(a) Any person claiming succession to a matai title shall file with the Territorial Registrar a written claim of succession to the title.
(b) A claim must be accompanied by a certificate from the chiefs of the village to which the claimed title is attached to the effect that the matai title is an old and traditional title of the Samoan people, and a petition signed by 25 blood members of the title claimed. The blood members must be at least 18 years of age and residents of American Samoa at the time the petition is filed. The petition must state that a family meeting was called and held for the purpose of selecting a successor to the title in question, according to the traditions of the family. In the event the family does not have a sufficient number of members qualified as herein required to support the claim, the claimant shall so state in a signed affidavit.
(c) The Territorial Registrar, if not satisfied with the validity of information offered in the petition, shall require proof of age, blood relation to the title in question, residence and the insufficiency of blood members if that is claimed.History: 1962, PL 7-38; 1968, PL 10-61; 1970, PL 11-117.
Although RCAS 60104 requires 25 family members to sign petition supporting matai title claim, this is not mandatory if affidavit discloses family has less than 25 qualified members. RCAS 6.0104 In re Matai Title Fagairna, 4 ASR 83 (1973).
Applicant for matai title must show right to succession which implies that title name existed before claim was filed but has been vacated RCAS 6 0104 Mailo v Fuimaono, 4 ASR 757 (1967).
Requirements for matai title holder applies in every candidate for title—objectors as well as applicant RCAS 6.0104 Asuega v. Manuma, 4 ASR 616 (1965).
An applicant for matai-title registration is normally required to submit, among other things, a "certificate from the chiefs of the village to which the title is attached to the effect that the matai title is an old and traditional title of the Samoan people." A.S.C.A. § 1.0405(b). In re Matai Title Seva'aetasi, 19 A.S.R.2d 133 (1991).
Despite a written objection by the leading chiefs of the village, a matai title was ordered to be registered in the applicant name as an "old and traditional title of the Samoan people" when the Territorial Registrar's records pointed to recognition of the title's status in a village prior to its registration, and court cases affirmed the family's landholdings. A.S.C.A. § 1.0405(b). In re Matai Title Seva'aetasi, 19 A.S.R.2d 133 (1991).
Regarding the statutory exception for families having fewer than 25 adult, blood family-members, the term "family" is equated with the claimant's or counter-claimant's clan for purposes of testing the validity of matai-title petitions. A.S.C.A. § 1.0405, 1.0407. Registration of Matai Title "Le'aeno", 24 A.S.R.2d 117 (1993).
A matai title bestowed contrary to statute cannot be registered or otherwise recognized; and use of an unregistered matai title is a criminal act. A.S.C.A. §§ 1.0401-1.0414, Toilolo v. Poti, 23 A.S.R.2d 130 (1993).