Malietoa is a state dynasty and chiefly title in Samoa. Literally translated as "great warrior," the title's origin is associated with the volatile political scene of western Polynesia during the 13th century.
The seeds of rebellion were planted, according to legend, to the "sons" of Atiogie, namely Savea, Tuna, Fata and Ulumasui (who was actually a grandson of Atiogie). The three brothers and their nephew lead a wide-scale campaign of civil disobedience which ultimately escalated into the military overthrow of Talakaifaiki. Driven westward from Aleipata, 'Upolu (where the Tu'i Tonga's birthday festivities were underway) to the coast of Mulifanua, the king and his bodyguards were cornered against the sea.
The "sons" of Atiogie and their allies spared Talakaifaiki's life and permitted him and his entourage to board canoes destined for Tongatapu. Upon his departure, the aged monarch delivered a short speech which praised the chivalry of Samoan warriors and conceded victory to his once-subjects. The Malietoa title is taken from the opening phrase of that speech: "Malie toa, malie tau," meaning "great warriors, well fought."
It is said that the brothers Tuna and Fata both took a fancy to the honor spoken by the deposed Tu'i Tonga and a quarrel between the two ensued. Legend tells that one brother was struck dead by the other and chaos was averted by their eldest brother, Savea, who resuscitated and placated both contenders.
The political vacuum left by the ousting of Talakaifaiki was immediately filled by Savea, who was unanimously nominated as paramount ruler of 'Upolu, Savai'i, Manono and Tutuila. Savea was bestowed the title Malietoa which his brothers had fought over and was hence honored in Samoan oratory as Malietoa Savea-ali'i (Lord Savea), Na-fa'alogo-iai-Samoa (He Who Samoa Listened To), Savea Tu-vae-lua (Savea Who Stands on Both Feet), and Savea-matua (Savea the Elder).
1. Malietoa Savea - the first Malietoa and first central monarch of Samoa following the alleged Tongan occupation of 'Upolu, Savai'i and Tutuila.
2. Malietoa Uilamatutu - also known as Malietoa Faiga or Malietoa Faisautele. Well-known in Samoan mythology as a tyrant cannibal who exacted human tribute from his subjects. He married Lealainuanua, a daughter of the Tu'i Tonga, and resided at Malie on 'Upolu island. His brothers Leupolusavea and Ganasavea may have also ruled as Malietoa either in succession or simultaneously (as rivals).
3. Malietoa Galoa'itofo
4. Malietoa Sona'ilepule
5. Malietoa Seali'itele
6. Malietoa Uilematutu
7. Malietoa Fetoloa'i
8. Malietoa 'Ula - also known as Malietoa Vaetui or Malietoa Valaletimu. Said to have been a cruel cannibal king who lived at Leoneuta, near the village of Amoa on 'Upolu island.
9. Malietoa Lepalealai - a "scholar chief" known for his wit and love of complicated riddles
10. Malietoa Uitualagi - his position in the genealogy is debatable; some believe he was the biological son of Uilamatutu, others call him an adopted son, and yet others assert that his position is seven generations removed from Uilamatutu (as he is listed here).
11. Malietoa La'auli - also known as Malietoa La'ailepouliuli. An adopted son of Uitualagi; thus, the bloodline of Malietoa Savea does not continue along the patrilineal succession of the Malietoa title from this point on.
12. Malietoa Fuaoleto'elau - the biological son of Uitualagi who opposed his adoptive brother La'auli by setting up a rival government at Si'umu, 'Upolu. Tohu'ia Limapo, the Samoan ancestress of the Tu'i Kanokupolu dynasty of Tonga was a member of the 'Ama family of Safata which descends from Fuaoleto'elau.
13. Malietoa Falefatu - son of Malietoa La'auli (may have been adopted).
14. Malietoa Sagagaimuli - son of Falefatu. Also known as Malietoa Fe'ai (The Wild). Portrayed in oral tradition as a cannibal and bloodthirsty warrior who preferred the battlefield to the royal court.
15. Malietoa Taulapapa - confusion exists regarding this figure because at least two men with the same name laid claim to the title during this period. One Malietoa Taulapapa was a descendant of Malietoa Falefatu while another was a matrilineal descendant of Malietoa La'auli.
16. Malietoa Taia'opo - the only female Malietoa known to history. Her husband was a ranking Tongan chief named Anava'o who carried the Fale Fisi title of Tu'i Lakepa. Legend mentions her reign as one of benevolence and peace. Her brother Seiuli was probably also a Malietoa at one time, although an alternate explanation asserts that Malietoa Seiuli was a descendant of Malietoa Sagagaimuli who claimed the title during this time. A Malietoa Leafuitevaga is also mentioned at this point in some genealogies.
17. Malietoa Tuila'epa - apparently held the Fijian-derived Tongan title of Tu'i Lakepa (Tuila'epa) which his father held, as well as the Malietoa.
18. Malietoa To'oa Tuila'epa - may be the same person as Tuila'epa.
19. Malietoa 'Ae'o'ainu'u - son of either Tuila'epa or To'oa Tuila'epa. Named after 'Ae, the fierce war chief of Tutuila.
20. Malietoa Laulauafolasa
21. Malietoa Muagututi'a - also known as Malietoa Ti'a. Relocated the Malietoa political headquarters and royal household from Malie, 'Upolu to Sapapali'i, Savai'i. Founded the official Malietoa residence compound called Feagaimaleata.
22. Malietoa Fitisemanu I - was challenged by his uncle, Tauasa, and another man named Mano'o for the Malietoa title. Was heavily involved in national politics/warfare though Malietoa power at this point had waned to regional dominance in eastern Savai'i, Tuamasaga district, and parts of Atua and A'ana districts.
23. Malietoa Vainuupo (also Vaiinupo)- born about 1765. United the paramount titles of western Samoa (Tuia'ana, Tuiatua, Gato'aitele, Tamasoali'i) and emerged as sole de facto monarch (tupu) and titular ruler (tafa'ifa) after decades of war, alliance formation and strategic chiefly marriage. Known as Samoa's first Christian king, he greeted Reverend John Williams (missionary) of the London Missionary Society in 1830 and authorized the evangelization of his people. Signed the first treaties between Samoa and the United States, formalized relations with the Kingdom of Manu'a, and accepted Christianity before his death in 1841.
In terms of relative history, the "oldest" branch of the modern Sa Malietoa is the Sa Natuitasina (also spelled Gatuitasina). Malietoa Natuitasina was the half-brother of Vainuupo who allied with his own nephew Talavou against the London Missionary Society and the pacifist policy of Vai'inupo and the Christians in 1842. He is better known by his other chiefly title, Taimalelagi. The Sa Natuitasina considers the Maota Pouvi (Taimalelagi's former residential grounds) to be their familial "headquarters" and their council house is also located in Sapapali'i, Savai'i.
Perhaps the most well-known of the three modern branches, the Sa Moli has been highlighted as Samoa's royal family for over a century. The families of the Sa Moli trace their genealogies to Malietoa Moli, the half-brother of Malietoa Talavou. Following King Talavou's death in 1880, the Sa Moli nominated Malietoa Laupepa (Moli's son) to national leadership, followed in turn by Laupepa's son, Malietoa Tanumafili I. Malietoa Tanumafili II was Samoa's last constitutional monarch, ruling both as Malietoa and Head of State of Western Samoa until his death (Western Samoa was officially shortened to Samoa in the 1990's). Well-known members of the Sa Moli include Malietau Malietoa, the grandson of Tanumafili II, and considered the Aliioaiga for the Malietoa Family, Papali'i Fa'amausili Moli, a son of Tanumafili II who was installed as Malietoa in 2007; and To'oa Salamasina, the sister of Tanumafili II, who is the highest ranking member of the Sa Moli by traditional Samoan feagaiga and ilamutu customs. Malietoa Tanumafili II was one of the world's longest-reigning monarchs when he died in 2007. He was installed as Western Samoa's Head of State (O le Ao o le Malo) in 1962 and ruled as constitutional monarch and Malietoa until his death. The Sa Moli maintains a family council house in Sapapali'i called Poutoa.
The Sa Talavou branch includes all descendants of Malietoa Talavou Pe'a, a son of Malietoa Vai'inupo who was born around 1810. Prominent members of the Sa Talavou include Talavou's son, Malietoa Fa'alataitaua, who held the Ta'imua office and was named successor to Mata'afa Iosefo's office as Ali'i Sili while under German colonial rule. Fa'alataitaua held the Malietoa title until his death in 1910. Fa'alataitaua's son, Fitisemanu, was also installed as Malietoa, styled as Malietoa Fitisemanu II. The communal council house of the Sa Talavou in Sapapali'i is called Maota Pouesi, the restored former residence of Malietoa Talavou.
In 2008, it was announced that the Land and Titles Court would hear the case in May, to determine the right to the title. Radio New Zealand International reported that the case was "likely to take years to sort out".
LANDS AND TITLE COURT DECISION 18 JUNE 2008
The Lands and Title Court ruled on the 18 June 2008, that the title bestowal conducted in 2007 on Fa'amausili Papali'i Moli was legally invald and his title was therefore quashed. This means that he is no longer a suitable candidate for the Malietoa title as he has been proven to have broken the law of Samoa. The Court is now of the view that the next Malietoa should be a person that can best unite an obviously divided family and continue the tradition of leadership and service established by previous Malietoas.
During the Court proceedings, the outstanding performers included Papalii Malietau Laupepa Malietoa who's closing submission brought tears to the eyes of many in the court room including the Judges. He spoke simply of the lessons he learned form his late grandfather, he read the Oath of the Office of the Head of State where his late grandfather swore to uphold the laws of Samoa. He said that Malietoa Tanumafili II was appointed by the law, he was there when the Constitution of Samoa was formulated and his signature was needed on all the laws of Samoa. He urged the court to use the law as his grandfather died protecting the law of the land. The decision handed down by the courts was very much on a point of law and closes the door on any future aspiration for Fa'amausili Papali'i Moli to become Malietoa.
Mageo, Jeanette (2002). "Myth, Cultural Identity and Ethnopolitics: Samoa and the Tongan "Empire"". Journal of Anthropological Research 58 (4): 493–520. Schoeffel, Penelope (1987). "Rank, Gender and Politics in Ancient Samoa: The Genealogy of Salamasina o le Tafa'ifa". Journal of Pacific History 22 3–4. Stuebel, C. (1899). "War of Tonga and Samoa and Origin of the Name Malietoa". Journal of the Polynesian Society VIII 231–234. Efi, Tuiatua Tupua Tamasese (1995). "Riddle in Samoan History: The Relevance of Language, Names, Honorifics, Genealogy, Ritual and Chant to Historical Analysis". Journal of Pacific History 30 (1): 3–21. Tuimaleali'ifano, Morgan (1998). "Titular Disputes and National Leadership in Samoa". Journal of Pacific History 33 (1): Gunson, Neil (1997). "Great Families of Polynesia: Inter Island Links and Marriage Patterns". Journal of Pacific History 32 (2): 139–152. Gunson, Neil (1987). "Sacred Women Chiefs and Female "Headmen"". Journal of Pacific History 22