Measles crisis inspires new Punialava’a song

By Marc Membrere 21 November 2020, 8:30PM

The measles crisis that claimed 83 lives towards the back end of 2019 is the inspiration behind the latest single for popular Samoan band. Punialava’a.

Aptly titled "Tagi le Atunu'u Pele", which in Samoan translates “Lament the traumatised country”, the song was written by Rev. Peteru and Nanai Viellani in response to the measles outbreak which saw many children under the age of four perish.

According to a press release distributed by the New Zealand-based promotion company, Manatua, Rev. Peteru and Nanai decided to rewrite some of the song’s lyrics during the production stage in early 2020, in order to incorporate the impact of the COVID-19 global pandemic on the world and make it relevant to their fans.

Punialava’a has been part of the Pacific music scene for more than five decades with Rev. Iosefa Lale Peteru and his wife Vini (nee Sofara) the band’s founder and original lead singer.

The band has partnered with Manatua which was founded by Faumuina Jep Savali this year.

“It was devastating to see the effect the Measles outbreak had on many families in Samoa and the unnecessary suffering it caused,” Rev. Peteru said.

“And that has now been deepened by the imminent threat of COVID-19 in Samoa and Samoans around the world. 

“We felt we needed to get our own message out in the best way we know, and that’s through our music and song.”

In a telephone interview with Samoa Observer on Saturday, Nanai Viellani Lale Peteru of Punialavaa said while they were writing the song last year, the COVID-19 pandemic hit and they had rewrote the song to ensure it would connect with Samoans who are experiencing disaster.

He added that his favorite line in the song is "Ua ao Samoa le Atua o Malama, Se'i fesili atu i Sa Levi ma Osi Taulaga". 

In English it translates as Samoa being lit up by the fluorescent God, stand in unity with the priesthood and the clergy, which he explained that science is available to deal with these pandemics and to turn to religion for emotional stability, because according to him, Samoa is founded on God and that our country is based on the principles of Christianity.

Asked about the song’s music video, Nanai said they originally planned to shoot the video in Samoa but that was not possible due to COVID-19.

Nevertheless they partnered up with Manatua which helped Punialavaa shoot the music video in Sky City Theater and would be launched on 30 November.

Nanai added that the partnership enabled them to complete the project, though they faced challenges due COVID-19 and they had to protect themselves, while trying to get the message out.

“Punialavaa is very fortunate and very happy to acknowledge the help of Faumuina Jep Savali and of course his company, Manatua for his help. 

“And of course we have so many friends and families who have helped us along the way with the production of not just the song but the music video.”

Punialava’a will launch Tagi le Atunu’u Pele live on Monday 30 November at Woodside Bar and Function Room in Manukau. The launching will also be live-stream.

By Marc Membrere 21 November 2020, 8:30PM

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