HEIRS OF SAGIAO:
Faafete S. Muasau, Leemo S. Tagaleo'o et al.,
MAMAE POTI aka MAMAE UATI,
High Court of American Samoa
Civil Jurisdiction, Land and Titles Division
May 23, 1972
Petition to restrain Defendant from building house on communal land. High Court, Land and Titles Division, Jochimsen, Associate Justice presiding. dismissed petition, finding that Objector had forfeited his matai powers by living outside American Samoa for nine (9) years, and thus had no pule over family lands.
Real Property-Communal Family Land-Power of Matai-Forfeited During Extended Absence
Senior matai who lives outside American Samoa for substantial period forfeits power over family land to next senior matai, until senior matai [4ASR65] returns and resumes duties as high chief. Decisions made during absence are not subject to review by senior matai.
This matter comes before this Court on a Petition for a Restraining Order to prevent the defendant from building a house on certain property.
The property in question was first excavated in 1922 by defendant's father and has been continuously used by defendant's family ever since without objection.
That defendant is the only matai of the Sagiao and Poti family living in Agugulu, and excerasing [sic] the matai functions of the family.
That High Chief Sagiao who now refuses to permit the defendants to build a house on the property lives in the U.S., and has lived there for at least nine years.
When the senior matai of a family has moved from the family lands and has established a residence outside of American Samoa for a period of time, his rights and duties regarding the family lands are then exercised by the next highest matai. In this case the next highest matai is the defendant, Mammae Poti, who therefore has the pule. In view of this circumstance the objection by High Chief Sagiao is not well made. This disability of High Chief Sagiao would be removed should he again take up residency in American Samoa, and assume his duties as High Chief, but decisions made during his absence are not subject to his review. [4ASR66]
From the foregoing Findings of Fact, the Court makes the following judgment.
Judgment is entered in favor of the defendant and the complaint of the plaintiff is dismissed with prejudice.
On Motion To Withdraw
The Court upon considering the Motion to Withdraw of the Petitioners herein, approves and grants said motion.
IT IS THEREFORE, ORDERED AND DECREED, that the above entitled matter is hereby dismissed.