Fiame's legacy endures: N.U.S. Pro Chancellor
National University of Samoa Pro-Chancellor, Aeau Chris Hazelman, has acknowledged former Deputy Prime Minister, Fiame Naomi Mata’afa, for her long service shaping Samoa’s modern education system.
“I think all the attention is on the present [so] we have forgotten that Fiame is the second-longest serving member of Parliament and that is not by accident,” the veteran educator told the Samoa Observer.
The former Deputy Prime Minister said her decision to leave Cabinet was due to her objections to three bills before Parliament to make the Land and Titles Court (L.T.C.) autonomous.
“The bills came from Cabinet and the truth is if I cannot support the legislation I have to tender my resignation,” she told the Samoa Observer.
But Aeau said that Fiame’s legacy in improving education in Samoa would outlast day-to-day political happenings:
“Regardless of the current political debate and campaigning [she] deserves to be acknowledged for her service,” said.
Aeau said Fiame led the University of the South Pacific and in the 1990s represented Samoa in Pacific regional meetings that led to Samoa attaining a position of regional leadership.
That push for Samoan leadership led to the country gaining top leadership positions in regional organisations such as South Pacific Community, an international development organisation owned and governed by its members, which are composed of 26 states and territories.
Aeau acknowledged that Fiame’s was inevitable due to her stance on the bills.
“But as the Prime Minister mentioned on the day she resigned we have to acknowledge Fiame's years of service to Samoa,” he said.
“I for one cannot ignore her role for many years as Minister of Education and as Pro Chancellor of the N.U.S.”
Aeau said that during his years as a teacher and a principal Fiame oversaw the sector as Minister.
He said Fiame was at the forefront at supporting school activities, such as building leadership within the education sector, mentoring principals and promoting the role of school inspectors.
“She was one of the keenest supporters and drivers of Samoa Rugby, Netball, Tennis and many other sporting groups throughout the 90s and [2000s],” he said.
“And for that I will always offer my highest respect [to her].
“Even with M.N.R.E., she really stepped up to the climate change issues at the international level.
Fiame is the first woman Deputy Prime Minister in Samoa, which and the Pacific region, which Aeau said made her emblematic of the success of the move to gender equality locally and regionally.
Aeau said Fiame’s leadership was proof positive that Samoa was leading the pack in the region in terms of promoting women in leadership positions.
* This story has been updated to correct the spelling of Hazelman.