Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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Pule: Development Policy Sovereignty in Samoa

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posted on 2021-11-13, 10:41 authored by Ulu, Avataeao Junior

This study examines how the Government of Samoa (GoS) asserts development policy sovereignty when working with aid donors. Observations from findings of a review of development policy, and the author’s work in Samoa since 2002 suggested that GoS does in fact assert development policy sovereignty. The GoS is engaged with the global aid agenda and this is reflected in their development policy. The GoS is able to hold donors accountable to principles set out in high-level aid effectiveness forums. The outcomes of this research show that the GoS has a high level of ownership of their development programme and this is respected by donors. Samoa has a long history of independent thought and action. Through resistance groups such as the Mau a pule movement (Opinion of rule), Samoa stood up to the German and New Zealand colonial administrations between 1900 – 1961 and created a unique constitution when they became independent in 1962. Fa’aSamoa (the Samoan way) was central to the constitution and remains a strong part of Samoan culture today. It is suggested that the GoS officials use the Mau movement mindset when dealing with outsiders that come to Samoa. This is seen as a healthy way to act for a recipient country. Qualitative methodologies were used to keep the GoS at the centre of the research process. Interviews were conducted with representatives of the GoS, the private sector, civil society organisation and donors. All the interviews with Samoans were conducted bilingually. It was found that the GoS asserts its ownership over its own development through an educated, long serving, well informed and prepared public service. Due to a high calibre public service, officials know how to use donor resources to their advantage through the GoS development policy. Furthermore GoS officials are not intimidated by donors and are therefore not afraid to hold donors accountable to outcomes of high level aid effectiveness talks. The GoS follows the principles of the current global aid agenda in the contest for aid sovereignty - pule.


Copyright Date


Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Rights License

Author Retains Copyright

Degree Discipline

Development Studies

Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Master of Development Studies

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Geography, Environment and Earth Sciences


Overton, John