Last Friday in Australia, the Aiga Samoa Association North Brisbane Inc. hosted a Meet and Greet to farewell the Queensland Police Service Cultural Tour Group who flew out to Samoa on Saturday evening.
The group made up of over 50 Queensland Police, Police Liaison Officers and staff posted throughout Queensland will be will be participating in the Teuila Festivities in September.
They will also be meeting with local Government, Police and donating gifts for children aged 0-17 and mothers who are victims or have been affected and displaced by domestic violence through SVSG - Samoa.
They will also be experiencing the Samoan culture by visiting the local villages and participating in various cultural activities during the Teuila Festival.
The Maota Fono “Meeting House” in Deception Bay provided the perfect venue with its high ceilings, providing a cool breeze during Friday’s sunny “winter” morning in Brisbane.
Samoan High Chief and Aiga Samoa Elder Paepaetelel T. Salemanesa welcomed the group on behalf of Aiga Samoa and the Community in attendance.
He expressed the importance of embracing the culture and to truly experience not only the real issues faced by families but also the hospitality of the people in Samoa and applying that understanding when dealing with the number of Samoans and other ethnic groups who reside in Queensland.
Reverend Sabu Samoa of the EFKS Ola Fou Church in Deception Bay sought the Lord’s guidance and blessings to be bestowed upon the group as they prepared to depart and also during their stay in Samoa.
Tour Coordinator and Police Liaison Officer Rarotonga Tevita, has been organising this trip for over a year.
Each time they have stayed at the Insel Fehmarn Hotel and have spoken highly of their service and hospitality.
He coordinated previous QPS/PLO Cultural Tours to Samoa in 2011 followed by a tour in 2012 to march and participate in the Independence Day festivities during Samoa’s 50 years of Independence.
Those who went gained lifelong memories and irreplaceable experiences in Samoa which have surely had a positive effect on their work back in Queensland since.
Many jumped at the opportunity to return to Samoa with a few first time additions including Detective Senior Sergeant Teena Rolls who urged Rarotonga to coordinate a third tour after attending the Pacific Vibes festival in Lawnton over a year and a half ago.
This will be Police Liaison Officer Moira Davis’ 3rd tour of Samoa and she shared a number of memories from her previous trips from visiting in 2011 and witnessing first hand all the rebuild efforts post 2009 Tsunami which devastated parts of Samoa.
She also shared having the opportunity attend the UB40 concert for only SAT$30, take in a fiafia night at Aggie’s, hike the famous Mount Vaea and also spoke of Samoa’s unique culture, uncomplicated food (e.g.: Palusami), great local beer and getting to truly experience time slowing down to a pace where a more simple lifestyle can be enjoyed and appreciated.
Moreton District Superintendent Michael Brady, was in attendance, representing the Commissioner of Police.
He showed up wearing his ula fala which was gifted at a previous gathering at the Maota Fono.
He spoke of the importance of having the knowledge and capacity of building vital relationships with other cultures.
Aiga Samoa, Taulapapa Lemalu Roy Slade gave the closing remarks. He highlighted the ongoing and good relationship between the local Samoan community and the Queensland Police Service.
He expressed his gratitude for the work that the QPS do in the community and the efforts to coordinate gifts for children and families in need in Samoa.
The Meet and Greet closed out with a mid-morning “light” lunch as only a Samoan community can offer.