The village of Apolima celebrated an auspicious occasion yesterday. It was the bestowal of the Sa’u title upon a very special son and All Black lock, Patrick Tito Tuipulotu.
Sa’u Patrick was among 31 new titleholders blessed during a traditional gathering attended by family members and the Village Council.
Sa’u Patrick shared the honour with his father, Galu, who was bestowed the title of Salesulu.
Other family members were honoured with the Lilo and Papali’i titles.
Speaking to the Weekend Observer, Sa’u Patrick said he is humbled by the honour and the opportunity to lead his family as a chief.
His paid tribute to his late grandparents, promising to uphold the honour of a a high chief do the best he can to develop the family.
“I don’t have any grandparents left,” he said.
“I learnt many things from them so getting this matai title means the world to me.
“To me, in a way this is like a tribute to them for all the wisdom and guidance they so generously gave me.
“So I will be doing everything in my ability to help out my family with any problems they may face in the future.”
Born and raised in New Zealand, Sa’u admitted that he has a lot to learn.
But he is keen to embrace the learning and he looks forward to the journey up ahead.
“I was born and raised in New Zealand and I’ve only visited Samoa three times,” he said.
“The last time I was here was six years ago so hopefully getting this title will create more opportunities to travel back and forth between Samoa and New Zealand.
“To be honest, I have little knowledge of the Samoan culture but with my father overseas with me, I will be able to tackle the duties of a matai under his guidance.”
Sa’u is also confident about the future of the family in Samoa.
“For my family here in Samoa, I will try to support them to the full extent of my abilities,” he said.
“So even though I may not know much about the fa’samoa, I will still stand as my family’s matai and protect and help my family in any way they want.”
Sa’u has no immediate plans to move over to fulfill his new role.
But the trips to Samoa will have to be more frequent from now on.
“I will enjoy coming back every 2-3 years very much,” he said. “I love Samoa but it can get a little too hot but other than that, Samoa has beautiful island weather.”
Sa’u Patrick plays as a lock for Auckland in the ITM Cup and is also a member of the Auckland Blues squad.
Tuipulotu was schooled at St Peter's College in Auckland and made his debut for his local side in the 2013 ITM Cup where he made seven appearances and scored one try.
His impressive displays saw him named in the Blues squad for the 2014 Super Rugby season. Tuipulotu competed for the New Zealand Under-20s at the 2013 IRB Junior World Championship where he made five appearances and scored one try.
He was named in a preliminary training squad for the All Blacks on 12 May 2014. Tuipulotu was selected for the All Blacks squad on 1 June 2014. He made his All Blacks debut as a substitute in the 28–27 win against England on 14 June 2014.