16 May 2013

Proposed law change in Samoa defining a Samoan raises concerns

5:12 am on 16 May 2013

A community leader in Auckland is worried about a proposed law change being considered in Samoa to tighten the definition of a Samoan person.

The New Zealand based Samoan, Reverend Uesifili Unasa, who also sits on the Pacific Advisory Board for Auckland Council, is urging people to voice their concerns, with many living outside of Samoa directly affected by such a change.

He says any changes to do with identity and its impact on subsequent entitlements, titles, family inheritances and customary land and its possible implications for future generations need to be debated and carefully considered.

"The issue around what constitutes being a Samoan are around your birthrights, and your bloodlines. But those things are not necessarily going to guarantee the safety and security of people's inheritance."

Reverend Uesifili Unasa says he also doesn't understand why Samoans living abroad are ineligible to vote, given most contribute money and remittances back into the Samoan economy and maintain close ties to families there.