Prime Minister of the
Independent State of
Palemia o le Malo Tuto‘atasi o Sāmoa
Fiamē Naomi Mataʻafa
since 24 May 2021[a]
Ministry of the Prime Minister and Cabinet
StyleMadam Prime Minister
The Honourable
Her Excellency
TypeHead of government
Member of
NominatorPolitical parties
AppointerO le Ao o le Malo
Term lengthFive years, renewable
Constituting instrumentConstitution of Samoa
PrecursorLeader of Government Business
Inaugural holderFiamē Mataʻafa Faumuina Mulinuʻu II
Formation1 October 1959; 64 years ago (1959-10-01)
DeputyDeputy Prime Minister of Samoa
SalaryUS$78,000 annually[1]

The prime minister of the Independent State of Samoa (Samoan: Palemia o le Malo Tuto’atasi o Sāmoa) is the head of government of Samoa. The prime minister is a member of the Legislative Assembly, and is appointed by the O le Ao o le Malo (Head of State) for a five-year term. Since independence in 1962, a total of seven individuals have served as prime minister. The incumbent was disputed due to the 2021 constitutional crisis, when Tuila'epa Sa'ilele Malielegaoi refused to accept the results of the 2021 general election. On 23 July 2021, the Samoan Court of Appeal ruled that the Faʻatuatua i le Atua Samoa ua Tasi (FAST) party had been in government since 24 May.[2] Tuila'epa then conceded defeat, resulting in FAST party leader Fiamē Naomi Mataʻafa becoming prime minister.[3]

History of the office

Colonial period

The first prime minister during the colonial period was Albert Barnes Steinberger, who originally represented the American government in the Samoan Islands but was close to German commercial interests. After the indigenous authorities of the islands adopted the Constitution of 1873, Steinberger was appointed Prime Minister by King Malietoa Laupepa in July 1875. He held this post for seven months before the British and American consuls in the country persuaded Laupepa to dismiss him, seeing his role as German interference in the islands. Over the next two decades, there was no prime minister in the country, and in 1899 Samoa fell under the colonial rule of the Western powers, being divided as a German colony and an American colony at the end of the Second Samoan Civil War, according to the terms of the Tripartite Convention.[4]

At the beginning of the World War I, German Samoa was occupied by New Zealand in 1914, and was subsequently organized as a trust territory of New Zealand in 1920.

Post-independence period

The position of prime minister replaced the office of the leader of government business in 1959, whilst the country was a territory of New Zealand. High chief Fiamē Mataʻafa Faumuina Mulinuʻu II became Samoa’s first prime minister on 1 October 1959.[5]

After Samoa (then known as Western Samoa) gained independence on 1 January 1962, the prime minister's office remained intact, and the premiership of Fiamē Mata’afa continued.[5] The head of state, or O le Ao o le Malo (initially held by two individuals), was established as a ceremonial office.[6] In 1991, the legislative assembly passed a bill proposed by Prime Minister Tofilau Eti Alesana's Human Rights Protection Party (HRPP) to increase the parliamentary term (and hence the premiership) from three to five years. Which therefore extended the time a prime minister can serve without renewing their mandate.[7]

From 24 May to 23 July 2021, the premiership was in dispute due to an inconclusive result from the 2021 general election and the subsequent constitutional crisis. The claimants were long-serving prime minister Tuila'epa Sa'ilele Malielegaoi of the HRPP, and Fiamē Naomi Mataʻafa of Faʻatuatua i le Atua Samoa ua Tasi (FAST), a former deputy prime minister and daughter of Fiamē Mataʻafa Faumuina Mulinuʻu II. On 23 July, the Supreme Court ruled that Fiamē Naomi’s FAST government was legitimate since 24 May. Tuila'epa conceded defeat on 26 July and ceded power the following day, resulting in Fiamē Naomi Mata‘afa becoming Samoa’s first female prime minister and ending nearly 35 years of HRPP rule.[8][9][10]

Powers and appointment

The Constitution, adopted in 1960 during the transitional period of autonomy, provides that the executive power is vested in the head of state (O le Ao o le Malo), elected by the Legislative Assembly, and who acts only on the recommendation of the government. The head of state has royal assent powers to sign bills into law and dissolve Parliament. Executive power is exercised by the prime minister and their cabinet. The prime minister is appointed by the head of state as a member of the Legislative Assembly who enjoys the confidence of a majority in the Legislative Assembly (Article 32 (2) (a)). The prime minister may be removed from office by the Legislative Assembly (Article 33 (1) (b)). Samoa is thus a parliamentary democracy based on the Westminster system.[11]

List of officeholders

Political parties
  Human Rights Protection Party (HRPP)
  Faʻatuatua i le Atua Samoa ua Tasi (FAST)
Other factions
  Denotes acting Prime Minister

† Died in office

Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Samoa (1875–1876)

No. Portrait Name
Election Term of office Political party Monarch
Took office Left office Time in office
1 Albert Barnes Steinberger
22 May 1875 8 February 1876 262 days Independent Laupepa
Post abolished (8 February 1876 – 1 October 1959)

Prime ministers of the Independent State of Samoa (1959–present)

No. Portrait Name
Term of office Political party O le Ao o le Malo
(Head(s) of state)
Took office Left office Time in office
1 Fiamē Mataʻafa Faumuina Mulinuʻu II
1961 (1st)
1964 (2nd)
1967 (3rd)
1 October 1959 25 February 1970 10 years, 147 days Independent Meaʻole
Tanumafili II
2 Tupua Tamasese Lealofi IV
1970 (4th) 25 February 1970 20 March 1973 3 years, 23 days Tanumafili II
(1) Fiamē Mataʻafa Faumuina Mulinuʻu II
1973 (5th) 20 March 1973 20 May 1975 † 2 years, 61 days
Tupua Tamasese Lealofi IV
– (5th) 21 May 1975 24 March 1976 308 days
3 Tui Ātua Tupua Tamasese Efi
(born 1938)
1976 (6th)
1979 (7th)
24 March 1976 13 April 1982 6 years, 20 days
4 Vaʻai Kolone
1982 (8th) 13 April 1982 18 September 1982 158 days HRPP
(3) Tui Ātua Tupua Tamasese Efi
(born 1938)
– (8th) 18 September 1982 31 December 1982 104 days Independent
5 Tofilau Eti Alesana
– (8th)
1985 (9th)
31 December 1982 30 December 1985 2 years, 364 days HRPP
(4) Vaʻai Kolone
– (9th) 30 December 1985 8 April 1988 2 years, 100 days HRPP
(5) Tofilau Eti Alesana
1988 (10th)
1991 (11th)
1996 (12th)
8 April 1988 23 November 1998 10 years, 229 days HRPP
6 Tuila'epa Sa'ilele Malielegaoi
(born 1945)
– (12th)
2001 (13th)
2006 (14th)
2011 (15th)
2016 (16th)
23 November 1998 24 May 2021 22 years, 182 days HRPP Tanumafili II
Sualauvi II
7 Fiamē Naomi Mataʻafa
(born 1957)
2021 (17th) 24 May 2021 Incumbent 2 years, 265 days FAST Sualauvi II


Fiamē Naomi MataʻafaTuila'epa Sa'ilele MalielegaoiTofilau Eti AlesanaVa'ai KoloneTui Ātua Tupua Tamasese EfiTupua Tamasese Lealofi IVMataʻafa Faumuina Mulinuʻu II

See also


  1. ^ Disputed: 24 May 2021 — 23 July 2021


  1. ^ Hill, Bruce (28 September 2016). "Samoan leaders salaries published by newspaper". ABC Radio Australia.
  2. ^ "Court declares F.A.S.T. Government; impasse over". Samoa Observer. 23 July 2021. Retrieved 26 July 2021.
  3. ^ "Tuilaepa concedes, welcomes F.A.S.T. government". Samoa Observer. 26 July 2021. Retrieved 26 July 2021.
  4. ^ Malama Meleisea, Lagaga: A Short History of Western Samoa, Apia, University of the South Pacific, 1987, ISBN 982-02-0029-6, pp.83-85
  5. ^ a b Mata'afa, friend to all, who led Samoa 'long and loyally' Pacific Islands Monthly, July 1975, p7
  6. ^ Hassall, Graham & Saunders, Cheryl (2002). Asia-Pacific Constitutional Systems. Cambridge University Press. p. 41. ISBN 0-521-59129-5.
  7. ^ So'o, Asofou (2008). Democracy and custom in Sāmoa: an uneasy alliance. University of the South Pacific. p. 171. ISBN 978-982-02-0390-7. Retrieved 7 February 2022.
  8. ^ Lagipoiva Cherelle Jackson; Kate Lyons (23 July 2021). "Samoa's political crisis ends and first female prime minister installed after court ruling". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 30 January 2022. Retrieved 7 February 2022.
  9. ^ "Tuilaepa admits defeat after Head of State's declaration". RNZ. 26 July 2021. Archived from the original on 8 December 2021. Retrieved 7 February 2022.
  10. ^ "Samoa's new cabinet meets to set budget". RNZ. 27 July 2021. Archived from the original on 27 July 2021. Retrieved 7 February 2022.
  11. ^ Constitution of Samoa