AMERICAN SAMOA GOVERNMENT
On a beautiful sunny Wednesday morning, January 4, 2017, the air was filled with anxiety and anticipation over the arrival of the Manuatele at the Main Dock of Pago Pago Harbor. As the island breeze cooled the day with live music soothing nerves as a large crowd steadily filled the dock area.
Governor Lolo Matalasi Moliga was at the dock early to greet all that came out to witness and welcome the Manu’atele to it’s home port of Pago Pago. Honored guests and dignitaries were at the dock including the Head of State of Samoa His Highness Tuiatua Tupua Tamasese Efi and Masiofo Filifilia as well as Prime Minister Tuilaepa Lupesoliai Sailele Malielgaoi.
Modern canoes and traditional paopaos and fautasis paddled out to the mouth of Pago Harbor to escort the Manuatele into the harbor. Ocean craft of all kinds greeted the Manu’atele as it entered the harbor. Master of Ceremonies HTC Le’i Sonny Thompson explained that the intent of today’s get-together was to welcome the Manu’atele to American Samoa following the long journey. Customary cultural observances would be planned with the Fono leaders at a later date. The excitement grew with the arrival of the Manu’atele. As many in the crowd stood looking intently to the mouth of the harbor, the Manua’tele came into view in a glorious fashion with water cannons streaming high into the air. It was accompanied by American Samoas two tugboats, the MV Sili and numerous water craft of all types.
The emotions were high as the Manu’atele approached the dock. Feelings of pride and joy amongst the crowd were accentuated by a cacophony of horns blasting, sirens wailing, people cheering and boats horns blasting, adding to the excitement of the occasion. Much to the delight of the crowd, the Manu’atele completed a smooth 360 degree maneuver before mooring safely at the dock accompanied by blasts from fog horns and cheerful applause.
After securing the vessel, the Manu’atele crew disembarked as the Director of Port Administration Taimelelagi Dr. Claire Tuia Poumele introduced them one by one. Each crew member was greeted with applause and cheers from the audience as they made their way to their seats of honor in front of the Manu’atele. Director Taimaleleagi noted that the Manu’atele featured an international crew with members from Tonga, Fiji, America and the majority being local Sons of American Samoa.
There was a prayer by Reverand Aukusitino Paaniani and a hymn by the Aua Catholic Church before HTC Le’i Thompson introduced Honorable Governor Lolo Matalasi Moliga for his remarks.
Following thanks and salutations, Governor Lolo expressed happiness and joy that the Manu’atele had completed the long journey. The Governor proudly noted that the Manu’atele crew is mainly comprised of Sons of American Samoa. Governor Lolo shared some Manu’a history and the relevance to the crew.
Governor Lolo also noted that the arrival of the Manu’atele has special meaning for members of the Fono and the people of American Samoa who are direct beneficiaries of the collaboration between the two branches of government affirming the cliché “actions and not words”. The Governor asked the gathering for another round of applause for the crew and all those instrumental in the delivery of the Manu’atele.
Governor Lolo next gave monetary gifts to the Manu’atele crew “not as payment but as a token of appreciation”. Governor Lolo also presented a flag of American Samoa flown above the Manu’atele on its journey to American Samoa to Samoa Head of State, Tuiatua Tupua Tamasese Efi and the flag of the United States to Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi. Gifts were presented to the guests from Samoa and the Minister of Finance from Tokelau.
An emotional speech was then delivered by Captain Loleni Faiai who attributed the success of the journey to the prayers and well wishes of the leaders and people of American Samoa and also because of faith in God. He also thanked Port Director Taimalelagi for her faith in him and the crew.
After closing remarks, prayer and hymn, entertainment provided by the Pava’ia’i Methodist Youth wrapped up a festive and joyful celebration of the arrival of the Manu’atele in American Samoa.
The Manu’atele is a 140 foot Cargo/ Passenger Vessel is 140 feet in length and 38 feet in breadth, has a deck cargo capacity of 165 tons and accommodates 140 passengers in 6 staterooms. It was built by the Nicholas Brothers Shipyard in Whidbey Island Washington USA and funded by the Department of the Interior -CIP Program, ASEDA funds and the U. S. Federal Transit Administration via DPW.
Full list of the crew of the Manu’atele:
Loleni Faiai - Master Captain
Pu’a Ah Mai - 1st mate
Lafoga Alovao - 2nd mate
Timothy Grady - Chief Engineer
Gerard Murphy - 1st Engineer
James Lang - 2nd Engineer
Ben Shaw - 3rd Engineer
Paul Allen - Deck Boss
Asiasiga Velega - Able seaman
Rudy Su’a - Able seaman
Jackson Moa - Able seaman
Pale Faaoso - Able seaman and cook
Siosiua Fifita - Marine Advisor
James Spach - Observer.
Special acknowledgement to Michael Pulu and Henry Ledoux