Tribute to Tupua: For it is in giving that we are blessed
Samoa bid farewell to the Founder of Apia Concrete Products, Tupua Fred Wetzell, on Friday during a ceremony at the Mulivai Catholic Cathedral. Among the eulogies were the Head of State, His Highness Tui Atua Tupua Tamasese Efi, Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi and Masoe Norman Wetzell. The following is the eulogy His Highness Tui Atua delivered:
His Highness Tui Atua Tupua Tamasese Ta’isi
Head of State
Eulogy at the funeral of Tupua Fred Wetzell
Mulivai Cathedral, 23 December 2016
There are two eminent Freds in our family, Ta’isi Fred and Tupua Fred. Both were meant for the big stage, not the small one. They both aspired, as we say in Samoan, to fish outside rather than inside the reef.
Their compass was a strong work ethic. In their book, the greatest enemy is laziness. Anything is achievable provided there’s a will and resolution. They were both very family and community - oriented.
They found inspiration and refuge in the company of family and friends who were like-minded.
They were both committed to displaying heritage and indigeneity. It did not matter that they were out of tune or clumsy in dance or spoke in accented Samoan. They loved to flaunt that they are tama o le tua’efu (the young men’s guild of Safune) or tama o le gata’ula (the young men’s guild of Asau). Or that they are Hamo or Sambo, as in the lingo of Auckland, New Zealand.
Their main ploy was to promote a happy disposition. Tupua Fred loved to knock at the door and announce himself through ukulele and song Much muchi ano a ne, or in Samoan, Onosa’i ona pau lava o le olaga...
The message here is that if you’re down and depressed, don’t. Be happy for life is short. Wherever Fred and his friends are in the world, they promote the message by song and ukulele, “Be happy and join us!”
For others, when there is mixed company, there is a tendency to be withdrawn and shy. Not Fred. To him it was a challenge to raise the spirits. For it is in joy and happiness that we will find the inspiration to focus and achieve.
Fred came and constructed the stone foundation of the Samoan fale in Tuaefu. He also helped Masoe Filisi and Toilolo Maaveave to build the church and the pastor’s house. When the project was completed, we organised an official opening. From the resources derived from the opening, we i.e. the congregation and family, gave token compensation to the builders including Fred.
Fred rang and asked what’s this for?
And I said, “That is token compensation for your help.” And he chortled and said, “Aw! This is bad for business”. And I responded, “Don’t say that, in case you do not get the blessings for the good work you do. If it is less than fair compensation, God in his good time will compensate you for the balance”.
So I say to you now Fred, “do you doubt that you have been greatly blessed”?
When New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark announced her trip to Samoa and her schedule included a visit to Tuaefu, the Ta’isi family rallied to landscape the grounds and do some repair work on the house.
Leading the initiative was Tuatagaloa Joe and Tui Annandale, and Cynthia and Tupua Fred.
When Tupua Fred came to visit, he said, “You’re one lucky guy. The family rallies to fix up your house and grounds. If it was me, I’d wait for ages and no one would turn up”. And I responded, “The family are aware that you have many resources”.
Tupua Fred responds to every single one of the family faalavelave. So I’ve released the family from the collective family sii because each one, I know, would prefer to make their own contribution.
I refrain from commenting on Tupua Fred’s contribution to government and the community. Save to say, that it is a source of pride to the family that Tupua Fred is upholding family tradition and heritage.
If there have been lapses in Fred’s life and conduct, it is traditional courtesy that I seek the pardon of government and people for as we say in Samoan, e leai se faiva e asa ma le maumau – meaning, to err is human and nothing in life is perfect.
Well Fred, may your contribution to the government and people of Samoa, inspire family and future generations to contribute to the welfare of others. For it is in giving that we are blessed.
May you rest in peace.