Mayor sets the record straight

The Mayor of Matautu Falelatai, Misa Nanai Mulifusi Taulia, has spoken up on behalf of his village to clear the air as to why they have banished Misa Anae Pita.

The banishment was part of a story titled “Stigmata saga drama” published on the front page of the Samoa Observer yesterday.

During an interview yesterday, Misa Nanai said they were unhappy by claims made by Anae Pita in the story that he was unaware of the reasons behind his banishment.

 “I have been told that I have been banned from the village, Matautu Falelatai, but I am not aware of why they are doing such a thing,” Misa Anae said. “I am the leader of the village and I don’t know the main reason why. I heard they were talking about it yesterday (Sunday).” 

Misa Anae said he was at the village on Sunday but he left soon after the church service.

“So I can’t really say much about this matter because I don’t really understand,” he said. “I am aware that they made a decision about it and I heard there were Police officers there as well.”

Misa Anae added that someone can only be removed from the village if they do anything wrong.

“Right now, I can’t say much about what happened. We might have another meeting and maybe then, I will be able to understand why such decision was made.”

But Misa Nanai refuted Misa Anae’s claims saying he knows exactly why he was banished.

 “The other thing that you should know is that he has been banished from Matautu Falelatai forever. He is not allowed to set foot in Falelatai anymore, and I am here to set the record straight.”

Misa Nanai said the decision was not an easy one. 

However, it was what the village agreed upon.

“For your information, our village has been quiet for so long about how we suffered under Anae’s leadership. He changed a lot of things which belong to the village. The people of Matautu were unhappy for a long time, but they couldn’t do anything about Anae’s leadership."

“Over the years, we have just been quietly suffering from all his decisions and wrongdoings.”

Misa Nanai went on to say that Misa Anae’s involvement with Reverend Opapo and his daughter’s case is just one of the reasons why they made the decision.

“But Opapo’s case is a new case,” said Misa Nanai. “(But) our village has been suffering for a very long time because of his leadership.”

Misa Anae, he said, was highly respected by the village of Matautu Falelatai.  

“For our village, we have what you call a Fa’aaloaloga (High chief). It is up to each family to choose their High chief and we give them our utmost respect." 

“This is because all the decisions are made by the Fa’aaloaloga. And Anae became a Fa’aaloaloga in 2010.”

But he questioned his leadership. He said the people of the village were unhappy with what he had done.

“He made a lot of biased decisions; he did mostly what he wanted." 

“For instance, when Survivor was filmed at Falelatai, they were asked to do an ava ceremony in the beginning so that people would know about our culture. Anae then informed the matai of the village to do the Ava." 

“However, he then told the matai that they are going to leave it to the young men in the village to do it." 

“But we were shocked when Anae’s son who is also a matai, was involved with doing the Ava. People especially the matai of the village were unhappy about what happened."

“Not only that, but Anae was also offensively impolite towards all the matai who are beneath him. He behaved like a King. He made most of the decision not only in the village and also the congregation based on what he wanted.”

But that wasn’t the only reason.

 Misa Nanai said one of the reasons why they made the decision was because Misa Anae broke a lot of the village’s protocols.

 “For example, we have what’s called a “Vaiati.” This is a cultural practice particular for the village of Matautu only. From the beginning, whenever we have fa’alavelave (cultural activity), the four high chiefs (fa’aaloaloga) take turns in conducting the occasion." 

“For example, if we have a bestowal ceremony (saofa’i) today and Nanai was in charge, it means that for the next fa’alavelave we have, the fa’aaloaloga from the family of Anae will be in charge of the day. 

They always get all the good things." 

“But ever since Anae became a Fa’aaloaloga, he got rid of that fa’avae. He erased the “vaiati” from our village.”

Misa Nanai said Misa Anae’s interference with Reverend Opapo’s case was one of the reasons they have banned him.

 “For you information, there is what we call a “Falefitu” at Falelatai. Falefa or to’afa are from Matautu and To’atolu are from Si’ufaga." 

“Even though it is called 'Falefitu', the two villages (Matautu and Si’ufaga) have their own foundations (fa’avae), rules and regulations."

“We (Matautu) don’t interfere with the issues related to Si’ufaga and they don’t interfere with our issues as well. There are boundaries; but those boundaries have been destroyed by Anae." 

“This issue with Opapo and his daughter has made things worse for our village and has led us to make the decision we have made against him." 

“When the Elders asked Opapo to step down in the beginning of the year, it was up to Si’ufaga whether they accept the decision or not."

“After all, it is their faifeau (Pastor). It’s not like we decided with them in the beginning to pick Opapo as their pastor. No that was Si’ufaga’s decision. And it was their problem. Not ours." 

“Somehow, Misa Anae was not happy with the decision; therefore he called a meeting and told Si’ufaga that he wanted to discuss the decision made by Elders of the church." 

“Si’ufaga rejected this call from Misa Anae because they knew it was an issue belonging to Si’ufaga only." 

“However, Opapo did not leave immediately. And that caused a lot issues and problems within the villages.”

Therefore, said Misa Nanai, Anae turned around and had a different approach on the matter. 

“Anae then called a meeting for our village (Matautu) and ordered our faifeau and Tama-Aiga to write a letter to elders of the church, asking them to restore all roles of Opapo."

“However, we were told that we had to wait until March for a final decision from the Elders. Then Misa Anae called another meeting.”

During that meeting, Misa Anae allegedly threatened Reverend Senara. 

“He told him that if the decision does not change for Opapo, Reverend Senara will have to pay for it. So when we got the decision last week from the elders, Anae called another meeting." 

“We got the decision on Thursday, so we had a meeting on Friday." 

The decision was that Opapo has been stripped off from his roles and that it is up to Si’ufaga whether they will have a formal farewell (tatalaga feagaiga).

“So on Friday, the Fa’aaloaloga of Matautu made the decision to remove Senara as the faifeau for Matautu Falelatai. 

“At that time, Senara was in American Samoa. And the plan was that we will wait for him to return from American Samoa so we can formally remove him from Matautu.”

Another meeting was held on Saturday morning and it included the whole village of Matautu.

“We then had another meeting on Saturday morning to finalise the decision on Senara. However, they all agreed to the decision to remove Senara from Matautu because of the decision on Opapo. 

“But somehow, the village was divided because many people lot did not agree with the decision. So on Saturday evening, we made the decision to ban Anae from the village. 

“It was him and another matai. On Sunday, we had another meeting to ban Anae and all the other fa’aaloaloga from the village.”

Misa Nanai said they have finally decided to put an end Misa Anae’s behavior.  

The decision was widely supported by the whole village of Matautu Falelatai. 

“This is because the village has been witnessing the wrongdoings of this man. His leadership was never based on love and he was very selfish. 

“We wanted to be free from that kind of leadership. Our faifeau had to fly all the way from America Samoa because of this. He cried when he found out that we made the decision to keep them at Matautu.

“You see, I wanted to speak up on behalf of our village to clear things. Anae is aware of the reasons why he has been banned from our village.”

“He was not telling the truth when he said he doesn’t know anything. He knew why we made the decision and he is not allowed to come to the village anymore.”

It was not possible to obtain a comment from Misa Anae at press time.

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