New Zealand MP, Agnes Loheni bestowed Fonoti Title in Amaile

The Mata’utia family of Amaile and Saleaumua bestowed the High Chief title of Fonoti to New Zealand Member of Parliament, Agnes Loreta Loheni, in an elaborate ceremony in the village this morning.

The 47-year-old New Zealand MP is the daughter of Fepulea'i Pelasio Loheni and Talaleomalie Filomena Mata'utia.

Tauili’ili Lefau Harry Schuster is the first cousin of the New Zealand MP and said their extended family have already done their chiefly title bestowment in the past, but his immediate family was a bit difficult, given that most of them live abroad. 

“This is something we are all proud of,” Tauili’ili said in an interview with the Samoa Observer.

Tauili’ili said the bestowal ceremony was one way of reuniting their family members and reminding them of their roots in Samoa.

“This is one way to bring back our families living overseas to Samoa, to remind them of our roots and who we are as a Samoan chief"

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A former Member of Parliament, Tauili'ili said it is tradition in their family and village to hold their chiefly title bestowment on Sundays. 

"We usually hold masses then we proceed with the saofa'i immediately afterwards, but not today as our mass start late," explained Tauili'ili.

The New Zealand MP said returning home to receive the chiefly title was an honor for her.

“It is such a huge honor and just feeling humbled today I just give thanks to the Lord, my family and Amaile village council for giving me this honor and I am grateful also to Tauili’ili (Harry Schuster) and my family here to support our family through the titles we have been bestowed.”

Agnes is a National Party MP and flew to Samoa for the special occasion, before flying back to New Zealand this afternoon.

“I feel that for my generation it is wonderful to support Tauili’ili so that we can share the load as we support our family in Amaile and the village itself going into the future.

“Having this title helps me anchor in coming to Amaile and Saleaumua and it is different when you have the title. We always visit our family in Amaile and Saleaumua and we are here a lot anyway, but now it is different for now. I can say that it will be a different journey for me now coming back to Amaile and Saleaumua,” she added. 

The New Zealand politician and mother of five was elected in January this year, following the resignation of MP Chris Finlayson. Born in New Zealand, Agnes, her mother Mena, and sisters Jackie, Gina and Charlene ran a local Samoan fashion brand called MENA. Others who were bestowed titles included Tauili'ili Jackie Loheni, Fonoti Tuiolo Malia, Falana'ipupu Ray Tele'a, Ilimatogafauali'i Mark Tele'a, Fa'asuamaleaui Elsie Ropari and Fepuelea'i Jeff Kalapu.

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