Iva Savai’i Connection & Tofilau Legacy
1st Week in Samoa
– Reconnecting Pereira Roots
I don’t really know what that ‘one thing’ was that triggered the sudden burst of energy to go to Samoa. I am known for my spontaneity however, so it comes as no great surprise to those who know me. And after our family discussions late last year surrounding the ‘Tofilau Title’, when I flew into Auckland for the occasion, I did have a serious conversation about the need to go to Samoa and connect with our extended families.
Further to that investigation was the issue of Tofilau Michael heading to Samoa, on behalf of our Pereira family in December/January to coincide with a major event being held in Iva, Savai’i. Ron Pereira and I had signaled our intention to accompany Tofilau Michael. As it turned out, the event was postponed, however, Ron did make the trip and messaged me about an opportunity to meet with a high standing Tofilau from Iva. I guess for me, that was the catalyst. So, decision made, I set off on an adventure to Samoa.
I have to admit, the first few days were a bit rough. I hadn’t made any contacts and the Inn I was staying at on Moamoa Rd was too far away from Apia township to walk comfortably. Ron had warned me of the dogs that can get a bit nasty protecting their turf in the suburbs, so I wasn’t about to chance a walkabout.
Auntie Lasa Aiono (Ron’s Cousin) is a formidable woman of character and was an absolute blessing. She took time off her busy schedule and organised our trip out to Iva, Savai’i, taking her dual cab ute on the ferry and transporting us to our destination … a meeting with ‘Tofilau Ma’a’ who had arranged for us to have an audience with Village Elder ‘Leauanae Tagalosa Ailao’.
As we arrived in Iva, I was immediately inspired by it’s beauty and simplicity. We connected with Tofilau Ma’a, who walked us to the home of Leauanae Tagalosa Ailao. Removing our sandals and shoes as we entered the house, I left my socks on, to which the Elder, Leauanae Tagalosa Ailao, pointed to. Embarrassed, I removed my socks and coyly sat down at the last of four chairs that had been set out for us.
An incredibly humbling experience, Auntie Lasa communicated and translated on our behalf. Of course, Ron still accommodates the mother tongue, and was able to ask questions and understand most of what was said. I on the other hand, was quite at a loss, but listened with my heart to fully absorb the spirit of the communications taking place.
Before our official meeting came to a close, individual tables were placed in front of each of us and food started to arrive. Fried chicken, green bananas in coconut, beans, onions and Taro .. what seemed like a feast was presented. After a quick prayer, we ate and talked and laughed. The atmosphere relaxed, I was signaled to ask any questions I might have in English. I was assured that this area is the land of our ancestors, and that Siosé (José) Pereira was known to Leauanae, but that further investigations would need to be made to find out which of the lines of Tofilau our family belongs to. Of four (4) girls and one (1) boy of the Tofilau, which one Antonio Victorino Pereira married is still unclear. The Tofilau title of Iva, Savai’i is the 9th family line of Malietoa.
E iva iai aiga o Malietoa
The granddaughter of Leauanae Tagalosa Ailao has provided us with her email so that we may contact her and follow up with our investigations.