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Fale Tele Project interim report says money remains

An interim report on the “Le Upega Ua Toe Timata” — Fale Tele Project located at the Suiagaula o le Atuvasa Park (Utulei Beach) says there are still funds available for additional needed work on the project, which is a surprise — as Samoan Affairs officials from the previous administration have publicly stated that there were no more funds available as of December 2011 to complete the project.


This led to the Fono passing a bill in March 2011 that gave additional funding to the Fale Tele Project.


The interim report was prepared by Muliagatele Sanele I.T. Tuiteleleapaga, whose services were obtained by Secretary of the Office of Samoan Affairs Galu Satele T. Satele to complete the Fale Tele project.


Muliagatele prepared the interim report of the project — for the period of Jan. 31, 2013 to Feb. 15, 2013.


Samoa News was able to obtain a copy of the three-page report.


According to Muliagatele, the conceptual framework for the project was born back in 1976, when then Governor John Hayden appointed the late Tufele F. Li'amatua to serve as Commissioner of the Department of Public Safety and Muliagatele was appointed to head the Office of Youth Development and the Office of Parks and Recreation.


The report states that since the Department of Interior funded both offices, money was available to build a FALE TELE for "Samoan Cultural Development for Youth”.


According to Muliagatele, even though money was no problem, land was. He said, "there was no suitable land available to us for our Fale. Thus, our dream for a FALE TELE was placed in abeyance and went into hibernation for nearly thirty years."


Fast forward to 2010: After the devastating tsunami of 2009 when Tufele was the Secretary of the Office of Samoan Affairs- Department of Local Government, he summoned Muliagatele from Honolulu "so we can build the FALE TELE," Muliagatele wrote in his report.


A grant application was submitted to the Interior Department's Office of Insular Affairs and an award of $250,000 was granted for the construction of the Fale.


A breakdown of the finances is as follows:


Cost of the project:


•               Construction: Materials and Supplies            $191,000


•               Tufuga Sili (master builder) and crew            $50,000


•               TOTAL COSTS            $241,000


Balance left over from grant             $9,000




Local Contributions:


•               OSA and Marist St. Joseph's Old Boys            $16,800 cash


•               In-Kind: 2 cameramen ASCC            $34,000 1 year


•               In-Kind: 2 cameramen ASG TV             __$34,000 1 year


•               TOTAL            $84,800




Balance as of Feb. 15, 2013


•               Local contribution             $16,800


•               Federal grant carry over            $9,000


•               Total             $25,800


According to the report, the basis for awarding this federal grant to the Office of Samoan Affairs is "to maintain, to preserve, and to perpetuate the rare traditional building skills of a Tufuga Sili on how to construct a Samoan Fale Tele. To this end, we are now in the process of compiling a documentary, utilizing some 500 hours of footage taken by camera crews from the Samoan Studies Institute at the American Samoa Community College and the KVZK-TV studio in Utulei. This process shall cost $5,000 as approved by the Department of Interior and reflected in our program costs."


Muliagatele reported that in order to protect the inside of the FALE TELE from the inclement weather, awnings are now to be installed around the perimeter of the fale, covering a total of about 2400 square feet. "The $20,000 left in the account shall be used for this purpose, and the local Department of Public Works is to perform this task," the report states.


The termination date for this grant was Dec. 31, 2012, and a special request was sought and granted from the Office of Insular Affairs for a grace period ending this past Monday, April 1, 2013, during which time "Le Upega Ua Toe Timata Project" was to be completed and closed out.


A revised budget has already been submitted to the Office of Insular Affairs, and approval is subject to the submission of this report.


"All our cultural preservation and development programs are articulated in our contract with the Office of Insular Affairs, and shall be fulfilled in collaboration with all our project partners," the report states. "As specified in our revised budget, all purchases shall be limited only to the materials and supplies contained therein."


The bottom of the interim report contains the following note: This is only an interim report based on files kept at the Office of Samoan Affairs and data from the ASG Planning and Budget Office. A more thorough and clearer project report shall be forthcoming at the completion of the Fale Tele Project.




Based on the interim report, Samoa News notes the following discrepancies.


Samoa News understands the $16,800 in local contribution is from of a radio-thon held in late November- early December 2011, by the Office of Samoan Affairs asking the public for help to ‘finish’ the Fale Tele. In testimony before the Fono, in mid February 2012, the money was identified by Samoan Affairs officials as around $15,000, put into a separate account, to be used for traditional gift presentations (ava) during the dedication ceremony.


Further, not noted in the interim report is the $50,000 budgeted by the Fono to complete the Fale Tele Project, after then governor Togiola Tulafono requested it in a supplementary budget submitted to the Fono in Feb. 2012. The supplemental bill was passed in March 2012 and signed by Togiola in early April 2012.


Deputy Secretary of Samoan Affairs Nanai Afuola had said in late December 2011, during a news conference, that there was a bit more work that needed to be done on the Fale Tele, such as putting in tiles, steps, railing and lights and the government would look for funding to complete this work.


Samoa News would also like to point out that in the December 2011 press conference, Nanai said that with the final payment of $10,000 made to the builders, the funding from DOI was complete. 




The FALE TELE project encompasses about 135 feet in circumference and located near the old Yacht Club building, which is now leased by Don’t Drink the Water (DDW).


During his Flag Day keynote address in 2012, then DOI Assistant Secretary of Insular Areas Anthony M. Babauta spoke briefly about the project and said that during his trip to the territory the year before, he made a promise to Tufele that his office "would assist in upholding its part of an agreement that had been forged over a century ago.”


“This fale will be a symbol of what is sacred to the faa-Samoa, in particular the family and matai system — which is the heart of the Samoan culture,” said Babauta. “It will provide a forum to learn the fa’alupega.”


During the groundbreaking in 2011, Tufele said the guesthouse is to serve the people of American Samoa.


At the time, then Governor Togiola Tulafono said the idea of a guest fale at the same location at Utulei Beach first came up when Mauga Tasi Asuega was the Secretary of Samoan Affairs in 2007, and the idea was brushed aside because of the way the proposal was presented. It was “not attractive to my mind and I dismissed the idea,” he said.


However, when Tufele took over as Secretary of Samoan Affairs, he provided the same idea “in a very different way”, saying that ‘Si’ugaula o le Atuvasa’ at Utulei Beach is not complete and “we need a dignified [guest] house for the people. Now that immediately caught my attention,” said Togiola.


“A house that will stand as a monument to our forefathers and will lay claim to the present generations for and on behalf of the children, who are not even born.” Instead of saying “yes” right away to Tufele, when the project was first proposed, Togiola told Tufele that “we don’t have any money” for the project. The next time Togiola and Tufele spoke, it was revealed that Babauta had endorsed the idea with funding assistance.