12 Apr 2010

Samoa looks to its neighbour as it assesses matai bestowal system

7:14 pm on 12 April 2010

The Commission of Inquiry set up by the Samoa Government to review the practice of mass bestowal of matai titles is seeking American Samoa's help.

The Commission chair, Professor Le'apai Asofou So'o, told the Samoa Observer that American Samoa allows only one person to be bestowed a matai title.

If other descendants challenge this the matter is first taken to the Office of Samoan Affairs and if parties cannot reach a compromise, then the case ends up in court.

American Samoa law provides criteria for the High Court to follow in deciding who should receive a matai title.

It's been the practice in Samoa for several people to be bestowed the same title and the Commission is to determine whether this devalues the dignity of the Samoa matai system.