Longest-serving opposition M.P., Aeau Dr. Peniamina Leavai, retires
Samoa’s longest serving opposition M.P., Aeau Dr Peniamina Leavai, bid farewell to Parliament on Friday after serving 26 years in office.
In his farewell speech, the 78-year-old Aeau acknowledged the support of his constituents who had kept him in Parliament for close to 30 years.
“I will remember each and every one of you,” said Aeau.
He first entered Parliament in 1985 as M.P. for Falealupo under the banner of the Human Rights Protection Party (H.R.P.P.); in 1988, Aeau was appointed as Speaker of the House.
But he re-entered Parliament in 2001 with the opposition and hasn’t left his seat since then.
The former Speaker is 78 years old, and was initially married to the late Lagi Strickland Slade; they have eight children and 10 foster children together.
Aeau is currently married to Jane Smith Leavai.
He also commended the Samoa Government and the Prime Minister on the developments extended to their village.
Furthermore, Aeau wished his colleagues best wishes with the next general election in April, 2021.
An old pupil of Marist Brothers, Aeau attended Fiji School of Medicine 1968 Diploma in Dental Surgery.
He studied at the University of London between 1973-1974. Aeau specialised in the study of orthodontics at the Institute of Dentistry and has been a consultant in the field at the national hospital for 46 years.
Aeau made history as the first candidate in Samoa to be banished from a village which he was seeking to represent in the Legislative Assembly and still winning his seat.
His eldest daughter, Aeau Tima Leavai, who will herself contest April’s election, recalled the events leading up to her father’s banishment from Falealupo.
“[Gatoaitele] Savea Sano [Malifa] reported in the Observer issue of 1 March 2001 that Aeau did what no one else had done before and that was to put his respect for his constituency before his bid to win in the [election],” she told the Samoa Observer.
“The Falealupo council wanted the incumbent to run unopposed but Aeau declared his candidacy and the council banished him and his family.
“The council further published public notices to alert voters that Aeau had been banished from the village.
“Aeau filed for an interim injunction against the council and the Supreme Court granted the injunction and prevented the village council from [preventing] Aeau [from] running.
“The Court also allowed Aeau’s family to move to and from Falealupo freely.
“However, Aeau decided that neither he nor any of his family would go to Falealupo on the election date.
“Yet the majority voted for Aeau.
“Never before had a candidate been banished from his constituency and yet won.”
Aeau has 35 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
While serving as a Member of Parliament Aeau worked during Cyclone Ofa to bring food and drinks to people in Falealupo via helicopter with the then Prime Minister Tofilau Eti Alesana.
He also pushed for connecting Falealupo to the electrical grid as well as building new access roads to the village.
Aeau also fought for Falelupo to get access to clean water and encouraged Samoa Water Authority engineers to dig 190 meters below ground to access groundwater to do so.
Falealupo now has one of the best water systems in the country.
During his time in Parliament, Aeau was Chairman of a number of Committees, including: Trade, Commerce and Industry; Health and Social Services; Internal Affairs; Community and Social Development; and Justice Police and Prisons.
He was also the Deputy Chairman of the Health and Social Services Committee.
In Parliament's current term, Aeau served as a Member of the Standing Orders Committee; the Electoral Petitions Committee; and the Constitutional Officers Committee as well as being a member of the Parliamentary Commission.
Aside from Aeau, the Speaker of the House, Leaupepe Fa’afisi Toleafoa, will also retire after his sixth term next year.
“The time is right to call in my retirement so I can enjoy quality time with my family, but I have not informed the Human Rights Protection Party (H.R.P.P.) of my decision to retire,” the Speaker told the Samoa Observer,