Return to Paradise’s Maeva Band gets their big break

By Ivamere Nataro ,

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Farewell Lotu was held at the Resort when all the staff prayed for the Maeva Band before they left for the airport.

Farewell Lotu was held at the Resort when all the staff prayed for the Maeva Band before they left for the airport.

The Maeva String Band which performs hugely popular dinner concerts at Return to Paradise Resort every Saturday night has caught the attention of House of Travel Managing Director Chris Paulsen. 

Mr. Paulsen was recently a guest of the Resort and was so impressed he invited the Maeva Band to perform at the highly prestigious House of Travel Awards Dinner in Wellington today.

 “Watching the Maeva Band concert at Return to Paradise was the best night’s Polynesian entertainment I have ever seen in 40 years in the Pacific Travel Industry,” said Mr. Paulsen. 

The Awards night brings together an audience of 800 travel professionals and industry V.I.Ps. 

“This is very high praise for a band that is made up from our gardeners,” says a very proud Resort Manager, Ramona Su’a Pale. 

“For our Maeva Band to be invited is like being invited to the Travel Industry equivalent of the Academy Awards. 

 “This is great news for the entire Samoan Travel Industry. Maeva Band are carrying a torch for Tourism Samoa” says tour Manager and Resort Food and Beverage Manager Tom Toailoa. “The trip is made possible with generous sponsorship from Samoa Airways for which we are very grateful,”

While in New Zealand, the band is going to be very busy. 

Maeva Band will also perform at a Gala Charity dinner hosted by Rugby legends Eric Rush and Sir La’auli Michael Jones at the Ellerslie Event Centre next Thursday, 22 March 2018. 

This dinner is to raise funds for the care of Spinal Injuries in Samoa through the Marist Trust. 

Mr. Rush and Sir Michael usually get paid for their celebrity speeches, but because they are both so committed to supporting the work of the Marist Trust in Samoa, they have both not only donated their time, and they have both bought their own tables of 10 tickets. 

“You guys are doing an amazing job over in Samoa for people who need support and I am only too happy to help,” said Mr Rush.

The highlight for the Samoan community will be a special Fia Fia night dinner concert at Samoa House on Friday 23 March. 

The proceeds will also go to the Marist Trust for spinal injury care. This event will be MCd by Eteuati Ete of the Laughing Samoans and will feature a special fundraising siva by Sir Michael Jones and his supporters. 

“Any other aiga group that want to come and do a siva to assist our fundraising will be most welcome,” says Ramona. 

They will also be performing in several locations including the Spinal Unit in Auckland. Return to Paradise has always had strong links with spinal injuries since the Resort worked with then All Black captain Richie McCaw and the All Blacks to raise funds to assist Ben Lei’a, a promising Samoan Rugby player from Satitoa who broke his neck in a rugby tackle and became a life-long tetraplegic. The fund set up to assist Ben is administered by the Marist Trust and has been able to support many spinal injuries throughout Samoa. 

The Maeva Band evolved after the gardening boys put up the Christmas trees. 

Every year, Return to Paradise creates a magical Christmas wonderland with 20 Christmas trees and 15,000 lights. In 2015, the gardening boys downed their gardening tools and started assembling the trees. As they worked, they started singing Christmas carols in Samoan. 

Ramona was so impressed; she asked them to perform at the various Christmas dinners the Resort hosts over the holiday season. They proved so popular, she invited them to play background music in the signature Restaurant Paradise Kitchen on Saturday nights.

And something remarkable happened. Every night when the boys sang, the guests all stopped to listen. They had something special. This evolved into a regular dinner concert every Saturday night. The boys took the name Maeva Band. Maeva was the female lead played by Hollywood actress Roberta Haynes opposite Gary Cooper in the classic movie Return to Paradise filmed on the same beach where the Resort now stands.

So many guests have asked for a CD of the Maeva Band, that one has now been recorded and will be released next week as a part of the New Zealand trip. Says Ramona: “Seeing the boys off at the airport was very emotional, with many of their families moved to tears of pride.”

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