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Before in the faa-samoa, a nuu was once seeing as a one big unit or family (aiga), where people were very closely not by kinship but by living in the same community and being organised into groups where somehow they are all together in a relationship of sons and daughters of the village. And because of that structure, it was awkward for someone to even think of marrying someone from within the same village.Professor Serge Tcherkezoff or Siliga (his Samoan name as he prefers) during his researches from the early 1980s and 1990s in Samoa discovered that the rule of exogamy is fading away from the Samoan community system, and it is diminishing the status of women within the Samoan society.

Survey conducted recently finds that about 40% of community have intra marriage relationship. And this is where that sacredness, and the importance of women as covenants within their family and village community is starting to lose.

“The strength of the exogamy rules clearly has faded away, but this is because the village as a community feels less to be one big aiga,” said Tcherkezoff.

In the old days, malaga (aumoega) was very much part of the faa-samoa. This is where the whole community visits another village having a night feast and dances where young people explicitly meet future partners. So people were always looking to marry outside of the village.

The exogamy rules being fading gives people in the village the mind-set that they can marry whoever even if they’re from the same village.

But it’s not just the status or the role of women being covenant that is fading.

“The sense of community of belonging to one community as a nuu is also diminishing. And of course because the village is grown and it changes the idea to marry outside of the village,” said Tcherkezoff.

The faa-matai system is being identified as one other major contributing factor.

The 20th and the 21st century is when the changes started to see in the Samoan community of women being the minority especially when it comes to decision making not just in their villages, their families but at a higher level.

Professor Tcherkezoff who presented during the 2nd P.I.U.R.N conference said the faa-matai system for some reason is overseeing the importance and the sacredness of women in the Samoan community as their covenant (feagaiga).

“More and more women are trying to find their way of gaining decision making position within government high level administration because within the village and family structure and title structure, they have less to say in the  fa’a-matai system,” said Prof. Tcherkezoff.

Researches by Prof.  Tcherkezoff discovered that in the early years during the 19th century. The role and the sacredness of women as feagaiga was highly respected and recognized.

“Old stories from the 19th century, you see very clearly that even the high chiefs, could not decide, even the important things like going to war, without the consent of the older women of the family or the feagaiga which is referring to women  as sisters and aunts,” said Professor.

Caption: Sense belonging to one community as a nuu is also diminishing – Professor Serge Tcherkezoff

  *By Enender Kaiono and Tutuila Farao (Both Enender and Tutuila are media and journalism students at NUS)

“My Samoan Language speaks to my mind and soul and nourished my thoughts and decision making,” Fonomaaitu Tuvalu Fuimaono, from Ara Institute of Canterbury told the Pacific Island University Research Network (PIURN) at the National University of Samoa (NUS) on Tuesday.

He is a Samoan, and believes that speaking Samoan and English allows him to view the world from different perspectives. “As a Samoan we are not individual we are integral part of the cosmos and web share our divinity with our ancestors, the land, the sea and the skies and also share and inheritance with family, villages and nation,” Fonomaaitu said.

One of his informants, Anae, suggested that the Samoan identity is created from experiences with your aiga, church, matai, and faalupega system and also Samoan language associated values such as services (tautua) respect (faaaloalo) and sacred connection between siblings and others (feagaiga).

Fonomaaitu quoted King Solomon, making the connection between language and the environment of an Israelite. King Solomon said that "If I forget you, O Jerusalem, may my right hand forget her skills, and this could be interpreted as saying that for a person to exist, one must have a connection to his/her culture and language to identify themselves.” In New Zealand most Samoan language is being taught in school and it has been accepted as subject. Polytechnics and universities also deliver Samoan language courses with 89 registered Early Childhood Education teachers who teach Samoan language according to Fonomaaitu.

Apart from educational institutions, Samoan churches are another entity leading the preservation of Samoan language in New Zealand. The Sunday school is where children are taught their Samoan alphabet, how to write in Samoan, and sing hymns in Samoan. “The church is the centre that maintains and retains Samoan culture and language particularly for New Zealand born generation,” he said.

He believes that the preservation of the language, culture and fa’a samoa begins at home. Fonomaaitu concluded by introducing the Fausiga-o-le-Fale tele by Lusafutu Simpson within the Change Strategies to Enhance Pacific student success at Canterbury Institutions as a framework which he believes can aid in supporting the sustainability of Samoan language. “To compare the Fale tele framework to our Samoan language it’s love, responsibility and respect,” Fonomaaitu said.

Caption: Speaking the mother tongue is valuable – Fonomaaitu Tuvalu Fuimaono, from Ara Institute of Canterbury

*By Poula Eteuati & Samuelu Seupule (Both Poula and Samuelu are media and journalism students at NUS)

A research into the gift giving in Western Polynesian with specific reference to Samoa and Tonga was discussed at the second Pacific Islands University Research Network (PIURN) Conference on Tuesday. “Tonga and Samoa cannot be compared because they are totally reversed in gift giving,'' said Professor Serge Tcherkezoff from the Australia National University.

 “Siapo, a very high quality woven cloth, is very rare in ceremonies nowadays in Samoa but Tonga designates the gift of siapo and fine mats,'' Professor Tcherkezoff said. Siapo and fine mats are very valuable not only in culture but also in economics. “In both countries' culture, the gift giving is all ceremonially exchanged in marriage, church services, and funerals.

 A dominant reference is the covering and ‘wrapping in’ of the body itself with mats, tapa, and ointments, and is a very direct symbol of the material gift of life. The gift giving plays a prominent role in giving as they refer to the developing powers of life that the people potentially represent.

Samoans and Tongans are to be understood not through their material selectivity but through their quantity to capture reference to the origins of both countries. ''Gift giving throughout Polynesia prevents us from getting general comparative,'' said Professor Tcherkezoff.

Caption: Gift giving in Polynesia plays a major role: Prof. Tcherkezoff

*By Solonaima Uelese and Vaise Taalefili (Solonaima Uelese and Vaise Taalefili are both media and journalism students at NUS)


The Pacific heritage arts with spiritual cultural significance such as mats, tapa and carvings are not ‘handicrafts’. Dr. Cresantia Frances Koya Vaka'uta from U.S.P addressed the issue during her keynote presentation at the second Pacific Islands University Research Network Conference (PIURN) at the National University of Samoa (NUS) this morning. "This is derogatory and is an example of a colonial hang-up," said Dr. Vaka'uta.

"A handicraft by definition is something made by hand usually made with whatever material is available to you. For e.g. a door mat made from old t-shirts, a bottle turned into a vase, christmas decorations made from clothing scraps and many others. These are handcrafts, and have no spiritual or cultural value.” "We see our heritage arts in handicraft stalls and markets," she said.

She also mentioned the exploitation of the Pacific cultures over the last decade. "The Fijian Masi marketed as AZTEC by American Designer, Maori Moko as print motif by non-Maori designer, Samoan Tattoo on Nike leggings, using Moko to sell sunglasses, Papua New Guinea Bilum trademarked by French handbag company, shower curtains depicting a Maori tribal leaders and battles sold by an American company, plastic Tongan taovala made in China and carpets featuring tapa designs," she said. "In most of these cases, Pacific scholars and art practitioners (including myself) have reacted and responded formally to the corporations and individuals.” “Nanette Lapore, pulled the Fijian Masi Aztec dress and issued an apology through her agent. Nike retracted its Tatau legging, and the Maori shower curtains have been discontinued," she said.

One of these cases includes Disney's animation Moana. "The name Moana was licensed by a German company which means that they reserve the right to use that name for their products which includes a whole range of items including toilet paper. "In July this year, Disney was fighting a legal battle to register ‘The Moana’ for rights to the upcoming cartoon/ animation,” Dr. Vaka'uta said.

"One of the concerns that has emerged regarding this animation was a visit of Disney big guns to Fiji, where it is said that consultations took place and the eventual decision was to model Moana’s canoe on the Camakau, a sailing vessel attributed to a small community from Moce in the Fiji Lau group, an Eastern group of islands with ties to Tonga," she said. Dr. Vaka'uta cited Mua voyage coordinator Colin Philip: “From what I understand, they visited Korova settlement in Laucala Bay and are using one of the canoes as a replica for the animated movie.

"While it is great that Pacific island voyaging culture is being featured, I do hope the owners will receive appropriate compensation for use of their canoe design since the movie will make billions of dollars. I hope that the people from Korova are not being exploited,” Mr Philip was quoted as having said.

In this case Disney could not be reached for a comment. "In true Disney style, we see emerging Halloween costumes up for sale, plush toys, stuffed toys and plastic doll sets, including the Camakau," Dr. Vaka'uta said.

"There are many reasons to safeguard our languages and we know that each language contributes value to linguistic science. "So if we really want children to fulfil their full educational and economic potential, their home languages, arts and heritage should be supported,” Dr. Vaka'uta said.

Caption: Disney’s Studio Polynesia them movie ‘Moana’ is due for release later this year.

*By Katalina Tovia (Katalina Tovia is a final year media and journalism student at NUS)


The evaluation on the use of the Aptus within an educational context at the National University of Samoa was presented today at the second Pacific Islands University Research Network (PIURN) at the Centre for Samoan Studies seminar room.

The presentation, by Mose Mose and Tara Patu, from the NUS Department of Computing, Faculty of Science, was based on a study which trials a piece of technology called Aptus and how it can be used within the educational context in Samoa. "Aptus is a technology box with two components," said Mrs. Patu.

"It has a mini -pc with the capacity to store large quantities of e-resources and it also has a wireless router which allows multiple learners to access the e-resources stored on the pc." Mrs Patu said that the study was implemented in two phases.

The first phase now completed trialed the Aptus within the NUS. The second phase, still in progress, has the Aptus trialed in selected primary and secondary schools within the Apia area. "A challenge throughout the whole education system is access to the internet which potentially provides a wealth of quality resources to facilitate and improve teaching and learning process,” Mrs. Patu said.

“It also allows access to resources using technology which is even more limited in primary schools with very few schools having access to computer technology,” she said. The teachers’ uptake of technology is low, pointing to lack of confidence in using technology and need for more training, which is why the Aptus technology is not yet more widely used in education in Samoa.

"Tutors believed that Aptus is a very useful device with less internet used, when we interviewed them,” Mr Mose said. "They said it is easy to install, upload and download notes and it did not overheat. "Tutors were also enthusiastic with the use of Moodle for managing their classrooms, in particular communicating with students, conducting activities such as online quizzes," he added.

They are looking forward to confirming the viability of Aptus as a technology to be introduced into the teaching and learning environment to improve access to quality educational resources.

Caption: NUS’ Mrs Tara Patu at the evaluation of the Aptus Technology presentation at the Centre for Samoan Studies seminar room.

*By: Katalina Tovia & Julie Simati Fiu (Katalina Tovia and Julie Simati Fiu are both media and journalism students at NUS)

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