“I am thankful to God for letting me live to 100”

Many can only dream of living life fully to reach a hundred years but Nusa Pili Aisoli Alai’asā is living that dream. 

She celebrated her 100th birthday yesterday with her relatives, children, grandchildren, great grandchildren and great-great grandchildren.

Nusa was born on 15 September 1918 on Nusa Island in Papua New Guinea’s New Ireland Province to Methodist missionaries, late Petelo Aisoli Alai’asa and Sileitofia Alai’asa from Falefa. 

Due to her parents’ missionary commitments back then in New Guinea (now P.N.G.), she was raised in Samoa by her father’s cousin Milovale Wong.

She is the mother of nine children, who were all present yesterday to witness the historic occasion, when she joined the centenarian club. 

Her youngest child is 59 years old and she was married to the late Pili Tanuvasa. 

According to one of Nusa’s granddaughter, Marlena Vaifale, Nusa was raised by her paternal aunt, Milovale in Nofoali’i, because her aunt did not have any children at the time and also it was difficult for Nusa’s parents to take her on missionary assignments because she was still a toddler.  

“My grandmother met her husband Pili Tanuvasa in Nofoali’i, they have nine children,” says Ms. Vaifale.

“My grandfather Pili Tanuvasa passed away when my mother was five years old (sometime around 1955), if I recall correctly my grandmother remarried and several years later had a child but the baby died. 

“The marriage or union dissolved and my grandmother became a single mother in her mid-30s.”

Ms. Vaifale added her grandmother was strict when she was living with them in the United States.

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“As a young child I thought she was so strict, but as I got older I appreciated her upbringing,” she said.

“Being raised in the States, she forbade us from speaking English, when we walked through the front door we had to speak only Samoan. 

“My Samoan was very good at that time, now I’m embarrassed that I cannot speak it well.”

Speaking to the Sunday Samoan yesterday, Nusa said she is thankful to God for letting her live 100 years.

“I am blessed to have lived until now,” she said.

“When I was young I used to weave, take out the trash and all those things, but now I just eat and sleep. I can no longer do those things because I cannot see properly, but I am thankful to God for my children and family.”

Nusa’s youngest daughter, Masina Pili, spoke highly of their mother.

“She is such a beautiful lady on the inside and the outside,” she told the Sunday Samoan.

“When our father passed away she took care of us all by herself. She was able to put us through school all on her own and while we were growing up, there are only two things that matters to our mother the most - church and school.

“She made sure that all nine of us attended school every day and ensure we were all attending church every Sundays. Life was so hard for our mother and I have seen it when I was young, but she never gave up on us, she made sure that all of us succeeded in life.”

Masina said the celebration is for them to give back to their mother.

“This celebration is for us to not only show her how thankful we are to have her in our lives, but most especially to give God all the glory for giving our mother these many years,” she said.

“She is a wonderful and hardworking mother.”

The ceremony to mark Nusa’s 100th birthday was led by Reverend Tupou Tanielu of the Congregational Christian Church of Nofoali’i.

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