Mata'afa to fight for Palauli's water rights

Returning the constituents of Palauli No.3 the right to control their local water supply is a top policy for aspiring politician Mata'afa Fonofa'avae Mata'afa. 

The retired mental health therapist is running under the banner of the Fa'atuatua i le Atua Samoa ua Tasi (F.A.S.T.) party and is eyeing the seat for Palauli No.3. currently occupied by the Ministry of Public Enterprises Associate Minister Tuifa'asisina Misa Leleisiuao.

But Tuifaasisina is not the only opponent he will face as the current Member of Parliament’s brother Aiolupotea Toni Leleisiuao, is also running under the Human Rights Protection Party [H.R.P.P.] banner. 

Other opponents the 66-year-old will face is Laga'aia Ti'aitu'au Tufuga, also running under the F.A.S.T. party ticket and a female candidate, Fiso Taranaki Mailei of the Tautua Samoa Party. 

Mata'afa has questioned why no benefits have reached Palauli villagers since the Government commissioned the Vailoa Palauli hydropower plant in January 2019.

"For the past forty years, I see that there have been no improvements with the living standard of the people of our constituency," Mata'afa told the Samoa Observer. 

"We have lost some of our lands, and also our water that belongs to our village and constituency. Those are "measina" (treasure) for our villages, yet it has been taken away by the government. 

"Those are our assets, something that belongs to the people of our constituency. In the past, our people did not have to pay for water supply as we have been blessed by our heavenly father with resources for our people. 

"If we don't fight for these issues at this moment, we will continue to lose our lands and resources, yet our people are not getting anything in return."

He believes that it is wrong for the Government to access water from their area for a hydro plant, which benefits other constituencies without Palauli villagers being compensated.

When asked why he decided to join F.A.S.T. party, he replied saying: "I am a strong believer that F.A.S.T. was set up to save our lands and our people. 

"A party that is for the people and is willing to stand up for what the people want and need. The issues that I am fighting for, are the same issues that F.A.S.T. is prioritising. 

"Our constituency, under the leadership of our current M.P. supported the three packages of legislation proposing to reshape Samoa's Judiciary. But I don't support the changes and am hoping to destroy those bills [Acts] when we are elected as the ruling Government for the next parliamentary term. 

"Moreover, I believe it's time for a change. We need a new beginning and new people to lead our country so we can improve the lives of our people, especially the ordinary citizens."

Mata'afa is hoping to sort and discuss with fellow F.A.S.T. party candidate, Laga'aia if he could withdraw his candidacy and afford him the opportunity to be the only F.A.S.T. candidate to contest for the seat of Palauli No.3. 

When asked if he is confident about his chances of winning, Mata'afa said he is optimistic. 

"I believe it is my time to lead. I received a patriarchal blessing back in 1987, and I have been told that I would become a leader. I did not think about it then, but now that I think about it, I think they were referring to the election. 

Mata'afa was an educator for more than ten years in different colleges in Samoa. 

He holds a bachelor of arts majoring in politics, history and government. He also graduated with a Masters in Social Work from a university in Hawaii. 

After working as a mental health therapist in the United States, Mata'afa returned to Samoa after retiring to look after his family at Vailoa and serve his village and family. 

He is a father-of-four and also holds the matai titles, Savea, Lilomaiava and Leleisi'uao. 

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