The people of Samoa are proud of their Samoan heritage with a history tracing back 3,000 years ago with the settlement of the islands by Austronesians originating from South East Asia. In Samoa, the Austronesian culture adapted and developed in accordance with local conditions. The impact of continuous inter-island migration after the Austronesians had settled the Pacific Islands also influenced local developments shaping them into the Samoan culture that existed at the time the Europeans made first contact with the locals in the late 1700s.
The Fa’asamoa is the invisible resin that keeps Samoan Society intact and its governing systems functional, a fact that has also set it apart from its contemporary Pacific Island neighbours.
The strength of the fa’asamoa is the extended family. The extended family is headed by a Matai or chief who is appointed by family consensus. The matai plays a crucial role in providing leadership and protection for the family, is responsible for maintaing family unity and prestige, the caretaker of family customary land for current and future generations, the mediator in settling disputes and represents the family in the meetings and gatherings of the village council.
The fa’asamoa also provides for the distinct and different roles of men, women and children in society which inherently promote and protect the rights of all Samoans.