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The Revolt of the Samoans

Dissatisfaction with the Fono of Faipules

Dissatisfaction with the Fono of Faipules

Another source of real dissatisfaction is the manner in which the Fono of Faiuples is set up and functions. Speaking in the House on July 26, Sir Maui Pomare, the Maori member of the Coates Cabinet, declared that the Fono of Faipules is an absolutely worthless body. He suggested that it was not constituted in the way of legislation for the Samoans by the Samoans, and that there was nothing similar to it in any part of the world. This is the general opinion of the Samoans who are opposed to the policy of the Administration, and it is also the opinion of most people who have studied the Samoan position.

When the clauses of the Samoa Amendment Bill, 1923, were before Parliament, it was generally understood that the Fono would be set up in conformity with the tribal customs of the Samoans. From time immemorial, the Samoans say, they have selected their own Faipules or representatives on the Government; and at no time in their history have the Faipules either interfered or been allowed to interfere with their hereditary family names or their civic privileges by banishing chiefs from one village to another or one island to another. The Rev. Geo. Brown ("Melanesians and Polynesians") says that there was a time when the Faipules were representative of the people, and the real power in any village was with them-"they made laws, levied fines, and generally ruled the village."

To-day the position is altogether different. The Samoans now regard the Faipule as the phonograph of the Administration. An Official Report from the office of the Administration may be held to confirm this view. It says: "When the Fono meets, the Faipules present to the Administrator such matters as they desire him to consider, and the Administrator presents to the Faipules such matters as he desires them to consider; and after consideration the Administrator makes decisions upon the various matters raised, and where orders are necessary he issues them." This means that every decision that goes out is the decision of the Administrator. The Faipules have neither legislative nor administrative capacity; and as an advisory body their position is farcical. The Samoans feel that, in respect to the Fono of Faipules, as with the Legislative Council, a promise solemnly made has been dishonoured. This is borne out by the statement of Mr. R. C. Clarke, president of the New Zealand Wesley College, who on his return from Samoa about the middle of last year declared that among the main grievances of the Samoans was a too dictatorial and militaristic form of administration, and he also said that there was great dissatisfaction with the method of appointing the Faipules. "It is said that the Administrator has no time for those who will not echo his words," said Mr. Clarke; "and criticism of the page 6 Administration is taken as disaffection and disloyalty." Certain high chiefs who had ventured to express in quite mild terms their disapproval of the Administration had been deported; and when the dissatisfaction arising from the appointment of lesser chiefs was met by the Administration with a statement that character rather than rank should be the basis of appointment, it was countered by the Mau with the charge that servility counted with the Administration far more than either character or rank.