When we talk about leading by example, the Minister of Tourism, Sala Fata Pinati, is hard to overlook. That’s because the people of his village are leading examples of his message to beautify Samoa for the enjoyment of visitors to these shores.
But they have gone a step further. On top of beautifying the village with gardens and white sand on the side of the road, their lights display at night has become an exceptional feature of the drive from Faleolo Airport to Apia.
Village High Chief, Tevaga Vailua Lio, told the Samoa Observer the effort is all about promoting Samoa to the outside world.
But there is more to it. He said it is also part of an effort to unite the village.
“This is one of many features of Leauva’a village since it was first settled in 1908 by people from Savai’i,” he said.
“This idea is from one of the ladies of the village, Susitina Lauano. She approached me about the initiative at the beginning of this year and that’s when everything started.”
“Some people might have the idea that the village is trying to get praise from the government and other people but that is not the case.”
“The main reason is to lead by example for our own people and to work together no matter what. Not only that but for tourists and the development of our country.”
According to Tevaga, Leauva’a believes that many shoulders make light work.
“Working together made this easier, and that’s been the driving force behind the work that we did in the past few months.
For Leauva’a, it’s all about unity and love.”
“This isn’t because Salā is from our village or he’s also the minister of tourism,” he said. “No, as I’ve mentioned before, we’ve been doing this since our past ancestors settled on this land.”
“Remember, many people of our village had different candidates they had voted for during the election but when it comes to development to improve our village that’s a different story. We stand together and build together.”
“We have five sub villages in Leauva’a and we work together and that makes everything much easier.”
In some cases, visitors have compared Leauva’a to an airport run way.
But Tevaga said there is a lot history behind their efforts to beautify the village.
“Our village is just like Israel when they were led out from Egypt to Canaan,” he said.
“We made it our own, we’ve made good use of this village to support our families, churches and the whole country.”
“We’re so thankful and we still want to continue this tradition in our village for the future. We also want to let our children understand that there’s nothing too hard when everyone works together.”
“And our dream is for them to carry on this tradition in the future. Because we together we stand, united we fall.”
Tevaga told Samoa Observer their biggest wish is for other villages on the airport drive to follow their example.
“This life is all about coming together and doing what is best not only for today but for the next generation.”
“One of the best things about these lights, is the fact that our matais are hardly seen anyone on the side of the road drinking beers.”
“The lights make everything bright during night time. As matais of this village, we are very grateful to the support of all the families in putting together this plan.”
“From us at Le’auva’a village, Happy New Year, Samoa!”