Other formats

    TEI XML file   ePub eBook file  


    mail icontwitter iconBlogspot iconrss icon

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

(i) The Members of the Board

page 14

(i) The Members of the Board

31. The Commission recommends that the Board be composed of the members of the Council of State and six other members nominated by the Fono of Faipule. It should also have a secretary, who would be its principal executive officer and would attend all meetings.

32. In recommending that the members of the Council of State should be members of the Board, the Commission has not overlooked the fact that both the High Commissioner and the Hon. Fautua already have a great part of their time occupied by attendance at meetings of various kinds. It has reached the conclusion, however, that their designation as ex officio members of the Board would be the most effective, and the proper, way of ensuring that the policy of the Board is fully co-ordinated with Government policy as a whole. In a later paragraph it will be suggested how the work of the Board might conveniently be divided into deliberation on matters of major importance and routine work. The members of the Council of State would not necessarily be present at meetings in the latter class. In this way, the demand upon their time would be reduced to a minimum.

33. The Commission recommends that the remaining members should be nominated by the Fono of Faipule, because that body is directly representative of the districts. They should hold office for the same term of years as a Faipule, except in the case of a casual vacancy brought about by resignation, death, or other cause, when the person appointed should serve only for the remainder of the term of office of the member whose place he had filled. The number of ordinary members has been fixed at six to make the Board large enough for persons of different interests, experience, and age to be represented, while keeping it small enough for the convenient transaction of business.

34. The small size of the Board would also help to emphasize another important point. The Boards' function would be that of carrying out the particular duties with which it has been charged, within the framework of general government policy. It should not regard itself as a policymaking body, or as a body directly representative of the people. The making of policy, and the representation of the people, are the functions of the High Commissioner, the Council of State, the Legislative Assembly, and the Fono of Faipule. The Board's duties would be more limited, and would be subject to decisions reached through these ordinary constitutional channels.

35. The primary consideration of the Fono of Faipule in considering nominations for membership of the Board should be, therefore, not whether a man represented a particular part of the country, but his personal qualifications for the work he would be called on to do. The page 15 importance, and the difficulty, of the problems facing the Board, particularly in its early years, would make it essential that the ablest men available should be appointed. For this reason, the Commission recommends that the fewest possible restrictions should be placed upon the field of choice of the Fono of Faipule. Judges and members of the Public Service should, no doubt, be ineligible for membership, but a member of the Legislative Assembly, a Faipule, a pulefa‘ato‘aga, or a pulenu‘u should be entitled to accept membership of the Board while retaining his other Government office. Any other arrangement might have the effect of denying to the Board the services of men whose experience and capacity would be of great value to it.

36. The Commission has given the most serious consideration to the factors which should govern the choice of a Secretary. Clearly, the success of the Board would depend to a considerable extent upon the calibre of its Secretary. As a full-time officer, he would be expected to prepare the business of the Board's meetings. He would arrange for any necessary advice or information to be available to members to assist them in making decisions. This might involve him in extensive study of files or other documentary material, or in arranging for persons to appear before the Board to give oral evidence. He would also have to pass on, and probably explain, recommendations of the Board to Government officers. Further, he would have the highly responsible task of giving informal advice to district and village authorities on matters within the Board's field of operation. Finally, he would have to organize courses of instruction for various district and village officials.

37. To carry out these tasks successfully, the Secretary would require intelligence, integrity, education and experience. He would have to possess the standing and the personality necessary for obtaining the co-operation and assistance of senior Government officials, and for retaining the sympathy and friendship of the ali‘i and faipule. He should be capable of explaining legal and administrative points to district and village officials in clear but simple terms. It would be essential that he should possess some knowledge of local government in other countries.

38. The Commission gave particular consideration to two ways in which the secretaryship might be filled. First, it considered the suggestion that a European officer with suitable experience and personality should be appointed for a term of three years, with a Samoan assistant, whom he would train to succeed him. Eventually the Commission rejected this suggestion because of the uncertainty as to whether a suitable officer would, in fact, be found. The qualities required are not those which are found in any large proportion of Government officers at present. The Commission is convinced that the appointment as page 16 Secretary of an unsuitable officer from overseas would be the one action most certain to prevent the Board from fulfilling the purposes for which its establishment is proposed.

39. Secondly, it considered the suggestion that a Samoan be appointed as Secretary from the start and that the Board should also have a European Adviser during its first few years of operation. This suggestion presents certain difficulties, but, after the most thorough discussion, the Commission decided to adopt it. At the present time it is unhappily true that no Samoan has the breadth of experience and training needed for the full performance of the duties of Secretary to the Board. There are, however, men with the requisite ability who, with further experience, should be able to fill the position with credit to themselves and satisfaction to the Board. The Commission therefore recommends that the position of Secretary be filled by a Samoan. The man chosen should, if possible, have some experience of Government service, as well as of the work of the ali‘i and faipule. He should be young enough to benefit from any training which he might be able to obtain, as well as from practical experience. As soon as possible after appointment, he should be sent abroad to study local government in New Zealand, Fiji, and, possibly, other countries. No effort should be spared to find the best man available. The status and salary of the Secretary should not, in the opinion of the Commission, be below that of the Assistant Public Service Commissioner. In view of the varied qualities required in the holder of this office, the Commission considers that it would be more suitable for the power of appointment to be vested in the High Commissioner than in the Public Service Commission.

40. A further difficulty in appointing a Samoan to the secretaryship at the outset is that the period in which he would be learning his job would be one of vital importance in the implementation of district and village government policy. In its first few years the Board would be establishing rules of procedure that would be likely to influence it for many years to come. Also, it would be considering proposals put up by districts and villages for the recognition of various type of authorities. The character of its recommendations on these proposals would greatly influence the structure of district and village government in future years. During this period the Secretary would not be able to assist the Board as fully as would be desirable, owing to his lack of experience. For these reasons, the Commission recommends that an Adviser to the Board be appointed for a period of three years. He should be a man with broad knowledge of local-government matters and a constructive bent of mind. He should be able to give the Secretary guidance in training himself for his duties, but be willing to withdraw from the centre of the stage himself as the Secretary gained experience. In other words, his relationship with the Secretary should be that of a counsellor and friend, page 17 not that of an official superior. We emphasize these points because we are certain that they are essential to the successful carrying-out of our proposals. They imply, in practice, that great care must be taken in choosing the Adviser in regard to personality as well as to knowledge and experience.