Reports and Updates 24 August 2022 - Samoa with the PM

Ngahiwi Tomoana is the National Iwi Chairs Forum mandated Lead for Te Aratini & Trade. Following the impressive Aotearoa presence at the 2021 World Expo in Dubai, he is now preparing for the 2025 World Expo being held in Osaka, Japan. The following is an update from Japan. Click here to link to the Te Aratini webpage.

A late call up to Samoa to Bayden and myself meant some swift changes to schedule. My nephew Cassidy who died in Darwin,  charged me to make his final journey back to Mohaka so I initially turned down the trip. However his whanau urged me to go, "who turns down the PM?" they said so following the "This Is Your Life" at Clubs, we took him back to Mohaka, spent the night there then back to the airport on Sunday heading to Samoa. The kaupapa was to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Friendship Agreement between Samoa and New Zealand. We flew out from Whenuapai airbase,20 Samoans including myself, 4 Maori including myself, the PM Jacinda, ministers Aupito William Sio, and Carmel Sepoloni, Chris Luxon and Shane Reti from National, Te anau Teoiti the Greens, David Seymour ACT, and Debbie Ngawari-Packer Maori Party and 20 papparazzi.We were the first international flight into Samoa for over 2 years.

 

Mere and I were here in 2019 just before the measles epidemic and it was 35 degrees. Today its only 29 degrees at Faleolo airport as we are whisked to our hotel in van convoy by a police escort to the brand spanking new Taumeausina Hotel Resort and of course we are tbe first international guests. Big investments have been made in it by Papua New Guineans, the rising economic taniwha of the Pacific. So we freshen up and attend the the most formal deep customary ritual afforded to only someone of Jacinda's status, 'Ava ceremonial welcome at The Robert Louis Stevenson Convention centre at Vailima.

 

Eight Tusafale or Orators from the eight regions of Samoa are sitting lotus style and once everyone is seated start bellowing their greetings and salutations, like us in whaikorero except tbey all start yelling at once..eight of them, different tones, different rhythmns, different cadence,different lilts.It was startlingly effective but entirely efficient. Then complete silence. Imagine our paepae with 8 speakers all over in 5 minutes!Then individually they they appoint 8 kava or 'ava sticks to those who will receive the 'ava beverage. Not before though giving our delegations young Tusafale, orator, grief and derision for firstly, for not being born in Samoa but the US, even though his father was head of all Tusafale in his time, secondly for being so young,about 30, and  head of a huge delegation, thirdly for responding too long, and forthly from withering in the heat of the oral blasting. The new PM, Fa'ime Naomi Mata'fa cut across them all by saying "yes, he spoke too long, yes he is young, but he is from my village so he is my son and my responsibility and he can only grow from here. Enough!" And so it was. Jacinda was offerred ' ava first followed by 7 others and it was over after the karakia just like that. High drama in high fashion then on a high with 'ava.The "boy" Tusafale, although humbled and tumbled stood proud amongst his peers and us and you could see his determination to come back stronger, bolder but I bet, shorter in his reply.

 

A Samoan priest, who kinda adopted me on tour, was translating word for word in my ear so that Id understand what was happening in real time.

 

Fa'ime and Jacinda greet as old friends give great but brief speeches (the grace was longer than both speeches combined) as we make our way to the hakari. Where fine words of friendship unity and eternity ringing around the marquee. Im asked to sum up and close the evening which we all share by singing Pokarekare Ana, the Samoan voices adding booming depths and super sopranoes to the rich melody of the song.