Former Judge, Anae Misa Pita Anae reinstated at Falelatai
By Lagi Keresoma
APIA, SAMOA – TUESDAY 30 JANUARY 2018: The Lands and Titles Court last week reinstated Anae Misa Pita Anae and four other matais who were banned from Falelatai village last year.
The case stemmed from the termination of the church minister for Siufaga village, Reverend Opapo Soana’i by the Elders Committee of the Congregational Christian Church following differences with Reverend Elder Tautiaga Senara who was then Chairman of the Congregational Christian Church of Samoa and served at Matautu, Falelatai.
Anae submitted to the Court that he and four other matais were banned because they were trying to resolve the differences between Reverend Elder Tautiaga Senara and Reverend Opapo Soana’i.
Anae said Reverend Opapo sought his help after the CCCS Elders Committee terminated his service as church minister for Siufaga.
Anae also highlighted in his submission the events that led up to the termination of Reverend Opapo, included Opapo’s daughter who was known to have the stigmata occurrence and subsequently allowed the statues of Jesus and Mary to be placed inside the Siufaga church.
There were several meetings of church members in trying to resolve the issue and Reverend Opapo and his wife presented an official traditional apology – ifoga to Reverend Tautiaga Senara.
So when Siufaga church members realized who was allegedly behind their minister’s termination, they documented allegations against Reverend Tautiaga Senara in a letter.
On receiving the letter, Reverend Tautiaga Senara then sought Anae’s help on the same day Reverend Opapo met with Anae. The letter was sent to Anae as the Head or Fa’aaloaloga a le Aiga Taua’ana and the Secretary of the Church at Matautu, Falelatai.
Anae then brought the issues before the village council meeting where opinions and views were expressed about the two separate issues, that of Reverend Opapo’s grounds for termination and the allegations against Reverend Tautiaga Senara.
Anae said most of the council questioned the ground with which Reverend Opapo was terminated, and it was also reminded during the meeting, past incidents that warranted the dismissal of church ministers based on the villages’ foundation and practices – faavae.
It was presented during the Court proceedings that the three former church ministers who served at various parishes at Falelatai were terminated due to either their children breaking rules such as married within the village and adultery.
Based on past decisions Anae and the council elders then decided to terminate Reverend Tautiaga Senara’s service.
The decision quickly turned respondent Misa Gaga’e and his side to banish Anae saying he has breached many of the rules and foundations of the village.
Anae and others obeyed the banishment but decided to challenge it hence the Court proceedings.
After perusing all evidence submitted before the Court, the decision was delivered by the Deputy President of the Lands & Titles Court, Va’aelua Rimoni Va’aelua.
The Court noted that the reason behind Anae and others banishment was because of Reverend Opapo who used to serve at the Siufaga parish. But before the village could meet to discuss it, the CCCS Elders Committee had already decided to terminate Reverend Opapo’s service at Siufaga.
The council meeting in March 2017 resulted in the termination of Reverend Tautiaga’s service, but before that could be carried out, Misa Gaga’e and others quickly moved in and banned Anae and others, in order to save Reverend Tautiaga.
The Court finds that there is no sufficient evidence to prove that Anae and others actions were serious to warrant banishment.
Misa Gaga’e who led the respondent side, was involved in a previous matter with Anae and had served time in prison for the offence. The Court believes the respondent still holds a grudge against his imprisonment.
An order was issued for Anae and others to return to Falelatai and their full privileges restored. It was also ordered that the new position and Fa’aaloaloga created by Misa Gaga’e and others within the council, be abolished.
On the accusations against Reverend Tautiaga Senara, the Court found no proof to support the accusation.
The Court also made an order for the Falelatai Village Council to abstain from making decisions on matters that pertain to members of the church only.