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Faagau v. Tulei,

TOLINIU F AAGAU of Sailele, Objector

 

v.

 

TULEI AFUSIA of Sailele, Applicant

 

[Matai Name: "Faagau" of Sailele]

 

High Court of American Samoa

Civil Jurisdiction, Trial Division

 

No. 113-1964

 

October 8, 1964

 

__________

 

            Application to be registered as holder of matai title "Faagau" with one objector. Trial Division of the High Court, Chief Justice Morrow, found applicant to be best qualified in accordance with considerations set forth by statute.

              Applicant registered.

 

1. Matai Titles-Determination of Matai-Considerations for Court

Statute sets forth four considerations guiding court in determination of matai title holder.

2. Matai Titles-Determination of Matai-Hereditary Right-Greater Blood Relationship

Person who is grandson of former title holder prevails over person who is great-grandson on issue of hereditary right. [4ASR491]

3. Matai Titles-Determination of Matai-Wish of Family-Contradictory Testimony

Where there is much contradictory testimony as to wish of majority of clans in family as to who should be matai title holder, court may find candidates rank equally on this issue.

4. Matai Titles-Determination of Matai-Character, Forcefulness, Personality, Knowledge of Samoan Customs-Knowledge of English, Education, Employment

Knowledge of English, education, kind of employment and responsibility, criminal record and familiarity with Samoan customs are considerations for court in determining matai title holder.

5. Matai Titles-Registration of Titles-Unregistered Title--Penalty for Using

Using matai title without being registered as holder is criminal offense.

6. Matai Titles-Determination of Matai-Character, Forcefulness, Personality, Knowledge of Samoan Customs-Observation in Court

Observation of personality in court of candidate for matai title holder is method of determining forcefulness, character, personality and knowledge of Samoan customs.

7. Matai Titles-Determination of Matai-Prevailing Candidate-Three Out of Four Considerations

Where candidate for matai title holder prevails on first, third and fourth issues and stands equally on second, he is entitled to be matai.

__________


Heard at Fagatogo on October 8, 1964 before MORROW, Chief Justice, LETULIGASENOA, Associate Judge, and MAILO, Temporary Associate Judge.

 

Faufano, Counsel for Tulei.

Te'o and Mapuolesega, Counsel for Toliniu.

 

OPINION OF THE COURT

 

MORROW, Chief Justice.

 

            Tulei filed his application to be registered as the holder of the matai title Faagau attached to the Village of Sailele. Toliniu filed an objection to the proposed registration claiming that he had a better right to the title, thereby becoming a candidate for the same. Hence, this litigation. See Sec. 6.0106, A. S. Code, 1961 Edition. [4ASR492]

            [1] Sec. 6.0107, A. S. Code, 1961 Edition, provides that:

 

"CONSIDERATION GIVEN BY COURT: In the trial of matai title cases, the High Court shall be guided by the following considerations, in the priority listed:

"First: The best hereditary right in which the male and female descendants shall be equal in families w here this has been customary, otherwise the male descendant shall prevail over the female.

"Second: The wish of the majority or plurality of those clans of the family as customary in that family.

"Third: The forcefulness, character, personality, and knowledge of Samoan customs.

"Fourth: The value of the holder of the matai title to the family, the village, and the country."

 

            [2] Tulei is the grandson of Faagau Tafuna and has one-fourth Faagau blood in his veins while Toliniu is the great-grandson of Faagau Tu'utasolo and has one-eighth Faagau blood in his veins. It follows, therefore, that Tulei prevails over Toliniu on the issue of hereditary right, and we so find.

            [3] There was much contradictory testimony as to the wish of the majority of clans in the family as to which of the candidates should have the title. We have considered the evidence and have concluded that the weight of the evidence is to the effect that the two candidates stand on an equality with respect to this second issue. We find that Tulei and Toliniu rank equally on this issue.

            [4, 5] Both candidates speak English fairly well. Tulei has completed six grades in school, Toliniu seven. Tulei works as a foreman for the Department of Public Works at Tafuna. He has about twenty-five laborers working under his direction. Toliniu works at the Star-Kist Cannery as a cook, i.e., he cooks the fish in steam cookers after they are canned in order to prepare the canned fish for the market. Both candidates have worked on plantations. Toliniu worked for the Van Camp Sea Food Company once. However, he was caught stealing from the Company and was [4ASR493] sent to jail for larceny. He has been using the matai title Faagau without being registered as the holder of the title. This is a criminal offense under Sec. 6.0109 of the A. S. Code, 1961 Edition, for which the punishment is a fine of not more than $25.00 or imprisonment for not more than three months or both. Both candidates are familiar with Samoan customs.

            [6] We observed the personalities of both candidates during the hearing. From the testimony and our observations, we conclude that Tulei prevails over Toliniu on the issue of "forcefulness, character, personality, and knowledge of Samoan customs," and we so find.

            Each candidate testified that if awarded the title he would get the Faagau Family to live together in peace and harmony. However, considering all of the evidence bearing on the issue of the "value of the holder of the matai title to the family, the village, and the country," we conclude that Tulei prevails over Toliniu on the fourth issue, and we so find.

            [7] Since we find that Tulei prevails over Toliniu on the first, third, and fourth issues and stands on an equality with him on the second issue, it follows that we must award the Faagau title to Tulei.

 

DECREE

 

            Accordingly, it is ADJUDGED, ORDERED AND DECREED that Tulei shall be registered as the holder of the matai title Faagau attached to the Village of Sailele. The Clerk of the High Court will register Tulei as the holder of such matai title and will issue to him a certificate of registration as such.

            Costs in the sum of $12.50 are hereby assessed against Toliniu, the same to be paid within 20 days.

 

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