Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi officially opened one of the biggest fale Samoa ever built outside of the country yesterday.
P.M. Tuilaepa led a high-level delegation from Samoa to the opening of the government house known as Maota Samoa which will be used to house the Consulate General Offices that used to be located on K’ Road.
Consul General Faolotoi Reupena Pogi told The New Zealand Herald that the project cost over NZ$10million (T$17m)
He said the move to Mangere had involved several years of planning and construction, which began early last year.
"It's a milestone our government has decided to build these buildings here. Most of our people are now residing in the southern part of Auckland, mainly around this area and the nearby suburbs," Faolotoi told the NZ Herald.
"The office at K Rd was built in the late 70s. At that time, our community was living mostly around that area - the Grey Lynn area."
The fale is based on traditional structure, designs and patterns.
The large rafters - wrapped with woven sennit, made from coconut husk fibre - are typical of fale seen in Samoa. The tiles also include patterns inspired from Pacific culture and tattoos.
"We brought three sennit weavers, craftsmen, from Samoa to do just the sennit. The sennit was imported from Samoa. Each craftsman has his own pattern and this is how they're able to demonstrate their skills."
New Zealand companies Walker Community Architects and Haydn & Rollett are among the local companies involved in the project.
Faaolotoi said a lot of research had to be carried out by the Kiwi architects to ensure their design would be authentic and do justice to the traditional fale.
Faaolotoi said the total project cost was "over $10 million".
He acknowledged having such a building in South Auckland paid tribute to the country's multi-cultural society. He hoped both the Samoan and New Zealand communities would be proud of having it there.
"It has taken us 16 months to build and we are proud of the final outcome.
"We hope our people here in Auckland will be proud of this symbolic fale which shows, more or less, that this is their identity here in Auckland."