Bringing together loved ones to share food, culture and unique travel experiences is a birthday wish Clem Wetzell got to fulfill last weekend.
The son of Samoa from Asau and Safune celebrated his 70th birthday on the beautiful grounds of Sinalei Beach Resort surrounded by his loved ones, which included a group of 124 guests he brought over with the sole intentions of having a great time and introducing them to Samoa.
According to his daughter, New Zealand T.V presenter Pippa Wetzell, her father is someone who takes any opportunity to show off Samoa and give back to his birth country. Inviting a group of the most wealthiest and influential people of New Zealand to your birthday party in Samoa while boosting her economy is one way of doing it.
“I love Samoa, darling, I love it to bits,” Clem said to the Samoa Observer.
“I’ve always loved Samoa. I love the people of Samoa and anything I can do to assist the economy I will do my utmost to help. Most of my friends who have come here have been here before when I brought them over for my 60th birthday and some of them have since returned on their own to holiday here.
“But it’s not just the experience of coming over to Samoa, it’s about having a great experience with the people and the food. Everyone is raving about the food.”
According to Pippa, her father is the ultimate social butterfly who loves to hold social events and bring people together. Asked what are the unique qualities that people love about her father and Pippa replied: “Because he’s Samoan,” she smiles.
“In all seriousness, it’s all about family and caring for people and he loves the social events and here I think families take that for granted that they would sit down and have a big meal together. Back in New Zealand, you lose that a bit and he really encourages that with his friends and with his family, its big gatherings and it’s sharing food and time together. And people love that about him.”
Pippa shared that her father is going the extra mile in looking for ways to contribute to his country. It is why in place of presents; Clem requested that his guests instead donate to a collection box he had organized to benefit the Women in Business Development Inc. (W.I.B.D.I).
“Dad thought that he’s got all these people showing up and he didn’t want any presents so he thought that this would be another way to support. People can come and enjoy Samoa and they contribute as well.”
According to Pippa, her father has a strong affinity to the values of W.I.B.D.I. having been raised and surrounded by strong Samoan women in his life. At the birthday party, Clem credits his strength and success to his grandmother, Katie Wetzell who raised him.
“I was brought up by my grandmother who was a real strong Samoan woman and that’s the beginning and the end of it,” said Clem. “All my strength has come from her, she is a fantastic woman. And my daughters are all the same, they respect that.”
Pippa agreed and added: “My dad has really instilled in us that love and pride for Samoa and it’s really special for me to pass that on to my daughters.”
The Sinalei Beach Resort has been booked out for part of the six-day birthday bash and which includes two side events organized by inbound tour operator Sheree Stanley of TravelEazi. Not including accommodation, the expected contribution to our economy by this Clem’s entourage in less than a week is estimated to be more than half a million, not including accommodation.
Following the six-day birthday extravaganza, Clem and his family will stay on to attend the Wetzell Family Reunion.