Samoa PM Tuilaepa sets record straight on titles
Auckland, NEW ZEALAND — Matai titles bestowed outside Samoa without the presence and blessings of the Village Council are “lies.”
The description was offered by Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sa’ilele Malielegaoi in Auckland where he attended Waitangi Day celebration with a delegation from Samoa.
During an interview with Radio Samoa, the Prime Minister was told about grievances from some members of the Samoan community in New Zealand who believe they should be able to carry out a saofai (title bestowal ceremony) there.
But Tuilaepa said matai titles bestowed without a usu from the Village Council are not legitimate.
The usu involves the presence of the Village Council during a bestowal ceremony where they offer their blessings through a chosen orator, followed by an ava ceremony.
In return, the new titleholders and their families offer gifts of money and food.
“You cannot bestow titles unless the village is involved through a usu. So the titles that are bestowed here (in New Zealand) are all lies,” he said.
“They have to go to Samoa for the village to carry out a usu. That is Samoan tradition and culture. So anybody who comes and does that here, they are deceiving people.”
Tuilaepa, who holds several matai titles, said he doesn’t need to explain the protocol of Samoan culture to other Samoans.
“All the matai understand this basic principle,” he said.
Told that some people in New Zealand have done a usu as a village, Tuilaepa said: “This is not a village here. The village is in Samoa.