Laeimau Oketevi Tanuvasa - Born to hold Court

One the biggest and perhaps most exciting developments of 2018 was the decision to have the Miss Samoa Pageant staged on the big island of Savai’i for the first time.

And no one was more instrumental in making that happen than Laeimau Oketevi Tanuvasa, Chair of Samoa Events Inc (S.E.I.). Sadly, she passed away recently and was laid to rest last week. 

But her decision and legacy will live on. Not only will the Miss Samoa return to Savaii in the near future, the Government has also announced that the Teuila Festival, will also be held in Savai’i.

This is a great win for the people of Savai’i who showed so much enthusiasm and passion in hosting the Miss Samoa Pageant this year. 

But it would be remiss of us to talk about the Pageant but not the woman who fought so hard for it. In fact, for the past few years since S.E.I was given the rights to run the event, Laeaimau, who is more famously known for her Chief Executive Officer role with Computer Services Limited, has been instrumental in driving the organization.

When Laeaimau passed away, one of her closest friends and classmates, Nanai Laveitiga Tuiletufuga, penned a heartfelt tribute to her. As we reflect on her work, especially in S.E.I. and honouring Savai’i by taking the Miss Samoa Pageant there, we are reprinting Nanai’s tribute to her. It reads:

“Laeimau Oketevi Tanusava was born to hold court.

From infant, primary, intermediate and college school years, her leadership qualities spoke volumes and even during her last days, Tevi’s resolve to lead by example did not waiver.

We knew back in August that she had a few months to live after she was diagnosed with terminal cancer.

And for a dying person, Tevi remained busy without a care in the world and use what time she had left to plan, every nitty little bitty detail of her finals days to the moment that would we wish her well with her next journey, it was all spelled out to her devoted hubby “My Sam” for us to follow to the letter.

But paramount to our fearless Head Girl is for her family and friends to celebrate her life. “E sa le kagi,”were her instructions to us.

But let’s get into the real story. It’s not the way she fought, and it’s not that she died. That’s not the story at all. It’s that she lived and for a bunch of years graced this planet with her presence. It’s that she was amazing and totally unique and one of those rare and wonderful people we sometimes call characters.

She was someone one could call, larger than life, and we all did.

Some love to hate her uncompromising decisions. 

But that was the Tevi we came to know and respect from our school years.

Some would agree to disagree with her entirely but in the end, Tevi has touched the lives of each and every Classmate of 1981 in her own way and it will never be the same with her.

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The fun, the laughter, the connecting, and the creative buzz, that’s what Tevi was all about And there she towered, always the centre of the action, with the best and loudest laugh. 

The truest laugh, because that was the main thing about her, she was 100% real with a heart that was open and ready to embrace everyone. Unless one ticked her off... but even then she’d let the poor soul know it, in no uncertain terms or polite words, and then be done with it.

Through Tevi’s doing, she managed to unite a group of adults with complex personalities from various walks of life and professions to value the true meaning of real friendship. 

It’s a rare legacy and one of a kind for a bunch of adults — who have been afar for over 30 years — to really unite and treasure their respective achievements. And at the same time, to resurrect respect for one another. That’s what Tevi did as superbly as echoed by Frank Sinatra’s – “My way.” 

Tevi masterminded a bold and daring plan to bring together the Classmates of 1981, with the endorsement of her locally-based classmates, and take the lead to network with our sisters and brothers abroad in American Samoa, Hawaii, USA, New Zealand and in Australia.

And five years later, the Classmates of 1981 under her leadership are no longer pretenders but contenders with two successful class reunions in Apia 2015 and Auckland 2017, complemented by a Teachers Banquet to honour and pay tribute to all our teachers who played a role in our education journey.

In the five-year history of the Class of 1981, the Group has staged and hosted the Miss Samoa Pageant under the Samoa Events Incorporated banner. That three-year journey ended this year with the first ever Miss Samoa to be staged on the Big Island of Savaii.

Tevi did what she had to do and took things one-step at a time, but she always looked forward and never dwelled on the past. She was an inspiration.

For our group, let’s be mindful of the true blessing that she was to us. It should give us the strength to continue on in faith knowing that she would want us to honour her memory in this way.

Thank you Tevi, for having such an impact on our lives, and making it rich with love and friendship.

You always said that only the sky’s the limit, so we choose to believe that you just went ahead as always to research it before us. Have a great journey up there Head Girl.

To Sam and Luisa our prayers and condolences. We pray that God’s choicest blessings will be bestowed on you and family. May God grant you the peace and strength to carry on in faith. Fly High Tevi, Fly High our Head Girl, Fly High.”

 

PROFILE:

Laeimau was educated at the Chisholm Institute of Technology at Monash University in Melbourne Australia and Harvard Kennedy Executive School in Boston USA.

Some of the key achievements throughout Laeimau’s career include the Strategic Planning for CSL’s new roadmap CSL2020 (2017); Samoa National Broadband Highway (SNBH) Project (2014 - 2017); Pacific Connectivity Project (2015 - 2016); Tui Samoa Cable & SSCC (2016-2017); Revamp CSL Shop, Ground Floor SLAC (2016); Contract for .ws Domain Name Administrator renewed (2016-2018); L-Root Server donated by Internet Corporation for Assigned Names Numbers (ICANN) (2016); Co-Chair with MCIT for the 3rd International Conference for SIDs (2014).

Laeimau also Co-chaired with the Electoral Commissioner, in the preparation and support for the Electronic Electoral Registration System, equipment and producing the Electoral Rolls for the General Election, and in coordination of the CSL programming team to change the system — in accordance with the new rules passed before the election voting date, technical support for before, during and after the election voting. 

She was the Miss Samoa Pageant Director from 2016 to 2018 and had professional associations and affiliations with many international organisations through her varied interests both professionally and personally. She was a board member for local organisations such as CSL, Digicel, Samoa Submarine Cable Company and Chairperson of Samoa Events Inc. (SEI).

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