20 Apr 2015

Samoan matai not consulted over land

6:45 am on 20 April 2015

A group of matai say Samoans living overseas must be included in consultations on the governments plans to make economic use of customary land.

Samoa government building, Apia.

Samoa government building, Apia. Photo: RNZI / Johnny Blades

80 percent of land in Samoa is customary and the Asian Development Bank is backing government projects that aim to improve economic growth using such land.

Part of this is looking at allowing leases of customary land to be used as collateral for financing, in other words, a mortgage.

Fiu Mata'ese Elisara says Samoans living overseas are part of the collective family, but the government has never raised this issue.

"When the remittances that has contributed to Samoa's GDP is about more than 20 percent - that's a huge amount of funds that our people that are living overseas are contributing to the development of Samoa. And therefore we find it unbelievable that there is, basically a a deliberate attempt, to exclude the people overseas."

Fiu Mata'ese Elisara says there should at least be consultations with Samoans living in Australia and New Zealand.