27 October 2020, Mulinuu Apia Samoa. Tensions mounted into a war of words outside the Lands and Titles Court on Tuesday morning between village matai of Faleula.
A dispute regarding the structure of the village honorifics and salutations, the faalupega, had been brought to the Lands and Titles Court after village matai could not come to an agreement.
A matai from Faleula told Samoa Global News that the Lands and Titles Court had just ordered the village matai, to go back and try to settle the matter through the cultural process of mediation and discussions (soalaupule).
Instead, a heated exchange broke out between some matai of Faleula outside the Lands and Titles Court at Mulinuu, witnessed by the multitude of bystanders.
“I hope this dispute can be settled soon, because what just happened here doesn’t look good,” said a matai of Faleula who did not wish to be named.
Speaking to Samoa Global News on condition on anonymity, a senior employee of the Ministry of Women, Community and Social Development (MWCSD) confirmed that Faleula was just one of several villages with unresolved disputes in regards to their faalupega as published in the government’s Tusi Faalupega o Samoa Aoao – published in 2012 to commemorate Samoa’s 50th Independence, with a second edition printed in 2013.
“After the official government Fa’alupega Book was published in 2012, matais from several different villages in Samoa approached our office wanting to settle some of the issues regarding their fa’alupega in this book”.
“So those villages, including Faleula, are the ones that our office could not settle their differences, so it was decided to take the matter to Court to find answers.”
The MWCSD had recently made a public announcement, calling all villages in Samoa to register their formal faalupega with the Ministry, for publication in a new edition of the Governments Book of Faalupega.
“These final changes of all village fa’alupega would be put into a new government tusi fa’alupega that is to be published later on”.
According to the staff member of MWCSD, matai from several villages have come into the Ministry to either correct or register amendments to their village faalupega.