Tanna Island Kastom Law

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Preface to the Third Edition

In September 2016, we met with Chief Tom Numake in his village in Tanna. Chief Numake welcomed us into his village. Over the course of multiple interviews we conducted with Chief Numake regarding Tanna Island, its history, Kastom law, and the importance of preserving Kastom for future generations, we suggested one of the best ways to consider preserving Kastom law was to document it in written form. (During our earlier research of Kastom on Efate and Maewo, it appeared that Kastom was shared verbally from generation to generation – truly tribal knowledge.)

To our surprise, Chief Numake informed us that, more than 20 years ago, in his role as President of the Tanna Island Council of Chiefs’ Executive Committee he had gathered 25 Tanna chiefs together to define Kastom Laws across all of Tanna Island, which was then documented in written Bislama by Niko Le Ten. The Bislama written document was subsequently translated into French and English. The original English translation was performed was by Chief Numake, Chief Peter Nimaulul and Adorina D’Arcy. According to Chief Numake, Tanna is the only island in Vanuatu to have a formally agreed upon set of Kastom laws across their entire island. Other islands in Vanuatu, he believes, have localized laws unique to individual villages rather than a uniform law across an island, which make Tanna Island Kastom Law a unique and important document to preserve and share.

A Google search in September 2016 indicates sparse references to the English translation, including New Zealand’s The Law Commission 2006 publication, Converging Currents – Custom and Human Rights in the Pacific and The World Bank 2013 publication Hybrid Justice in Vanuatu: The Island Courts. Google also makes reference to a 2nd Edition published in 2003, however, no online content was readily accessible to the editors of the 3rd Edition.

We suggested to Chief Numake that preserving Tanna Island Kastom Law in 2016 is best achieved by releasing widely a searchable text document on the internet [ranging from academic and law websites all the way to popular sources such as Wikipedia.org] and making this information available for review and discussion. With Chief Numake’s endorsement, we seek to disseminate Tanna Island Kastom Law (3rd Edition) online to academic, professional, popular and reference websites. Prior to doing so, however, we made it clear to Chief Numake that by disseminating the contents of this important document online and allowing broader discussion, the internet will likely help preserve and promote certain Kastom laws but may also encourage the modification of other Kastom laws. Only time will tell where informed debate may or may not lead.  

In this 3rd Edition, Chief Numake clarified the role of louahnan women (Article 6, paragraph P). He believed the original translation incorrectly implied the louahnan were prostitutes. Traditional intention according to Chief Numake was that an louahnan was a woman who provided sexual relief for men under various circumstances. The village chief has authority on who should be an louahnan. The louahnan may have a “term” of service until the chief decides to choose another louahnan. A term may be up to several years (Chief Numake suggested a term may be up to 5 years or even longer). A louahnan may also have a typical job during her term and may live in a special house in the community. The village chief can decide to have an louahnan in the village “to protect the mother while or after she is pregnant” or so a man “does not feel pressure”, among other reasons. For example, according to Chief Numake, if a wife is pregnant, her husband may meet with the village’s louahnan for sexual relief. As compensation, a wife may make baskets and mats, which she gives to her husband, who in turn gives the items to the chief, who in turn would give the items to the louahnan.

In our capacity as editor, our role is to promote awareness and encourage informed discussion among and across Tanna local residents, Vanuatu citizens and ideally the world at large. It is a privilege to present the 3rd English Edition of Tanna Island Kastom Law.

Daniel Farber Huang and Theresa Menders. Original document transcribed by Quincy F. Huang for the 3rd Edition. September 28, 2016



Niko Le Ten

Tanna Island Kastom Law

Tanna Island Council Blong Kastom Jif Long Republic of Vanuatu


Translated into English By Chief Tom Numake Chief Peter Nimaulul Adorina D’Arcy In Port Vila and on Tanna, 1994


Printed and published by Adorina D’Arcy ISBN 0 646 26958 5

3nd Edition – Edited by Daniel Farber Huang and Theresa Menders, 2016



Galatians 3: 24

   “And so the Law was in charge of us until Christ came in order that we might then be put right with God through faith”

Kastom Law has guided all the people of Tanna from the beginning.

This law is being set down to guide the young, and future generations, of what is the true Kastom Law of Tanna. They can look at it and see as if in a mirror if their conduct is the true way of life for all people of Tanna.

Today, in Christ, this Kastom Law will guide all people of Tanna and all who live on the island of Tanna.

There is an urgent need for an explanation of Kastom if the law is to be understood by people other than Man Tanna, for Kastom Law is protected in the Constitution, but at the date of writing seems to be regarded as having a ‘de facto presence’ only. The original work of writing down Kastom Law was begun and completed by the Tanna Island Council of Chiefs with NO AID funding. The translation was completed with NO AID funding, but an understanding of Kastom is vital if there is to be harmony in the judgements of the Courts with the accepted traditions and practices of the Kastom Law of Man Tanna.

19 January 1994 was the commencing date for the Bislama/English translation of Tanna Kastom Law and very quickly it became clear that the task was more than a translation. It became a clarifying exercise reflecting the rapid development of Bislama as a language, the increasing ease with which the Chiefs can express themselves in Bislama and English, and in writing. It became a revisionary exercise. It became an exercise in classification. Small alterations and additions were made to fill the gaps where some ‘rules’ were taken for granted. An example was the law prohibiting anyone other than school children from playing sport. It never occurred to the Chiefs that this prohibited the men of Tanna from playing football for “men always play football!” The translation has resulted in some changes to the original text, but as two of the translators, Chief Tom Numake and Chief Peter Nimaulul, are members of the Tanna Island Council of Chiefs and authors of the historic first text, these changes are minimal.

The aim of Kastom Law is to keep peace in the community. Where that peace has been disturbed, Kastom Law is the path of dispute resolution. It is the path of reconciliation. Every offender is given the chance to cease and desist from conduct that is harmful and disruptive. Every offender is given the chance to ‘improve’. There is much that we of the western world could learn from Kastom Law. Indeed, it seems to me that Tanna Kastom Law, and no doubt in the Kastom Law of the other islands, is a treasure that the world cannot afford to ignore.

Kastom in Vanuatu has survived centuries of outside contact - explorers, early traders, missionaries, sandalwood traders, black birders, the Condominium, now the wave of aid and advisers, and tourism. The work of the Tanna Island Council of Chiefs is a message that Man Tanna does not intend to survive simply as a museum piece, but that the culture and heritage is alive, strong and well.

I am immensely proud and very privileged to have been involved in this historic event - the Bislama/English translation. I am full of admiration for the Tanna Chiefs who were inspired to write down their Kastom Law in 1981. This was truly an historic event in the scheme of all men in all the world, and should rank in importance along with the western view of history of the deeds of explorers such as Quiros, Bougainville, Cook.

Adorina, September 1994, in Villa  

Kastom Law Blong Tanna

I am glad to tell the people of Tanna and the population of Vanuatu, that Tanna Island has taken a new and big step which has never before happened in its history. From the time of all the ancestors of all the people of Tanna until 31 March 1985, Kastom Chiefs had been responsible for enforcing Kastom Law. This Kastom Law never before has been written down. The Chiefs had carried on what had been handed down from what God had handed down to them. The law had always been passed down from father to son, chief to chief. From first times until this time, Kastom Law was responsible for the way of life during times of peace and war on Tanna for all the people.

I am happy to tell all the population that Tanna Island has taken a very big step to form up the Tanna Island Council of Chiefs’ Committee. This committee has the responsibility to write down Tanna Island Kastom Law. The first sitting of the Committee was held on 14 December 1981. It has taken five days every week to write down the law. The task was completed on 17 October 1983.

The place where the meetings were held was LAMINUH, Lenakel Tanna Chiefs Centre. I wanted to tell everyone on Tanna, that the history of Tanna, our island, from time before until today was that we the people of Tanna have ONE KASTOM LAW, even though we have many languages.

The Committee was made up of the following Island Chiefs:

Executive Committee

Chief Tom Numake, President Chief Kiel Kanga, Vice President Chief Tom Kaso, Secretary Chief Peter Nimaulul, Treasurer

Committee

Chief Kahu Naput Chief Tuk Nouau Chief Iauma Chief Jack Nipiko Chief Louhman Tani Chief John Kalate Chief Numanian Frank Chief Iapatu Chief Mauiakin Chief Tom Nohata Chief Tuman Ausim Chief Tom Sumak Chief Jimmy Nakapue Chief Heput Karimis Chief Noclam Asol Chief Samson Kaso Chief Kauiel Helapik Chief Joe Kaio Chief Iasau Asou Chief Jimmy Kilapin Chief Willy Kouman


Acknowledgements

I thank God for the inspiration and help for this work. I give thanks and honor Him who helped guide me in this work and who gave me the wisdom to write down the correct Kastom Law of Tanna Island.

I give thanks to all the Chiefs who gave their time and knowledge to this unique work of writing down, for the first time in history, the Kastom Law of Tanna. Without their help, this law would not be correct for they have handed down the wisdom of their fathers to make this book possible.

In the name of the Tanna Island Council of Chiefs of the Republic of Vanuatu, I am very glad to present this book on Tanna Island Kastom Law to you all.

And I ask everyone on Tanna Island to show special respect and honor to all the Kastom Law. Today it is now contained in this book for all to read.

The Kastom Law inside this book sets out the Legal Right of all Kastom Chiefs of Tanna. This Kastom Law applies to Tanna, the people of Tanna and all people on Tanna.

This law was written so that in the future the generations who follow will know exactly what is the correct Kastom. It is easy to forget Kastom. It is easy to make mistakes when older people die out, or die without completing the education of the young ones. This book attempts to set out what has been the Kastom Law, and what is to be the Kastom Law in the future. Young people today can read and know what is the true Kastom Law.

This is to declare that this is the true Kastom Law of Tanna.

Chief Tom Numake, President Tanna Island Council of Chiefs 1 April 1985


Law of Tanna Chiefs

Land, chiefs, everything belonging to Kastom, including stone from the Highlands, all of these things came out from the sea. The chiefs are responsible for all land and everyone who lives on that land belonging to that tribe.


Article 1. Law Concerning Land

Only the chiefs are responsible for dealing with all custom land disputes, including finding the true custom owner.

A: If a chief tries to take or steal an area of land which is the responsibility of another chief, then he must pay a fine of one large pig and one head of Tapuna Kava. This law also applies to any man who tries to commit the same offense.

B: Law concerning land where all the custom owners of one of the big tribes have died; if one chief puts someone on ‘dead ground’ without making sure that all custom owners are dead (that is there is no one who has a right to live on that land) then that chief will pay a fine of a big pig and one head of kava and the man occupying that land must move out of that land immediately. This applies to any chief who fights and kills the true custom owners and takes over that land.

C: Law concerning taking over ‘dead ground’ belonging to the large tribe without permission; suppose one big Tribe dies without successors or along the TOKA road line, the TOKA custom and bloodline says that no man can be put there unless the people from the TOKA bloodlines put a man and a woman of the TOKA bloodline in that place. If one man puts someone into that land without Kastom then that man has to pay a fine of one large pig and one head of kava and the man must move out of the land straight away.

(This relates to a big tribe which is dead in the land in the line of TOKA and the bloodline of TOKA; then representatives of the two tribes should give people to live in that land, by giving one boy of one tribe and the other tribe giving a girl in marriage.)

D: Law concerning the adoption of a man to take up the land; the adopted man must be related through the blood to the family which makes the adoption. If the adopted man does not listen to the man adopting him, then he will be sent back to his place with a pig and a head of kava. It is forbidden for anybody else outside of the bloodline and friendly road to adopt any man and put him into this land.

E: Law concerning putting a man and an adopted man on land beside the sea; the same law applies as written in Article 1 (A to D).

F: Law concerning one Tribe putting a garden on land belonging to another Tribe, this land is called in Kastom, Kakil. Kakil land cannot be given to any other Tribe unless the Tribe is related by blood and friendly road. If such a tribe wants to put in a garden on Kakil land, it must ask permission before it can put in a garden. After permission is given, the man making the garden wants to plant coconut trees and chestnut trees, (any tree and fruit trees, etc), he must ask permission from the owner before he can plant any trees. After planting, such trees become the property of the custom landowner. The fruit belongs to both the custom landowner and the man who planted the tree.

If the man goes ahead and plants trees without getting the permission of the owner, then the owner has the right to have him removed.

If the man makes the garden without permission; and if a man has planted trees and now claims because of the garden and the trees that he is the owner, then the true custom owner can have him removed from the land.

After the man is evicted from that land, and he tries to go back into that land again, he must pay a fine of one pig and one head of kava. He must never go back into that land again.

G: Law concerning (i) Teniatu land which starts from the hills right down to the sea and (ii) Tanpus land which goes halfway but does not go to the sea:

Teniatu and Tanpus land both of them give the right of passage to the sea and this right comes from true Tanna Kastom in history and in fact as it still applies today. Every Man Tanna has the right of passage from the Highlands to the Sea and from the Sea to the Highlands. The true custom reason is that everything starts from the Highlands and goes to the sea.

If two men argue and/or fight about what is from the saltwater - sand beach, ground and suppose one man is wrong and goes to the place of the man. Who is correct, that man is dealt with in the following ways:

First offense - man given a warning and a chance Second offense - one fowl and one head of kava Third offense - one pig and one head of kava

H: Law regarding payment of land for cartridges used during a fight: If a chief is in trouble during a war with an enemy, he “cuts the Napagka” the custom word meaning ‘he sends for help’ from the other chiefs. Any chief who comes and fights for him, is given a piece of land. The receiver is now the owner of that piece of land and now he must always follow the orders and rules of the chief who gave the land. If this man later on tries to shift the boundaries, the chief who gave the land has the right to evict that man from the land. If that chief comes back and tries to take over the land again he will be fined one big pig and one big head of kava.

I: Law concerning payment in exchange for a land.

From 14 December 1981 it is forbidden to exchange a woman for land, pig, or kava. If a man has paid land for a woman and also pigs and kava, then he has to respect the land owner in a peaceful way in Kastom. If he does not respect the landowner, then that landowner will evict him by giving another woman, pig and kava. If the man continues to interfere after receiving the payment, then he will be fined one big pig and one big head of kava.

J: Law concerning putting a garden in the land belonging to one tribe by Niel (relatives by blood) and Niel (relatives by marriage). If a Niel wants to put in a garden in the land belonging to another Niel then he must ask permission from the Niel owner of that land before he can make the garden. While he uses the land for a garden and he does something which affects the other Niel, he must make the offended Niel happy by correcting the offense and promising not to offend again.

If he does not do this, then the following will happen:

First Offence - Chance Second Offence - One fowl and one head kava Third Offence - One pig and one head kava Fourth Offence - He must leave the land

K: Law concerning putting a garden in the land belonging to one tribe by brothers: the same conditions apply to K as in Letter J.

L: Law concerning land belonging to the big tribe: (i) when two men have fought over the land and the chief has made a decision: (these men are not the people of the big tribe, but they each claim they are related to the big tribe). If the man who is wrong goes inside the land of the man who is right, he will be fined one big pig and one big head of kava. (ii) It is the same law and the same fine where people from the big tribe fight over the land. (See Article 1, letter J).

M: Law concerning boundaries established by custom for all tribes. Creeks, rivers and mountains are not boundary marks according to the custom of the tribes.


Article 2. Law concerning Chiefs of Tanna

A: In the beginning, Iani and Iaramara both came out of the stone. Iani is the chief of everything in the name of Iaramara.

B: Chiefs are responsible for: - Land - People - Decision making about more than one wife - Mistresses (a poor translation for women used during pregnancy of wife) - Children of unmarried parents - Nikouiar (Toka) and Napanapen (included in Nikouiar but is the special women’s custom dance) - Niel (sharing of excess harvest of any vegetables. Ceremonies of exchange) - Circumcision - Kastom exchange of women - Kastom road - Kastom marriage - Kueria (authority of chief, sign of the Hawk’s feather) - Turtle - Use of chief’s belt - Pig - Kava - Giving orders

C: The Voice of Iani and Iaramara is holy and must be respected, and honored.

In the early days, if a chief gives an order and the man or woman disobeys the voice of the chief, the chief can give an order to have that person poisoned. Today, chiefs do not poison people or kill them.

If one chief disobeys the voice of a chief with more authority the fines are as follows (these chiefs are connected on the roads and customs):

First Offence - Chance Second Offence - one fowl and one head of kava Third Offence - one pig and one head of kava Fourth Offence - one girl

D: If the people do not follow what the chiefs in Letter C tell them, then they will be fined:

First Offence - Chance Second Offence - down and one head of kava Third Offence - one pig and one head of kava

E: Law concerning children whose parents never married (bush pikinini).

It was against custom to recognize bust pikinini. On 14 December 1981, it was forbidden to have a bush pikinini. If a man makes a woman pregnant, he must marry her. If the man does not marry the woman, he will be fined one pig and one head of kava.

F: In times before, chiefs must marry the daughter of another chief (Iaramara and Iani). It was forbidden for any other man to marry a chief’s daughter.

G: On Thursday 5 January 1982, custom law was reintroduced to forbid men from talking in the meetings. The right to talk in meetings belongs to the chiefs. Other people who are forbidden to talk in meetings are: Manamana (supporters of the chiefs), all Iaramara (high chiefs), and all Tupunis (special people who work with stones, etc), none of these people have the right to talk in the meeting where chiefs only have the right to talk.

If there is a custom meeting and the chiefs doing the talking are not sure of something that is outside custom because it is new and coming in from the outside world, they have the right to seek advice from educated people. But these people can only talk when the chiefs give them the right to do so. If they disobey and talk, these people can be fined:

First Offence - Chance Second Offence - One fowl and one head of kava Third Offence - One pig and one head of kava

H: Chiefs talking on behalf of Noanem Nemin (son of a chief who is too small to take his father’s place, so another chief can talk on his behalf): that chief must give back the right to talk to the Noanem Nemin when he has matured.

If the chief does not give back the right to the Noanem Nemin, he will be fined:

First Offence - Chance Second Offence - one fowl and one head of kava Third Offence - one pig and one head of kava

I: All Malamala symbols of a chief and Iaramara have all come from the stone at Imaioune (special dress belt, strap, feathers, etc.). In early times, if one chief stole or tried to use the Malamala of another chief, he would be poisoned to death. Today, he is not poisoned. He must give back the Malamala and pay a fine:

First Offence - Chance Second Offence - one pig and one head of kava Third Offence - one pig and one head of kava

If one of the chiefs sees that another chief is losing his authority, or cannot fix his problems concerning Malamala, then that chief can help him in the true custom line.

J: Law concerning Kastom policeman of the chiefs

Chiefs have custom police to carry out their orders. On Wednesday 6 January 1982, custom law was reintroduced to stop every man running about claiming to be carrying out orders, or taking messages on behalf of the chiefs. Now, any orders or messages must go through the custom policeman first before it can be passed on to another chief.

If a boy or girl offend by passing on a message, the chief has responsibility to decide what to do. If the chief says the police can beat them, then the police can beat them. If the chief says they are not to be beaten, then the police cannot beat them. If the policeman disobeys the chief and beats them, or if any other person other than police beat the boy or girl, then they will be fined:

First Offence - Chance Second Offence - one fowl and one head of kava Third Offence - one pig and one head of kava

K: Law concerning the Kastom Kingdom of Tanna

From Niko comes the tribe called Nibrou and Nibrau people were like people on a big ship, all together. During the time of Nibrau there was no death, no one got sick, no one fought or argued and there was no sin. All men were good, living in peace and unity.

Later division entered into Nibrau. These ‘sins’ started with the tribe Kapakol from Ienumakel and to prove that this is true, the custom songs tell of this.

The quarrelsome tribes started from the tribe Kapakol. These quarrelsome tribes are as follows:

1. Kapakol 2. Nimruken and Kouiameta 3. Nulpikam 4. Nukusnuvo 5. Iasipauhiakil 6. Iauiakinnikava 7. Noahnalimanink 8. Niko Keta 9. Kapilanap 10. Manikin (World War II) 11. Tanna Law 12. Political Parties

The obedient tribes of custom are:

1. Nibrou 2. Niko Kalipun 3. Niko Isula 4. Nimanhamra 5. Kagaga 6. John Frum


Article 3. Law Concerning Nuvolaklak

A: Law concerning Kaut Kesua is called Nuvolaklak (Kaut Kesua are people who are not of the tribe but can join the other tribe and have access to their secrets). On returning to his own tribe he gives away these secrets. The law convering such people is called ”Nuvolaklak” - to do with speaking false words.

Kaut Kesua came from the stone just like the chiefs (Iani) and high chiefs (Iaramara). But according to the history, Kaut Kesua in custom can be good and bad. In the army days this man was a member of both tribes, Nimruken and Kouiameta. If one chief is holding a meeting in his Nakamal and this man hears what is being talked about and then he goes and passes on this information to another chief, this can cause the two chiefs to argue and fight.

B: It is not good that the Kaut Kesua twists around what is spoken by the chiefs and this makes the chiefs fight. It is a good thing if one chief wants to kill another chief, that the Kaut Kesua now goes to the other chief and tells him a chief wants to kill him. That chief can run away with all his people.

In times before, if a Kaut Kesua follows exactly the order and the rule of the two chiefs, they would not kill him. But if he did not obey the orders and follow the rules of the two chiefs, then the chiefs would give him three warnings. After that, if he still made trouble, he would be killed. But today, the man is not killed, he is fined the following:

First Offence - Chance Second Offence - one fowl and one head of kava Third Offence - one pig and one head of kava

C: Law concerning Iakim and Ietaka during a fight (Iakim is a person who runs away, but he runs away along the custom road. Ietaka is the person who also runs away, but he runs into the bush in confusion, not knowing where he is going, until he finds a place where he can stay).

It was the Kaut Kesua who caused the problem leading to a fight between the two chiefs, and the chiefs run away with their people. While they are running away, they follow their own tribe line (custom road). When the chiefs go and stay with another chief until the fight is over, before they return to their own place, each must leave a girl behind with the chief who gave protection.

The chiefs have returned and now they must make peace. The two chiefs would be, one from Nimruken and the other from Kouiameta and they would have to exchange one girl and special kava (Tapuga) and pigs from each side. By doing this, these exchanges between the two chiefs called Napika’apen, ties them together. After doing this at a later time, because they are happy that peace has returned, they will make a custom ceremony which is called Nikouiar. The Nikouiar is made to make their people happy as well.

D: Law concerning fights within the tribe of Kouiameta

If two chiefs of Kouiameta fight each other, and one of them runs away to a friendly chief within the tribe and whilst he is living there and the fight ends, then before he returns to his place, he must leave a girl with the chief he stayed with. If he does not want to leave a girl behind, they can agree to perform the custom ceremonies called Nikouiar or Niel so they can be happy and eat together. After Nikouiar or Niel, the chief can return to his own place.

When the other chief has returned to his place, he now holds a feast with the chief he fought with and their people attend, where the exchange of girls takes place and they all eat together. This makes good feelings between them all.

E: Law concerning fights between Nimruken and Nimruken

It is the same law as in Letter D as applies between Kouiameta and Kouiameta. It is the same exchange as in Letter D as between Kouiameta and Kouiameta. They sit together at Nouwa Nimrau (a meeting place for discussing matters of custom relating to only themselves).

F: Law concerning a chief who runs away, leaving his people and his Nakamal under the authority of the High Chief. This also applies when the High Chief goes away leaving the chief in charge, or to any people who stay behind.

When the fight is over and the chief who ran away comes back, the chief who was looking after the Nakamal must give back that authority and ground to him. According to custom, the chief who ran away is the one who must make peace. If he wants to give a small piece of land or a girl to make good feeling between them, he can do so. If he does not want to give a piece of land or a girl, then that is his decision.

G: When the chief comes back, the man who took his place must leave the land in a peaceful way according to custom. If he does not leave the land, he will be fined one pig and one head of kava and he must leave the land.

H: Law concerning a Kouiameta chief who ran away and goes to stay with another Kouiameta chief, he must obey that chief as he has no authority in that place. He can only act like a chief if he is given the right to do so in that place.

He is not supposed to talk or say anything against the chief or the chiefs of the area who have given him protection and the right to talk on their behalf. If he talks against the man who has given him authority he has to pay a fine of:

First Offence - One chance Second Offence - One fowl and one head of kava Third Offence - One pig and one head of kava

And he is never allowed to talk and act as a chief in that area.

I: The same law and fines apply to a Nimruken chief who runs away like the Kouiameta chief in Letter H.

J: If a Kouiameta chief runs away and goes to stay with a Nimruken chief he has no right at all to talk or act like a chief.

If he disobeys and does talk and act like a chief, he will be fined

First Offence - Chance Second Offence - One fowl and one head of kava Third Offence - One pig and one head of kava

K: The same law and the same fines apply where a Nimruken chief runs away and goes to stay with a Kouiameta chief.

L: Law concerning a chief who runs away and goes to another chief and is given a piece of land or any custom items.

If any chief who ran away during the time of a fight and he goes and stays with another chief and he is given a piece of land and some of the custom items, this chief must respect the chief who gave him that authority.

If the chief does not show respect, and then causes trouble in this place (tribe) or continues to cause problems, he will be fined and must give back everything - land and items - which were given to him. The fines will be:

First Offence - Chance Second Offence - one fowl and one head kava Third Offence - one pig and one head kava Fourth Offence - the chief of the area can perform a custom ceremony to send him out to his own place.

M: Law concerning a chief who takes (usurps) the custom rights of another chief

(i) a chief who has run away and now steals the custom road, Kueria, strap, turtle and tipunis from the place where he is now staying, he must return these items and authority to the true owner. (ii) a chief who during a fight takes over the custom road, Kueria, strap, turtle and tipunis of another chief, and if he beat the chief and takes over the custom items, he must return these items to the true owner.

If these Chiefs do not want to give back these items and authority they will be fined

First Offence - chance Second Offence - one fowl and one head of kava Third Offence - one pig and one head of kava


Article 4. Tipunis Law

A: Law concerning the. Passing of communication by Tipunis along the Big Road. Tipunis communications can only be passed along the Big Road.

Iani and Iaramara have supreme authority over the Tipunis. When a chief wants more crops, the Chiefs will pass on the message to their people, who in turn will pass the message to the Tipunis. The chief will have the message passed on for plenty of crops for celebrations. When the crops are plentiful events such as circumcision, Niel and Nikouiar can be held.

B: If the Tipunis deceives the chief and instead of doing what he has been asked, that is to make good crops, but instead causes too much sun, rain and cyclones then he will be fined:

First Offence - chance Second Offence - one fowl and one head of kava Third Offence - one pig and one head of kava

C: If any man who is not Ieni or Iaramara, and is not the Tipunis chief, passes a message to the Tipunis men, and this man is trying to take over the authority of the Tipunis Chief, then the man will be fined:

First Offence - chance Second Offence - one fowl and one head of kava Third Offence - one pig and one head of kava

D: It if forbidden for legitimate Tipunis men to perform Tipunis for payment of money. If he disobeys and does perform Tipunis for money, he will be fined:

First Offence - chance Second Offence - one fowl and one head of kava Third Offence - one pig and one head of kava

E: Law concerning Tipunis for a new yam garden:

Only the legitimate Tipunis men can perform all that is necessary (cutting the bush, clearing, etc.) for the first planting of a new yam garden before anyone else can come into the garden. If any man goes before the Tipunis men, this will spoil the garden. Everyone must respect the yam Tipunis men. If one man disobeys the rule of the yam Tipunis man, to make it right, he must go to the Tipunis chief and be fined one fowl and one head of kava. If a pig belonging to the Tipunis man comes along and spoils the yam garden, then the Tipunis man must give a pig to the man who is making the yam garden.

If any animal eats the leaf of the new yam garden then the owner of that animal must take one fowl and one head of kava and give it to the yam Tipunis man.

F: The same law applies when making new gardens for the following:

Taro; kava; sugarcane; bamboo; banana; kumala; niparim; island cabbage.

G: Thee same law applies for new fruit including:

New chestnut Coconut Noanimh Noanikiliakei Nakavika Nier Breadfruit Navel Nantau Nuvia Nakatampol Noanasis

H: Law concerning all new creatures on the ground:

New man, new woman, new pig, new fowl, new rat

I: Law concerning all new creatures of the air

New green pigeons New nawimpa New nampilak Dove Wel Flying fox Virvirian (night Cicada) Kapin kapin (black Cicada) Grasshoppers Lauatip Lehmimar Purisin

J: Law concerning all new creatures from the freshwater and salt water:

New eelfish, new prawns, new crab, new turtle, every fish in the sea, kokias, new crayfish, and all shellfish.

K: Law concerning good and bad weather (rain, thunder and cyclone):

All legitimate Tipunis of sun, rain, thunder and cyclone should never spoil the gardens by bad weather for the chief and the people. If one Tipunis makes sun, rain, thunder and hurricane that exceeds what he has been instructed to do, and if he is caught doing this, then he and the chief of Tapunis must pay a fine and give it to all the other Tipunis men,

First Offence - chance Second Offence - one fowl and one head of kava Third Offence - one pig and one head of kava

L: From 19 January 1982 it is forbidden for unauthorized Tapunis (bush Tapunis) to work with the sun, rain, thunder and hurricane. If one bush Tapunis disobeys and interferes with the weather, when he is caught doing this, he will have to pay a fine of a big pig and one big head of kava and he has to give to the chief of the Tapunis, the magic stones and these have to be sent back to the place where they come from. If he does not send them back, and he repeats the offence, then he is exiled from Tanna and TAFEA.

M: Law concerning time when Tipunis carry out their work of making new gardens. The Tipunis months are June and July when they start to brush the bush for making new yam gardens. If any man makes “bad” rain during that time which will spoil the gardens, he will be fined:

First Offence - chance Second Offence - one fowl and one head of kava Third Offence - one pig and one head of kava

N: From August, September, October, November and December there should be sun and rain working together for good gardens. If one Tipunis makes too much sun or rain and spoils the gardens, he will be fined:

First Offence - chance Second Offence - one fowl and one head of kava Third Offence - one pig and one head of kava

O: From January, February and March, Tipunis must make sure that these are the months of sun. If one man makes rain or hurricane, he will be fined: one big pig and one big head of kava which he must give to all the true Tipunis.

P: Law concerning the volcano: it is the same law that applies in Letter O

Q: Law concerning Numanakin, the use of poison to harm things of the earth, air, water, animals, birds, fish, everything in the sea, fruit trees, vegetables, everything that is grown in the garden; and man:

From January 20, 1982, it was forbidden to make Numanakin practice.

R: Law concerning making salt water come on the land: it is the same law and same fine as in Letter O.

If a man disobeys and he asks one man to perform Numanikin and if the victim dies, then the man who made the request give one girl to the chief. The man who made Numanakin and his family must go and remove the Numanakin.


Article 5. Law Concerning killing

Law concerning the killing of men, women, boys, girls and children who die during fights between Nimrukuen and Kouiameta:

A: In early time when two tribes had a fight and when the fight was over, the chiefs of the two tribes had to exchange one girl from each tribe; this was done to replace the people in the families who were killed. When the exchange is being performed, these girls have to come from Numanatik but not from the chief’s family (Iana and Iaramara).

B: Law concerning the killing of a man during the fights between Nimruken and Nimruken; and Kouiameta and Kouiameta: it is the same law of exchange as Letter A.

C: Law concerning fights between two men or two women and one dies:

If two men or two women fight and one is killed, then the chief of the man who has killed the person gives a girl to the family of the dead man. This makes good Kastom between the families.

D: Law concerning a man who kills his wife; and a woman who kills her husband: it is the same as in Letter C.

E: Law concerning sorcery by use of Natik: magic stones or herbs, etc., should be sent back to its “home”.

From January 6,1982, it is forbidden to practice sorcery, Nakaimas (other islands of Vanuatu sorcery) and all new methods (made up ways) of sorcerers. If one man disobeys and practices sorcery and kills someone, he must give a girl to the chief. If he practices sorcery and the person does not die, he must pay a fine of one pig and one head of kava. If he continues to practice sorcery and someone dies, then there is no place for him in Tanna and TAFEA because he is taking life, see Article 5 (A).


Article 6. Law concerning Marriage

Law concerning exchange of girls for marriage on the Kastom Road (Napagnouk Ausik)

A. If two Chiefs exchange girls, Napagnouk Ausik, no one has the power to break that exchange. If one girl is not happy, she cannot come back. It is the responsibility of the chief to fix up the problem. The other chief who sent the girl out, has no business to interfere. This applies to the other chief.

B: Law concerning fights between married couples:

When a girl is married and later they argue and fight through jealousy or any trouble between them; also during time of period and pregnancy, she can go away to the garden or she can go to her parents. If she goes to her parents, her husband cannot go and fetch her back. She can stay there and when she decides to return, her family must accompany her with one pig and one head kava. The husband must get ready one pig and one head of kava to give to the family of the girl as replacement for their pig and kava. Because this girl has been married along the Kastom Road, the chief from the husband’s village must give a pig which is killed, and one head of kava to the family, to ‘clean’ the Road.

C: If they continue to argue and the woman goes back to her family again, then her family must go to his family with one pig and one head of kava, this is to tell him not to beat her again. This pig and this kava are not exchanged. This pig and kava are the way of showing custom peace between the families.

D: Law concerning fighting by a couple, with no fine attached

If man beats his wife for not feeding the pigs, gardening, fetching water, and preparing food for kava or she breaks some rule given by the chief, and if the husband beats her, this is all right and there cannot be any fine for this. If the husband beats the wife and she runs away to her parents, the chief and the parents give her a beating for being lazy and not performing her duties, and they send her back to her husband and the chief. There is no fine imposed on the woman for not performing her duties.

E: Concerning Divorce

(i) Marriage takes place because when a man marries a girl they should have children so that sons take over the land from the father according to Kastom. It is forbidden to divorce because according to the marriage rule when a man marries a woman, he must replace this woman (wife) with his sister, or someone in his family must swap a female, because this exchange has been done through the Kastom Road.

(ii) If a couple have married according to the Kastom road, but the woman cannot become pregnant to her husband,

A. Then the chief must be informed by the family; B. The chief and the family of the boy and the family of the girl must come together and try to discover the reasons why the girl does not get pregnant; C. If the girl has prevented the pregnancy, or her family has prevented the pregnancy, then she will be fined, or the family will be fined one pig and one head of kava, and treatment must be given; D. If E (ii) (c) is not the reason, then the husband and the wife must seek treatment; E. If the girl is still unable to become pregnant after they receive treatment, the boy must not beat his wife; F. If the husband starts beating his wife, and the wife is afraid and unhappy to stay with her husband, then the chief and the husband’s parents must sit down and discuss divorce, G. When a divorce is agreed, the woman remains under the authority of the chief and the parents of the husband. If the bride price has not yet been paid, then the family of the girl must also be present with the chief and the family of the husband.

F: Law concerning a man marrying a girl from outside the path of the Kastom Road. The fine is one big pig and one big head of kava, and it is to be given to the chief along the Kastom Road.

G: Law concerning a man marries a girl from along the path bush Kastom Road outside the Kastom area network. If a boy marries a girl along the Kastom Road, but it is outside the area, the two Chiefs must find a road. If the Chiefs agree, then it should be done. If the Chiefs do not agree, then the marriage will not take place.

H: Law concerning fighting over a girl stolen along the way of the Bush Kastom Road, outside the area network: a fine is imposed of one pig and one head of kava. The chief of the father of the boy stealing the girl and causing the fight, must pay the fine to the chief of that part of the Kastom Road.

I: There is no fine imposed on a woman from along the Kastom Road but outside the area network who does not perform her duties to her husband (see Article 6, D)

J: The law concerning divorce of a couple who marry along the bush Kastom Road but outside the area: it is forbidden to divorce according to the marriage rule when a man marries a woman along the bush Kastom Road even though she is from outside the area (see Article 6, E).

K: However, if the couple argue and fight, and the marriage has reached the point where it cannot continue, then it is the business of the couple to divorce, for the decision to marry was not intended by the Chiefs (who just followed the decision of the couple). But the wife and the children must stay under the authority of the chief of the husband.

L: Law concerning marrying a girl along the bush Kastom Road outside the area applying to everywhere outside Tanna and TAFEA: see Article 6, paragraph G.

M: Law concerning marriage fighting where there is a fine (applies to marriage of a couple along the bush Kastom Road outside the area applying to everywhere outside Tanna and TAFEA): see Article 6, paragraphs B and C.

N: Law concerning marriage fighting where there is no fine (applies to marriage of a couple along the bush Kastom Road outside the area applying to everywhere outside Tanna and TAFEA): see Article 6, paragraph D.

O: Law concerning divorce of a couple along the bush Kastom Road outside the area applying to everywhere outside Tanna and TAFEA: see Article 6, paragraphs B and E.

If a woman or a girl breaks the law, Article 6, B and E, she will be fined

1st time - chance 2nd time - one fowl and one head of kava 3rd time - one pig and one head of kava

P: Rule concerning louahnan: lauahnan is open when a chief decides to have one, and that is his business only.

Q: Law concerning marrying more than one wife - Nosafugenan and Iowatawas: if the chief, or any of his men, wants to marry more than one woman, this is the business of the chief, but everyone (including the women) must agree and make an agreement with the chief for peace in Kastom.

R: Law concerning marriage of a boy and a young girl:

From Thursday 11 February 1982, it is forbidden for a young boy and a young girl under 12 years. Young boys and young girls must be over 20 years before they marry.

S: Law concerning reporting trouble to the chief

(i) The person responsible for trouble, must report that trouble to the chief him/herself. It is forbidden for any other person to report someone else’s trouble to the chief.

(ii) Every family has their right to privacy for troubling inside the family. If a man sees a girl belonging to his brother and she is making “friends” or is having sex with a boy, he has the right to report this to his brother, or the chief. But it is forbidden for the chief, man, woman, boy, girl and all children, everyone, to report any trouble to anyone else.

(iii) If someone ‘gossips’, then that person will be fined

1st time - chance 2nd time - one fowl and one head of kava 3rd time - one pig and one head kava

(iv) As from Wednesday 10 February 1982, it is forbidden to try to get a girl outside of the Kastom way. If a boy wants a girl, he must ask the parents or the chief. If he does not ask, he will be fined

1st time - chance 2nd time - one fowl and one head kava 3rd time - one pig and one head kava

(v) if a boy and a girl break this law and they marry under 20 years of age, then they will be fined one pig and one head kava between them.

T: Law about Bride Price

(i) If a Man Tanna wants to marry Woman Tanna, he must exchange one girl/woman, and he must pay pig, kava, mat, basket and grass skirt.

(ii) If a man is not Man Tanna and wants to marry Woman Tanna, then the previous law, Article 6, T, (i), applies to this man.

(iii) If the man does not exchange a girl at the time of marriage, then when one daughter is born, he must make the promised exchange of that girl and the girl goes to live on Tanna.

U: Law concerning parents who go to Vila with all their children

(i) Since Thursday 11 February 1982, it is forbidden for parents to go to Vila with all their children. If a man wants to go, he only can go. But he is not allowed to go with his wife and all of his children, unless there is a good reason for moving that family.

(ii) Parents who have the right to go to Vila with children are as follows:

- parents who have children going to school in Vila - If a family member is sick and must go to Vila Hospital - All parents who come to Vila to get work for the family but only if they respect the laws of the town - Everyone now has the right to live in Vila

(iii) If one man breaks this law and he takes his wife and family with him to Vila he will be fined along with his chief

1st time - chance 2nd time - one fowl and one head kava 3rd time - one pig and one head kava 4th time - chief will pay a fine of one pig and one head kava 5th time - the man will no longer have a place in Tanna and TAFEA

V: Law concerning all women and girls who go to live in Vila

(i) From Thursday 11 February 1982, it is forbidden for women and girls to go to live in Vila. If girls come to Vila to earn the money for school fees, it is good and they have the right to do so, but it is forbidden for any woman or any girl to come to Vila for no good reason.

(ii) If a woman or a girl wants to come to Vila, her parents and her husband must come with her to the airport or wharf before she enters the plane or ship. Otherwise she is not allowed to leave, unless she has a good reason.

(iii) If a woman or a girl comes to Vila without the permission of her parents of her husband, she will be fined

1st time - chance 2nd time - one fowl and one head of kava 3rd time - one pig and one head of kava


Article 7. Social Life in the Village (adultery, fornication, incest, duties of women)

Law concerning a married man who goes with a married woman

A: Before, if a married man committed adultery with a married woman, the two Chiefs with their people had to fight. After fighting, they all came together with one pig and one kava and each side exchanged these.

Now, suppose one married man goes with one married woman, and the chief has not heard of this, then the husband of the woman can go and fight with that man. After, the Chiefs can fix it up. But if the chief hears about this, the man cannot fight. If the chief has heard about this, and he has not done anything, the chief has to pay a fine of one head of kava.

B: When adultery is committed, the fines are as follows:

1st time - one pig and one head of kava 2nd time - one big pig and one big head of kava 3rd time - both Chiefs must be fined one big pig and one head of kava on each side

The man committing the adultery is fined a big pig and a big head of kava and he gives this to the chief of the woman in adultery, to make good the heart of the injured husband. The woman has to do the same thing by giving the man’s chief a big pig and a big head of kava, to make good the heart of the injured wife.

C: Where a single boy commits adultery with a married woman

If a single boy goes with a married woman he must be fined one pig and one head kava and give it to the chief of the woman to make good the heart of the husband. The woman is fined one pig and one head kava and gives it to the chief of the boy for breaking the marriage law.

They are fined as follows:

1st time - one pig and one head of kava 2nd time - one big pig and one head kava 3rd time - the Chiefs must pay a fine of one pig and one head of kava to each other

D: If the married couple(s) continues to quarrel even after all Kastom is observed then the chief must step in and stop all rows between them.

E: Law concerning a married man going with a single girl

If a married man goes with a single girl he must be fined one pig and one head kava and this is given to the chief of the girl to make a good heart with the father of the girl. The girl must be fined one pig and one head kava and this is given to the chief of the married man to make a good heart with the wife of the man. He will be fined:

1st time - one pig and one head kava 2nd time - one big pig and one big head of kava 3rd time - the Chiefs must pay a fine of one pig and one head of kava to each other

F: Law about a single boy and a single girl

(i) where the girl has been promised in Kastom marriage (she is called “Nise Louanapar”). If a single boy goes with Nise Louanapar, they each must pay a fine of one pig and one head of kava to their Chiefs because they have ignored the voice of the chief and caused trouble.

(ii)) where the girl is not Nise Louanapar, then there is no problem for the boy and the girl.

(iii) but if someone else creates problems. Or fights, then that person must pay a fine:

1st time - chance 2nd time - one pig and one head of kava

G: Law concerning a man taking away another man’s wife.

It is forbidden to take another man’s wife according to Kastom. If a man takes away another man’s wife, he must be fined one big pig and one big head of kava and the woman must go back to her husband.

1st time - one pig and one head of kava 2nd time - one big pig and one big head of kava 3rd time - the Chiefs must give each other one pig and one head of kava

If they have paid the fines, and they do it again, then the punishment is that the chief of the man committing the offence has to give a girl to the husband to replace his wife.

H: Law concerning ‘spoiling’ a girl in school (has reached puberty)

(i) If a boy or a man has sex with a girl at school he will be fined on big pig and one big head of kava. If the girl is removed (or discharged) from the school for this reason, and it does not matter if he marries her or not, then he must give the father an amount the same as what has been spent on the girl for her education.

(ii) It is the same law and fine if one girl or woman spoils a schoolboy.

I: Law concerning a man who has sex with his mother (birth mother)

(i) If a man has sex with his birth mother he will be fined one pig and one big head of kava, and he must give this to their chief.

(Ii) If a man has sex with one of his “mothers” (not birth mother) then he will be fined one big head of kava and he must give this to their chief.

J: Law concerning incest (man with his daughter)

If a man commits incest with his daughter, he will be fined one big pig and one big head of kava, and he must give it to his chief.

K: Law concerning man having sex with his sister (full sister)

If a man has sex with his full sister, he will be fined one big pig and one big head of kava, and he must give these to his chief and she must be sent outside of the family line. Chief must send the girl a long way away.

L: Law concerning sex with children

(A) a man who has sex with a girl (child = not reached puberty) (a) He will be fined one big pig and one big head of kava (b) If he has sex with the girl, and the girl dies, then the man has to give a girl to the family of the dead girl (B) It is the same law [J. 1. (i), (ii)] that applies to a woman having sex with a boy. Under Kastom law, a boy was under the authority of his family until marriage (age is not defined, but for marriage it is 20 years).

M: Law concerning two men fighting over the same girl

(i) If two men fight over the same girl, they can be fined

1st time - chance 2nd time - one fowl and one head of kava 3rd time - one pig and one head of kava

(ii) if only one man has had sex with the girl, then that man must give one pig and one head of kava to the chief

(iii) if both of them have had sex with the girl, then both of them have to pay fines of one pig each and one head of kava each, and they must give the fine to the chief of the girl and the father of the girl.

(iv) the chief and the father must send the girl out to one of the family Kastom lines, straight away.

N: Law concerning two girls fighting over one boy. It is the same as J above.

O: Law concerning man having sex with Narpisu before one year has passed

If a man spoils Narpisu, the chief being responsible for the people of his area, the man must pay a fine to the chief of one pig and one head of kava to make good heart for the chief.

P: Law concerning a man having sex with Nautalimis (this is a widow more than one year) and women who “go all about” (loose women).

(i) If a married man goes with widows and loose women and the wife finds out and is angry, her husband must make a good heart for her, with a fine of one pig and one head kava to the chief.

(ii) If anyone goes and tells the wife, then that person will be fined

1st time - chance 2nd time - one fowl and one head kava 3rd time - one pig and one head kava

(iii) If a single boy goes with a widow and loose women, there is no fine for him. If there is any trouble and fights, then the person making trouble must pay a fine of a pig and a head of kava.

Q: If a man marries a loose woman, or a woman marries a loose man and they knew about this type of life, then they must put behind them all knowledge about the life before marriage. If they become jealous when they think back on this past conduct and argue and fight, they will be fined:

1st time - chance 2nd time - one fowl and one head kava 3rd time - one pig and one head kava

And the man cannot beat his wife, and a wife cannot beat her husband. In this case there can be no divorce.

R: Law concerning menstruating women and girls

(i) Women must stay in the women’s house of the family. They must not sleep with their husband, children and families.

(ii) Women are not allowed to sell their vegetables at market or to the public.

(iii) Women must not touch any food that is to be given to their husband, any man, family or children (boy or girl, until girl is grown up)

(iv) When a woman has her period she must wear her grass skirt and after the period is over and she has had a wash, she may put on clothes (western material).


Article 8. Law concerning Ceremonies

A: Law concerning Nikouiar or Toka

(i) If a chief makes Nikouiar he sends word along his Kastom line and they must make ready to come and dance and be happy.

Once the date has been set for the Toka, no one can interrupt the passage of the dancers to the area. If any one does interfere, they will be fined one big pig, one big head of kava, and one Tapuga.

When the women are giving the dress rehearsal during daytime, then nausapukan is not allowed to interfere or join in. If someone tries to dance with the women, they will be fined one fowl and one head of kava.

(ii) No one must interfere with the women’s grass skirts which the women are decorating and wearing for Napenapen.

(iii) If a man is drunk and tries to spoil Napenapen, all security men for Nikouiar will stop him dancing with the women in Napenapen. The security men cannot send him back home or beat him.

(iv) When a dancer who is “play acting” finishes his performance and throws his belt towards the spectators, then any one picking up the belt should not play act but return to his seat.

(v) It is forbidden to give a hawk feather to any expatriate and any man. If anyone breaks this rule and gives a hawk feather to any expatriate or any other man, he will be fined and he must recover and give back that Miruk. The fine will be one pig and one head of kava.

(vi) It is a forbidden for a man to steal Kueria, strap, turtle, and the Kastom road which belongs to one man. If a man steals any of these Kastom things he will be fined one big pig and one big head of kava and he must give back the item.

(vii) It is forbidden for a man to beat his wife who is dancing Napenapen and if he does beat her, he will be fined one pig and one head of kava.

(viii) It is forbidden to sell spirits, wine and beer (or any alcoholic drinks) or make any business during Nikouiar ceremonies, for there is a time for business and a time for Kastom festivals.

If a man breaks these rules and makes a stall (booth) to sell food or alcohol during Nikouiar time, then he will be fined

1st time - chance 2nd time - one fowl and one head of kava 3rd time - one pig and one head of kava

(ix) If visitors are allowed to come to look at NIkouiar, they must pay a fee to the Tanna Island Council of Chiefs to observe NIkouiar, and must pay to take photographs or films.  If a chief wants to give a small present to any visitor that is his business.  Visitors must respect all Kastom.

B: Law concerning ceremony of Niel (fruit and vegetable harvest)

It is the same law and fines as for Article 8 (A) with some small differences from Nikouiar, and if a man breaks these rules, or makes a mistake he must pay the fines to the chief making Niel.

1st time - chance 3nd time - one fowl and one head of kava 3rd time - one pig and one head of kava

C: Law concerning Circumcision ceremonies

It is the same law and fines as for Article 8(A) with some small differences from Nikouiar and Niel, and if a man breaks these rules, or makes a mistake, he must pay the fines to the chief making the Circumcision.

1st time - chance 2nd time - one fowl and one head of kava 3rd time - one pig and one head of kava

D: Law concerning making Kastom ceremonies in Vila or anywhere else

From 15 February 1982 it is forbidden to make Nikouiar, Niel, Circumcision, Kastom dancing and exchanging girls in Vila or anywhere else without the permission of Island council of Chiefs of Tanna and TAFEA. If the Island Council of Chiefs agree, then the Kastom ceremonies can be performed.

If the people of a chief of Tanna or TAFEEA make Kastom ceremonies in Vila or anywhere else outside of Tanna or TAFEA without the permission of the Island Council of Chiefs of Tanna or TAFEA, then they will be fined:

1st time - chance 2nd time - one fowl and one head of kava 3rd time - one pig and one head of kava 4th time - the chief must pay a fine of one pig and one head of kava


Article 9. Law concerning the Mountains and the Dark Bush (trespass)

A: (i) If a man wishes to go out the mountain or dark bush belonging to another man, he must ask permission and give one head of kava. If he breaks this law and (a) goes there, (b) and takes something without the owner’s permission, he will be fined:

1st time - chance 2nd time - one fowl and one head of kava 3rd time - one pig and one head of kava

(ii) Law concerning owners of the mountains and the dark bush

An owner of a mountain or dark bush must go straight to that place belonging to him, but if he goes to someone else’s mountain and dark bush and the two men argue or fight, then the trespasser will be fined:

1st time - chance 2nd time - one fowl and one head of kava 3rd time - one pig and one head of kava

B: Law concerning water of the River

It is the same law that applies to Article 9, A(i) and (ii).

C: Law concerning sea coast and salt water

(i) It is the same law as applies to Article 9, A(i) and (ii)

(Ii) the boundary of the owner of the sea coast and saltwater extends to the horizon. According to Kastom, people of the Kastom line who go for fish and shellfish are limited to the extent of the reef.

(iii) it is forbidden for anyone to go and dive, fish, etc. in the area of any other man. If he breaks this rule, he must be fined

1st time - chance 2nd time - one fowl and one head of kava 3rd time - one pig and one head of kava

D: During the time of the new garden it is forbidden for anyone to fish from the coast and in the reef, starting 1 September 1 April. After this he is free to fish. If one man breaks this rule he will be fined

1st time - chance 2nd time - one fowl and one head of kava 3rd time - one pig and one head of kava

E: Law concerning Noanabaut (boundary/yard/area of a man’s property) or village and garden

(i) it is forbidden to go inside the village, garden and yard of a man if he is not there. In times before, if a man went to see a friend and if the friend was not there, he had to go to the Nakamal to wait for him. While he is waiting at the Nakamal, he is not allowed to yell out or whistle. He should only slap his sides or clap his hands until his friend comes. If he goes to the garden to see his friends he may whistle only. If the man belongs to the Kastom line goes to the village, then he has the right to go inside the village but he cannot go inside the house or go to look into the pigsty.

(Ii) It is forbidden for a brother to go into his sister’s room where she sleeps.

(iii) If a man breaks E (i) or E (ii) he will be fined:

1st time - chance 2nd time - one fowl and one head of kava 3rd time - one pig and one head of kava

F: Law concerning going into another man’s garden

(i) According to Kastom, it is forbidden to go into the gardens of another man if he is not there; and it is forbidden to go in and take a thing from the garden.

(Ii) If a man does go inside; and if he steals, he must exchange what has been stolen, and he must be fined:

1st time - chance 2nd time - one fowl and one head of kava 3rd time - one pig and one head of kava

(iii) If parents, brothers and sisters take something from the garden that belongs to them, it is all right, but they must tell all the family what they have taken.

(iv). It is forbidden for anyone to go inside Naonaulul (first garden or old garden with crops still inside) of anyone else. If he wishes to take anything from inside, he must ask permission to go inside and permission to take everything.

(v) If a man breaks F (iv), he will be fined:

1st time - chance 2nd time - one fowl and one head of kava 3rd time - one pig and one head of kava


Article 10. Law concerning animals getting into and destroying gardens or eating the crops

A: (i) In times before, if a pig got out and broke into another man’s garden, the chief would tell his people to repair the fence because the pig and the garden are there for the chief to use for anything that is good for the chief and his people.

(Ii) Today if a pig gets out and eats and/or destroys another’s garden, the man must give three warnings to the owner of the pig to fence in the pig. If the pig still comes after three warnings, then the owner of the garden can kill the pig.

(iii) The owner of the pig must give half the pig to the owner of the garden to be eaten. The pig cannot be sold to the butcher. If he does not give half the pig then he must replace the crops that have been destroyed. If two pigs eat the garden, then these two owners must replace the crops or kill the pigs and each give half a pig to the owner of the garden.

(iv) If a pig steals, you make sure you kill the right pig. If you kill the wrong pig you must replace the pig.

(v) All gardens which are close to the village must be fenced, and if you want to make a garden inside the village, you must build a fence. If a pig breaks the fence and destroys the garden, the same law applies as in Article 10, A (II) and (iii) and (iv).

(vi) If two men put the same mark (brand) on a pig and if one man mistakenly kills the other man’s pig, he must replace the pig.

(vii) if a man steals a pig, he must replace the pig and be fined one fowl and one head of kava.

It is the same law and fine if someone steals a bullock, goat, fowl, dog, pussycat, money, kava, yam, taro, kumala, Banana, etc

B: Law concerning bullocks destroying and eating gardens

(i) If a herd of bullocks gets out and eat and destroy a garden then the owner of the bullock must pay the owner of the garden one bullock

(Ii) If a bullock is on a rope and eats a garden, the owner of the bullock must replace the crops eaten or destroyed.

C: Law concerning bullocks which eat and/or destroy commercial crops

(i) If a herd of bullocks break out of the paddock and eat commercial gardens, then the owner of the bullocks must replace the crop. If he cannot replace the crop he must give a bullock. Each time the fine goes up -

1st time - one bullock 2nd time - two bullocks 3rd time - three bullocks 4th time - four bullocks 5th time - five bullocks

(ii) If a man opens a gate and the bullocks get out and spoil someone’s garden, then that man must replace the crops or he must give one bullock. If he opens the gate but the bullocks stay in, then the man will be fined one fowl and one head of kava.

D: Law concerning gardens eaten or destroyed by horse

(i) If a horse eats or destroys crops, then the owner of the garden must give three warnings to the owner of the horses and

1st time - owner must replace the crops 2nd time - owner must replace the crops 3rd time - owner must replace the crops 4the time - the horse will be killed

(ii) If a horse eats or destroys a commercial garden, then the owner of the horse must replace the crop. If he has no commercial garden, then he must pay one fowl, kava, and one pig.

1st time - owner must replace the crops 2nd time - owner must replace the crops 3rd time - owner must replace the crops 4th time - the horse will be killed

E: If a goat eats and/or destroys a garden: it is the same law as applies to pig in article 10 B (I) (ii), Article 10 C (i)

F: Law concerning a dog which steals a pig, goat, folk pussycat, piece of meat

(i) If the dog steals a pig, goat, fowl, pussycat, piece of meat, the owner of the dog must replace the pig, etc. if the dog continues to kill these animals then after three chances, the dog will be killed.

G: Law concerning a pussycat which kills fowl - see F

H: Law concerning fowl eating and destroying a garden. The owner of the garden must give three chances and if the owner of the fowl does not stop the fowl, then he will be fined one fowl and one head of kava, and the fowl must be fenced in. If the fowl is still not stopped, then the fowl will be killed.

I: Law concerning rats spoiling the gardens. When rats spoil garden, the chief of the man in charge of rats must give the owner of the garden one fowl and one head of kava to make a good heart with the owner, and the rat man must stop the rat from continuing destroying the gardens.


Article 11. Law about keeping law and order

A: (i) Every man, woman, boy, girl and all children must respect all parents and all Chiefs

(II) If someone hits and/or beats their parent, chief, brother or sister they will be fined

1st time - chance 2nd time - one fowl and one head of kava 3td time - one pig and one head of kava

(iii) Law concerning killing a family member:

If a man kills his wife, he must be fined: 2 big pigs and 2 big heads of kava (these are shared 1 pig, 1 kava to the children, 1 pig and 1 kava to the chief)

It is the same penalty for any family member killing another family member

(iv) If a man has married and has not paid the bride price, and he kills his wife, he must pay a fine of 2 big pigs and 2 big heads of kava

He still must pay the bride price even though his wife is dead.

(v) The pay back for the life of a dead man from the Kastom family line stays the same, that is, a big pig and a big kava are given to the family (Kamos Nemrin).

(VI) If someone burns the house of a parent, brother and sister they will be fined one pig and one head of kava.

(vii) If someone spoils the new garden of local food before the Tipunis man allows, he must pay the chief of the Tipunis man one fowl and one head of kava. If the new garden is a yam garden he must give to the chief of the yam Tipunis man one pig and one head kava. The same fine must be paid to all the other Chiefs of other Tipunis for their specialty (e.g., fruit trees, root crops, etc.). This rule applies to the fish in the sea and rivers, shell fish, crabs, prawns, birds - everything to do with the Tipunis man.

B: Law concerning burning another man’s house - victim/perpetrator bear the burden and share the blame for conduct

(i) If one man is angry and he burns another man’s house which is on his own land, if the man who burns the house is wrong, he must pay a fine of one pig and one head of kava and he must build a new house and replace everything that was destroyed in that fire.

(II) If the man burning the house is right, he will be fined one pig and one head of kava.

(iii) If a man is angry and spoils the garden of another it is the same law as Article 11, B (i) and (ii)

(iv) If a man fights with his wife and the wife is angry and burns their house, she will be fined one pig and one head of kava. It is the same fine for spoiling the garden.

The same law applies to the husband.

(v) If a man burns a house or he spoils the garden inside disputed land then they must first settle the land dispute. Later they will settle the damages.

(VI) If a man, by accident, burns a house, he must replace the house and he must replace everything which burned inside the house, but he does not have to pay a fine. Because he did not mean to burn the house, then the peace will always remain with the man who owns the house and the Chiefs of those men.

(VII) In time before Kastom, it was forbidden to burn a house, even if the house is old and rotten it was not burned.

C: Suicide

(i) If a man/woman is upset, and although parents, chief, everyone, talks and tries to dissuade him, he still goes ahead and takes tablets or jumps from high place, or hangs himself, and kills himself then there is no penalty.

(Ii) If a girl gives birth to a baby and kills the baby, then she will be fined one pig and one head of kava.


Article 12. Law concerning western civilisation

A: (i) Vanuatu become independent on 30 July 1980 and the power came back to the people and the Kastom Chiefs. On 16 February 1982, all Kastom Chiefs made an agreement that all tourists who came to Tanna and TAFEA for the first time must visit the office of the Kastom Chiefs and buy a passport before they go and look at the island and take photographs.

(Ii) Man Tanna should not molest tourists. If he/she does, the fine will be

1st time - chance 2nd time - one fowl and one head of kava 3rd time - one pig and one head of kava

B: Law concerning Nightclubs/discos

(i) From 17 February 1982 all Kastom Chiefs agreed that they would not allow nightclubs/discos on Tanna.

(Ii) If a chief breaks B (i) by allowing a nightclub/disco to operate, he will be fined one pig and one head of kava. If a girl goes in to the nightclub/disco and a boy picks her up and takes her away with him, then the chief who allowed the nightclub/disco will be fined one pig and one head of kava.

C: Law concerning youth and sport. People playing sport must be modestly and respectfully dressed.

D: Law concerning dress standards

From 17 February 1982, all Kastom Chiefs agreed that women and girls would not be allowed to wear short dresses, our tight dresses; and men would not be allowed to wear short shorts and tight shorts and trousers. If someone breaks the law, they will be fined

1st time - chance 2nd time - one fowl and one head of kava 3rd time - one pig and one head of kava

E: Law concerning drinking wine (alcoholic drinks) and kava

(i) If a man wants to consume alcoholic drinks he must drink in his house. If a man drinks and he goes and wakes up a friend in his house and there is any trouble, then that man will be fined

1st time - chance 2nd time - one fowl and one head of kava 3rd time - one pig and one head of kava

(Ii) If a man drinks wine, beer, and whisky (or any other alcoholic drinks) then he should not mix this drinking with kava. If a man does mix his drinking of alcohol and kava, he will be fined

1st time - chance 2nd time - one fowl and one head of kava 3rd time - one pig and one head of kava

(Iii) If a man is drunk and he makes a noise which interferes with the kava drinkers, or his noise wakes up the chief he will be fined:

1st time - chance 2nd time - one fowl and one head of kava 3rd time - one pig and one head of kava

(Iv) if a man drinks his own money, and even though he does not use his wife’s money for drink, but his wife is angry, he will be fined:

1st time - chance 2nd time - one fowl and one head of kava 3rd time - one pig and one head of kava

(v) It is forbidden to drink (alcohol and/or kava) and drive. If this law is broken, that person will be fined:

1st time - chance 2nd time - one fowl and one head of kava 3rd time - one pig and one head of kava

(vi) If a man gives alcohol to a woman or girl, he will be fined

1st time - chance 2nd time - one fowl and one head of kava 3rd time - one pig and one head of kava

(VII) It is forbidden for anyone to drink white alcohol and perfume. If this law is broken, they will be fined:

1st time - chance 2nd time - one fowl and one head of kava 3rd time - one pig and one head of kava

(VIII) it is forbidden for young boys under the age of 20 to drink alcoholic drinks, alcohol, kava or to smoke. The fine will be:

1st time - chance 2nd time - one fowl and one head of kava 3rd time - one pig and one head of kava

(ix) If a taxi man picks up a woman and has sex with her, he will be fined:

1st time - chance 2nd time - one fowl and one head of kava 3rd time - one pig and one head of kava

(X) If the driver of a vehicle kills someone with his driving, they must exchange one girl, and be fined one big pig and one big kava

(Xi) If the driver of a vehicle kills someone’s pig, they must replace the pig, and be fined:

1st time - chance 2nd time - one fowl and one head of kava 3rd time - one pig and one head of kava

F: (i) If a man forgets leaves/loses his basket at an airport, it is forbidden for anyone to steal it. If someone finds the lost article, he must keep it safely or give it to the chief or the police. If someone keeps it or steals it, he must replace the article and he will be fined

1st time - chance 2nd time - one fowl and one head of kava 3rd time - one pig and one head of kava

(Ii) It is the same law and fine for money, knife, axe, clothes and anything that is lost, or left or forgotten along the road.

G: Law concerning Family Planning

(i) From Thursday 18 February 1982, all Kastom Chiefs forbade women and girls from using western methods of contraception.

(ii) Kastom contraception is good. If women and girls use this it is a better way than western contraception because many women and girls have been injured by western methods.

(iii) if a woman or a girl breaks this law, then she will be fined

1st time - chance 2nd time - one fowl and one head of kava 3rd time - one pig and one head of kava

H: Law concerning churches (religions) on TAFEA

(i) All religions must respect all Kastom and Kastom must respect all religions. Religions must not interfere with Kastom.

(ii) If Kastom interferes with other religions the chief must make a good heart for the pastor by giving one pig, kava, fowl, mat, basket and calico. If another religion interferes with Kastom, the pastor must make a good heart for the chief by giving one pig, kava, fowl, mat, pussycat and calico.

(iii) If a new religion wants to come to Tanna in TAFEA, the pastor must first come to the Office of the Kastom Chiefs for approval.

(Iv) If a boy who is a member of a church marries a girl of Kastom, he must pay the Kastom bride price (see Article 6, and 6[T]).

(v) If a boy who is a member of a church has sex with a girl of Kastom, then he will be fined one pig and one head of kava.

(vi). If a boy who is a member of a church tries to make trouble with a girl of Kastom, he will be fined

1st time - chance 2nd time - one fowl and one head of kava 3rd time - one pig and one head of kava

(VIi) If a boy of Kastom has sex with a girl of a church, then he will be fined one pig and one head of kava

(viii) If a boy of Kastom tries to make trouble with aa girl of a church, then he will be fined

1st time - chance 2nd time - one fowl and one head of kava 3rd time - one pig and one head of kava

(ix) If a boy of Kastom marries a girl from a church, for example, SDA, or Assemblies of God, then the bride price still applies according to Kastom.


Article 13. Law concerning drinking kava according to Kastom

A: Time before, if a woman drank kava she was killed. If a woman saw a chief drinking kava she was killed.

(i) Women and girls must prepare Nahunu for kava (food sent to the Nakamal). If a woman or a girl does not prepare Nahunu, and the chief finds she does not have a good reason, then her husband has the right to beat her and he will receive no punishment.

(ii) The same rule applies to a boy who must prepare kava.

(iii) If a man talks or makes noise and destroys the effect of kava, he will be fined one head of kava which he must give to the man who has affected.

(iv) A man must be over 25 years old before he has the right to drink kava and smoke.

(v) Kava is very important in Kastom. Everyone must respect kava time and all rules about kava. Some rules about kava

A. Women/girls are not allowed to drink kava B. Women/girls are never allowed inside Nimaimaim (house inside Nakamal) C. Women/girls are not allowed to see men preparing kava. D. Women/girls are not allowed to go to the Nakamal during kava time E. Women/girls are not allowed to pass near the area when kava is being prepared and drunk F. Women/girls are not allowed to look to the area when kava is being prepared and drunk G. Women’s/girl’s voices must not be heard when kava is prepared and drunk H. When the kava is being prepared, men and boys are not allowed to whistle, call out and make any loud noises I. It is forbidden to make any noise when kava drinking begins J. No one is allowed to remove the ash from the fire until after one year K. When it is time to remove the ash, the man responsible for the fire must remove the ash according to Kastom, by using the fruit of the nimh tree. he then puts the ash under a tree or inside the Nakamal’s house. When he is ready to make a new fire, he must bring one fowl and one head of kava. if the man makes any mistake he will be fined one fowl and one head of kava.

(iv) A. If a woman or a girl drinks kava, she will be fined one pig and one head kava. B. If a woman or a girl’s voice is heard when kava is being drunk, she will be fined one fowl and one head of kava. C. If a woman or a girl breaks the rules (b) to (g) she will be hit on the head with a kava branch.

(VI) A. A man or a boy breaking rules (h) and (i) will be fined one fowl and one head of kava B. If someone removes the ash, the fine is one fowl and one head of kava.

B: Law concerning nambas.

From Thursday 19 February 1982 all Kastom Chiefs agreed that all Kastom things such as wearing of nambas, grasskirts, making mats, weave baskets, etc., should be encouraged and never banned.

(i) if Man Tanna wishes to wear a nambas, that is his business.

(ii) if a woman wishes to wear a grass skirt, that is her business.

If anyone laughs or jokes or makes fun of anyone wearing nambas or grass skirts, then that person will be fined

1st time - chance 2nd time - one fowl and one head of kava 3rd time - one pig and one head of kava

C: Law concerning true Kastom road in Tanna.

These are the names of the some of the true Kastom roads in Tanna

North - South

1. Nikavakava 2. Nasapil 3. Nimatakeiu 4. Nalpalip 5. Nimananip 6. Nihmerap 7. Nimalkoumas 8. Kotahren 9. Nimanolu 10. Nowanuvotuan 11. Keteikas 12. Karipen 13. Tuhuh

West - East 14. Kaiapamh 15. Hugin 16. Nakuas 17. Nulkasik 18. Nimanouhmerik 19. Tipiarimis 20. Nimanaknouh 21. Nimanamlet 22. Nimalkaiapamh 23. Noakapiel 24. Kapsas Iakis 25. Nikuanau 26. Nimanulmira 27. Nisiga Iouinatuan 28. Nipanaklai 29. Nikulua

D: Concerning Kastom Law and Order

If you want to keep out of trouble you must not break the Kastom law and you must be respectful and follow these paths:

Nupahrienan - Be truthful Nolan Nowa - Be obedient Nisiaian - Be respectful Nolkeikeian - Be loving Noshiuantil - Be humble

  Appendix

Names of different languages of Tanna

1. Nafem 2. Nahrak 3. Netuar 4. Nehval 5. Nivai

Provided by Chief Tom Numake, 1 September 2016.