‘Land is a very limited definition of place’

Navigating urban heritage conservation in the Pacific Island nations

Authored by: Anita Smith

The Routledge Handbook on Historic Urban Landscapes in the Asia-Pacific

Print publication date:  January  2020
Online publication date:  December  2019

Print ISBN: 9781138598256
eBook ISBN: 9780429486470
Adobe ISBN:

10.4324/9780429486470-35

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Abstract

For Pacific Island communities the concept of ‘place’ is fundamental to their cultural identity. Although the majority of Pacific Island peoples continue to live in small communities and villages, an increasing number are moving to live in urban centres. The planning processes in these rapidly growing urban centres are limited and where planning regulations exist, the priority is providing adequate essential services rather than management of built heritage. Although many Pacific Island nations maintain registers of historic buildings, there are as of yet no programmes assessing or managing the broader heritage values of these urban centres. An exception to this is the management planning for the Historic Port Town of Levuka, Fiji’s first capital and World Heritage site that provides a model for urban heritage management in the Pacific Island nations. The sustainable management of Levuka’s World Heritage values relies on a long process of community consultation and mapping of the town’s multiple and layered heritage values. The management plan integrates Fijian customary concepts of place, land and customary decision-making with local and national law. The outcome is a management plan and system that is uniquely Pacific but aligns closely to the aims of the UNESCO Historic Urban Landscape initiative.

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