Woman heads Centre for Samoan Studies

By Nefertiti Matatia 31 March 2018, 12:00AM

The National University of Samoa has a new Director for the Centre for Samoan Studies (C.S.S.). Dr. Safua Akeli Amaama becomes the first female to be appointed to the role. 

N.U.S. Deputy Vice Chancellor, Professor Fui Leapai Asofou Soo, made the announcement during a press conference last week.

Professor Silafau Sina Va’ai was also re-appointed as Professor in English for the next five years.

Dr. Safua is the daughter of Malaesala Suluape Visesio Akeli and Vaoiiva Patu Akeli from the villages of Faleseela, Tiavea, Vaiala and Samalaeulu. 

The mother of two holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Otago University, Honors in History from Victoria University of Wellington, Masters in History from the University of Canterbury in Christchurch, New Zealand, and graduated from the University of Queensland with a Doctorate degree in Philosophy History.    

Dr. Safua says she is humbled to be the first woman to be appointed  the C.S.S. and she looks forward to working together with her colleagues and contributing to the development of Samoa.  

 “It is an exciting time for C.S.S. and N.U.S. I am in this position where it has always been highly qualified men, so this is the first time a woman has now directed the center.”     

“It is exciting in terms of some of the other opportunities that we are looking at broadening our projects in archaeology and cultural heritage, as well as a way for the Samoa language and culture programme.”

“Our development studies programme is very popular at the moment. We have about 60 students doing their diploma, masters and PhD.”

“So this will be important for us as we try and develop the programme across the N.U.S. faculties in terms of trying to acquire some scholarships for our graduate students and that will be an important objective as director.”

The 36-year-old added C.S.S. is a central part of the university. 

“I guess for me what is important is continuing with the projects that we are currently working on and also trying to extend some of our programmes in line with our recent and external review that we have had. So that will be on top of the list.” 

“Our function is the research arm of the university, trying to push research and also trying to get students involved in research and that way we could help build their capacity.” 

“There are many exciting opportunities I am hoping to extend some of our partnerships overseas to tertiary institutions and cultural sectors. There is quite a lot of work ahead.”

“I guess for us is to focus on the partnerships we have here in Samoa such as with the villages, which is something that we will need to maintain and to enable us to carry out our research and take it back to the community.” 

Dr. Safua left Samoa at the age of five and was raised in New Zealand before she moved to Australia. For her to return to her homeland has been an eye opener especially learning more about her ancestors. 

“I was working in the Museum of New Zealand at Te Papa. I have been there for almost six years. So I have a lot of opportunities in developing collections and working with communities, which is quite a demanding role and I see this role as no different as well.”

“It is a daunting time for us but we have got the family’s support. My family currently lives in Brisbane, so my parents will retire shortly and it is good that we are now here.”

“The urge to learn and always trying to find out more is what drives me. I love research and I guess I am a geek as what other people would say. I just like to learn about new knowledge also history because that is my field.”

By Nefertiti Matatia 31 March 2018, 12:00AM

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