Chiefs defend "La'aulialemalietoa" title
The chiefs of the Gagaifomauga No. 3 constituency have defended the usage of their Member of Parliament's title "La'aulialemalietoa."
On Tuesday they explained how the title came about and why it was bestowed upon their M.P. following allegations from Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sa'ilele Malielegaoi that the title had been altered.
The clarification from the elders of the constituency happened after the veteran M.P. was sworn into Parliament when it convened on Tuesday.
Having won the by-election at his constituency last month, La’auli returned to Parliament officially as a member of the Fa’atuatua I le Atua Samoa ua Tasi (FAST) party.
When La’auli was asked to take his oath, Leaupepe Toleafoa Fa'afisi, the Speaker of Parliament, objected to the Member of Parliament’s use of the “Laaulialemalietoa” title.
The Gagaifomauga No. 3 M.P. had recited his oath saying that he was “Laaulialemalietoa” and that he was ready to perform his role to the best of his ability.
Leaupepe warned the M.P. that he had to say the name that is printed on the letter of appointment signed by the Head of State or else his oath could be rejected.
Prior to this, Tuilaepa publicly accused his former party colleague of adding "alemalietoa" to his La'auli title in response to questions during an interview on TV3.
"There is no such title (La'aulialemalietoa) in the Malietoa Family (Aiga Sa Malietoa),” Tuilaepa said.
This prompted the elders of the constituency, to host a press conference to clear the air on how the "La'aulialemalietoa" title came about.
"The title La'aulialemalietoa is an inheritance (igagato) that was gifted to us during a meeting with the Aiga Sa Malietoa (Malietoa family) at Malie and Vaito'elau," says Seve Avaula, who spoke on behalf of the matai from Gagaifomauga No. 3,” paramount chief Seve Avaula said.
"This was the story that was passed on to us by our ancestors, at a time when they voyaged in canoes.
"It was during the reign of Aki Malietoa that he gifted these titles as a token of appreciation for Aiga Sa Tupua (Tupua family) after our meeting.
"It includes the titles, La'auliealemalietoa, To'oa, and Moe-i-Manono.
"The Malelega (message) from Malietoa was, it is up to the Malietoa family (Aiga Sa Malietoa) and Tupua family (Aiga Sa Tupua) how they want to use the title, La'auliealemalietoa.
"So we decided that this title would not for a particular family.
"The inheritance was given for the district, therefore, a family can not decide on whom the title should be given to.
"The person who should receive the title would be chosen by the entire Malietoa and Tupua family.
"Therefore, we chose to bestow the title upon the Tama Aiga for Malietoa and Tupua family, who is La'auliealemalietoa Leuatea Schmidt as a Member of Parliament, the son of the late Polataivao Fosi, who was also the Member of Parliament for the constituency."
The objection from the Speaker of the House to the usage of the "La'aulialemalietoa" title while La'auli took his oath shocked the elders, according to Seve.
"We were shocked this morning after hearing what the Speaker said while La'auli took his oath.
"Even though we are sad and disappointed, we cannot do anything because the Speaker of the House already did what he did.
"But we just wanted to set the record straight."
In saying that, Seve said that "no one" and "nothing" will stop them from addressing their M.P. as "La'aulialemalietoa."
"The truth is, no one can stop Aiga Sa Tupua and Aiga Sa Malietoa and the Faletolu from serving this boy (La'aulialemalietoa),” he said.
"Not even this House (Parliament) can stop us from addressing and calling our Tama Aiga by the title, his inheritance from Malietoa, which is, La'aulialemalietoa.
"Even if they forbid using this title in Parliament, but whichever corner of Samoa we sail, we still address him as "La'aulialemalietoa."
"La'auli, is the La'aulialemalietoa. There are other La'auli, but they are Sa'o Aumaga, they were given that title because their families don't have enough matai in their families.
"We wanted to clear that and we will continue to address him as La'aulialemalietoa."
Outside of Parliament after taking his oath, La'auli remained calm.
His message to his constituency was: "It's always calm after a storm.
"I strongly believe that after chaotic [times] come better days.
"Be calm and still, it is not easy being a servant.
"Don't worry, I'll get over the blunt from this morning.
"Such is life; it is sometimes harsh, but lest not take to heart whatever bad things come our way.
"We should remain humble and keep moving forward."