Matamua follows late husband's footsteps

The wife of a former politician is banking on the legacy of her late husband to push her to victory as she eyes the Fa'asaleleaga No.1 in the 2021 General Election.

Matamua Vasati Pulufana is taking on the seat’s incumbent M.P. and Minister of Finance Sili Epa Tuioti and will run under the banner of the Fa'atuatua i le Atua Samoa ua Tasi (F.A.S.T.) political party.

And while this is her first time to contest an election, she has already had a taste of what politics is like while working behind the scenes with her late husband, Tiata Sili Pulufana who represented the constituency for two terms before he passed away in 2011.

As a reserved person who claims "do not like being in the limelight," Matamua said contesting the election was never an agenda in her calendar. 

However, she admits that it was something her late husband talked about when he was still alive. 

"When my late husband was an election candidate during his time, I was always behind the scene helping him with his preparations and campaign," Matamua told the Samoa Observer. 

"During that whole time, I basically did most of the work and helped him with everything while he was the one leading us and facing people. 

"At one point, he did ask me to contest when his time was finished. But I said No! Because I did not think it was something that I would do. 

"I've seen how politics work and how difficult it is to run in an election so I never entertained the idea."

In saying that, Matamua admits that her decision to run was a decision that was not easy to make. 

"It took me some time to think about it," she said. 

"I prayed about it and asked God to guide me and show me the right thing to do."

While she also admits that she gets cold-feet sometimes, especially with just less than five months away from the elections, Matamua says her faith in God is what's encouraging her to continue. 

"You know in life, you go through so much, and at some point, you have doubts and start asking yourself whether you are heading in the right direction. 

"Well some may say that I have low self-esteem, but it's just the way I am. I don't like getting attention and being in the limelight. This is something unusual for me as I am used to working behind the scenes. 

"But slowly, God is providing the strength and courage for me to continue this journey. The other motivating factor is the support of my children, families and those supporting me."

Asked about her ambitions for her constituency should the voters of Fa'asaleleaga No.1. elect her as their M.P. after the election, Matamua said: "The first area I want to focus on is our lands. Other priority areas would have to be health care and education."

On healthcare, Matamua wishes to re-introduce the involvement of the Women's Committee to

assist nurses and doctors with the immunization process within the villages. 

"That was how it was done back in the days," she said. "The Women's Committee in each village around the country were asked to gather the mothers and their babies on a particular day, and the nurses would travel around to immunise the babies. 

That, in my belief, was very easy and simple. It's such a great help and it makes everything easy, not only for the national health service but also for our mothers. 

"Instead of making the trip to the main hospital, they can wait for the nurses to make their round visits to the villages, and that kept children's immunizations up to date."

On education, Matamua believes that the new change of setting up district colleges in every district in Samoa has "taken away the competitiveness" of the students. 

"You know, back in the days of the final year in primary school, the students got to sit a national examination where they competed to find spots in the top schools in the country. 

"Schools like Samoa College, Avele, Leififi in Upolu and Tuasivi and Vaipouli in Savai'i. That was something everyone looked forward to, to see how many students made it to the top colleges. 

"But that competitiveness isn't there anymore, because they are automatically placed in the district colleges."

The former educator is also wishing to see a University established on the big island for the students of Savai'i. 

"I would love to see that happen anytime soon," she said. "How wonderful that would be and I wish it would become a reality. It all depends on the resources available and the availability of teachers. 

"But if our government is serious about implementing the saying, ‘what's good for Upolu is also good for Savai'i,’ they should come up with a plan to set up a University in Savai'i for our children. 

"That will also help keep our students here on the island instead of going to Upolu after college for university."

So why has she decided to join F.A.S.T.? The aspiring politician said: "I find their manifesto and plan very appealing. The plans they have rolled out is for the benefit of our people. Something that will benefit everyone. 

"I agree with everything they are pushing for and as I got to mingle and meet everyone at the party, it seems that we all have common goals and plans for our people. 

"And I hope it will stay that way all the way through."

Asked if she was confident in her preparations, Matamua replied saying: "You know with elections, you can never and will never know what the results will be. 

"It's unpredictable,” she added.

However, Matamua is a true believer that whatever is meant to be, will always be. 

"Only God knows what will happen in the future. I am preparing for anything, whether I lose or win. 

"Everything will fall according to God's plan and timing. If it is part of his plan for me to become the next M.P., it will happen. 

"If I don't win, maybe he is saving me for something even bigger or better in the future, who knows? Only God knows, and time will tell. 

"Right now, I am just praying and placing my trust in him."

Matamua was married to the late Tiata Sili Pulufana. Together they have nine children and more than 20 grandchildren. 

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