Tuvalu “Alofa” ceremony presents gifts to American Samoa
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — This traditional canoe from Tuvalu, along with smaller gifts on board seen inside the Gov. H. Rex Lee Auditorium yesterday before it was officially presented as gifts from the current chairman of the 8th Polynesian Leaders Group (PLG) summit, Tuvalu Prime Minister, Enele Sosene Sopoaga, to the incoming chair of the 2019 - 9th PLG summit, American Samoa Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga during a special ceremony.
The government of Tuvalu’s High Commissioner to Fiji, Temate Melitiana, represented his government and Prime Minister in making the presentation to the governor.
With the support from the Tuvalu Society of American Samoa, Melitiana explained that the gifts are presented in the traditional Tuvaluan way called the “Alofa” ceremony, which “conveys the strong message of love, affection, appreciations, respect and affirmation of special relations and connections — which I believe do exits between our two countries.”
“In our Polynesian traditions and also in other parts of the Pacific, traditional canoes have cultural values and significance. They have played an integral role in the history of our countries and people,” he points out.
He explained the canoe gifted to the governor is “made of a tree known as ‘fetau’, and skillfully carved by one of our traditional canoe makers in Tuvalu. The canoe is 100% local.”
Additionally, the canoe was prominently displayed during 8th PLG meeting hosted by Tuvalu from June 26-29 under the theme, “Protecting the Pacific - the Polynesian Connection.”
He said the canoe was prominently displayed during the climate change session “to symbolize our values, cultural, our livelihoods - which are under threats. especially from the impact of climate change.”
The canoe was transported to the territory on board the MV Nivaga III, which arrived in the territory over the weekend, according to a letter from the Tuvalu government to the Governor’s Office, which was also asked to assist in facilitating a hand over ceremony to the Governor. Samoa News will report next week on plans for the 2019 summit.