Update: $500K allocated in proposed FY2014 budget for Su'igaula ole Atuvasa
The Lolo Administration is set to develop and improve Su’igaula o le Atuvasa Park at Utulei Beach with a “Samoan Cultural Village” as part of the government’s effort to identify areas to help boost tourism in American Samoa.
During the July 11 cabinet meeting Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga told directors that funding of $500,000 is allocated in the proposed budget for fiscal year 2014 for the development of the Si’ugaula o le Atuvasa park “where our people can go to enjoy” themselves and a place that can be used by “your family” to spend time.
“Right now it’s everybody’s park, including dogs,” he said to smiles from the directors. (Dogs are seen in the area, especially when there is a lot of trash left behind by those who use the park.)
“So we’ll find a way to better use that park” at Utulei Beach, Lolo said, adding that these are just some of the many things that the government needs to do to assist the community. “Let’s show our people that we are concerned” with their wellbeing, he added.
Allocating funds to develop this area of Utulei Beach follows the Governor’s visit to the Polynesian Cultural Center in Laie, Hawai’i where American Samoa Visitor’s Bureau Executive Director David Vaeafe joined him. Lolo was enroute back to the territory last month and requested Vaeafe to fly to Honolulu.
Responding to Samoa News questions, Vaeafe said over the weekend that the Governor is looking at the new Fale Samoa site as part of creating activities for a Samoan Cultural Village for visitors from cruise ships as well as local residents to enjoy.
He said part of the project would have an outdoor stage with entertainment “drawing people from cruise ships as well and our own residents.”
Vaeafe said, “The governor is committed to tourism development and to identifying areas for developing this sector of the local economy."
He explained that Lolo is allocating the $500K for the project from Capital Improvement Project (CIP) funds, which involves the Visitor’s Bureau, Department of Parks and Recreation, and other ASG agencies.
The Su’igaula o le Atuvasa portion of the Utulei Beach, the area next to the former home of the Pago Pago Yacht Club and now occupied by DDW Beach Cafe, was named and designated by former Gov. Togiola Tulafono four years ago as one of the venues for the 10th Festival of the Pacific Arts hosted by American Samoa in the Summer of 2010.
This was before the new traditional Fale Samoa was built, about two years ago. During the arts festival, which attracted more than 4,000 delegates and visitors from around the region, there was an outdoor stage at Su’igaula Park (at the other end of the park from the Fale Samoa) used for cultural performances and other activities.
The Fale Samoa, the “Le Upega Ua Toe Timata” — Fale Tele Project begun under then Secretary of Samoan Affairs Office, the late Tufele F. Li'amatua. At the time, Tufele said he envisioned the Fale Samoa as a center for learning for the youth of the territory of Samoan cultural traditions, including house (fale) building — and would hopefully be followed by others being built throughout the territory for use by villages and districts as focus for the Samoan cultural development for youth. The project was funded by the Department of Interior – Office of Insular Affairs.
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 when Tufele took over as Secretary of Samoan Affairs, he told the administration that the ‘Si’ugaula o le Atuvasa’ at Utulei Beach is not complete and “we need a dignified [guest] house for the people.”
Togiola said the idea caught his attention because it would be 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.”