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Brando's eco-paradise in danger

August 3, 2004
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The paradise isle once used as a retreat by the late Marlon Brando could be re-classified in an attempt to protect it from private development it was revealed this week. A resolution describing the Tahitian island of Tetiaroa as meriting "special attention" is to be put in front of the regional authorities.

According to vice president of the French Polynesian assembly, Hiro Tefaarerea, several investors have lodged requests for permits to develop the South Pacific island, which Tefaarerea says should be protected "to preserve its natural inheritance and history".

Brando bought the atoll, once the home of Tahitan royalty, after he fell in love with it while filming Mutiny On The Bounty. Intending to create a paradise which those who shared his ecological and conservation ideals could also enjoy, the star spent millions of dollars on environmental projects and established a low-key hotel comprising 13 native style huts served by rudimentary facilities.

At the time of the actor's death in July 2004, however, the island was inhabited by only his 41-year-old son Tehotu, the fruit of his third marriage to beautiful Polynesian Tarita Teripia. The resort itself is crumbling – at least six of the 13 huts have lost their roofs, while the accommodation once used by the actor, who never returned to Tetiaroa after his troubled daughter Cheyanne hanged herself there in 1995 - has fallen into disrepair.

Through the provisions of the screen giant's will his entire estate, including his Beverly Hills home and Tetiaroa, is to be placed in a trust administered by executors.

Brando signed two agreements with the territory's authorities specifying that they would have first rights over the island's future development upon any change of ownership.

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Photo: AFP
The silver screen legend bought Tetiaroa after falling in love with both the atoll and local girl Tarita Teripia (above) while filming 1962's Mutiny On The Bounty
Brando originally intended to share his pristine paradise with those who shared his eco ideals, but facilities constructed to accommodate them were rudimentary and gradually the number of visitors petered off