Constable Soteria Leitu: first among equals

Apia, 30 October 2015
During a special ceremony at Samoa Police Head Quarters in Apia today, Ms Soteria Leitu graduated to become Constable in the Tokelau Police Force. While pregnant and a solo mum to a 6-year-daughter, Soteria has worked very hard to get to this stage. She has been based in the Tokelau village of Atafu since 2014.

After a prayer and beautiful Police choir presentation, the Chief Commissioner of Police, Mr Egon Keil, congratulated Ms Leitu on her performance during the course and her exam results after: he said both were outstanding. All the more reason to have this ceremony especially for her. Upon handing over her certificate, he said she could now serve Tokelauan Police with pride and honour.

Her father, Sergeant Reupena Leitu is himself the Sergeant of Police in Atafu and had been a long-standing member of the Samoan Police before that. As the next speaker he expresssed with some emotion his pride to be able at this occasion to congratulate his daughter on her achievement. He thanked her for following in his footsteps.
Samoa Chief Commissioner of Police, Mr Egon Keil, hands over the certificate to new Constable Soteria Leitu.
Graduated Constable Soteria Leitu with her daughter and mother Sala Leitu (left), and Tokelau Judicial National Coordinator, Lise Suveinakama (right).
The ceremony was concluded by the choir transforming into a dance group and presenting a beautiful siva. Now-Constable Leitu played the central part - while being showered with leis and other gifts. A rousing performance with the men in front symbolically rowing the Police vaka concluded the formal programme.

The special ceremony for Constable Leitu took place as she will be traveling to Australia shortly; so she cannot make it to the full Police Graduation Ceremony taking place next week. Four male Tokelauan police will then graduate with their Samoan colleagues. All of them have just completed a tough 16-week training by Samoan training officers, with input from Tokelau Judicial National Coordinator Lise Suveinakama and the New Zealand Police Adviser for Tokelau Police, Murray Lewis.

Training of Tokelauan policemen and women in Samoa happens every 2 years. This stems from the close historical links and a special relationship between the Governments of Tokelau and Samoa (Cooperation Arrangement of 2003), also acknowledging the support from New Zealand Police.
In total, 20 Tokelau police officers have now graduated from the Samoa Police Recruits Course, three of them  women. One police woman in Fakaofo is yet to take the course. From the 20 graduates, three constables are no longer in the Tokelau Police force or are currently overseas.

Reupena-200 Soteria5-200 Soteria3-300
Proud father Sergeant Reupena Leitu; Soteria after graduation; and leading the siva.

For more information contact:
Mrs Lise Suveinakama
Judicial National Coordinator
Tokelau Apia Liaison Office
SNPF Plaza, Apia, Samoa
ph +685 7785231
email lsuveinakama@yahoo.com or lise.suveinakama@tokelau.org.nz