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The matai tautua and the word ‘matai’ through time and space


This presentation has two parts: some comments stemming from my sparse observations of three generations of matai-s and a reconsideration of the socio-political and linguistic evolution of the concept and of the word “matai”. In the first part, the example of the first generation of matai that I will evoke is a matai who spent all his life in Samoa, but pushed his children to seek opportunities overseas. One of his sons who moved to New Zealand accepted at the end of the 1970s, when he was in his 40s, responding to the pressing demand from his parents, to take the title. The third generation I will mention includes a transnational matai who came to NZ in his young age and became a matai in his late 20s. In the second part, I will add few precisions to my findings published in 2000 about the uniqueness of the word “matai” for designating a “chief” throughout all Polynesian languages, and the transformation in Samoa from a time when all alii and tulafale were not considered to be matai to a time when the word “matai” became to designate the encompassing class of all the “chiefs”.
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hal-03563004 , version 1 (09-02-2022)


  • HAL Id : hal-03563004 , version 1


Serge Tcherkézoff. The matai tautua and the word ‘matai’ through time and space. Lupematasila Misatauveve Melani Anae; SEUGALUPEMAALII INGRID PETERSON. A Handbook for Transnational Samoan Matai (Chiefs), Macmillan Brown Center for Pacific Studies, University of Canterbury, pp.145-157, 2020, 978-0-473-53063-1. ⟨hal-03563004⟩
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