It has been ten years today, the 4th March, 2002, when my late mother, Ms. Tumema Siala Tufuga, had died from a belated diagnosed Cervical Cancer, at the Logan Hospital, Loganlea, Queensland, Australia.
It has been an interesting journey for my mother whom had initially migrated to New Zealand, at the age of 18, soon after the declaration of Independence of Samoa, just over a year or so earlier, from New Zealand, which was in 1962. My mother Mema Tufuga as a somewhat naive 18 year old had journeyed alone to New Zealand, in 1964.
My late mother was born in a village which had a large inlet harbour, called Matavi Harbour, and the village was called Asau, in Savai’i, Samoa. Specifically, my late mother Mema Tufuga was born in a place called Utuloa, Asau. Utuloa itself, is the part of Asau in which has situated a deep sea wharf, an airstrip, and a saw mill, all on my late mother’s grandmother’s, or Nive Tufuga’s, land. My great grandmother le Susuga Nive Tufuga, whom had died in 1954. The Beach Fo’a, to the northeast of Asau, is also part of her land as well.
My mother’s mother, Fuifui Tufuga, also interned in the Beenleigh cemetery, May 19th, 2009, whose parentage was from Matavai, Asau, hence, the title of Tufuga, which has been assumed by all of her offprings, is from Matavai, Asau, instead of Utuloa, whence my late mother is said to have been born (1).
My mother, Mema Tufuga, (born as Mema Tauvae (2)) had been a product of the bilateral migration treaty between New Zealand and Samoa then known as the Friendship Treaty, in which, as a teenager of 18 years of age, she had travelled to New Zealand without any requirements of a visa or a working visa to live and work in New Zealand.
During this time of initial settlement in New Zealand my mother had connected with her Samoan peers within the Christchurch community including scholars from Samoa, whom had included my father. My father was a scholar from Samoa attending school at a prestiged Saint Bedes College, then obtaining a scholarship to the Canterbury University, in Christchurch, New Zealand. Having completed his studies he was bonded to his government and was instructed to return to Samoa. His legacy was, of course, my sister and I. My father went to a Catholic school in New Zealand, but, in Samoa, he was a Congregationalist and still is today.
From a religious point of view, my mother was a devout christian, as many Samoans are. She was born in a village which were predominately Weslyan Methodists, but, having moved to Apia, she had adoped her aunty’s Catholic religion in Tuloto, Apia. She then migrates to New Zealand as a converted Papist, which is only short term only, since she is a protestant from Asau to begin with, and also with the fact that her biological father, Tauvae Tuiletufuga, was a member of the Lotu Poesi Congregational Church, in Apia, Samoa.
During the mid 1960s, primarily due to her love of singing and the soulful music of the Evangelical churches my mother quickly embraces the Charismatic faiths of the Assemblies of God Church, in Christchurch, New Zealand, she converts to the AOG movement until she arrives in Brisbane, in 1981, with the Samoan version of the AOG missionary zeal. In the early 1990s, after having a period of religious isolation living in Beenleigh, from the Samoan AOG s support networks, my late mother converts to the Seventh Day Adventists, but this is for only a couple of years, or until, I had returned from my educational travels abroad, in New Zealand and Samoa, and I had reminded her of her religious origins within the AOG. She quickly returns to the fold and tried to initiate a localised Pentacostal church until she becomes ill and bedridden.
In the meantime, in 1981, having worked and being a mother throughout the 1970s, my mother decided to travel to Australia with her relatives and fellow church colleagues, this was in June 1981. With her came her religious zeal.
She was a qualified seamstress/dressmaker amongst many of her talents, and she was employed, tentatively, at that moment, as a textile worker, in Brisbane, and was considered a valued worker by the Lee Cooper clothing company, in that she was asked to become a permanent employee. Hence, the decision made by mother to remain in Brisbane from 1981 permanently.
My sister and I arrived, initially, only for a holiday in December 1981. Mum refused to repatriate to New Zealand. Begrdugingly, my sister and I, feeling very out of our cultural comfort zones accepted our fate of having to migrate to live in Australia until Mum changes her mind at least it was hoped so then. It was not until my late mother’s death did I reluctantly decide to remain in Australia permanently and to initiate naturalisation proceedings.
As time went by mum worked tirelessly and then during the 1990s she was made redundant and at the time she had received a miniscule severence payment during the infamous Keating’s gibe as the period in which it was the Recession we had to have, then the Lee Cooper clothing textile company was forced to move operations to New South Wales. My mother refused to leave sunny Queensland primarily due to her devotion to her church committments, and, the fact that she had gotten used to Brisbane. In 1986, we moved to Beenleigh, in 2000, we moved to Crestmead. We have remained here ever since. In 2002, after an inexplicable medical prognosis of her condition, my mother is finally diagnosed as having advanced cervical cancer, and succombs to this disease, and three weeks after this revelation she died.
A very annoying and a seemingly unfulfilled journey.
What a journey it has been, indeed.
Logan City Qld.
4th March 2012.
1 .Most modernday births in Asau are now in the Sataua hospital, but, during the early 20th century, most births were home births including my mothers.
2. The late Tauvae Tuiletufuga, from Apia village, in Apia, Samoa, was the father of late mother. Tauvae Tuiletufuga is the son of Le Afioga Tuiletufuga Liu, the High Chief of Apia, and a Samoan Police Officer.