Pacific News Briefs

compiled by Samoa News staff


Former Head of State, His Highness Tui Atua Tupua Tamasese Efi will be speaking on a panel for the first of a three-part Pacific Law, Custom & Constitutionalism Conference series at the University of Auckland, next week.

In light of Samoa’s recent public debates on Constitutional law reform in the areas of land law, law and religion, and traditional leadership, the dialogue will be focusing on these specific areas because of its relevance to Samoan and Pasifika communities in the Pacific.

The conference offers an opportunity for the New Zealand-based Pacific community and other New Zealanders interested in the connections between Pacific law, custom and constitutionalism, to dialogue with leading Pacific custom law experts and law professionals constitutions.

The Panel will also feature other prominent Samoans such as Judge Ida Malosi of the NZ District, Family & Youth Courts, Sister Vitolia Mo’a of S.M.S.M St Mary’s Savalalo, Executive Director of le Siosiomaga Society Incorp. (O.L.S.S.I) Fiu Mata’ese Elisara La’ulu, and C.E.O of Samoa Law Reform Commission, Teleiai Dr. Lalotoa Mulitalo.

The conference is open to anyone who is interested in exploring Pacific law, custom and constitutionalism generally and the interface between law and Samoan traditional indigenous leadership and Samoan customary or indigenous land.

[Source: Samoa Observer]


A Pacific LGBTQI dance collective in New Zealand has come up with a concept that uses a Samoan cultural concept to tell their stories.

The group Fine Fatale has created a dance show titled Geish Tuiga as part of the annual Auckland Pride festivities happening this month.

Tuiga is a ceremonial headdress from Samoa that certain families with rank and status are privileged to wear.

Creative director Mario Faumui said they have used that symbolism to illustrate empowering each individual to be the best they can be in a society where they continue to be misunderstood.

Mr Faumui said the dance moves consist of a merge of western pop culture fusing with Pacific motifs.

"I guess for a community like us where we're kind of always pushed to the side or silenced, I guess this is kind of like our way to tell our story through silence and through our body and hands and touch on issues that we never get a chance to talk about because they kind of look at us as being like we're all good, they're the life of the party when there's actually more stuff under the surface," he said.

[Source: RNZI]


Deputy Prime Minister, Fiame Naomi Mataafa, has reassured the country – and Samoans all over the world - that Samoa’s customary lands are safeguarded.

In doing so, the Minister of Natural Resources and Environment has again rejected claims there is a risk of Samoans losing their customary land. According to a statement from the Press Secretariat, Fiame said that under no circumstance would the traditional stakeholders lose ownership of their “inheritance.”

She is convinced that the Alienation of Customary Land Amendment Bill 2017, which she tabled in Parliament last week, reinforces the work the Government is doing to protect customary land.

She noted that it’s been ten years since Government started eyeing customary lands and that the leasing of customary land is nothing new.

She is mindful, however, of concerns raised by a group who claims that the leasing of customary land will lead to loss of land ownership.

“Land in Samoan culture is regarded as an inheritance from God and connected intimately to the matai system,” she said. “The fear is that if land is lost so will the matai system, hence also the culture of Samoa.”

Fiame acknowledged that the complainants are of the opinion that promoting just the economic aspect of customary lands is contrary to Samoa’s commitment to sustainable development.

“They fear that the environmental, social and cultural pillars of sustainable development will be ignored if economics takes the highest priority,” she said, noting that almost 90% of Samoa’s communal land mass remains idle and undeveloped.

And the amendments contained in the Alienation of Customary Land Amendment Bill 2017, tabled in Parliament, addresses these concerns. 

“The amendments,” reiterated the Deputy Prime Minister “is for the protection of Samoa’s inheritance, our customary lands.”

She reassured that the amendments are also designed to strengthen the provisions relating to leasing and licensing of customary land. 

[Source: Samoa Observer]


Celebrity chef Robert Oliver has been appointed to a special Fiji-based UN role on healthy living.

Mr Oliver is the new Advocate for Food, Sustainable Development and Wellbeing with the United Nations Development Programme in Fiji.

The role was created after a study by the World Health Organisation placed Pacific countries in the top ten nations for youth obesity rates.

Obesity leads to non-communicable diseases such as heart disease, diabetes and cancer.

The appointment is recognition not only of Mr Oliver's passion for Pacific cuisine but his knowledge of how good nutrition can play a role in reducing the risk of NCDs, the Samoa Observer reported.

[Source: RNZI]


New Zealand’s Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, is poised to make her first official trip to Samoa in March.

The plan was confirmed by New Zealand’s High Commissioner, David Nicholson, during the local celebration of Waitangi Day on Tuesday night.

According to the New Zealand High Commissioner, the New Zealand Prime Minister will be heading here with a vested interest in a programme that will focus on themes such as climate change, gender issues, youth and multilateralism.  

He said Ms. Ardern has a strong interest in Samoa as her father was based here in Samoa as the New Zealand Police Liaison Officer for the South Pacific from 2009 to 2013. 

“Ross Ardern he is currently the High Commissioner of Niue. He has recently been appointed as Tokelau’s administrator and he will be coming here quite a bit,” said Mr. Nicholson. 

“So her father and mother have lived here for three years and so we understand that she has a strong interest in this country.”

The New Zealand High Commissioner added that he is looking forward to Prime Minister Ardern’s visit.

 “My personal observations is we’re seeing a generational change in politics in New Zealand,” he said. 

“That’s an age change so people like me who are at the end of the baby boomers are moving out and the new generation is moving in and I think younger people have a different world view that looks at collective benefit than individual competition.

“I think you are seeing that in the ability to donate time to go to Waitangi, she was there for five days along with some of her ministers and demonstrating the ability to spend the time on a relationship, one that has had grievances, positives and negatives in it.

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