3 Nov 2009

Samoa head of state questions expensive funerals

11:03 pm on 3 November 2009

Samoa's head of state says the recent tsunami has forced his people to rethink both fa'alavelave, or cultural giving, and expensive funerals.

At least 140 people died in Samoa in the tsunami that also hit American Samoa and Tonga on 29 September.

Tui-Atua Tupua Tamasese Efi told the Families Commission conference in South Auckland that after the tsunami the priority was burial rather than elaborate expensive funerals.

He said the simple burials shows that respect does not come by incurring expenses that become inter-generational debt.

Tui-Atua Tupua Tamasese Efi said cultural giving has become misconstrued into a status-building structure and tsunami is a pivot for a massive rethink.

The speech was seen by many as a challenge not just for Samoans but all Pacific Islanders and many at the conference wept openly.