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Honorary Doctorate for Samoan Prime Minister

13 August 2012

Honorary Doctorate for Samoan Prime Minister

Victoria University of Wellington will confer the honorary degree Doctor of Laws on the Honourable Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi, Prime Minister of Samoa, during his visit to the University today.

Vice-Chancellor of Victoria University Professor Pat Walsh says the Prime Minister’s contribution to Samoa has been immense.

“I am delighted to announce that Victoria University is bestowing this honorary degree on Tuilaepa Malielegaoi.”

Mr Malielegaoi is recognised as an outstanding leader in the Pacific region, and his distinguished career as a public servant and politician spans more than 30 years.

Before entering politics, Mr Malielegaoi pursued a career in the Samoan public service, which included being Deputy Financial Secretary in the Treasury, and working in the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group of States General Secretariat in Brussels as the Intra-ACP trade, transport and communications expert.

A wish to contribute to his own country saw Tuilaepa Malielegaoi return to Samoa at the end of 1980 and begin his political career as a Member of Parliament. He was appointed Finance Minister in 1982, and elected Deputy Prime Minister in 1991. He filled both roles until the end of 1998, when he assumed the office of Prime Minister—a responsibility he has now held for 14 years.

His stewardship of the Samoan economy has been widely praised for its combination of innovation and careful judgement. In 1997, he presented Samoa’s case in Geneva for membership of the World Trade Organisation, which the country has recently joined, and it is anticipated that Samoa will graduate from Least Developed Country status in 2014.

He has also been a public advocate for improving health and education in Samoa, has been involved in recent constitutional reform, and led the country through the devastating tsunami which struck Samoa in September 2009.

Tuilaepa Malielegaoi is noted for his efforts in strengthening Samoa’s relationships with other nations, including New Zealand, and advocating for regional approaches on political, security, education and resource management issues. Last year, he initiated the establishment of the Polynesian Leaders Group, which aims to promote and protect Polynesian cultures, traditions and languages, and achieve sustainable development and prosperity in the region.

“It is particularly fitting that in this year, the 50th anniversary of Samoan independence and the Treaty of Friendship between Samoa and New Zealand, we recognise the enormous influence Tuilaepa Malielegaoi has had in shaping his country,” says Professor Walsh.

“Victoria University has a long association with Samoa, and the opportunity to develop closer educational ties will be of tremendous benefit to both parties.”

As part of the visit, members of the Samoan delegation and Victoria University will sign several agreements:

• PhD Scholarship Agreement with the Government of Samoa
• Scholarship and Co-operation Agreement with the Scientific Research Organisation of Samoa
• Scholarship and Co-operation Agreement with the National University of Samoa

ENDS

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