Samoa pays tribute to pioneers

By Sarafina Sanerivi 05 February 2017, 12:00AM

Gym One at Tuana’imato was the venue of a very prestigious event on Friday night. It was the celebration of the sixth Honours and Awards Investitures Ceremony 2017.

The Head of State, His Highness Tui Atua Tupua Tamasese Efi and the Masiofo Her Highness Filifilia Tamasese Efi joined Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi to pay tribute to the services provided by the award winners.

The special occasion started with a small service conducted by Reverend Elder Ta’uti’aga Senara, Chairman of the Congregational Christian Church of Samoa. 

Reverend Senara reminded the gathering that the number of days we spend on earth is important, but the number of good deeds we do for the Lord is what’s more important.

 “So to all the recipients, Samoa honours you, the government honours you. Not because of how long you live, but because of all the hard work you’ve done for this country and for God." 

“We hope that God will continue to bless you and give strength of body, and of mind to keep on doing what you do for the service of human kind and for the glory of our Lord.”

Prime Minister Tuilaepa congratulated the twelve Awardees for their exceptional contribution to the development of Samoa.

 “The genesis of this prestigious event dates back to 1984,” he said.

 “When the government at the time, developed an idea which we continue to do today, for conferring of our own awards and honours in recognition of meritorious service to our country."

“To date, more than eighty people have been conferred and recognized for their great service to our people." 

“Tonight, twelve outstanding citizens are being honoured for their supreme contribution to Samoa through their services in the medical, teaching, sports, agriculture, public and community service as well as the private sector."

Tuilaepa added that the awards given to them is proof of the government’s heartfelt gratitude for their work.

Afemata Tunumafono Apelu Aiavao spoke on behalf of the recipients to thank the government for the recognition. The following are the profiles of the award winners supplied by the government.




Mase Dr Fetuao Toia Alama


Mase Dr Fetuao Toia Fiti Alama

She is 66-years old from Alafua

Dr. Toia Fiti Alama has spent most of her adult life saving lives.

Her long and distinguished medical career includes top executive appointments such as the General Manager of the National Health Services and Medical Superintendent of the Moto’otua National Hospital.

She is revered and respected by her colleagues here and abroad.

This is reflected – by her achievement, as the first Samoan Medical Officer, to become a Member of the Royal College of Obstetrics and Gynecologist. It was also a first for a graduate from the Fiji School of Medicine.

A 1966 graduate from the FSM with a Diploma in Medicine and Surgery, Dr. Alama pursued further studies with the University of Auckland, graduating with a Diploma in Obstetrics in 1975.

In 1980, Dr Alama was inducted into the United Kingdom’s Royal College of Obstetrics & Gynecologists based in London.

And a more than a decade later, Dr. Alama was hand-picked to serve as a Member of the Royal Australian & NZ College of Obstetrics & Gynecologists in 1993.

But there is more to a book than its cover.

Dr. Alama is also Afioga Mase, Samoa’s Parliamentary Iron Lady, a title she deservedly earned for her uncompromising leadership during her leadership tenure with the Legislative Branch.

She wore not one or two but three crucial hats at the same time as the Clerk of the Legislative Assembly, Registrar of Electors & Voters and as the Chief Electoral Officer.

As the Registrar of Voters and Electors coupled with the Chief Electoral Officers’ duties, Afioga Mase single handedly oversaw the successful 1990 Plebiscite.

That historical event resulted in law amendments allowing Universal suffrage or voters over 21 years old to exercise their constitutional rights to elect our leaders.

That momentous occasion did not go unnoticed as Afioga Mase, was accordingly appointed into the International Observers of Commonwealth Elections.


Lupesoliai Joseph Parker


Lupesoliai Laaulialemalietoa Joseph Dennis Parker 25 years old hailing from Lepa, Faleula, Alafua and Auckland New Zealand 

The Parkers residences at Alafua and in Mangere Auckland New Zealand are running out of room to display the endless trophies won by Lupesoliai Laaulialemalietoa from his illustrious amateur and professional boxing career.

At 17 years old, the young Lupesoliai thundered into the squared arena winning the 2009 New Zealand Golden Gloves Tournament.

No one took notice until the following year at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi, India where the young lad from Aoteroa with deep roots in Samoa, punched his way to the top and win the silver medal in the heavyweight division.

He  narrowly missed qualification for the 2012 Olympics.

However as an amateur he is a two time NZ heavyweight champion for 2 consecutive years from 2010 to 2011.

And in that same timeline, Lupesoliai went to Australia and walked away from Darwin Down Under with the Arafua Games Heavyweight Boxing Division silver ware.

During those two long grueling years, Lupesoliai made his presence felt sending a audible message to the boxing circles that he is not a pretender but a real world champion contender.

And suddenly people took notice and starting talking.

For his unblemished performance, he was recognised by  the New Zealand Pacific Island Sports Awards as the 2011 Emerging Talent Awards winner.

In 2012 Lupesoliai took the Samoa Sports Award, Junior Sportsman of the Year. And later elevated to claim the 2013 New Zealand Pacific Islands Sportsman of the Year crown.

He day viewed as a heavyweight contender in the professional ranks in 2012.

And has slowly and surely cemented his presence making his way to the top of the world as the undefeated World Boxing Associations Heavy champion in 2016.

Lupesoliai  previously held a multitude of regional championships including the WBO Oriental, Africa, and Oceania heavyweight titles; as well as the PABA, OPBF, and New Zealand heavyweight titles. 

After defeating Andy Ruiz for the WBO title, Lupesoliai became the first heavyweight boxer from either New Zealand or the Pacific Islands to win a major world championship.

 As of December 2016, he is ranked the world's fifth best heavyweight by the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board, seventh best by The Ring magazine and sixth by BoxRec.

Lupesoliai's ultimate goal is to unite the three world heavyweight titles and become the undisputed world heavyweight boxing champion.

And with the sa'o of his aiga from Lepa and Prime Minister Tuilaepa Lupesoliai Sailele Malielegaoi at his corner, coupled with the blessings of Samoans worldwide, Lupesoliai has a fighting chance to realize his dream.

And for taking Samoa to the top, Government is proud to present the Order of Merit Award to our very own world heavyweight champion, Lupesoliai Laaulialemalietoa Joseph Dennis Parker.


Hans Kruse



Hans Kruse

86 years old of Asau

Economic reforms, national developments projects, Hollywood star, Manu Samoa, boxing champion; these attributes personifies Hans Kruse’s inspiring years of public service to Samoa and our people.

Spanning over 60 years, a handful of Mr. Kruse’s career highlights in the National Development Initiatives of Samoa are;

•          -Samoa’s First Economic Plan

•          -The Vaitele Industrial Zone

•          -The Vailima Breweries

•          -The Rothmans Tobacco Factory

•          -Samoa Tourism Development

•          -Hotel Tusitala & Taumeasina 

            Resort Project

And he served in the first Monetary Board of Directors and consequently the Central Bank of Samoa’s first Board of Directors.

Mr. Kruse or Hans to his colleagues, friends and family has also represented Samoa in Regional and International Forums and Conventions.

And not surprisingly, Mr. Kruse, a former broadcaster with Radio 2AP is the author who penned the Tourism Development booklet titled: “Western Samoa: The Land, the People and the Way of Life”.  

Outside of his public service career Mr. Kruse is a Hollywood star co-acting with Gary Cooper and Barry Jones in South Seas Drama Film “Return to Paradise and in the Juniper Films :Samoa i Sisifo & Samoa: The Best Kept Secret”

He also appeared in the British Drama Film “Pacific Destiny”.

And believe it or not, Ladies and Gentlemen, Hans also played international rugby for his country and captained the first Manu Samoa in the 1963 South Pacific Games.

Hans also played in the first historical test in Samoa against the Maori All Blacks.

He also captained the Moataa Rugby Team in 1960 and retired from professional boxing in his hay days as Samoa’s undefeated Middle Weight Champion.

Lafaitele Aiga Esera



Lafaitele Aiga Poasa Tupae Esera 

75 years old hailing from Tuaele

The word retirement does not exist in Lafaitele Aiga Tupae Esera’s vocabulary.

A retired School Principal and Teacher since 2010, after close to two decades in the classroom, Lafaitele or Aiga or even Mrs. Esera as she is fondly admired is back in the classroom as a Secondary English teacher.


“Retired or not, I still have a lot to give to the children of Samoa,” says Mrs. Esera.

A widow to the late Chief Executive with the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sports, Tupae Esera, Lafaitele has set the benchmark for women teachers to follow.

As principal of the Avele College, Aiga was among the stalwarts who convinced government to open up Avele for girls’ students and not just an all-boys school.

She is also a former President of the Post Primary Principals’ Association

Lafaitele also has played a leading role as an administrator when it comes to sports accomplishments.

She achieved the unthinkable, when she became the first woman executive to sit in the all-boys National Rugby Union Executive Board of Directors.

And she is also the first lady President of the Schools Rugby Union and the only woman to be appointed President ever since.


Tuliafiafi Toafa Togai'u Li'o


Tuliafiafi Toafa Togai'u Li'o 64 years old from Sapapalii, Savai'i

It's by no accident that Tuliafiafi received the nod from the Honors Committee to be recognised for her sacrifices to the people of Samoa.

As a businesswoman she helped build the Rosalote business dynasty from two beach fales and a small retail shop to 15 guest fales, 2 family retails shops,  a bakery and catering services, bus transport services aside from overseeing a cattle farm and family plantation.

But helping to heal and comfort the sick and ill was in her blood.

Graduating in 1974 with a Diploma in Nursing she served the people of Samoa in that capacity for 11 years until she was force to abort her career in 1985 to care for her aging Grandmother.

But her reputation followed her with pleas from the Vaiola College to start a Health Clinic which she did without hesitation in 1986.

She also holds a Diploma in Public Health. And her community roles include serving as a member and eventually Chairperson of  the Savai'i Advisory Committee, a Member of the Samoa Red Cross Society and a member of SUNGO, the Samoa Umbrella for None Government Organisation. And lastly but not the least, Tuliafiafi, the mother six children and 9 grandchildren is also the Woman of the House in the Associate Minister of Women Affairs Tofa Togai'u Lio's household.

In all fairness, the graduate from Falefitu Primary, Vaimauga and Vaipouli Colleges has come a long way to be where she is today.

For her contribution to her country she is recipient of the Head of State's Service Medal Award.


Mulitalo June Kolotita Oloalii



Mulitalo Falenaoti June Kolotita Oloalii 52-years old from the villages of Leauvaa, Vaiusu, Vavau

Education is her forte but her bio says otherwise.

Mulitalo Falenaoti’s employment journey included working as a Telecom Operator and a law enforcer as a member of the Samoa Police Force.

But her entire career is dedicated to educating the young people of Samoa as one of the most ardent supporters, contributors and heroine of the Early Childhood Education movement in the country.

Her roles included Board Member of the National Council of Early Childhood Education, not to mention President of the Manulauti mo a Taeao Pre-School.

Through her influence, the Early Child Education is getting the deserved recognition from government and the needed financial contribution to help the sector to realize its full potentail. 

Outside of education, Mulitalo Falenaoti also served as a Member of the Steering Committee of Law and Justice Sector separate from her capacity as a leading member in the Sui ole Fono Aoao a Tina.

She attended the St Francis Xavier Primary School at Vaiusu and migrated to neighboring American Samoa to graduate from the Faasa’o all girls Catholic High School in Lepuapua before returning home to complete her studies with the St Mary’s College, Vaimoso.

For her services, she is the recipient of the Head of State’s Service Medal Award.


Namulauulu Galumalemana Schmidt

2016 Officer of the Order of Samoa-Third Class Award

Namulauulu Galumalemana Netina Galo Schmidt 84 years old hailing from the villages of Fogapoa, Safune, Asaga and Lano

Namulauulu is no stranger to the Education Sector.

An educator by profession, she is one of the first Samoans to graduate with a Masters Degree.

She attended St. Matthews Collegiate College in Masterton and Ardmore Teachers Anglican College.

She played a leading role in the reforms that has contributed immensely to the evolution of Samoa’s education system now benefiting our children our current and future leaders of tomorrow.

Among her notable achievements were the many roles she played; to pioneer the  establishment of the National University of Samoa at Papaigalagala and the All Saints Anglican Church Pre-School, a long serving Principal of the Teachers Training College at Malifa and contribution to curriculum development while serving as an administrator with the Education Department.

Many of her students from her teaching years as (Principal) of the Teachers Training College, Principal of Vaipouli District High School and Samoa College will remember Namulauulu Galo or Mrs. Latu or Mrs. Schmidt as a strict and a meticulous teacher who never accepted ‘No’ for an answer.

 Her teaching career spanned over 40 years in Tonga, Samoa and also New Zealand.

A Bachelor of Arts degree holder from Auckland University, Namulauulu completed her Master of Arts with Honors from Victoria University of Wellington in 1960 and undertook Post Graduate Study in New Zealand, Hawaii and Italy.

She ended her long years of distinguished public service as the Registrar of the Land & Titles Court where she held the role for 10 years and was part of the first extensive review of the Lands and Titles Court in 1977 whose recommendations led to the current Lands and Titles Act. She was also an Assessor with that Court recently before retirement.

She was also involved in civil society including Mapusaga o Aiga and the Pan Pacific and South East Asia Women’s Association (PPSEAWA) and served as a Director of the Public Trust Office for over a decade.

In honor of her services Tofa Namulauulu is the recipient of the 2016 Officer of the Order of Samoa-Third Class Award.


Afemata Tunumafono Apelu Aiavao

Head of State Service Award 

Afemata Tunumafono Apelu Aiavao 82 years old hailing from Safata

The writing was on the wall back in 1953 that his calling will be his writing prowess. 

That’s when the young Apelu Aiavao became the first Samoan student to pass the New Zealand School Certificate Exams.

At the time he was also the first Head Boy for the first government college, -Samoa College at Vaivase.

Today, the young boy from Safata has grown to become Afioga Afemata Tunumafono Apelu Aiavao, one of the longest surviving, serving and highly respected media practitioner in Samoa and abroad.

Afemata had been a leading character in the early years lobbying and campaigning for the local media fraternity to be recognized and respected as a professional career path.

A published author, Afemata is a Former Chief Information Officer under the then, Prime Ministers Department from 1979 and until 2000.

And since 2007, Afemata has been the Editor of the “O le Sulu Samoa” LMS/EFKS Newspaper.

He also penned the Short Story ‘Maunu mai Loimata o Apaula’

And he worked as the Private Secretary to Hon. Faaalavaau Galu from 1961 to 1969.

After graduating with a New Zealand Teacher Certificate, Afemata returned to Samoa College as a Teacher.

It was there that Afemata was appointed as the First Editor of the Schools’ Publication Division in 1963

He was School Principal for Palauli Junior High School from 1968 to 1969

For his longstanding services, presenting Afioga Afemata Tunumafono Apelu Aiavao, as the Recipient of the Head of State Service Award.


Fuaolefau-Le- Pouli Soonalote Naseri


Fuaolefau-Le- Pouli Soonalote Naseri 83-years old from the villages of Fuailoo Mulifanua, Falelatai, Vaivase-tasi

If there is anyone who has dedicated most of her adult life to public services, its Fauole-Le- Pouli Soonalole, who spend over 51 years as a loyal and dedicated servant to the people of Samoa.

She is a stalwart in the Fono Aoao a Tina Movement spending close to 20 years as a member of the Women’s National Council Committee.  

She is one of the remaining surviving pioneers of the Fono Aoao a Tina and worked side by side with the late masiofo, Fetaui Mataafa in the early years up until her retirement as a public servant in her role as village pulenuu for Vaivase-tai for six consecutive years until 2011.

A graduate of Malifa Primary and Leififi Intermediate, the 83-year old great grandmother also hold a Certificate from the Education Department’s Teacher Training Program, a Diploma in Nursing and a Certificate in Home Science from the Otago University in New Zealand.

She started her service as a nurse alongside her late husband Neioti Leausa Samau Dr Kitiona Naseri.  And over the years she has worked tirelessly as a teacher specializing in home economics with the Department of Education, Department of Agriculture,  and ultimately as a government of consultant Women Development Affairs and a sitting member in the National Women’s Advisory Committee that shaped the pathway for the establishment of the current Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development.

And for 16 years, Fuaolefau-Le- Pouli from 1973 until 1989 in the National Council of Women as the voice for all women and particularly for her Falelatai & Aiga ole Tai District.

Among the highlights of her career, 

She says she was also honored to have served as a Member of three Commission of Inquiries that included

o 1984 Commission of Inquiry on Food & Nutrition at the National Hospital of Samoa

o 2007 Commission of Enquiry on the Village Fono Act

o 2009 Commission of Inquiry on Matai Titles.

She is a founding member for both the Soroptomist International Women’s Federation in 1979 and was also the recipient of the Soroprimist International Award marking her ten years of dedicated services.

A founding member of the Pan Pacific South East Asia Women’s Association, PSSEWA, Lote as many of her colleagues call her remains active in her church activities as a former president and members of the Vaivase-tai EFKS Mafutaga a Tina.

She is also on the Executive Committee of the Samoa Doctor’s Wives Association.

Her special awards include two from the South Pacific Commission for long service in the Home Economics Program in the South Pacific and SPC’s long service award.

For her unblemished services to the people of Samoa she is the recipient of the 2017 Head of State’s Services Award.


Leilua Galuvao Dr. Faaalii Aloaina


Leilua Galuvao Dr. Faaalii Aloaina 84-years old and a medical doctor from Siusega

Tulouga i paia o suafa ma paia o aiga.

Dr. Faaalii Aloaina’s 47 years of service, is a testament of his commitment and dedication to medicine.  

Talk about or even whisper anesthesia medicine in Samoa and Dr Aloaina’s name is not far behind.

He is the founding pillar of Anesthesia in the Samoan health service.

He revolutionized the practice by introducing modernized, state of the art, anesthetic machinery and equipment; trained and motivated local doctors to become anesthetist’s specialists.

Through his work, Dr Aloaina has helped, elevate the practice, which has improved surgery operations in Samoa.

Without a doubt, his colleges will agree that Dr. Aloaina’s work, has improve the quality of life for Samoans.  

He is a 1955 graduate with a Diploma in Medicine and Surgery, from the Fiji School of Medicine.

In 1970, he completed a Certificate in Respiratory Physiology, from the Queens Hospital in Hawaii.

And two years on in 1972, he returned home from the University of the Philippines in Quezon, with a Diploma in Anesthesiology.

In 1981, he completed a Certificate in Acupuncture, with the Academy of Chinese Traditional Medicine, in Beijing, China.

Dr. Aloaina’s career journey started in 1956 as a general practitioner with the Moto’otua National Hospital. 

He spent a year in Tokelau, as the Islands General Doctor, and returned home and dedicated the next ten years, in his capacity as an Anesthetist with the National Hospital, from 1962 to1972  

To gain valuable experience, he took up the duties of a Registrar Anesthetist, with the Auckland New Zealand Hospital Board, from 1973 until 1977.  

He came home and headed the National Hospitals Anesthesia Division for 11 years from 1978 until 1989.

For the next four years, he was Medical Superintendent of the National Hospital.    

At 62 years old, he has never waved his dedication, taking up duties as a Consultant for the Samoa National Health Services from 1994 to 2002 

And he continued as a Part-Time Out-Patient Doctor, from 2003 to 2013

For his contribution to Samoa and her people, Dr. Aloaina was awarded the ‘Recognition of Long Service Award to the Health Sector’ by the Ministry of Health

Friday night the government and people of Samoa honored le Afioga Leilua Galuvao Faaalii Aloaina’s services as a Member of the Order of Samoa-Fourth Class Award. 


Maria Muagututi’a Sefo


 Maria Muagututi’a Sefo 62 years old from Fogasavai’i on the Big Island 

It’s Mrs. Muagututi’a Sefo’s passion, dedication and commitment, in her role as Matuau’u or traditional fine mat weaver that captured the Committee’s admiration.

She is one of the hundreds of women who are responsible and should take full credit in supporting government’s resurrection initiative of our fine mats or iniini.

And through her dedication and long hours of weaving the exquisite and uniquely Samoan ie toga, pride and dignity is now restored to one of Samoa’s priceless treasure, our ie toga.

According to her peers, the 62-year old grandmother of 8 children and 22 grandchildren played an influential role in the village Weaving Committee by encouraging her younger comrades to join the crusade and become part of the nationwide campaign to return Samoa’s fine mat to its past majestic days of glory.

Coupled with her matuau’u role, Mrs. Muagututi’a Sefo has dedicated her life to her family, village and country.  And she remains active as one of the influential members that introduced the Micro-Finance loaning which is benefiting woman and their families from small business investments.

 She is the incumbent President of the Keep Samoa Clean Committee and as a God fearing Christian Mrs. Muagututi’a Sefo is also the Secretary of her Village Methodist Church.

And her education journey is a telling story. From Humble beginnings, Mrs. Muagututi’a Sefo is a proud graduate of Salailua Primary and the CCWS Pesega College.

And she hit the ground running straight after Pesega College helping her family to start a small retail shop and at the same went into farming to subsidies the family income.

Today she is revered and respected and an example to follow for the young generations of her village.

For her long years of services, Mrs. Mari Muagututi’a Sefo is the recipient of the Head of State’s Service Medal Award.


John Desmond Luff



John Desmond Luff 75 years old from Palisi

The brainchild behind Apia Exports Packers Ltd, John Desmond Luff is one of Samoa’s silent achievers.

The company’s operations, generates average annual revenues of $13 Million tala, from fresh chilled and frozen fish export. The revenue injection is a massive contribution to Samoa’s economy.

Ironically, Apia Export Packers is also Samoa’s major exporters of fish to American Samoa, New Zealand and the United States.

For John, he has endured, prevailed and triumphed, the rough weathers in the fishing export markets, surviving the competitive and ruthless industry for the last 20, long consecutive years.

And he remains active, as the outspoken member of the Commercial Fisheries Management Advisory Committee.

The regional vocal committee is at the forefront fighting, for Samoa’s fishing rights to sustain and develop the tuna industry.

While on the local front, John Luff is an active member of the Fish Export Association. 

He was awarded 2nd Prize in the Fisheries Category for the Exporter of the Year Award in 1997

And 3rd Prize in the Fisheries Category for the Exporter Year Awards 2000

For his contribution to Samoa, Luff is the recipient of the Head of State Service Medal Award.

By Sarafina Sanerivi 05 February 2017, 12:00AM

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