Village mayor's presence mandatory in matai bestowal rite

New laws now require the sui ole nuu or village mayor to attend a matai title bestowal ceremony in order for the title to be formally registered. 

In the event that the attendance of the sui ole nuu is not possible, he may carry out his duties with the written endorsement of not less than five matai who attended the ceremony. 

The new changes are amongst several amendments passed by the Legislative Assembly on 15 December 2020 under the Land and Titles Court Act 2020. 

According to the Act, the requirements amongst several other steps must be met in order for a matai title bestowment to be considered valid for registration under the L.T.C. Act.

Other requirements make it compulsory for the person to be appointed the holder of a matai title by and in accordance with the customs, and usages of the Samoan people including appointment in pursuance of a judgement of the Court. 

Furthermore, a traditional ceremony of appointment in the village, to which that matai title belongs, is held and that the person being bestowed the title is physically present. 

The new Act states that the village council of the village are physically present to acknowledge recognition of the bestowment of the matai title. 

In relation to issues relating to villages being divided, the Act says that “where the village is divided the recognised village means the village recorded according to the records of the Ministry of Women, Community and Social Development and in the absence of such a relevant decision of the Court.”

During the Special Parliamentary Committee public consultation last year the village of Lalomanu called for the scrapping of the requirement for the sui ole nuu at bestowment ceremonies.

The village, in supporting the proposed changes then, had done so on the condition that the Committee make several recommendations.

Fuataga Fa’asisi Fa’atiga told the Samoa Observer then that the village had asked that the requirement that the sui ole nuu be present in order for a matai title to be considered valid be removed. 

The paramount chief of Lalomanu said this was difficult considering that the bestowment ceremony for family matai title should not have to wait until it fits the sui ole nuu

“We do not recommend holding off title bestowment just because the village mayor is not present,” he said. “No. The mayor is the servant of the village.”

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