A recent symposium in New Zealand has provided key research data into how overseas matai, or chiefs, engage with their responsibilities.
AUT academic Lealiifano Albert Refiti said the way matai living outside of Samoa operated was changing.
He said, for example, there was a desire to lessen the burden imposed on families to give gifts for funerals or weddings.
Lealiifano said the symposium was "revelationary" and provided a good opportunity to learn how the chiefly system in Samoa was changing.
"Because it shows how an important notion of identity that's connecting back to the faasamoa and faamatai system is still happening in these locations. But for me importantly they are starting to change the way that those systems articulating certain types of relationships in a way that connects us as Samoans that we no longer have to refer back to the village."