Ulu joins toast to Leulua’iali'iotumua English

Apia, 5 June 2017
It was like looking at a who’s who in politics, public service and business in Apia, during a cocktail party at the New Zealand High Commission near Vailima on Cross-Island Road last Friday. The occasion was a state visit by the New Zealand Prime Minister, the Hon Bill English, to attend Samoa's 55th Independence Day celebrations, and to toast to the continued Treaty of Friendship between Samoa and New Zealand that has also stood for 55 years. Mr English had been bestowed the Samoan matai (chief) title, Leulua’iali'iotumua, that morning. He was accompanied by his wife Dr Mary English who is originally from Samoa.

Ulu&PM2jun17-300 Left: New Zealand Prime Minister, the Hon Leulua’iali'iotumua Bill English and Te Ulu o Tokelau, Aliki Faipule Siopili Perez.

Right: NZ High Commissioner to Samoa and Administrator of Tokelau, HE David Nicholson  opens the proceedings.
The Samoan Head of State, His Highness Tuiatua Tupua Tamasese Efi with Her Highness Masiofo Filifilia Imo.
Guests of honour were the Samoan Head of State, His Highness Tuiatua Tupua Tamasese Efi with Her Highness Masiofo Filifilia Imo; the Samoan Deputy-Prime Minister Mrs Fiame Naomi Mata’afa, and the Ulu o Tokelau, Aliki Faipule Siopili Perez.

Hosting was His Excellency David Nicholson, the NZ High Commissioner to Samoa and also the current Administrator of Tokelau. He was accompanied by his wife Dr Suitafa Deborah Nicholson who is also from Samoa but usually resident in Wellington with their three children.

Among the dignitaries were spotted the  Australian High Commissioner, Her Excellency Sue Langford; the previous NZ High Commissioner to Samoa, Mrs Jackie Frizelle; a previous Administrator of Tokelau, Mr Jonathan Kings; plus a wide range of other heads and senior officials of Samoan and Tokelau government departments.
High Commissioner Nicholson’s welcome address was followed by a most eloquent and somewhat electioneering speech by Leulua’iali'iotumua English, a devote catholic and a rugby fan. He was commenting on “Religion as a toolkit for moral reflection” and stated he felt right at home in Samoa, being founded on God as it is - whereas New Zealand had become one of the most secular countries in the world by now. He approved of the fact that in NZ it was now getting more common for rugby matches to be preceded by prayer, no doubt under the influence of both Maori and Samoan players and their families.

He said he hoped to see Samoan influence increase in New Zealand, observing wryly that the National Party had received perhaps only 3 Samoan votes to date, but that later in the year there would be an opportunity to get a few more. Electioneering is clearly never far from a politician’s mind.
Leulua’iali'iotumua English in full speech mode.
Leulua’iali'iotumua English paid respect to Samoa during his visit in the most amusing way and congratulated on the country being so well organised these days. He stated that his recent visit to Germany hadn’t gone to quite as much to clockwork. He particularly complimented Samoa on holding a national celebration of independence (the previous day) which had been entirely without controversy. And with that he thanked everyone present for their interest in New Zealand.
Above and right: A toast to the Samoa-New Zealand (Treaty of) Friendship
3leaders2jun17a-300 Right: Samoan Deputy Prime Minister, Mrs Fiame Naomi Mata’afa speaks on behalf of the Samoan government; paying attention are Leulua’iali'iotumua English, Aliki Perez, and His Highness Tuiatua Tupua Tamasese Efi. DepPM2jun17-200
The Samoan Deputy Prime Minister, Mrs Fiame Naomi Mata’afa responded in a very similar entertaining vein and noticed the affection PM English held for Samoa. She noted pointedly that with the title bestowal, Leulua’iali'iotumua English now of course also had the duty to step up to Samoan leadership. With that she proposed a toast to the prosperity of New Zealand and all its people. This was heartily agreed to in word and deed by all present.
The party ended early as most key participants headed to Apia park to observe an “historic” super rugby match between the Queensland’s Reds and the Auckland Blues, among not quite so many others in the (expensive) grandstand.

Story and pictures by J.A. (‘iapi’) Jasperse, Tokelau Apia Liaison Office
Right: H E David Nicholson and Dr Suitafa Nicholson hosting the cocktail party (left) NicholsonMr&Mrs2jun17-200