Funeral Director takes on Associate Minister
A businessman, sports administrator and a boxer, Unasa Tauheia Leva'ai, is taking up the challenge of running for public office at the upcoming General Elections.
Unasa will contest the Fa'asaleleaga No.3 seat in Savai'i, up against the the Associate Minister of Health, Tofa Li'o Foleni.
Unasa, who is from Si'ufaga, also holds the Tofa title from Saipipi village. He was among 12 new Human Rights Protection Party [H.R.P.P.] endorsed candidates who registered on Tuesday.
While the aspiring politician said he has the utmost respect for the incumbent M.P., he feels it is his time to represent his constituency.
"We all have our own pride and aspirations," Unasa told the Samoa Observer. "This is something I have always wanted to do; every calling is from God.
"And that is the foundation that I am developing on. I know if you do everything in line, and according to God's timing and God's plan, I think I believe in that."
And being a novice to Samoan politics does not bother him at all, as he admits it and points to pressure from his village for him to run.
"This is my first time in the political game," said Unasa. "I respect the current M.P., Tofa, we hold the same matai title from Saipipi.
"But throughout our whole constituency, our village, Si'ufaga has the most number of people in terms of voters.
"So we were supporting Tofa in the last election, but once I heard that there was another Tofa planning to run in the next election, that was the time, I thought I should give this a try."
He also articulated that it was the village Si'ufaga who encouraged him to run.
"My whole village has been pushing me to come and take this path. I am a matai that is serving the village right now, so Yes. As I said, they have been supporting me in the last past years, they have pushed me and wanted me to come.
"In fact, they wanted me in the last election, but I said, when the time is right, I will run. I am in my mid-thirties, and I am young.
"I am holding four different titles, but I am using my Unasa title.
"We are the first villages of the constituent and we have more than half of the roll. It's not something that I am proud of.
"I humble myself and it all depends and relies on God. A man can support a man, but the night before the election, they can change their mind.
"But if it's from God, then it will happen."
Nevertheless, if chosen to be the M.P. for Fa'asaleleaga No.3, Unasa said he will focus on promoting self-sustainability within the villages of the constituency.
"I know there's a lot of districts are relying on the government," he added. "But that is something I want to change. I am not saying we will close doors to the Government.
"We will always come to the government for help. But I want to push the self-sustain of the families and villages so that we do not rely and depend on our own self.
"Developing our own lands and all sorts of stuff; that's the thing I want to upgrade and develop more. The standard of living of the people, so they do not rely so much on remittances from overseas and the government.
"The Government has helped us with all areas with the R.S.E programmes and with all the public services.
"But I want to develop the idea of people depending on their own hands; that is something that we got to start."
The father of two is confident he is going to win, come April next year.
"To me personally, I am not afraid of anything, I only fear God," Unasa said.
"I am pretty confident. But that does not mean I am not relying on God's calling; it is up to Him. But we have been praying about this and we have been fasting about it."
Unasa Tofa Tauheia Leva'ai is married and has two children. He graduated with a Bachelor of Commerce from the National University of Samoa. He was first employed as a Finance Officer at the Central Bank of Samoa before moving to work at the Development Bank of Samoa.
From there, he then became an accountant and project coordinator at Silva Transport now called Silva Group. He moved again and became an internal auditor for the National Health Services.
He applied for the position of Principal Accountant Administration at Malietoa Tanumafili II Hospital and all district hospitals in Savai'i and was successful.
He later resigned and started his own small business.
Currently, Unasa is a funeral director at Gisbourne Funeral Services but still does consultancy accounting work on the side.