“Memories of Moanalei” standout at speech comp

Vaiala Beach School (V.B.S) hosted their annual speech competition final this week.  

Sixteen students competed, after getting through their class competition and the semi-finals.  

All students were well prepared and according to the judges, Dr. Safua Akeli, Fiona Collins and Naea Asolelei Toálepai the speeches were of a high standard and students showed confidence with their delivery.  

A range of topics provided an entertaining competition.

One particular speech by Year 8 student Galoiolalealofa Long was a touching tribute to her sister Moanalei who died in the 2009 Tsunami.  

 The speech was delivered on the V.B.S court, where as a former student Moana-Lei would play handball and was known as the school handball champion.  

The handball court is now named ‘The Moana-Lei Handball Court’ in her memory.  

Galoiolalealofa showed great courage delivering her speech and reminded the audience about the value of family and that love lasts forever.   

The following is Galoiolalealofa Long’s speech titled “Memories of Moanalei.”

The name that has been written on our school court has a big space in my heart and in everyone who knew her. She was given an incredible name, Moanalei. Her name meaning in English is Ocean Flower. True to her name, she did love the ocean. 

She was given a beautiful life to live but she had to die too young. Moanalei was only 9 years old when a tsunami hit her home resort in September 29th 2009.

Moanalei was part American but had the skin of a Samoan. One of the memories that my mom remembered about her was when she stood in front of a mirror looking at her dark skin after a long day in the sun, and kept repeating, “ Mum, I’m black.”

There are so many memories of Moanalei living her life and being unafraid to say anything to anyone. She was a brave girl. 

She lived her life in peace and will do in the next. Moanalei was a happy child and had a happy family that loved her very much but when she passed away, it took a big part of our family. She said the jokes that made us smile and the words that made us laugh. She was a big inspiration to me and my younger sister Mana because she had the face of an angel, the speed of a cheetah and a heart of pure gold. 

Moanalei was a very energetic child and had such enthusiasm. She had so many fights with people that made her feel small because she was short. She would try making them scared but instead it made them laugh because they thought she was not serious. 

There was a time when she wanted to join in a game of rugby but her uncle said no. So she went to the kitchen, grabbed a butter knife and came running back to my uncle and said, “ You let me play or I will kill you.”

She had the funniest mind and the craziest attitude. 

She could have had a good life and would have taught me and my younger sister Mana many things by telling us to be brave, to be happy and to be proud. And I hope she knows that we are proud of her. 

Many children say that they want to be a lawyer, a policeman or a policewan, a teacher, doctor but Moanalei wanted to be an ice-cream maker. She wanted all children in the world to be happy and ice cream made her happy as well as many other things but ice cream making was her dream job.

Sadly, she couldn’t fulfill that dream but I know if she were still here she would be the best ice cream maker in the world. She meant so much to me and so I’m glad I get to tell people how she was like and what she could have been.

After the tsunami that happened in my home, and finding out that Moanalei was found in a car near our house. I was still in the hospital crying of what I had just lost. After crying so long on my bed I fell asleep and I dreamt of Moanalei. I woke up and felt my hands being held by my mother. I told her that Moanalei was ok and she told me she was happy. 

I have dreamt of Moanalei many times of her being with me. One of the dreams was when we both climbed coconut trees and looked across to each other and smiled. So I know that when I dream of her she would be there for me no matter what. 

What I learnt from my sister’s passing away is that this life is short. This life is a gift. I always tell my mother when she is worried or crying about my sister, “ Mum, life is life. It means to not keep holding onto your regrets, and disappointments but to make the mistakes and let go by accepting what you have.” 

Thank you!

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