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NZ conference explores Samoan customary issues

 Part I of the Pacific Law, Custom and Constitutionalism Conference 2018 - Aotearoa NZ and Samoa in Dialogue  [Photo: RNZ Pacific / Sela Jane Hopgood]
Samoan academic claims the country's former head of state was pressured into signing a controversial land law. RNZ Pacific earlier misreported this story by attributing comments by Maua Faleauto to Samoa's former Head of State, Tui Atua Tupua Tamasese Efi.

Maua Faleauto, who has conducted extensive research on customary land rights, was among the attendees at the Pacific Law, Custom and Constitutionalism conference this month in Auckland.

According to him, Samoa's former head of state Tui Atua Tupua Tamasese Efi signed the Land Title Registration Act in 2008 before realising there should have been a referendum on it.

Questioned at the conference on his involvement with land laws, Tupua said he was told the act would not affect customary land rights.

He said Samoans needed to understand legislation that effects their customary rights and do everything to keep their land.

"There is a very insistent call to try and identify what it is that makes us the people that we are and once we find that, how to find the match with western theology, philosophy, politics because you have to live with others in the world, you have to relate to them in so many ways."

Tui Atua Tupua Tamasese Efi was the keynote speaker at the inaugural Pacific Law, Custom and Constitutionalism Conference in Auckland.

The first stage of the three part conference explored Samoan traditional leadership, customary land tenure and religion.