The former Head of State, His Highness Tui Atua Tupua Tamasese Efi, visited St Joseph’s Primary School in Leauva'a last week Friday to lend his support with the efforts to foster a culture of reading in young people.
Recently the school received a donation of a “chicken coop” library by Samoan New Zealander, 12-year-old Epifania Tusani with the help of book sponsorship from local businesses.
Tui Atua said he was impressed with Epifania’s efforts to give back to her village as well as creating an opportunity for children to not only read, but to enjoy it too.
“They are very important things that she has done; probably more important in a way because one of the great things you have to sell to our young people is the value of reading," he said.
“That’s what it’s all about and I would really like us to teach our children not only to read widely but also to enjoy books. We dearly need to sell our young the culture of liking and enjoying, and comparing notes about what you read with your friends.”
Initially, Epifania had contacted Tui Atua to invite him as a special guest to the opening of her pilot chicken coop library in April, but his Highness was unable to attend.
“I told her that I am quite happy to fly a flag for her. So I was meant to go there for an opening and it didn’t happen because I had to go to a funeral, but they had something else this time and it’s all part of the selling process because I missed out on the opening, so I wanted to make an effort this time round.”
After a presentation about the chicken coop library, Tui Atua spoke to an assembly of St Joseph’s Primary school students about the responsibility to serve each other in giving back to our village as well the benefits of reading and why it was important to read as much and as widely as possible.
“I said to them, I am Epi’s advertising agent and I’m here to sell her project because it’s a very good thing. We need more people like that taking more interest and asking what can I do for my village, fostering that sense of belonging – it’s very important.
“More than anything else, if you develop a culture of reading, this is the biggest help to your education. I want to support it and I want to say that I’m part of it because this is part of our traditions. A tradition of helping other people, feeling responsible for other people and withstanding she’s not here and living in New Zealand but she relates to her family to her village and this is her contribution and I’m only too proud to come here and say hey, I’m her agent.”
Tui Atua took some time to answer the students’ questions and chatted with them at their school assembly.
Even though he was there as a special guest, His Highness said to the Samoa Observer that in the end it was he who walked away inspired by the children.
“I had beautiful conversations with the kids next to me because they are unfazed and I talked to them for a short while and there was a glow in their faces. I go away being warmed and inspired by the reception.
“I’m not sure what it is, whether I’m humbled or vain about it but it was a nice feeling, you have kids who look at you and they obviously like where they are and they like sharing with you. There’s really a glow that identifies God in their faces. That’s how I feel, so I’m going to take away something very special from here.”