The Hunter Council Chamber was a full house last week for the New Zealand launch of Pālemia, a memoir of Samoa’s most successful and longest-serving Prime Minister, Tuila’epa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi.
The book was co-written with the University of Victoria’s Dr. Peter Swain.
Joining Prime Minister Tuila’epa Sa’ilele for the launch was New Zealand Prime Minister, Leuluaiali’iotumua Bill English, MPs Chris Finlayson, Alfred Ngaro and Aupito William Sio, members of the diplomatic corps, and the Samoan community.
Victoria was also well represented by senior members of staff, Victoria University Press, the Office of the Assistant Vice-Chancellor (Pasifika), and members of the Samoan Students’ Association, Te Namo (Tokelauan Students’ Association) and Leo E Tasi, the Library choir.
For two years, Dr. Swain worked closely with the Prime Minister to capture, in his voice, his life and political reign during which Samoa moved from the turbulence times of a newly independent state to one of unprecedented political stability and economic development.
In his characteristic humorous style, Prime Minister Tuila’epa retold how he didn’t want to wait until his passing to write a memoir and thanked Dr. Swain for his “endless energy” listening, co-writing and editing the memoir.
Accolades flowed during the night, including from V.U.P. editor, Fergus Barrowman, who said it was an easy decision to publish the book.
“What struck me when I read the manuscript is the vividness of the personal voice that came through. It is a story with incisiveness and great humour.”
Pacific Islands’ politics expert, Professor Stephen Levine, emphasised the wider significance of the memoir.
“It’s important to have a record of the Prime Minister’s motivations, ideas, plans and accomplishments, to not only learn more about him, but also to learn more about the country and culture in which he grew up. We have too few such books about Pacific leaders and their countries.”
Pālemia was launched earlier in Samoa where distinguished lawyer, statesman and Victoria honorary doctorate recipient, Tuiloma Neroni Slade spoke of “this treasury of intimate engagement, first-hand knowledge and experience”.
Pālemia was also launched in Auckland last night at S.S.A.B’s Store at the Samoa House.