An open letter: Trust no more
Since returning to Australia, I have been deliberating on how to compose this epitaph (so it does not become a novel) in relation to a loss of trust, respect, honesty and integrity - in other words ‘fa’a samoa’.
My father made a life in N.Z., for himself and his family, where he worked untiringly, nurturing, protecting and creating a sturdy foundation for myself and siblings, empowering us to develop into respected, hardworking, caring and family loving adults.
Dad’s lifelong dream, was that at journeys end, once he had accomplished all that he needed to do for his family, he would return to his beloved Samoa.
His vision was to live out the remainder of his life, the golden years, peacefully on his plot of paradise - ALEISA.
The good, simple life. A life well deserved.
He took pity on a homeless family (a mother and her 4 children), gave them a temporary place to rest and organise their future.
Temporary turned into thirty odd years. Life was good, methinks.
My Dad was stricken with prostrate cancer and once we became aware of how ill he was, my brothers and I flew to Samoa and brought him back to N.Z. for treatment.
But like most men of my fathers generation, an aversion to seeking medical advise, it was too late.
Reluctantly, we gave him back to Samoa, even though this would distance us making it difficult for us to visit him, but we were well aware of his love for his homeland, samoan family and ancestors.
As for the family he befriended, we allowed them to stay on his land at Aleisa, rent free, they could grow whatever they desired, as the soil was rich and fertile.
The only stipulations we had incurred, was no others were permitted to stay on the property, no new constructions were to take place and nothing was to be removed from the land.
Our resident relatives, contacted us on certain events taking place on our property and upon enquiring with the family, I naively, believed their plausible lies.
Not only was my father’s verdant, fertile and multiflorous ‘garden of eden’ raped and plundered - they had turned this piece of paradise into a grotesque quarry - stealing the topsoil, then digging deeper and deeper to excavate the blue metal material to sell.
They also unashamedly had been fraudulently using our family name, thankfully, unsuccessful in various nefarious schemes to obtain money, attempts at changing the ownership of our land, falsely selling an acre by using my brother’s name and once again, thankfully, been thwarted by bureaucracy, there are many more deceptions that I have since discovered on my recent visit to Samoa.
The devastation they created was sickening, especially as I know/seen the gem that it once was. This loss we can never regain.
Fa’a palagi reared its ugly head - sue, compensation, courts, but to what purpose?
These greedy, ungrateful, so called members of the human race, entered our lives with nothing and unsurprisingly, still have nothing.
The financial loss, I and my siblings can carry, but it is the utter and complete disrespect, greed, dishonesty, breach of trust and treachery to my father’s memory that repulses and offends my family.
Hopefully, I can restore my belief in ‘fa’a samoa’, because, even though I am not Samoan born, Samoa is in my blood, my soul and my heart, a gift, passed onto me by my Dad.
I am so thankful for having been being blessed, with such an inspiring, charitable, and esteemed Dad - a true and proud Son of Samoa.
Natasha Shooter (née Ah Mu)