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Government of Western Samoa Report of the Commission to Inquire into and Report upon the Organization of District and Village Government in Western Samoa

(k) Government Action on This Report

(k) Government Action on This Report

128. It has always been understood that Government policy on the vitally important subjects of our inquiry will not be finally determined till the people of all districts in Western Samoa, as well as the Legislative Assembly and the Fono of Faipule, have been given a full opportunity to study our report and express their opinions upon the recommendations contained in it. With this intended course of action we are in full agreement. It is, indeed, desirable that the decisions of the Government should be taken with the full support of the country. For these reasons, we particularly welcomed the request made to us by Your Excellency that we should include in our recommendations something in regard to the most effective way of spreading an understanding of this report.

129. The first step, in our opinion, after the release of the report by Your Excellency, should be its printing in both Samoan and English and its wide distribution throughout Samoa. We know, from the experience of our malaga, how keenly the ali‘i and faipule in every district are looking forward to learning of the conclusions reached at the end of our work. They, as well as many others, will be anxious to study our recommendations.

130. We have had to make our final report a somewhat lengthy document, however, and we realize that there will be some who will find difficulty in studying it in full. We have therefore arranged to have a page 48 short summary of the recommendations prepared, and we suggest that this should also be printed in English and Samoan and distributed with the full report.

131. Some points in the report are certain not to be completely clear to all readers. There is therefore a need to provide a means by which such points of doubt can be resolved. We consider that a request should be made to the Director of Broadcasting to allow time for the answering of questions sent in. We suggest that, after copies of the report have been distributed, an invitation should be broadcast to all who are uncertain of the full meaning of any of our recommendations to send in their queries to 2A P. Such questions should be passed on to the present Secretary of the Commission, who would make arrangements to obtain answers. At that time, as we fully realize, the Commission will have ceased to exist and our personal responsibilities will have been discharged. Our desire to see a satisfactory outcome of our work, however, will remain. Those of us who are within reach of Apia are prepared to meet together, when required, in order to work out the correct answers to questions sent in. This we are prepared to do in a purely voluntary capacity, because of the importance of the service to be rendered to Samoa.

132. We have also considered how we can best assist in building up a full understanding of our proposals by means of personal explanation to the people of our districts. Our conclusion is that it is best to make no formal arrangements in this matter. Every member will, of course, be asked to explain points that are not clear, and all will do so to the best of their ability. It seems wisest to allow discussion of the report to take place completely freely. When the assistance of members of the Commission is needed, it will, no doubt, be asked for.

133. As we wrote in our first report, the full implementation of our proposals will be a lengthy and difficult task. For this reason, we venture to express the hope that the Government will take certain preliminary steps while discussion of the report by officials and by the districts is still going on. A thorough analysis should be made as soon as possible of the evidence which we received during our malaga, in order to provide a complete and systematic statement of the present organization of district and village affairs. Had time allowed, we should have made this analysis ourselves; but it has not been possible to do so within the time limits of our inquiry. Such an analysis has not actually been necessary to us in the working-out of our recommendations. The records of evidence in their present form have served as a sufficient guide. The District and Village Government Board, however, will undoubtedly need a comprehensive statement of the present situation of the type to which we refer. It will give the Board a most necessary basis from which to consider the proposals for the recognition of their powers submitted by district page 49 and village authorities. We therefore recommend that the Government arrange for an analysis of the evidence to be made as soon as possible by a Government officer. When drafted, this should be carefully checked in respect of each district to make sure of its accuracy before it comes into use by the District and Village Government Board.

134. We also consider that study should begin at once of the legal changes which would be necessary to give effect to our recommendations. Certain amendments will, we believe, be necessary in Acts of the New Zealand Parliament, as well as in Orders in Council and in local Ordinances. It will require time to work out the exact character of the necessary amendments, as well as to draft the substantive part of the legislation to bring our recommendations into force.

135. By following the course of action which we have outlined, the Government should be able to ensure that within twelve months of the receipt of this report it is well on the way towards the attainment of the goal that has for so long been desired by the people of Samoa.