Judiciary mourns Justice Vaepule's passing
The Judiciary is mourning the passing of former Supreme Court Justice Vaepule Alo Vaemoa Vaai, who has died in New Zealand.
He was 67. Justice Vaepule is survived by his wife, Letuimanu'asina Dr. Emma Kruse Vaai, their children and grandchildren.
Supreme Court Justice Vui Clarence Nelson was devastated when he heard of Justice Vaepule's passing.
“This is a huge loss to the Samoa Judiciary,” he said.
Justice Vui said Justice Vaepule is a true and faithful servant.
“One who has been here from the beginning and well understood the challenges facing the country," he said. “A fierce defender of the Land Titles Court who believed that real change must come from within.”
Justice Vui said Justice Vaepule will also be missed by his colleagues in rugby which he was very passionate about.
“We will miss him and his sardonic wit very much.”
Another Supreme Court Justice, Fepulea’i Ameperosa Roma, shared the memories with his mentor.
“He was a brilliant judge and a great mentor,” Justice Fepulea'i said.
He said, he met Justice Vaepule when they were both working at the Samoa National Provident Fund in the late 1990’s.
“He was the Manager Investments and I was a legal officer. He went on to become the Public Trustee before his appointment to the Bench first as District Court Judge, a Senior District Judge and later a Justice of the Supreme Court.”
Justice Fepulea’i said that during his time in private practice, he appeared before Justice Vaepule on numerous matters.
"This was before I became one of his colleagues on the Samoan Judiciary. [Justice Vaepule] was calm but firm and sound in his views.
“As a friend, I remember him as quiet and very humble but full of humours” said Fepulea’i.
Supreme Court Justice Tafaoimalo Leilani Tuala-Warren was saddened upon hearing the news of the passing of her mentor.
“He was a friend mentor colleague and the nicest person you could ever come across. He is dearly missed.
“I will always remember his sense of humour his wit his calmness his humility and his helpfulness.”
Justice Tafaoimalo said Justice Vaepule’s time on the bench had a huge impact on her career as a Judge.
Former Judge and Member of Parliament, Lefau Harry Schuster, took a walk down memory lane when he first attended Victoria University and met up with Justice Vaepule.
“The first two years of law school was difficult but [Justice Vaepule] took the time to take us through the ropes, the new law students from Samoa,” he said.
According to Lefau, Justice Vaepule was very helpful and was his mentor.
“He is my idol, my mentor and I will miss his counsel. Whenever I am having a hard time, I always knew I can turn to Vaepule for his counsel,” said Lefau while fighting back his emotions. He said that Justice Vaepule was a great rugby player during their time at the University.
"A decent man and this loss to me is not only as a professional colleague, but a true and loyal friend who was always ready to lend a helping hand, I will miss him,” said Lefau.
The former Judge said he was approached to become a judge twice, but only took the job after Justice Vaepule convinced him it was the right thing to do.
Justice Vaepule had been a Judge for the District Court for nearly two decades prior to moving up to the Supreme Court as one of the Justices.