The National University of Samoa will forever remember one of its greatest pioneers whose personalities left no room for parochial attitudes given his scope of achievements.
A former graduate of N.U.S. and Member of Parliament, Leota Leuluaiali’i Ituau Ale was one of those prolific public figures and a student in his time who had influenced a lot of decision making in the management level. Though his wealth of knowledge in the Samoan language and as a politician at the time that powered his achievements.
It was in 1990 when the first Bachelor of Arts batch graduated from N.U.S. where Leota was amongst that group with a major in History.
The Vice Chancellor and President of N.U.S. Prof. Fui Le’apai Tu’ua Ilaoa Asofou So’o reminisced on Leota’s unwavering contribution to the university in his time. “He was known for his public relations skills and a bright matured student who contributed a lot to the development of (N.U.S).”
“As a Member of Parliament then, Leota was respectful of everyone, he always asks questions for he wanted to understand the context of how each word is being applied,” Prof. Fui. “As one of our homegrown graduates, Leota helped dispel the kind of thinking that ‘who would want to obtain a qualification (at N.U.S).”
Leota did not stop at N.U.S., instead he pursued his Master’s Degree at Auckland University before returning to work as the first Conference Manager at the newly established Institute of Samoan Studies (now Centre for Samoan Studies) under the stewardship of the first Director for the Institute, the late Asiata Saleimoa Vaai.
It took a man like Leota to be the driving force behind putting together the N.U.S Alumni whilst working for the Institute. It was also in the early days when Leota was also responsible for publicizing the seminar series for staff, students and the public to attend.
A force whose influence also impacted his colleague, who was in the same class with the, now Dean of Faculty of Arts, Lafaitele Fualuga Taupi not as a Member of Parliament but as an articulated history student then.
“He was a charismatic person who made up every excuse for not coming to class or for submitting an assignment late,” Lafaitele recalled. “He insisted in his years for (the university) to pay allowances for BA students and we did get it.”
“When Leota learned that allowances were scrapped off the following year, he had a series of meetings with the then Vice Chancellor, the late Tauiliili Uili to reinstate it but to not avail. However, he was always initiating discussions in class be he always was articulate in politics.”
“Leota showed us the power of action of taking risks on behalf of our ideals by conveying it in a humble but respectful way to soothe a critical issue,” Lafaitele added. “I will always remember the way he guffaws when he is cornered.”
“A very bright student in his younger years from Samoa who was on scholarship,” Prof. Fui added. “And the time, attending to overseas scholarships was an opportunity of a lifetime and no one wanted to stay back at N.U.S, except Leota.”
“A very typical Samoan student at the time who always sits at the front and asking a lot of questions. A respectful matured student who will be remembered in his time.”
*Misa Vicky Lepou is media and journalism lecturer at the National University of Samoa and is a weskit news administrator.