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Titular disputes and national leadership in Samoa

Tuimalealiifano, Morgan (1998) Titular disputes and national leadership in Samoa. The Journal of Pacific History, 33 (1). pp. 96-103. ISSN 0022-3344

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Modern Pacific Island aspirants to national office exploit the living legacy of tribal, mission and colonial authorities. The outcome is determined by the aspirant's ability to juggle these three legacies. Mary Boyd, a New Zealand historian of Samoa, claimed almost 30 years ago that 'The revival of these [papa] titles is more indicative of cultural self-assertion in a new nation state than resurgent rivalry and faction'.1 Her statement was based on the peaceful transition from trusteeship to independence and the absence of a major political rift between two major lineages when one was not represented at the highest office of the land shortly after independence. Historical interpretation obviously varies with one's position in relation to sources. A different interpretation is possible from another angle and with closer proximity to sources. I assert that while the modern pursuit oipapa titles may be interpreted as a form of cultural self-assertion, sources available to me show that it serves the essentially primordial instinct of maximising personal interests. I shall conclude that the revival not only satisfies those who believe in cultural revival, but more realistically, it satisfies personal ambitions for power. This paper focuses on the conditions under which two ancient titles were invoked in Samoa against a background of the then recently acquired independence. The definition (or absence)of custom and usage and the role of the Land and Titles Court in this process is crucial to the discussion.

Item Type: Journal Article
Subjects: D History General and Old World > D History (General)
J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
Divisions: Faculty of Arts, Law and Education (FALE) > School of Social Sciences
Depositing User: Generic Account
Date Deposited: 17 May 2013 03:27
Last Modified: 17 May 2013 03:27

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