Malofie Samoa hosts 2021 Tatau Convention

The Malofie Samoa Association has announced plans to host a Tatau Exhibition and Convention this year following their annual general meeting held early this week in Lalomanu.

The exhibition and convention are among the many events and activities that are planned for 2021, members of Malofie’s Executive Board told the Samoa Observer.

The Malofie’s 2021 calendar includes community service activities that will benefit the Mapuifagalele Home for the Elderly and the children and women who are in the care of the Samoa Victims Support Group (S.V.S.G.).

It is “shared pain” that unites members of the Malofie said Toleafoa Dr. Viali Lameko.

“I joined because of the fellowship with everyone who went through this journey of tatau. It was a painful journey,” he said.

Toleafoa completed his tatau in eight days in December of 2020 and he is excited to be a part of the Malofie.

“It is the memory of that pain. It is the pain. We are attracted to this house because of the pain we experienced and shared in Su’a’s house,” he said.

“Going forward, we belong to the same association because of the shared pain and shared values. I want to be a part of that and to help build the association with professionalism.”

The word “tatau,” explained Toleafoa, means “must” in English. The word tatau also symbolizes a “connection” between the homes of those who have received the tatau and the fale Samoa where the tattooing is carried out, often called the Suluape House of Pain.

Toleafoa serves as Vice President of the association.

Malofie’s Executive Board was chosen on Monday at the Lalomanu meeting.

The newly elected officers include the Patron, Su’a; a new President, Seiuli Hawai’i Lavea; a Treasurer, Su’a Ata Scott Sulu’ape; and the organisation’s Secretary is Atonio Atonio while Vice-Secretary is Tofilau Ata.

Su’a Ata, the Treasurer for Malofie and traditional tattooist said they were pleased to have selected their new officers and were ready to roll out their plans for 2021. 

Traditional tattooing, a millenia-old artform all its own, draws many visitors to Samoa, but has been adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Treasurer said.

With sponsorship from the Samoa Tourism Authority (S.T.A.), the Malofie will work on promoting its work and broader tourism while the country’s borders remain closed.

Additional plans include renewing Malofie’s sponsorship with Vailima.

(Vailima sponsored the Malofie meeting in Lalomanu.)

Leaders of Lalomanu, particularly Member of Parliament for Aleipata Itupa i Luga, Amituanai Fagaivalu Kendrick, and village matai also sponsored the general meeting.

Malofie expressed their thanks to Vailima and sponsors for the support.

One project the association completed at the beginning of the year - with sponsorship from Vailima - was the completion of two tatau for the Tuilagi brothers, Leaupepe Alesana Tuilagi and Fuiono Anitere'a Tuilagi.

The brothers started their tatau work in 2020 in Apia at the S.T.A. fale. Their tattoos were blessed in early January during a ceremony in Savai’i.

At the tatau exhibition and convention, traditional tattooists will be invited to discuss the ancient art form combined with its renewed focus on health and safety. 

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