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Kia Ora / Talofa, From New Zealand:

We recently attended the Tuato’o reunion in American Samoa, and sadly I did not get the chance to express my thoughts about the event whilst there and hope to do it this way.

Our daughter Sofia had been to AS before and her mum Josephine Tuato’o was raised by Alofau, this was however, my first time visiting AS.

As a palagi leaving home for this event I was intrigued about what I was to experience, looking forward to seeing the places and people Josephine had told me stories about for a number of years.

Instead of leaving home I found that I had come home in many ways. I don’t mean that as a cliché of a palagi experiencing 5 minutes of a culture and saying he is now Samoan.

I mean it from the sense of what makes a home, a place where caring, sharing, respect, aroha and laughter are the norm, having found all of these very quickly and in particular the laughter — Bucketsful of Laughter!

A great deal of work had obviously gone into the organisation of the numerous events that took place and I can say without reservation those behind the scenes did an amazing job, we thoroughly enjoyed every aspect and event we attended.

I feel privileged to have been a small part of what makes this family what it is. This family is a credit to the culture, community and clans — the Tuato’o Clan.

Part of the programme had us booked into Sadie’s and our stay there was wonderful, along with the food, service and snorkeling! A boyhood dream of swimming with a turtle was fulfilled along with many others that week.

Finally I would like to express my gratitude to Ryan and Malix, Maria and Sima and families, your generosity knows no bounds.

There are many people I should mention and to those I haven’t I apologize, but to Lisa and Jay I was hugely impressed with your enthusiasm and sense of humour. I understood little of the language but could not help but laugh along with everyone else when the ‘punch line’ arrived! Jay possesses what NZ Maori call ‘mana’, a rare quality.

Will we return? Without a doubt, until then faafetai ma faamanuia Atua

Graham Bulman


New Zealand