One of the many post-colonial claims of indigenous people is the re-assertion of their rights over their land and its resources. Colonial history has created for many people a plural legal system and this, combined with social and economic changes, presents new challenges for development in the realm of traditional or customary land. This article focuses on the Pacific island state of Vanuatu, formerly known as the New Hebrides. At independence in 1980 allodial title to all land was returned to the custom owners while colonial forms of land law were also retained. In 2013, after nearly a decade of concern about land alienation, the Vanuatu government introduced the Custom Land Management Act. This article critically analyses this attempt to safeguard customary law and customary institutions in formal, written law, considering in particular the implications for law and development in a plural land law regime.