Thursday, August 19, 2010

Somoa's two forms of governance

If you were a planner in Samoa, how would you go about navigating your way between the two forms of decision-making on the islands: that of the colonial-traditional and that of the rational-legal system common in Westminster democracies? Use the freeing up of land for a new tourist venture as an example.

Up to 100 words.


  1. I think that, although the colonial-traditional system may be seen as less fair in land decision making processes, ultimately, it is probably the best way to ensure sustainable development and to retain a culture that is unique to other island vacation spots. However, for international financial investors this system may seem subjective and therefore unstable for investment. Perhaps if there were national, published objectives, or guidelines developed by Matai, that planners could adhere to, they would not need to wade through the traditional bureaucracy to get consent for every planning decision. Perhaps appointed planners could develop a long-term design strategy that would assure foreign investors without relinquishing any of the islands’ cultural or environmental standards. And then, any disagreements would be handled by the Matai, who would have the final say.

  2. Katherine (Katie) Round 4643038August 23, 2010 at 3:43 PM

    It would be a difficult task trying to incorporate both systems as both differ greatly in their approach. In the case of freeing up land for tourism, perhaps establishing a Memoranda of Understanding between representatives of the two systems over how land for tourism ventures may be developed alongside existing policies. This may lead to more mutual/shared decision-making, greater accountability and certainty as well as create opportunities for partnerships in these ventures. The Matai may be more willing to free up some of their land for lease under this system if they can be assured that tourism investors will respect Matai custom. This could be entrenched into tourism agreements. Another approach is establishing a tourism development agency which incorporates representatives from both systems to oversee tourism developments and assist in negotiations.

  3. Kimberley Edmonds 4992625

    I think that the colonial-traditional system that occurs in Samoa has been beneficial to the island by making it far more difficult for overseas hotel chains to set up there. The rational-legal system would of course aim to free-up more land in Samoa. I think planners need to take into account the effects of each system and that it’s a pull between the tourism benefits of a non-commercialised Samoa and the employment benefits that would occur if more tourist ventures were allowed to be easily built on the Island. I visited there in 2007 and the attraction was how uncommercialised it is compared to other islands like Fiji, New Caledonia and Rarotonga. I will definitely go back there because I enjoyed staying at family owned places, including the fale’s and the more boutique accommodation ends of the market. I was pleased to hear Samoa is encouraging fale accommodation to built because it is a very unique, comfortable and cheap way to spend a few nights.

  4. Yu Ying Viena Jiang (4593106)August 30, 2010 at 4:35 PM

    Samoa is a country governing the western part of the Samoan Island in the South Pacific Ocean which became independent from New Zealand in 1962. There were two forms of decision making on the islands. In my opinion, the colonial traditional system is the best way to maintain and manage the island in order to ensure sustainable development and retain its unique culture. On the other hand, this is a restriction for international financial investors. The rational guidelines developed by Matai are able to assist decision making by planners. Central government can develop a long term plan so that investors are able to implement the plan without destroying environment. The district plan and the LTCCP developed by New Zealand are good examples for Samoa to learn.

  5. Anita Kulasic 4876931

    I think that the colonial traditional system of planning that is being use in Samoa is beneficial to the country as it makes it unique and you really get to experience the culture and their way of living. The rational legal system as we all know will want to open up more land for development, get new investors in and attract more people. Even though attracting more people seems more beneficial for Samoa it may not be on the natural environment because most of the developments will occur on the waters front and this area is prone to erosion. I personally believe that planners that work in Samoa in the future should follow the traditional planning model because it is unique to Samoa. When i went to Fiji last year it was over commercialized and it just felt fake because you didn't get to meet the locals in your resort you had to go out to meet them, and the ones that work at the resort are lovely but you don't experience the real culture. However, in Samoa since it is under commericalised it makes it more environmentally friendly and the real culture is experienced and that is what people generally want.

  6. Keaton Lane 4928818
    The freeing up of land occupied by colonial traditional owners or subject to colonial traditional decision making is a situation with similarities to one gone through in New Zealands own history. The situation of a rational legal land ownership system driven by proifts and privatised big business meeting indigenous poeples is always going to be a difficult subject.
    It is my opinion that all one planning in Samoa could achieve is that which has been outlined above, the consultation with stakeholders like the chief against a framework of strategies with the conservation of indigenous peoples rights and land contained in objectives. Big business will however always be an extermely powerful driving force because even those living in subsitance can see the benefit of currency when it is shoved in front of their face. it would be my concept to attempt to pepper pot areas of indigenous ownership with developed land setting up a court to contest the most desired land. I dont believe giving the final say to the Matai or the developer is a good idea and mediation and resources would need to flood into the country to make this work.

  7. If I was a planner in Samoa, I think the best way to navigate through the two forms of decision-making processes inorder to free up land for a new tourist venture would be through using consultation and workshop methods with all the Matai in the area. The outcome of these consultation workshops will provide a plan or framework in which they would have involvement on planning for their future. I think both forms of decision making process can complement each other, if there is a willingness to acceptance.

  8. Nardia Yozin (4677369)October 6, 2010 at 8:46 PM

    For freeing up land for a new tourist venture, I would believe that a more traditional system would be more successful in creating something that is sympathetic to the surrounds and the area in general. This system is obviously important to the people, so working against this system would not make the planner’s job any easier.
    Also, Samoa’s coastal environment is fragile. Large investor care more about profits that effects on the environment. If tourist ventures are developed more in line with traditional practices (not just management, but built form etc...), they not only give an added extra to the tourist experience, but also help to retain what is important and unique to Samoa.

  9. As we have seen the traditional culture in Samoa is very hierarchical with a Matai making decisions on behalf of a larger group, this is in contrasted with the more democratic legal rational western model. Therefore an approach needs to be taken that can meet the needs of both systems. A planner that is able to successfully ‘consult’ with the people of an area will do so once trust and a reciprocal relationship is established whether this be with a Matai or the local people in a more democratic sense, I believe the most important thing to implement are these relationships, allowing the government to establish planning frameworks that help local people to map their communities, the resources they depend on, the problems they will face and the opportunities they may have. Tourism will be obviously identified, as one of these and this will allow the local people to engage with developers in a way they see appropriate. This approach will also allow for the protection of resources that are vital for a community (through good mapping) and the allocation of profits to best meet the needs of a community instead of individuals (on either side). This process may take time but will potentially provide the most well implemented tourist facilities while supporting the local environment.

  10. brogan Perkins

    Like many other who have posted for me the traditional planning system of the matai is the greater planning system for Samoa. Although this may be limiting in terms of democracy within parliament, and opportunities for economic development within Samoa, it best represents the communities needs and desires. It works with family representation and ties in to the religious aspect of their culture. For me the development of commercial businesses such as hotel will only remove the charcter associated with Samoa, on a recent visit to Rarotonga I came across the past Sheriton development which has resulted in a large scaled abondoned resort with overgrown vegetation tagging and pest invasion, this was due to the pulling out of financial backing by the local government. This too could happen in Samoa without the matai system in place fair representation of the community may not happen leading to disapproval of future devlopment and corruption. It would be sad to see Samoa end up with abandoned developments creating eye sores. However their would be room for improvement in terms of planners from western systems working with the matai, and this would be the creation of planning documents to establish greater relationships and trust, and to establish protection of resources and creation of rules in which the Matai wish for, but allows for the planners to work within a set of identified customary criteria to allow for low scale development.

  11. jake lawrence 4969505

    It seems that it would be an interesting challenge to work as a planner in Samoa with the two forms of governance creating a unique situation in which planners must interact and consult with both regimes. Freeing up of land in Samoa for tourism seems to be a bit of a double edged sword as although there are immediate economic benefits from the sale of land for tourism ventures there are also long term implications for the local communities with the use of their coastal resources jeopardised. Another post commented on the potential for Matai to establish national, objectives, or guidelines developed by Matai which could be used to guide planners. Another way to reduce any conflicts whilst maximising the economic benefit of freeing up land could be through a national tourism plan which identifies areas best suited to tourism and would be guided by the Matais.

  12. Diana Luong - 4904277
    It would be difficult to reach a consensus in the freeing up land for tourism between the colonial tradition and the rational legal system. The rational legal system would want to encourage foreign investors to develop on their land to improve their tourism services to attract more tourists for economic gain. But the colonial traditionalists would want to protect their heritage from development. Though this needs to be said in perspective as the situation may be that there is a need of jobs for the local people which the tourism industry could fill. What I mean is that Samoa could possibly accommodate for some development just not too much. It should be up to the colonial traditionalists to decide on how much development. Hence I agree with Anne that the colonial traditionalists should have the final say because they would work towards the best interests for Samoa’s heritage and their natural environment which is what attracts tourists to Samoa.

  13. Minkyung Ko (4801104)November 2, 2010 at 10:49 PM

    Like the preceding people said, I also think colonial-traditional system of the Matai is more profitable and made more successful projects in planning except in freeing up of land for tourism. Freeing up of land needs more economic helps and democracy ideas. Therefore in this case, planner needs to combine colonial-traditional and rational-legal system together. For example to get more successful results, build up skills and natural resources to strengthen land-use planning and sustainable development, and develop effective instruments to guarantee that land-use plans prepared at local, regional, and national level. Actually most projects at national level get fund like foreign donations even they are forced to adopt cost-effective projects in sustainable way.

  14. Jonathan - 4890696

    The overarching tensions between that of the colonial-traditional and that of the rational-legal system common in Westminster democracies ways of decsion making is unique. It is difficult to balance these while trying to encourge foreign investment in Samoa and the freeing of communally owned land. Economic Development has to be encouraged, but this needs to be taken into account against the natural environment and the pristine nature which what is attractive to tourist who go to Samoa. There is the possibility for developmentment but this need to be inconjunction and working closely with the Matai.