Women's political representation has historically been low in Samoa, as in much of the Pacific region. Candidate selection is viewed as a crucial factor in women's under-representation globally. This article contends that the lack of formalised party selection processes sets Samoa apart from most other countries studied as part of the literature on gender and candidate selection. Yet, as this article shows, pre-selection processes exist at the village level, where a weak level of institutionalisation in the party system gives an inordinate amount of influence to local male gatekeepers. These processes are gendered, but can advantage female candidates that successfully navigate them. The extent to which these pre-election processes affect results depends largely on informal norms of group consensus within communities. This article looks at these processes in the context of the 2016 Samoan election, the first since a constitutional amendment mandating a minimum level of women's representation in Parliament.