A long-term project to digitise the records of the Land and Titles Court has reached its second anniversary.
The project aims to preserve the information that is within the Land and Titles Court at both Mulinu’u and Tuasivi registries.
So far, over 14,000 files have been scanned, amounting to over 680,000 pages. The project team has also repaired over 4,300 files to date.
The total number of Land and Titles Court files housed at the Mulinu’u Registry is about 31,584 and there are over 12,000 files relating to Land and Titles Court matters housed at the Tuasivi Office.
These records have historical value to the people of Samoa, containing a wealth of information about family genealogy, confirmation of matai titleholders and ownership of customary land.
The project commenced on 4 July 2011 and is being run by the Ministry of Justice and Courts Administration (MJCA) and the Samoa Law and Justice Sector.
Initially, the project involved file repair and maintenance and a file count.
“Many of the records are fragile and in danger of becoming unreadable: print is fading due to the quality and deterioration of ink and paper from age as well as from insect infestation,” Project Team Leader, Leota Pelenato Paulo explained.
“Some of the recent documents are in good condition but are also becoming fragile with usage and passage of time.
There is also the problem of people stealing or taking papers from files, and also the risk of losing the hard-copy files if buildings are destroyed by fire or natural disaster.
There was previously no back-up for these important records.”
Following the installation of scanners, the project team was trained to use the Doscvault System, software which was used to create an electronic records database. The scanning process began in December 2011. By June 2012, 5,659 files were scanned. As at December 2012, 10,003 files had been digitised.
“This project will preserve all Land and Titles Court records in fully indexed electronic form and enable backup copies to be created in the event that the images on the paper fade or documents themselves are destroyed,” Masinalupe Tusipa Masinalupe, CEO, Ministry of Justice and Courts Administration, said.
“It will also improve access by the public, particularly the interested parties to these important historical heritage documents, by enabling easy viewing of these documents via computer monitors. Finally, the project has made access to these documents much faster, making the Land and Titles Court more efficient.”
The Land and Titles Court is by far Samoa’s busiest court.
The judiciary, Court officers and the public are now accessing the scanned files where and when necessary for matters in the Land and Titles Court.
“I would like to express my sincere appreciation on behalf of the project team for the tremendous support and fantastic assistance provided by the CEO, executive members and the management team for the sustainability of the project at a high level,” Leota said.
“Fa’afetai tele le lagolago ma le fa’amalosiau mai. A big Fa’amalo also goes to the project team for all the hard work and effort contributed to reach the two-year milestone. The nine workstations are all working well.”
Members of the public can contact the Land and Titles Court with enquiries about specific records.