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Pacific News Briefs

Tautai Toko Tafaeono with classmates of 1981 in reunion mode in Auckland, New Zealand this week.  [courtesy photo]
compiled by Samoa News staff


Washington, D.C.  - Friday, January 5, 2018 - Congresswoman Aumua Amata welcomed a $2,321,000 federal grant for the American Samoa Department of Health, for the Pacific Basin Health Center Cluster program.

“I appreciate this funding for American Samoa,” said Aumua Amata. “Access to quality health services can be a major challenge in American Samoa, and federal support like this is part of the constant process of ensuring that care is available.”

Specifically, this U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) grant is through the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), and will be used to cover administrative costs for the American Samoa Department of Health.

HRSA is the primary federal agency tasked with improving health care for geographically isolated populations, or otherwise economically or medically vulnerable groups.

“Thank you to the Health Resources and Services Administration for their role in supporting health care in American Samoa,” continued Congresswoman Amata. “Congratulations to Director Motusa Tuileama Nua and the Health Department, as well as Project Director Manhart Alo and his team for their hard work in obtaining this important funding for American Samoa.”

(Source: Congresswoman Amata’s Office — Washington D.C.)


He is one of a kind because there is only one Tautai Toko Tofaeono.

As one of the unsung dual rugby international stars for the Manu Samoa and Toa Samoa, Toko in his playing days was superior and among the immortal names or the originals that toured Europe in 1988 which saw the two national sides evolve and rebranded to what it is today, the Manu Samoa and Toa Samoa.

And while his international rugby union and league careers ended abruptly due to a plane crash  — while working as co-pilot for Polynesian Airlines inter-island services between the two Samoas in 1996 — Toko left behind an untarnished sports legacy almost impossible to best and a huge pair of shoes to fill.

Toko’s unorthodox  style of attack in the two rugby principles from the wing is something to marvel about —  opting to take on the offense by surprise with his head-on confrontation instead of flying to the corners. It earned him the respect of selectors to become a dual rugby international for Samoa in both rugby professional codes.

Today Toko’s superior, calculative and cunning tactics remains revered with his individual ingenuity to create opportunities to put Samoa on the scoreboard. And it was fate as the writing was on the wall during his school years at Leififi Intermediate School where Toko was championship material as the 8th grade rugby champs in Form 1 and again as the 9th Grade Boys Champ in Form 2.

At Avele College, he helped his college win gold medals in a regional college tournament in Taiwan and repeated the feat in a similar tournament staged in New Zealand.

But it all changed in 1996 after the plane crash where he found himself as one of the People of Determination confined to a wheelchair for life.

Grounded, but still flying high, Tautai’s will power intensified after two years of self-pity almost forced him to go over the edge.  But the love of his life, his two daughters Chanel and Chiana, gave him strength, coupled with divine intervention provided reassurance that there is a reason for everything to happen — good or bad.

“That was the darkest period in life,” reminisced Toko. “I hated living. Worse of all, I hated everything but my the future of my two girls was and remains paramount.”

A couple of years later, he graduated with a Bachelor of Aviation. He also holds a Bachelor and Master in Aviation from Massey University, Albany.

Today Toko is a flight planner for Air New Zealand in Auckland and remains active paying little or no attention as he continues life as if nothing has changed by concentrating on his career to earn a decent living for his two daughters Chanel and Chiana’s bright future.

His inspiring story of determination and steel will power is set to inspire a new generation of young people. 

“At the end of the day, I hope sharing my life story will help inspire not just my classmates but everyone that never gave up despite the challenges,” he said.

And he has earned the respect and admiration of the Classmates of 1981 as one of their own whose success story of trials and tribulations reaffirms the Classmates platform to lead by example and set a pathway for their children to follow to the letter.

(Source: Lave Tuiletufuga)