A Samoan researcher will use her Marsden Fund grant to clear misunderstandings over Samoans with chiefly titles who live overseas.
Misatauveve Dr Melani Anae from the University of Auckland's Centre for Pacific Studies says the matai system is being threatened by allegations that matai living overseas are only taking advantage of their title and shirking their responsibilities.
Dr Anae will look at how they can feel more worthy to take up their role back home, and challenge the stereotype.
"They are regarded as empty symbols, as a group of savvy, well-educated young upstarts who are not in the sacred circle, of the fa'amatai, of their cultural obligations in terms of support and respect and service that one acquires if they are in the village in Samoa."
Misatauveve Dr Melani Anae says the $550,000 US dollar grant from the Marsden Fund will help her look at the Samoan diaspora in Australia, Hawai'i and Utah.