With respect to Fuimaono Tuiasau

By Julie Haggie

I was privileged to attend Fuimaono Tuiasau’s funeral in Auckland recently, on behalf of Transparency

International New Zealand. It was an emotional and beautiful service. 

Like most funerals it had love and grief and laughter, but they seemed multiplied in the Otahuhu Catholic Church because of the man they were honouring. I sat between a Tongan mum whose child Fuimaono mentored as part of the Great Potentials Foundation which he co-chaired. On the other side sat a teacher who worked alongside Fuimaono at De La Salle College, and described his deep commitment to his students.

Fuimaono was a first generation New Zealand born Samoan. He held the ali’i title of Fuimaono Atanoa from the Aiga Sa Fenuinuivao district of Fale’alili, Samoa. We heard about his extremely active community involvement throughout life. He was a Trustee of the Youth Mentoring Trust, Chair of Ember Service as well as a Pacific leader. For years he worked as a lawyer supporting Pacific people and also as a community worker. He set up the Polynesian Panther Legacy Trust. His connections across Aotearoa were extensive

Fuimaono served on the TINZ  Board from 2013-2016, and then remained involved as a Member with Delegated Authority, supporting TINZ efforts to develop a Pacific programme in New Zealand and to work on civics education. Fuimaono was generous with his time and patience. His TINZ colleagues were shocked and saddened by his loss.

Fuimaono’s clear political beliefs were grounded in activism informed by his experience as a child of Pacific migrants. His parents were brought to New Zealand for their labour, and subjected to racism including institutional racism of the police and courts. He experienced first hand the shameful dawn raids. 

Fuimaono was an original member of the Polynesian Panthers and you can see his young face (and wonderful hair) in the documentary. He carried that early commitment to Pacific people and young people throughout his life.

Fuimaono was also a family man and a strong Christian – he truly lived his Christian beliefs. The deep love he gave and shared with his family was celebrated at his farewell. He led a fine life and TINZ colleagues are grateful to have known him.

When he stood for the TINZ Board Fuimaono said “I am strongly motivated in my work towards addressing social justice and equity issues by enhancing and embedding systemic and structural responses for positive change in Aotearoa”.  He also offered this Samoan message.

Upu ululoloa, sayings of the ancients

A fai e vave o’o lou va'a ia alu na’o oe. Ae oo fa’atasi pe mamao le olaga‘ia i lumamai

If you want to go fast go alone, but if you want to go far go together.

Fuimaono and his good friend Mark Sainsbury at the TINZ ‘Super 16’ Workshop in October 2015.

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