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Family Sa’o has his say about building new prison on Mageo land

Mageo family land in Pago
“A family meeting to discuss this issue will be called soon”

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — The Sa’o of the Mageo family, Rev. Mageo Patolo Mageo has came forward to clear the air regarding the issue of building a new prison on the Mageo communal land in Pago Pago on the mountain top area called Autapini/ Happy Valley.

Mageo has indicated that he was very disappointed after members of his family spread “untrue rumors” regarding issues pertaining to the family.

“Why did you go to the Samoa News reporter to voice your concern about issues pertaining to our own family — while I’m available to answer any of your questions and concerns,” Mageo said, when speaking of members of his family who are opposed to the use of family land for a new prison location.

“All matters and issues belonging to the Mageo family must stay in Mageo’s family,” the family Sa’o said.

“The community including the Pago Pago village has no right to involve or to interfere with anything that has to do with our family land. Our family is the only people who have the right to talk about this issue.”

According to Mageo, the plan to build a new prison on their family communal land at the mountain top area called Autapini/ Happy Valley has not been finalized. Negotiations and planning with the government for this huge project is still continuing at this time, according to the Sa’o.

When questioned about the concern from some family members that the issue was never discussed nor brought to the family’s attention, the family Sa’o had this to say.

According to Mageo, the reason why the issue was never brought up formally was because the proposed project has not being finalized with the government. However, he stated that he had already spoken to many of the elder members of the family about the plan and they all supported the plan.

“A family meeting to discuss this issue will be called soon and all family members will have the chance to voice their concern about this issue,” Mageo said.

According to Mageo, his role as the family Sa’o is not just to roam around doing nothing. His role is to look beyond the surface for things that can benefit his family in the future, especially the young generation.

“My role as the Sa’o of the family is not only to make sure that everything belonging to the family including its lands and property are all secured, but also to look for things that benefit the family,” he said.

“Leasing our family land to the American Samoa Government (ASG) for this huge project is something that will benefit my family like all other families in American Samoa, who leased their lands to the government for development purposes and they are also receiving compensation for their properties leased to the government.”

The family land, which is at the center of this proposed plan to built the new prison is not being useD by the family for any purpose. According to Mageo, the land is located between three mountains, and it is 800ft down the valley, a place where nobody can easily access and it’s also isolated and far away from residential areas in the village.

“Like I said, my role as the Sa’o of the family is to find ways to benefit the whole family — not just one person, but also to protect my family from any harm. This proposed project by the government will not only benefit my family but it will not harm them or anybody living in American Samoa,” Mageo said.

When asked about the move by a few family members to circulate a petition to gather signatures from Mageo family members and Pago Pago residents opposed to any plans to have a prison constructed at the Happy Valley in Pago Pago, Mageo said he respects the rights of every individual member of his family.

However, he respectfully advised all family members who are opposed to the government’s proposed plan, not to go to the media or any members of the village or the community to voice their concerns but to come straight to the family to discuss the issue.

He said that he knows for sure that there’s only a few family members who are opposed to this plan because the majority of the family he spoke to about the plan showed their full support and wants to bring the issue to the family to discuss and approve it.

Mageo pointed out that there are many other families in American Samoa who lease out their lands to the government for development purposes and these families benefit from their land being leased by the government.

“The government can approach many other families and request to lease their lands for this proposed project, but the chance is now in our hands and we must utilized it for the benefit of our family and our the generations in the future,” Mageo said.

When questioned about the move by some of the Pago Pago matai to interfere in his family plans — re the prison — Mageo respectfully advises some matai of the Pago Pago village council who are seeking to have a say in this issue to stay away from his family’s business.

“The issue on hand is for my family, not the Pago Pago village, so I urge my colleagues to leave the matter to my family to handle,” Mageo advised, adding that he was informed by some members of his family that some of the Pago Pago matai are pushing family members to sign the petition to disallow the proposed plan for the new prison.

Mageo assured that a family meeting will be called soon to discuss this issue and he’s confident that the family will support the plan.