The Tui Manu'a is one of the oldest Samoan titles in Samoa. Traditional oral literature of Samoa and Manu'a talks of a widespread Polynesian network or confederacy (or "empire") that was prehistorically ruled by the successive Tui Manu'a dynasties. Manuan genealogies and religious oral literature also suggest that the Tui Manu'a had long been one of the most prestigious and powerful paramounts Samoa. Legends suggest that the Tui Manu'a kings governed a confederacy of far-flung islands which included Fiji, Tonga as well as smaller western Pacific chiefdoms and Polynesian outliers such as Uvea, Futuna, Tokelau, and Tuvalu. Commerce and exchange routes between the western Polynesian societies is well documented and it is speculated that the Tui Manu'a dynasty grew through its success in obtaining control over the oceanic trade of currency goods such as finely woven ceremonial mats, whale ivory "tabua", obsidian and basalt tools, chiefly red feathers, and seashells reserved for royalty (such as polished nautilus and the egg cowry).
The Tui Manu'a lineage of paramounts is unlike the standardised genealogies of the Tu'i Tonga line. There are various Tui Manu'a descent lines, many of which bear little resemblance to each other. It is common belief, however, as part of Samoan myths and legends, that the first Tui Manu'a was a direct descendant of the Samoan supreme god, Tagaloa. In Samoan lore, the islands of Manu'a (Ofu, Olosega, and Ta'u) are always the first lands to be created or drawn from the sea; consequently the Tui Manu'a is the first human ruler mentioned. This "senior" ranking of the Tui Manu'a title continues to be esteemed and acknowledged by Samoans despite the fact that the title itself is no longer occupied.
The Manu'a islands were grouped with Tutuila and Aunu'u as the United States possession now called American Samoa. The presidency of the United States, and to some extent the military authorities of the US Navy, supplanted the native administrative role of the Tui Manu'a. On 6 July 1904 Tui Manu'a Elisala officially ceded the islands of Manu'a to the United States through the signing of the Treaty of Cession of Manu'a. He was relegated the office of Governor of Manu'a for the term of life and the understanding that the Tui Manu'a title would follow him to the grave. He died on 2 July 1909.
After a fifteen-year break, the office was revived in 1924 when Chris Young, a member of the Anoalo clan of the Tui Manu'a family and the brother of Tui Manu'a Matelita who reigned between 1890–95, was named Tui Manu'a by the general assembly of the Faletolu and Anoalo. American officials were worried that the Manu'ans were restoring a "king" who would cause trouble for the administration. Governor Edward Stanley Kellogg opposed the bestowal and had the new Tui Manu'a brought to Tutuila where he was prevented from exercising the powers of his office. The Governor did not recognise the title on the basis that a monarchy was incompatible within the framework of the Constitution of the United States, and the previous Tui Manu'a had pledged to be the last person to hold the title.
List of Tui Manuʻa
- Tele (brother of Satiailemoa)
- Maui Tagote
- Folasa or Taeotagaloa
- Faʻaeanuʻu I or Faʻatutupunuʻu
- Saoʻioʻiomanu (Saʻo or eldest son of Faʻaeanuʻu I)
- Saopuʻu (second son of Faʻaeanuʻu I)
- Saoloa (third son of Faʻaeanuʻu I)
- Tuʻufesoa (fourth son of Faʻaeanuʻu I)
- Letupua (fifth son of Faʻaeanuʻu I)
- Saofolau (sixth son of Faʻaeanuʻu I)
- Lelologatele (eldest son of Saofolau)
- Aliʻimatua (eldest son of Lelologatele)
- Aliʻitama (second son of Lelologatele)
- Tui Oligo (grandson or son of Aliʻitama's daughter)
- Faʻaeanuʻu II (eldest son of Tui Oligo)
- Puipuipo (second son of Tui Oligo)
- Siliʻaivao (third son of Tui Oligo)
- Tuimanufili (daughter of Faʻaeanuʻu II)
- Faʻatoʻalia Manu-o-le-faletolu (eldest son of Tuimanufili)
- Segisegi (son of Faʻatoʻalia)
- Siliave (daughter of Faʻatoʻalia)
- Tui-o-Pomelea (son of Siliave)
- Tui-o-Lite (or Tui Aitu) (son of Tui-o-Pomelea)
- Toʻalepai (son of Tui-o-Lite)
- Seuea (daughter of Toʻalepai)
- Salofi (brother of Seuea)
- Levaomana (son of Salofi)
- Taliutafapule (son of Salofi and brother of Levaomana)
- Taʻalolomana Muaatoa
- Uʻuolelaoa (killed in a war with Fitiuta)
- Matelita or Makelita (1872–1895), r. 1891–1895
- Elisala or Elisara (died 1909), r. 1899–1909
- Chris (Kilisi) Taliutafa Young (1924)
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