A matai from the village of Falefa has questioned the handling of procedures, which guide the work of the Land and Titles Court (L.T.C).
Tuilaepa Soiamoa Mary Grey is especially concerned about the general acceptance by the Land and Titles Court of non-title holders to file and present cases before the L.T.C.
“I am not happy with how this office is carrying out their work and duties,” said Tuilaepa.
“They should look at how they do these things and make sure that at the Land and Titles Court, only matai can present a case and appeal a case.”
“That’s how things were in the past years and it seems like they are not following rules and regulations anymore. I am unhappy that the office and the department are allowing this.”
Tuilaepa said is merely speaking out on behalf of many people she knows are suffering as a result.
“I felt that I should be brave to address this issue as I know that it is not the right thing to do. You see, we all know that someone who is not a matai is not allowed to file or appeal a case in the L.T.C.”
“That’s the way to do it, but with how things are done now, there is no justice in that. They should always wait for the matai of the family to file a case or present a case.”
“It could be that they (L.T.C officials) don’t know and understand that these people are not matai. I feel like my power and right as a matai of my family is not valid anymore.”
“I already wrote a letter to the Registrar.”
“To me, if they won’t accept my letter and if they refuse to consider what I wrote to them about, then might as well just forget about the fa’a-matai.”
“It is a very vital and important issue. That is why I am speaking up about it. I am sure they (the office) are aware of this, but perhaps they think not everyone knows about it. But for me, I understand it very well.”
“I have also done a little bit of homework and research, and apparently, a lot of people have informed me that they’ve experienced the same thing as well. So I thought I should do something to correct it. I’ve written a letter to them. This is not right. It doesn’t align with our laws and regulations.”
She went on to say that something should be done to solve the issue; otherwise people will just continue to do this.
“If they continue to allow this, what’s the use of having matai in the family then? And if we continue on with this, it will take away the honor we have and the integrity in how we do things at the Land and Titles Court.”
“The people will just abuse and use the department to do whatever they want.”
“This is a serious matter and they need to look at this careful.”
As a matai, Tuilaepa believes such behaviour is an insult to all the matai in the family.
“There is a saying in Samoan that goes, ‘Na tofia e le Atua Samoa ina ia pulea e matai,’ which means that God destined and chose Samoa to be led and governed under the authority of matai.”
“Therefore it is only right for us to follow the laws and regulations. It wasn’t like that before. We need to get back to how it used to so that things are done right and properly.”
“The main reason why we go to court is to find justice and to find the truth. But now, it seems like it’s only stirring up troubles amongst family members.”
Tuilaepa’s disappointment started when one of her relative who is not a matai appealed a case belonging to her family and was accepted by the L.T.C.
Therefore, Tuilaepa was asked to prepare for the case next month.
However, she got another phone call from the L.T.C office informing her that the case has been pushed forward and it will be called on the 28th of this month instead of next month.
“We were supposed to do our case next month, but I got a call again from the Register saying that we are going to meet on the 28th of this month. And I was so confused. This case was filed again by someone who is not a matai, and they allowed it.”
“What they should’ve done is to ask whoever filed ore present the case if they have spoken to the matai of the family. They (L.T.C) should ask these members if they have spoken to the matai.”
“It’s not right. There are boundaries and non-matai title holders are breaking the boundary.Like I said before, this is a serious matter, and they need to look at this very carefully.”
It was not possible to get a comment from the L.T.C.