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ASG’s Samoan Heritage Festivities in Hawaii unite community groups in celebration

Source: ASG press release

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA —  The American Samoa Government opened the 2023 Samoan Heritage Festival at Keehi Lagoon Park, Saturday, July 29, 2023. The ceremony began with parade included the U.S. Marine Corps Band, followed by the reigning Miss Samoa-Hawaii and Miss Samoa Tribal Council - Alaska.

Samoan communities, Samoan Church Youth Groups in Hawaii, the students of Samoan descent attending various colleges in Hawaii, and many more, each showcased their pride and commitment to their shared heritage.

Following the parade, The US Marine Corps Band performed the National Anthems of the United States of America, American Samoa, and Hawaii. Emcee

Deputy Secretary of the Office of Samoan Affairs, Tauese V. Sunia — who emceed the event welcomed the distinguished guests in formal salutations and began the official opening of the Festival.

Dignitaries pose for a group photo after the opening ceremony of the 2023 Samoan Heritage festivities in Hawaii. The photo includes the two governors — Hawaii Gov. Josh Green (3rd right) and Gov. Lemanu P.S. Mauga (2nd left) of Am Samoa.  [ASG photo]

The invocation was delivered by Reverend Elder Falelua Lafitaga of the Christian Congregational Church of American Samoa (CCCAS) Kanan Fou in Kunia, who set the stage for a spiritually enriching event, seeking blessings for unity and cultural preservation throughout the celebrations.

Gov. Lemanu P. S. Mauga gave an address that emphasized the unbreakable bond that unites Samoans, no matter the distance that separates them. “In the words of Afioga Tui Atua Tupua Tamasese Efi, ‘We are one Samoan people: Tutuila, Upolu, Manu’a, Savai’i, Olohenga, Manono and Apolima. E tasi lo ta Ali, tasi lo ta fala. E tasi lo ta Aganu’u, tasi la ta Gagana. E tasi fo’i lo ta Atua.’ Whether in Hawaii or anywhere in the world, we are of one race.”

The governor also highlighted the significance of the gathering as an opportunity to strengthen the ties that bind the global Samoan community, cherishing their shared values and traditions.

“Our Heritage Initiative holds significant importance as it serves to honor, educate, and rejoice in the customs and traditions that have been passed down to us, ensuring they are preserved and cherished for the benefit of future generations,” Lemanu said.

Hawaii Governor Josh Green delivered special remarks that deeply resonated in the audience. He expressed heartfelt gratitude to the Samoan community for their immense contributions to Hawaii, especially during challenging times like the COVID Pandemic. He acknowledged the pivotal role the Samoan community play in the government and the lives of the people of Hawaii, demonstrating the spirit of Ohana and solidarity between Samoans and their fellow Hawaiians.

Governor Greene signed a Proclamation, officially proclaiming July 29, 2023 through August 1, 2023 as Samoan Heritage Week in Hawaii, commemorating the invaluable cultural contributions of the Samoan community to the state. He presented the Proclamation to Governor Lemanu.

Governor Lemanu expressed his gratitude to Governor Green for his support to the Samoan people not only in Hawaii, but also in the territory. “Governor Green and the great state of Hawaii, we can’t thank you enough for your support for both American Samoa and Samoa, especially during the COVID Pandemic,” thanked Governor Lemanu. “Your presence and support in Samoa reflects a true leader of selfless service. Thank you for your fellowship.”

A traditional Ava ceremony ended the event, with a lineup of cultural competitions and games, interactive traditional workshops, car display shows, and performances following the formal opening. Sunday led off with a church service and spiritual activities. Today, Monday, July 31, preliminary cricket matches, community booths and Aganu’u Night are planned.

Declaring the conclusion of the Opening Ceremony, Secretary of Samoa Affairs, Mauga Tasi Asuega, takes the ‘ava cup.  [ASG photo]