Tokelauans kick off Taku Pele Association
Congressman Faleomavaega congratulats members of the Tokelauan community on the formal establishment of the Tokelau Taku Pele Association of Washington. The Congressman was invited to deliver the keynote speech at the Association’s Kick-Off Ceremony Saturday, October 5, in Tacoma, Washington.
Held at the EFKAS-Ft. Lewis, the ceremony began with an invocation by Reverend Elder Dr. Ulisese Sala followed by welcome remarks from President of the Association, Etuale Nouata. Congratulatory remarks were also given by Jack Fey of the Washington State House of Representatives- District 27, Washington State Senator Rosa Franklin (retired), and Patsy Surh O’Connell, President and Founder of the Asia Pacific Cultural Center. The theme for the evening, “The Voyage Begins,” was celebrated with siva fatele and siva taualuga and closed with a benediction by Reverend Suipi Vaielua.
The event began with 59 pre-registered association members and more than100 members of the community in total attended, with many families registering at the event. With roots in the island of Atafu, the Congressman took special interest in the occasion.
Several members of Washington’s Tokelauan community are also from the island of Olohega, which is culturally part of Tokelau, although politically a part of American Samoa.
“I extend my congratulations to members of the Tokelauan community who took part in the Tokelau Taku Pele Association of Washington’s Kick-Off Ceremony. It was a great honor to witness this momentous occasion and especially to see the unity among all our Tokelauan families in Washington State,” Faleomavaega stated.
“I give thanks to our spiritual leaders, including Reverend Elder Dr. Ulisese Sala of EFKAS-Tacoma and Reverend Suipi Vaielua of EFKAS-Ft. Lewis representing the Samoan community. I also thank State Representative Fey, State Senator Franklin, and Asia Pacific Cultural Center President O’Connell for acknowledging the great significance of this occasion for Tokelauans in the State of Washington.”
“In my recent meeting with Ulu o Tokelau Salesio Lui, we discussed several issues affecting the islands but also the need for community organization among Tokelauans in the U.S. To my knowledge, Tokelau Taku Pele is the first formal Tokelauan association in the mainland U.S. and I am hopeful that other communities will also follow suit and work together to preserve our Tokelauan culture.”
“While Tokelauans are few in number and scattered throughout the U.S., this ceremony showed the great unity among our people as we come together to create a better future for the younger generations,” Congressman Faleomavaega stated.
“I commend our community leaders for their mutual effort to establish a formal association. Tokelau Taku Pele was incorporated in the State of Washington and approved for a Washington State Business License on August 22nd, only one month after its initial meeting.
“I especially thank the leadership of the Association’s President, Etuale Nouata, and the Board of Directors. I also extend my deep gratitude to Fa’aluaina “Lua” Pritchard, Executive Director of the Asia Pacific Cultural Center, for sharing her experience and guidance in helping to organize the community. I also thank Lua for inviting me to speak to our Pacific Islander youth along with Dr. Malik Fuimaono at the Uprise Pacific Islander Education Summit Program during my short visit.”
“I encourage all Tokelauans throughout the mainland U.S. to take an active role in preserving the rich heritage of Tokelau and I look forward to being a part of these efforts in the near future. Tokelau Taku Pele is a great example to all our Pacific Islander communities and I pray for their continued success in the years to come,” Congressman Faleomavaega concluded.
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