This seminar analyses Honiara as a Pacific arrival city and hybrid living space that retains many village-like qualities. In Doug Saunders’ ‘arrival city’ model, new arrivals are sustained by established networks which enable them eventually to integrate into urban life, along with considerable circulation with a constant flow from and to the provinces. However, the relatively small size of Honiara and Solomon Islands, plus the resilience of aspects of village culture, bring into question some theoretical models based on much larger, more anonymous developing world cities.

Honiara’s urban districts combine land with permanent and long-tenure titles, temporary tenure settlements, and squatter areas with no tenured status. Settlement and squatter areas are more dominant than ‘suburbs’, exist alongside and are called ‘villages’ by their inhabitants. Wantokism, kastom and linguistic diversity permeate these urban villages and extended family networks. The seminar draws on participant observation since the 1970s, newspapers, surveys, urban statistics and secondary sources to understand how Honiara has changed over recent decades.

Many Solomon Islands issues from the ‘Tension’ years (1998–2003) and the decade beyond relate to Honiara. Malaitan migration has predominantly been to the Guadalcanal Plains and to Honiara, the nation’s main concentration of urbanisation and resultant social pressure is centred there. Honiara’s population— roughly 16 percent of the nation of 500,000—means that understanding its history and social dynamics is crucial to all future development in the nation’s nine provinces and almost 1,000 islands. The conclusion argues that authorities must come to terms with arrivals, squatters and settlements/villages and incorporate them into planning, or face future urban turmoil.


Professor Clive Moore, CSI, FAHA is McCaughey Professor of Pacific and Australian History in the School of Historical and Philosophical Inquiry at The University of Queensland.

About The Centre for Public, International and Comparative Law and UQ Solomon Island Partnership Seminar

Legal systems of former colonies are often burdened with a legacy of transplanted laws, developed for use in a foreign country. Today, Solomon Islands is struggling with a plural legal system and seeking to balance the demands of law from different sources, designed to operate in fundamentally different contexts. This seminar will examine the legal systems of Solomon Islands and the tensions between the different laws in force. It will discuss the court system and, more specifically, how the system has dealt with the aftermath of the tensions 2000-10. It will also touch on issues within the legal profession.


1-W341, Forgan Smith Building (1) UQ St Lucia Campus
Sir Samuel Griffith Room