20 Aug 2018

Disputes over Malietoa title bestowal ceremony in Samoa

6:22 pm on 20 August 2018

The newly installed holder of one of Samoa's paramount titles, Malietoa, and the chiefs and orators of Malie village may face criminal charges after defying temporary restraining orders not to carry out the title bestowal.

The new Malietoa title holder, Malietoa Moli Malietoa takes his 'ava drink.

The new Malietoa title holder, Malietoa Moli Malietoa takes his 'ava drink. Photo: RNZ Pacific /Tipi Autagavaia

Papali'i Faamausili Moli Malietoa, the son of the late Malietoa Tanumafili II, was given the title following a Lands and Titles court decision last December.

Papali'i received the paramount title last Friday at a bestowal cermony on Upolu.

The Samoa government newspaper Savali reported the Registrar of the Land and Titles Court explaining that there were two temporary restraining orders against the bestowal ceremony.

One was requested by Gatoaitele Savea Sano Malifa Editor in Chief of Samoa Observer Newspaper Group.

The court order was delivered to the chiefs and orators of Malie, where the ceremony took place, as well as to the village of Afega.

The order sought to stop them from conferring the Gatoaitele honorific to the new Malietoa title holder.

It is not clear if the ceremony went ahead without the traditional honorific being conferred.

The second order was requested by chiefs and orators of Afega village. It sought to stop the chiefs and orators of Malie village from conferring the Malietoa title because it was not in keeping with Samoan customs and traditions.

Afega village is currently split with two rival chiefs and orator councils operating, one led by Gatoaitele Savea Sano Malifa and the other by Ututa'aloga Charlie Ulia.

A statement from the Ministry of Justice said a meeting was held between Papali'i Moli Malietoa and heirs of Malietoa Gatuitasina and heirs of Malietoa Moli because of a stop notice by the heirs.

There was also a stop notice by the heirs of Malietoa Moli residing in Sapapali'i, Savaii, because they were not consulted.

A spokesman for Papali'i Moli Malietoa, Papali'i Pene notified the meeting that the bestowal ceremony would not happen until pending appeal cases were heard.

But following the bestowal last Friday, the chief executive of the justice ministry warned that if restraining orders were not adhered to, then the matter would be handed over to police to charge Papali'i Moli Malietoa and chiefs and orators of Malie village.

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