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Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center

With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai‘i


Samoa Village Urged To Settle Internal Disputes
Disagreements lead to division amongst Satapuala chiefs

By Unumoe Esera

APIA, Samoa (Talamua, Nov. 13, 2012) – Samoa’s Minister for Women, Community and Social Development, Tolofuaivalelei Falemoe Leiataua, says that Satapuala village should settle [its] own disputes following a division between the matais of the village.

"The Government hopes that the Ali’i and Faipule of Satapuala will come to a decision to reunite the village as one again," he said.

He also added that Government does not support the division of any village and Satapuala should work out their differences.

The Minister says that Vaili Tatupu told him that a court decision was delivered by the Lands and Titles Court two weeks ago on the 2nd November to take the matter back to the village to try and reach an agreement.

The dispute is between the two parties led by Vaili Mimita and the other party led by Vaili Tatupu. The Court did not accept the claims by both parties as there was not enough evidence to support their respective claims.

Vaili Tatupu then wrote to the Prime Minister for a meeting to help resolve the issues happening in their village. Tolofua says that he then met with Vaili Tatupu’s side and they told him they wanted to have the position of Village Mayor returned to their side.

Vaili said that the court had ordered both sides to meet and try and reach an agreement. But no meeting took place between the two sides. Vaili Mimita’s side held their own separate meeting where they agreed that Vaili Tatupu’s fine would be reduced from WST$5,000 to WST$4,000 [US$2,118 to US$1,694]. Vaili Tatupu was removed from the circle of the Alii and Faipule (Village Council) of Satapuala after the village mounted a road block at the main road as an act of rebellion and protest against Government for not returning their customary lands.

Vaili Tatupu was then fined by the Village Council "for making remarks in Court which went against the village." But Vaili Tatupu refused to pay the fine because he said the decision was not right.

Tolofua said that another meeting will take place between Vaili Tatupu’s side and the Prime Minister on Wednesday this week to reach a decision and to hear whether there has been forgiveness between both sides and an indication that they are back to being reunited under one village.

"What has happened is important to learn from, no one is perfect," said Tolofua.

Vaili Tatupu stated that they would appeal the Court’s decision in the matter against the village. He was banished from the village and decided to set up his own sub village made up of his supporters and family. Hence Vaili Tatupu’s move to have one from his side appointed as Village Mayor as Mayor Ga Sakaria was terminated by the Ministry, of which Tolofua is the Minister, when Sakaria took part in the roadblock. He, along with fourteen others from the village, are facing court charges stemming from the roadblock and skirmishes with the Police in an effort to resolve the dispute peacefully.

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