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Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center

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

Malietoa Title Conferral Disputed In Samoa
Christmas date to name successor contradicted

By Aigaletaule’ale’a F. Tauafiafi

APIA, Samoa (Samoa Observer, Sept. 11, 2012) – In Samoa, claims by Papali’i Siliva Taouma that a Malietoa title holder should be known by Christmas day this year have been dismissed by the official spokesperson of his clan.

In a statement to the Sunday Samoan, Papali’i Petoni Ala’ilima declared that he is the Sa’o (leader) of the Malietoa Talavou clan. He dismisses Papali’i Siliva’s comments saying their family did not appoint him as a spokesperson.

He also pointed to references by Papali’i Siliva to Malietoa clan residences "Gataiala" or "Gautaala" as incorrect because they do not exist.

"I did not authorize anyone nor did I authorize Papalii Siliva Taouma to speak on behalf of our clan at any time nor did I authorize him to offer a statement to Samoa Observer or any other press or media."

He added the statement about a Christmas title bestowment "is incorrect because this has not been agreed upon yet by all clans of the Malietoa."

"There was never a December meeting discussed among the clans. December 25th was never nor would ever be considered a good date for our meeting because this is a special time meant for family members to spend with their own immediate families," he said. "The next meeting of the clans agreed and understood by all clan leaders as I announced in the meeting in Poutoa, is on October 27, 2012 at the maota o Suli o Malietoa Talavou i Pouesi."

Papali’i Malietau of the Malietoa Moli clan agreed.

"That motion [for a 25th December meeting] was not carried. I was there at the meeting and his motion was not unanimously agreed to as he [Papalii Siliva] claims. I know I did not agree to it, as Christmas day people will be with their families and I will not attend such a meeting on that day," Papali’i Malietau said.

As it stands, the three clans have agreed to the 27 October meeting at 9am in the morning at Pouesi. But there is not much confidence that an agreement to a titleholder will be reached at the October meeting.

"No agreement has been reached and no agreement is likely on the foreseeable horizon," said Papali’i Malietau, the eldest grandson of the late Malietoa Tanumafili II. "From a legal standpoint there can never be an agreement to oust the court’s jurisdiction over these matters. If one clan wants to take it to court then there is nothing to stop them from doing so. And we should remember that Malietoa Tanumafili II’s appointment was a court decision," he said.

"All three clans have internal issues that have not been resolved for a successful combined meeting."

For the Malietoa title to be conferred out of Court, all three clans must agree on the one candidate as stipulated by Land and Titles Court decision LC853 of 14 December 1939.

But if the matter does go to Court Papalii Malietau expects a new titleholder could be named as early as 2013.

Samoa Observer:
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