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City councillor appointed Samoan paramount chief

City councillor appointed Samoan paramount chief
February 19, 2004

Samoan-born North Shore City Councillor Mike Tafua will officially become one of his native country's paramount chiefs at a ceremony in April.

A descendent of Tuimanua, the first King of Samoa, Councillor Tafua has served on the North Shore City Council since 1998 and the Birkenhead-Northcote Community Board since 1992.

The Samoan Prime Minister and Cabinet ministers, church leaders, family members, friends, fellow chiefs and North Shore City Mayor George Wood will attend the official ceremony, known as a Saofai, on April 12.

Mr Wood, who served alongside Councillor Tafua in the New Zealand Police for many years, described the appointment of his colleague and friend to the rank of paramount chief as a great honour.

"I've known Mike for many years and have developed a great respect for his leadership and his humility as a person. He has served North Shore City as a police officer, a Rotarian and in a governance role, and at all times worked in the best interests of our community," he says.

Councillor Tafua will become paramount chief of the village of Saleaaumua, Aleipata in the Atua district, and follows a proud family tradition.

"My father ruled the village for 25 years and, together with my grandfather, great-grandfather and great-great-grandfather, they ruled Aleipata for around 145 years. This continues our proud family lineage and heritage as leaders of our community," Mike Tafua says.

While he has held the title of matai since 1974, the year his family emigrated to New Zealand, the latest honour is of much greater rank and prestige - earned through a formal, contested process.

His chiefly appointment followed a week-long hearing of the Land and Titles Court in Apia, including an intensive four hour-long interview by three judges and an assessor. He was chosen above strong competition from many local and New Zealand-based challengers.

Mike Tafua served the New Zealand Police for over 23 years and has spent the last 26 years living in Glenfield.

Before bringing his family to New Zealand, he worked for the Samoan Government in the Office of the Prime Minister and was Secretary to the Minister of Justice.

Councillor Tafua says he is grateful to the people of North Shore City for supporting him over the years.

"This is a great city with people who have put their trust in me. I have
been proud to live and work here among people whom I've always been happy to help."

(ends)

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