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Senate makes moving tribute to Nikolao Pula for his service

Nikolao Pula drinking from his ava cup

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — Senators are recognizing Nikolao Iuli Pula, Jr for his numerous contributions to the people of American Samoa.

A Resolution introduced this week in the Senate summarizes the work of Nik as he is known to his friends and work community. Pula was born in American Samoa to Pula Nikolao Iuli Tuiteleapaga from the village of Leone and Oloalilo Ta'afulisia Lutu Afia Molioo of the village of Utulei, Fagatogo and Pago Pago

 “Growing up in Utulei, Nik started his early education attending Utulei elementary which was eventually moved to Fagaalu and named Matafai and then Marist Brothers School.

 “Nik earned the title of class valedictorian of the second graduating class of the new Marist Brothers High School in 1974. Immediately after graduation, Nik was sent off island to attend Menlo College in California.”

According to the Resolution during college, Nik became interested in politics.

 “After graduation, he accepted a job as special assistant to Senator Daniel K. Inouye of Hawaii, and moved to Washington, D.C where he served Senator Inouye for eleven years until he was persuaded by then American Samoa’s congressman Fofo I.F. Sunia to assist in his office.

 “Nik also worked for the Sergeant of arms of the House of Representatives, and was staff director for the subcommittee on Public works and transportation.

 “In the midst of his full time work duties, Nik managed to attend Brigham Young University and then George Mason University, Virginia.”

In August 1993, Nik procured the position of policy desk officer of the Department of Interior (DOI), specifically the office on Insular Affairs (OIA).

 “Nik was diligent and preserved at his assigned duties. After only a few years, he was promoted to Acting Director in 2001.

 “In 2009 Nik served as Acting Assistant Secretary of Insular Affairs for nine months. He did the same intermittently in 2014.”

After years of service to the Department of Interior, Nik became the first Samoan selected as Director of the Office of Insular Affairs. He mirrored his father, Nikolao Pula Sr, who was appointed by former Governor Haydon as the first Samoan director of American Samoa’s Department of Education.

“Director Nik was meticulous in assisting ASG's repatriation plans when the borders were closed due to the coronavirus epidemic.

 “As a fellow Samoan born and bred in American Samoa, in response to the complaints lodged against ASG and on social media outlets, Nik urged everyone to exercise patience with less finger pointing, while his office, the task force, Department of Health and all relevant agencies worked on returning residents back to American Samoa.”

Nik’s office cited the Biden- Harris team’s priorities for the U.S Territories and the Freely Associated States, which stressed vaccines for COVID-19, climate change and equality/ racial justice.

 “Director Nik was quick to commend American Samoa for ranking second in the entire nation for administration of the COVID 19 vaccine.” 

Nik’s work in Washington D.C has always had the essence of serving American Samoa, the tribute says.

He is married to Dr. Lois Ellen Pula from Virginia, a Ph.D professor of nursing at Georgetown University.

 “They are proud parents to six children — Lisa Blackmon, Leigh Ann Mchood, Victoria Duvile, Mathew Martin, Konrad Utuli'I Nikolao and Braxton Telleria. He boasts being a proud grandfather of 22 grandchildren.”

Throughout his entire work career, Director Nikolao Iuli Pula Jr has remained humble and unassuming. Although he is no longer with the Department of Interior, the people of American Samoa are indebted to former Director Nikolao for his numerous contributions that have benefitted American Samoa and the Legislature of American Samoa commends him on all he has done.

“For he will never be shaken, the righteous will be remembered forever.”