The analogy of fai suavai and the fu’e suavai
Tui Atua Tupua Tamasese Ta’isi Tufuga Tupuola Efi
01 May 2020
I want to begin by citing passages from The Constitutional Convention 1960 records i.e. questions from the Members of the Convention and the answers by the Joint Chairmen, Tupua Tamasese Meaole and Malietoa Tanumafili 2. Also present were Mataafa Fiame Mulinuu 2, the Deputy Chairman, Tuimalealiifano Sualauvi; and representatives of Tumua ma Pule, Ituau ma Alataua, Aiga i le Tai ma le Vaa o Fonoti, Aiga ma a latou Tama, Tama fo’i ma o latou Aiga.
Page 682 Mr Chairman: Customary land means Samoan land held according to the customs and such land cannot be sold, even the matai himself cannot dispose of such land known as customary land. The only thing a matai can do is to lease out such land, but he cannot sell same. Freehold land is the type of land that was normally called by us European land and is held by the individual person according to his own rights. Some of our people have purchased some lands eiher from other people outside, European and the Crown Estates, and such lands are therefore called the individual properties or freehold properties.The owner of such land known as freehold land or property may dispose of them whenever he so wishes. That therefore is the difference between customary and freehold land.
Page 684 Mr Chairman (Reply to Papalii Pesamino)_My own understanding to land held up for mortgages and those held in security in lieu of debt is that proper procedure must be taken for the registration of same in the High Court. On the other hand, the case you are referring to is one that is being done in an underhand way, and that is apparently inconsistent with the law. Afinal decision can be determined by the Lands & Titles Court.
Page 694 Mr Fasavalu :Referring now to Article 102, the main concern in my mind about the point under this heading is as follows. Say for example, if I am to assume the title from someone who died in my family but the deceased matai has incurred debts and covered them with the family land. What will be the position if the creditor claims the family land but I, the then matai will say, that cannot be done according to the Constitution. What will then be the position? Will that matter be left to the deceased person and the creditor himself seeing that I cannot agree to dispose of any family property to dispose of such debts.
Page 694 Mr Chairman:No debt should be incurred on any customary land and if therefore you have any sympathy for your deceased predecessor, you will then have to make good any debt incurred by him, otherwise you will not go to heaven.
(Author’s comment) We marvel at the insight of the Chairman, the boundary between custom and law, the boundary between law and justice, the boundary between justice and love for his predecessor and family, the boundary between family and accountability to his God.)
Tulaepa in the Observer April 19, 2020 said: “In addition Tuilaepa said there continues to be questions as to why the rights of an individual is more important than the rights and decisions passed down to village councils”. He said, “ often the answer is because the Constitution protects the individual’s rights and does not take into account the Samoan culture. The reason is because of the palagis that inserted this (in the Constitution) and our forefathers didn’t understand it,” he said.
The cavalier way in which Tuilaepa explains that it was the palagi’s doing and they got away with it because our ancestors did not understand, is an unsubtle way of avoiding accountability for the Constitution Convention and the Constitution.; because he did not have an ancestor in he Constitutional Convention. It’s vintage Tuilaepa. These mind games are unworthy of the seriousness of the issues that we face.
For us whose parents were participants in the Constitutional Convention, we owe it to them and to the integrity of the Constitutional debates to address the accusations. The most effective way of doing so is to cite the questions from the participants and the answers by the Joint Chairman. Before moving on to the Questions and Answers, I want to deny categorically that the Constitutional Convention placed the rights of an individual before the rights and decisions passed down by village council. There is no evidence of this in the discussions of the Convention nor in its decisions nor in the text. It is clearly a cheap political ploy to antagonize the village councils.
Article 101 (2) of the Constitution declares Customary land means land held from Samoa in accordance with Samoan custom and usage and with the law relating to Samoan custom and usage.
Article 102: It shall not be lawful or competent for any person to make any alienation or disposition of customary land or of any interest of customary land, whether by way of sale, mortgage or otherwise howsoever, nor shall customary land or any interest therein be capable of being taken in execution or be assets of any persons for the payment of the debts of any persons on his or her decease or insolvency.
It is a lamentable untruth that there is in the Constitution Convention decisions and in the Constitution an expression that places the interest of the individual before the interests of the village.
The clear intention of te Constitutional Convention decisions and the text of the Constitution is to protect customary land from alienation.
It is not our parents or the Constitution who are promoting the alienation of customary land. It is the Government who want to alienate customary land. Nor does the Government want a REFERENDUM as provided in Article 109 of the Constitution. Article 102 and Article 109 in the Constitution is intended to protect the families from the alienation of customary land because this is the core and substance of our Samoan culture.
Clearly it is the wish of Government to alienate customary land. There are two obstacles facing Government. Firstly, the pule of the matai or matai and heirs over the land and secondly the only way you can overcome that hurdle is through a REFERENDUM as in Article 109 of the Constitution. The Government does not want a Referendum because they fear the Provision hat in order to get over that hurdle they need the majority support of over two thirds (2/3) of matai voting.
The Government and the HRPP Party make fun of the wisdom and vision of the elders who created the Constitution. Yet their wisdom and visions had mana and foresight. They knew that there will come a day when someone or some people would determine to break down the barriers in the Constitution which protect customary land. The land where your pute and the umbilical cord of your mother is buried; the land which gives substance, mana and meaning to your history and your heritage. The land where the village resides, the land which defines the boundary between district and district. The boundary which protects the land is determined by genealogy, history, aganuu and agaifanua. The core feeling of fellowship, of shared history and culture and the rapport that arises from proximity and sharing in everyday life. These are the things that feed a sense of belonging and a loyalty to family, village and district. When the land goes, so will the meanings, the passion nurtured by genealogy, history, the songs and chants.
In 1960, the wisdom, the vision and foresight of our forbears predicted that their vision and their passion would be challenged. Thus, Article 102 and Article 109 of the Constitution. This is the wisdom, vision and judgment that Tuilapea mocks as ignorance. Tuilaepa you mock our forbears, but our forbears’ vision saw right through you even though they did not meet you. In Article 102 and Article 109 of the Constitution, they are saying, we know you Tuilaepa. We know you are coming to destroy the protection against alienation.
Nothing not even common decency will deter you in your determination to demean and destroy the mana of our forbears. This is shown by your stooping to digging graves or ‘eli ‘eli tuugamau. That is the ultimate insult in Samoan culture. You have dug out our forbears from their graves and held them up to ridicule and contempt.
And I say to you. If you want to dig up graves, do not limit yourself to old graves, dig up the graves of our forbears and make fun of our fathers; as well dig up the graves while you’re at it of the 81 babies who died in the Measles epidemic.
If you are searching for meaning and substance in digging up graves, you may find in your grave diggings some of the core beliefs of our culture. And maybe you will find a message there for yourself and for us all.
Start with the Samoan word, faafailele. Faafailele means that the pinnacle of love in Samoan culture is the love of the mother for her newborn child.
When I was Head of State, one of the government people came to me one day in frustration and said: We, that is, my department and I have strongly advised against the hiring of this plane on a wet lease. We are going to lose very heavily and indeed we have.
I remember there was a vigorous argument on TV and Radio between the Prime Minister and the Health Ministry about who was responsible for the lack of preparation for the MEASLES epidemic notwithstanding the warnings from WHO and other world organizations. Health claimed that they went around several government ministries canvassing for funds to buy medicine and the necessary support for the impending MEASLES epidemic. The invariable reply was, there is n money which begs the question: How can you have money to wet-lease a plane and no money to buy medicine and other requisite support in preparation for the MEASLES epidemic? Following the vigorous exchange about responsibility, the Ministry then called for a Commission of Inquiry.
It is noticed that in matters which are trifling, you Tuilaepa are so ready to call a Commission of Inquiry. Why is there no Commission of Inquiry into the measles epidemic in Samoa where eighty one children died and where there is compelling evidence about the lack of preparation? The strong resistance to a Commission of Inquiry implies a fear of discovery that the truth will be exposed.
Some of the people who rallied from outside to help in the measles epidemic I invited as well some of our local doctors for dinner at my house, for I wanted to use the opportunity to thank them for the work that they were doing. I spoke with some medical people from outside as well as our own people, and almost to a man, they supported a Commission of Inquiry. It was pointed out to me that for some children their condition was aggravated by malnourishment; which seemed to me to be strong evidence of poverty amongst some families in Samoa.
When people resist a Commission of Inquiry and is resisted very strenuously by those who are involved, it always indicates to me an intention to hide. There is a Samoan proverb, e te fiu e faalafi le tama’i moa i lalo o le tanoa,a e ‘io’io mai lava. It means however much you try to hide the truth, the truth will always reveal itself.
It seems there won’t be a Commission of Inquiry because the Government vehemently resists a Commission of Inquiry. However much you try to conceal the truth, eventually it will find a way to expose itself. Especially since people have seen the images on TV and newspapers of children being brought into hospital for treatment and later taken out as corpses. It’s heartrending to watch the babies’ corpses being wheeled out followed by grieving families and the mother bereft in heartbreak. And we are reminded of the word “faafailele” the pinnacle of love in the Samoan culture is the love of the mother for her newborn child. This environment is full of meaning and messages in faa-Samoa.
In Samoan culture, the words ‘tofa saili’ and ‘moe manatunatu’ refer to what is core in our relationship with God and our forbears. In the religion of our forbears, we are informed and encouraged by the ‘moe manatunatu’ which is a dream dialogue between us and our God and forbears. In that dream dialogue, I can imagine people seeing the corpses of the young children wheeled out and hear the cry of the mother for her child.
I come now to the question of the Lands & Titles Court. I want to cite the Report of a Committee that was appointed by the Government to look into the problems of the Lands & Titles Court and report back to them in 2016. The Committee reported that eighty (80%) of the evidence testified that the problem was the incompetence and corruption of Judges. Interestingly, the government is responding to a whole number of issues but they are silent on the Report of the Committee 2016 which they appointed, that the core issue is the incompetence and corruption of the Judges.
What is most encouraging is that the Samoa Law Society reports that recently three (3) Judicial Review cases submitted to the Supreme Court regarding Lands & Titles matters, were successful.
This is an amazing statistic when you read it against the Report of the 2016 Committee which cited that eighty (80%) percent of the evidence asserted that the core problem is the incompetence and the corruption of Judges.
It’s been 60 years since the Constitutional Convention and thirty eight (38) years since HRPP held power and therefore are the principal appointers of Judges in those 38 years. Notwithstanding the above-mentioned and the Report of the Committee appointed by the government in 2016 and yet they’re trying to blame the Fono Faavae of 1960 and a palagi reference WITHOUT any evidence to support it. Where in the Decisions of the Lands and Titles were they misled by the 1960 Constitutional Convention and the reference of palagi?
The other important thing is the people’s belief in the integrity and judgment of those who appoint the principal positions in the Ministry such as the Chief Justice. The process is that the JSC (Judicial Services Commission) advertises the position of Chief Justice. The JSC did not advertise the position and the next thing Cabinet appoints a Chief Justice without an advertisement by JSC as required by law.
In this instance Cabinet appointed a Chief Justice and yet the position was not advertised as required by law.
The court found the President of the Lands and Titles Court guilty of assault and yet the Prime Minster and Cabinet proceded to restore him to the position of President of the Lands and Titles Court notwithstanding. To the question what is my preference? To submit my appeal for Judicial Review to the Supreme Court or to the Final Court of Appeal and Review (if the new Bills are passed in Parliament)? In my view and considering the circumstances I’ve outlined, I believe that my rights are better protected by submitting an appeal for a Judicial Review to the Supreme Court as provided by the Constitution rather than submitting my appeal for a Judicial Review to the proposed Final Court of Appeal and review.. It is sad to see the disregard and contempt expressed about the Constitution. For it is the wisdom and the vision of the Constitution that is responsible for the peace and calm in Samoa from 1962 until now.
The pursuit of Independence was inspired by the issues that preoccupy us now, tofi ma le faasinomaga, your heritage and your reference of belonging to Samoa. Our struggle for Independence was provoked by a claim to land , a claim to pule over the matai and pule over the malo. The NZ Administration took away people’s matai titles and their entitlement to land. Upolu people were exiled to Savaii and Savaii people were exiled to Upolu and the leaders were exiled to New Zealand. This is why the Mau’s peaceful march notwithstanding the people were unarmed, were shot down by the NZ Police. Eleven (11) people were killed including Tupua Tamasese Lealofi III, and wounded Tuimaleali’ifano and Faumuina Mulinuu I. For this the NZ Prime Minister Helen Clarke apologized to Samoa in the year 2002 in Samoa.
At this moment I especially remember my friend and tutor, Toluono Lama of Palauli. One day he said to me: “Look here son, my generation cut the bush, planted the taro and bananas and weeded the plantation. And we made the umu. And you and your generation only came to pick up the food that we cooked. I am the fai suavai and you are the fu’e suavai.
The significance of the boundary between fai suavai and fu’e suavai is graphically illustrated by what is happening now. The fu’e suavai is turning on the fai suavai and dismissing him with contempt and distaste.
Bear in mind the lessons in humanity and history. The Fijians are arguing over their Constitution and they’ve had a number of coups. Likewise the Tongans who have come very close to physical confrontation because of Constitutional issues. Compared to Samoa, we have relative peace and we have much to thank our forbears for the wisdom of our Constitution and the sacrifices of the ‘au fai suavai.
If we can capture the depth and vision of the wisdom of Toluono Lama, we will no doubt understand the profundity of the concept of boundary, i.e. the recognition of boundary between the fai suavai and the fu’e suavai. We have to have humility to recognize with love and respect the courage, the perseverance , the vision that was responsible for pursuing the goal of an Independent Samoa.
I want to end with a message to my tutor and my friend Toluono Lama. This address is homage by the fu’e suāvai to the fai suāvai. May God bless Samoa.
MEMBERS OF THE CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION 1960
Tupua Tamasese Mea’ole
Malietoa Tanumafili 2
Fiame Mataafa Faumuina Mulinuu 2 - Lotofaga
Anapu Solofa – Safata
Amoa Tausilia – Aleipata Itupa –i – Lalo
Aiono Urima – Aana Alofi Nu. 1
Asiata Lagolago – Satupaitea
Iuni Veni – Anoamaa
Ufagalilo Faatafa – Faasaleleaga Nu. 3
Ulualofaiga Talamai – Vaa o Fonoti
Ulumalautea Papalii – Vaimauga
Usu To’avalu – Alataua West
Faalavaau Galu – Samatau/Falelatai
Fatialofa Faimalo – Lepa
Fenunuti Tauafua – Lefaga/Faleaseela
Luamanuvae Eti Alesana – Faasaleleaga
Leasi Avaula – Gagaifomauga
Leiataua S.- Aiga i le Tai
Lesatele Rapi – Vaisigano Nu. 2
Luafatasaga Su’e Taule’alo – Sagaga le Usoga
Luatua Mata’ese – Sagaga le Falefa
Mataia Europa – Faleata
Maposua Seilala – Palauli le Falefa
Papalii Pesamino – Faasaleleaga NU. 2
Peseta Seko – Gagaifomauga Nu.1
Pilia’e Leilua Iuliano – Aana Alofi Nu.2
Pulepule M. – Anoamaa West
Saipaia U. Aana Alofi Nu. 3
Sagapolutele Pose – Aleipata Itupa i luga
Seiuli Tolovaa Iakopo – Faleata West
Seuamuli Etimani – Gagaemauga Nu.3
Soifua Solia Gese – Falealupo
Tualaulelei M. – Palauli
Tuatagaloa Leutele Te’o Satele –Falealili
Toomata Lilomaiava T.- Salega
Teveaga Paletasala – Gagaemauga NU. 1
Tofaeono Muli’aga – Vaimauga West
Toleafoa Lafaele – Siumu
Tufuga Fata Lemana – Vaisigano Mu.1
Tugaga Isaaka – Gagaifomauga Nu.2
Tuala Tiaina – Gagaemauga Nu.2
Tuatō Poto – Palauli West
Vui Fale – Faasaleleaga Nu. 4
G.F.D. Betham – Apia
Hans J.Keil – Apia
F.C.F.Nelson – Apia
Eugene F. Paul – Apia
Leilua P. Plowman – Apia
Ale Pusi – Faleata West
Aeau Taulupoo – Falealupo
Asiata Tulelei – Satupaite
Aiolupotea Mana’ia – Alataua West
Aualiitia Faa’ole’ole – Gagaemauga Nu. 1
Asi Falanaipupu ‘Ulu Filivaa – Vaimauga West
Afamasaga Maua 2 – Aana Alofi Nu.3
Auelua Filipo - Lepa
One Sofai – Gagaifomauga Nu.3
Ugapo Tauaneai – Aana Alofi Nu.2
Umaga Pa’u – Aana Alofi Nu.2
Ulugia Faalua – FaleataWest
Fafai Tuivale – Sagaga le Usoga
Fata M- Sagaga le Usoga
Fonoti Faagalu – Falealili
Fuimaono Faafete – Falealili
Faamoe Sasi – Gagaemauga Nu.3
Fao Isaia – Vaisigano Nu.1
Fesola’i Pio – Aana Alofi Nu.1
Faletufuga Asiasi – Faasaleleaga Nu.2
Fuiono Alefosio – Falealupo
Fasavalu Faalii – Salega
Feiloa’ivao Pa’u Peter – Aana Alofi Nu.3
Fui Tanielu – Gagaifomauga Nu.3
Faanana Fenika – Satupaitea
Fiso Faamotu – Lotofaga
Faiumu A.- Palauli West
Fiso Fusi – Palauli
Fui Eli Seuamuli – Gagaifomauga Nu.2
Fuataga Penita – Aleipata Itupa i luga
Faoasau Ausage – Vaimauga East
Fui Tauaivale – Lefaga.Faleaseela
Faoloti M. – Lepa
Faaliuila T. – Aleipata Itupa i Lalo
Gasu Taatua – Staupaitea
Leleua Peni – Faleata East
Leapai Sefo – Sagaga le Usoga
Leota Iakopo – Gagaemauga Nu.3
Leaupepe ‘Aifualaau – Aana Alofi Nu.1
Leiataua Poai – Aiga i le Tai
Levaa Fofoa – Aiga i leTai
Li’o Matefili – Siumu
Leausa Foe – Vaa o Fonoti
Leota Leauma – Anoamaa West
Luafalealo Pesa – Anoamaa West
Lavea Lala – Gagaifomauga Nu. 1
Lealuga Vaaiga – Vaisigano Nu.2
Lagaia Faamaga – Palauli
Leiataatimu P. – Sagaga le Falefa
Luatuanuu Tolai – Sagaga le Falefa
Lauago M. Tofu – Gagaemauga Nu.2
Leniu Fanene – Vaimauga Wesr
Le Mamea Matatumua – Lefaga/Faleaseela
Moe’ono Alaia K. – Anoamaa East
Magele Tagaileono Ate – Faasaleleaga Nu.1
Mataia Tavale – Gagaemauga Nu.3
Masoe Pele – Vaisigano Nu.1
Matautia Ueni – Palauli le Falefa
Matale Tuugafala – Palauli West
Malaitai Lautaimi – Gagaifomauga Nu.2
Matautia Fetaui – Aleipata Itupa i lalo
Mataia Siutaulalovaa- Faleata West
Mano Togamau – Siumu
Moalele Mauafu – Faasaleleaga Nu.2
Mata’u Fiaalii – Vaisigano Nu.2
Mauisii Sefo – Palauli le Falefa
Muagututi’a Tautau – Lotofaga
Matafeo Siatiu – Faasaleleaga Nu.4
Mulitalo Faleniu – Faasaleleaga Nu.4
Nonoa Aleli – Anoamaa East
Polataivao Luni – Gagaifomauga Nu.3
Paitomaleifi Siaki – Falealili
Pini. F – Faasaleleaga Nu.3
Pa’u Tito – Samatau/Falelatai
Peseta Tavai – Faasaleleaga Nu.4
Soalaupule Sale – Safata
Seumanu Saleilua – Faasaleleaga Nu.1
Savusa Faavela – Vaao Fonoti
Segi Lafa – Faasaleleaga Nu.3
Solia Sikuka – Falealupo
Seinafolava Sofara – Lotofaga
Safuneituuga Meatuai – Gagaifomauga Nu.2
Semau Peleseuma – Gagaemauga Nu.2
Seuala Meauli – Aleipata Itupa i luga
Saumalu Tui – Aleipata Itupa i luga
Taala Ioelu – Faleata East
Taimalie Meapelo – Aana Alofi Nu.2
Tuia Iosefa – Safata
Tofilau Moeloa – Faasaleleaga Nu.1
Tapu Atonio Fidow – Vaisigano Nu.1
Tapusoa Peni – Gagaifomauga Nu.1
Tapua’ῑ Kuka – Salega
To’ala Mulifusi – Palauli le Falefa
Tuaiaufa’i Fuifui – Alataua West
Tuala Osooso – Gagaemauga Nu.1
Tofa Peleti – Faasaleleaga Nu.3
Telea Fasi – Sagaga le Falefa
Tauvalaau Lua – Aana Alofi Nu.3
Tuala Siaki – Lefaga/Faleaseela
Tataivaatele Ioane – Aleipata Itupa i Lalo
Tuaautoto’a Iefata – Aana Alofi Nu.1
Taupau Semu – Aiga i le Tai
Tuimalatu Suli – Vaa o Fonoti
Tagaloa Tuala Siaosi – Anoamaa West
Tuilagi Pa’ō – Faasaleleaga Nu.2
Timu Kolio – Gagaifomauga Nu.1
Tuisalega E. – Salega
Tanuvasa Taotafa- Alataua west
Toluono lama – Palauli
Tuala Milo – Gagaemauga Nu.1
Tevaga Matafa – Gagaemauga Nu.2
Toomalatai Fiso – Vaimauga West
Tuiletufuga Taualai – Vaimauga West
Tuliaupupu Muli’aga – Vaimauga East
Vaitagutu S. – Faleata East
O.R.Crichton – Apia
A.M.Gurau – Apia