset base. What controls are being implemented to prevent pollution from the nickel industry? The selling of the Lafleur mine to the northern province risks making the Kanaks accomplices in the destruction of their environment and in the extraction of natural resources and their delivery to developed areas in the south and outside of the country. Even if we were to take only an economistic view, the sale of the mine is not enough; it gives the Kanaks control of only 10 percent of the territory's nickel production, while the other 90 percent remains in the hands of European, American, and Asian interests. A fundamental issues has yet to be raised, too: subsurface, above-surface (airspace), and marine rights.

It would seem that, for all intents and purposes, the southern province, which contains 70 percent of New Caledonia's European and immigrant population and two-thirds of the labor force, most of the management personnel, and almost all of the territory's private capital, is benefiting the most from the Matignon Accords. It contains not only all New Caledonia's current wealth but also the principal means to reproduce and develop that wealth. According to two French officials, "The colonial system which exists [in New Caledonia] rests on socio-economic structures which permit the local bourgeoisie, with the support of the French state, to keep control of the situation to its advantage" (G. Marc and A. Ruelian, Le Monde 10/18/89). Under the current circumstances of the Matignon Accords, the southern province is assured continued privileges and economic dominance.

Not only are natural resources being shipped to the south, but there is evidence that human resources are also migrating there. This rural exodus does not bode well for development projects in the northern and island provinces. The danger is that the rural areas will see themselves drained of their productive labor force to the benefit of Nouméa. Taking past internal migratory trends into account, the southern province clearly will continue to gain in demographic importance in comparison to the northern and island provinces. Greater Nouméa, which in 1989 represented 59.4 percent of the territory's population, will contain 60 or even 62 percent of the population by 1998. Unless there is a major turnaround, Nouméa will continue to be the demographic and economic center of the territory - to the detriment of the Kanak regions.

Land is still at the top of the FLNKS agenda. At an FLNKS congress held last November, it was decided that discussion points for the major political parties as well as the local committees would be culture and land. According to François Burck, president of a major political component of the FLNKS, "Land is not the property of a few individuals, rather it must be the instrument of liberation and advancement for all." The challenges for the rural Kanak areas in the 1990s were weighty as land claims are resituated within a new set of economic aspirations and opportunities.

Thirty years ago, before independence had become a clear-cut goal, a very generous restoration of land might have satisfied most grievances. However, the French administration was reluctant to promote reform - it perceived the Front Indépendantiste's goals as reaching beyond land reform to more political ends. Politics and land have now become fused. Land has become an essential political element in a liberation movement that bases its quest for political power on the establishment of a cultural identity. The ancestral way of life, in this case, the relationship to land, is being invoked by Kanak independence leaders. Its symbolic power as a political force is undeniable.


When the second "delimitation" occurred in 1889, it was seen as a punishment for the massacre of several gendarmes and settlers near Pouébo. The rebel tribe was allocated 1.5 hectares per person.

Of 21,630 convicts sent to New Caledonia, 2,680 were given land; 52 percent of them had to forfeit their lands because of misconduct or inability to put the land to use. By 1897, the end of the penitentiary era, there were only 1,300 penal colonists in New Caledonia (Saussol 1990:42).

Between 1895 and 1902 1,500 new settlers arrived in the territory.

Three types of redistribution of unoccupied or state lands took place: (1) enlarging already existing reserves: from the administration's point of view this was the easiest to do and didn't put into question the reserve system; (2) clan system: land was given to clan and redistributed among clan members or leased to other Kanaks by traditional clan authorities; (3) individual recovery: this was a new opening for young Kanaks and other ethnic groups in New Caledonia - individuals, small enterprises, and cooperatives could occupy land free of traditional claims.

On a territorywide basis, the pro-independence parties won 35.2 percent of the vote and the anti-independence parties, 60.8 percent. In the Territorial Congress, where all regional councils would meet in combined session, the anti-independence parties took 29 seats and the pro-independence parties, 17 (Fraser 1988:34).

For example, in July 1988, 24 hours before the implementation of the Matignon Accords, ADRAF distributed disputed land to a number of RPCR (the European dominated anti-independence political party) militants.

The agency was authorized to cede 139 properties totaling 15,046 hectares. These properties were attributed in the following manner; to Europeans, 59 properties (42.5%) equaling 5,842 hectares (38.8%); to Kanaks, 54 properties (38.8%) equaling 8,135 hectares (54%); to others, 26 properties (18.7%) equaling 1,089 hectares (7.2%) (L'Avenir Calédonian 12/24/90:4).


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Kircher, I.

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Fraser, H.

1988 New Caledonia: Anti-colonialism in a Pacific Territory. Canberra: Research School of Pacific Studies, Australian National University.

Piper, J.

1989 The South Pacific: Whose Playground? Canberra: Australian National University. Mimeo.

Saussol, A.

1985 La terre et la confrontation des hommes en Nouvelle-Calédonie. Les Temps Modernes 464:1,612-1,622.

1990 Nouvelle-Calédonie: le choc d'une colonisation singulière. In Bensa et al., eds. Comprendre l'identité kanak. Paris: Centre Thomas Moore.

Ward, A.

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Article copyright Cultural Survival, Inc.

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