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Tui Atua Tupua Tamasese Efi violated protocol

By Aigaletaulele’ā F. Tauafiafi APIA, Samoa (Samoa Observer, Aug. 20, 2010) – In Samoa, the relationship between the Head of State and Lufilufi, the village in which his Tui Atua title originates from, is on the rocks.

It follows Lufilufi’s decision to sever ties with the holder of the title, Tui Atua Tupua Tamasese Efi, the Head of State.

The decision was made on Wednesday, the spokesperson for Lufilufi, Fe’esago Lopi told the Samoa Observer.

"Today [Wednesday 18 August] the village of Lufilufi has severed its ties with the Tui Atua," he said.

Fe’esago said Lufilufi will no longer recognize him as the holder of the title.

"Also today, the Tui Atua and all his family and possessions are to leave Lufilufi."

Fe’esago led a delegation from Lufilufi who visited television and radio stations in a bid to publicize their decision.

"This issue does not touch the Head of State," Fe’esago pointed out. "This is specific to the matai [chief] title Tui Atua which is a title owned by the village of Lufilufi. Lufilufi does not have any power or authority over the title Head of State which is owned by Samoa."

[PIR editor’s note: In Samoa, Members of Parliament are also matais’ (chiefs) who perform dual roles as a chief as well as duties in the Samoan parliament. Most Samoans who have positions of public responsibility are both chief and Member of Parliament including the Prime Minister and the Head of State.]

The two issues at the middle of the dispute is the construction of a smaller shelter next to the main residence for the Head of State in the village. Lufilufi argued that the village must first be notified before any new developments go ahead.

Secondly, Lufilufi alleges Tui Atua has breached village protocols in bypassing the speaker for the Maota o Tui Atua, the Sa Poloai family, by using other people to convey his wishes with Lufilufi.

His Highness Tui Atua was not available for a comment.

But his Masiofo, Her Highness Filifilia said: "The matter has already been to Court and the decision has been made that this land is owned by the Tui Atua. So Lufilufi doesn’t have the right to the works that’s going on."

She said a letter has been drafted and will be sent to Lufilufi by the Registrar of Courts, Masinalupe Tusipa Masinalupe, calling for a meeting between the two parties.

When the Samoa Observer visited Lufilufi yesterday, a group of matai stopped a reporter from taking photos of the house. A steel fence has erected to block Tui Atua and his Taisi lineage from entering the land, said one of the matai.

"No newspaper and TV is allowed here," one matai who declined to give his name said. "You better leave now before I get the boys on to you."

According to Fe’esago, Lufilufi called a meeting on Wednesday morning and a village committee was sent to stop the work in progress at the Tui Atua’s residence.

"Yet only an hour and half later, the village was informed that the construction was still in progress. And there were words spoken by the Masiofo that were very disrespectful and inappropriate.

"As a result, the village met and decided ‘o le a toe tu le to’oto’o o Lufilufi i le aso (that Lufilufi’s authority on its decision be enforced). And in no uncertain terms Lufilufi’s decision was delivered to the Tui Atua that his relationship with Lufilufi is severed."

Fe’esago said Lufilufi’s decision was to ban Tui Atua and his Taisi lineage from Lufilufi land and grounds.

The decision excludes direct heirs of Seutatia, he said.

As for set protocols pertaining to the Tui Atua title, Fe’esago said: "There are people who have no right to speak on behalf of Tui Atua who are carrying out Tui Atua’s instructions, people like Mulitalo.

"But what happened is Mulitalo didn’t turn up but Tui Atua himself came to tell us his wishes. As a result, the Tui Atua has breached the foundation of the Tui Atua’s relationship with Lufilufi."

The Sa Poloai family is the spokesperson between Tui Atua and Lufilufi. Fe’esago said they have been bypassed during this matter.

"And that is why Lufilufi has come to the media to announce, ‘It has severed its relationship with the Tui Atua – he is no longer to be called by the title Tui Atua."

Yesterday afternoon, Mulitalo Mataia of the Head of State’s Office said a meeting between Tui Atua and Lufilufi will take place with the Registrar at 9am, Monday, 23 August 2010.

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