State Dept must ok submission for Samoa consul in Hawai’i

Photo Credit: 
Faletuiga/Tina Mata'afa-Tufele
A look at the Samoan Community Conference, Thursday, June 13, 2013 at the Sea Life Park Pavilion in Waimanalo.

(Honolulu, HAWAI'I)--The U.S. State Department must approve the name that has been submitted for Samoa’s honorary consul in Hawai’i, says Aiono Mose Sua, Chief Executive Office for the Samoa Government’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

(Papali’i) Jack Thompson, owner of Tihati Productions, has agreed to have his name submitted for the honorary consul position, Aiono told last week when the Samoa Government hosted a Samoan Community Conference at Sea Life Park.

Thompson’s name has been sent to the federal government and the decision is now in the hands of the U.S. State Department, Aiono explained.

Close to 200 members of Hawai’i’s Samoan community attended the conference Thursday, June 13. The event was hosted by the Samoa Tourism Authority, in collaboration with Sielu Enterprises, a company owned by entertainer and businessman Sielu Avea.

Samoa Prime Minister Tuilaepa Fatialofa Lupesoliai Sailele Malielegaoi spoke about a number of things during the conference, held in the effort to promote tourism in Samoa to the U.S. market.

He touched upon tourism in Samoa, the economy, trade, sports, the Road Switch of 2009 and Samoa’s dateline change.

Members of the Samoa Government delegation that arrived in Honolulu June 11, included Aiono Mose Sua; CEO of the Samoa Tourism Authority (STA) Sonja Hunter; STA Marketing and Promotions Manager Dwayne Bentley and STA Cultural Liaison Officer Nuafesili Matuni Fepulea’i.

In response to inquiries, Aiono said in the past, the State Department previously denied several submissions.

Citizens of Samoa who reside in Hawai’i are pushing for a Hawai’i consul to assist locals in securing documents such as birth certificates and handling of expired passports.

Aiono said the primary reponsibility of the honorary consul would be documents.

The last person to serve Samoa citizens in Hawai’i in an official capacity for the Samoa Government (as honorary consul) was late Pastor Fitu Tafaoa who died in 2003.

Born in American Samoa, Pastor Tafaoa was a U.S. Marine Corps retiree and leader of the Free Will Baptist Church in Waipahu. He served as honorary consul general for Samoa and Tonga.

It could take a month or months for the State Department to approve or deny the Samoa Government's honorary consul submission, said Aiono.

While on O’ahu, Tuilaepa and members of the delegation were to meet with Honolulu City & County Mayor Kirk Caldwell, Hawai’i Gov. Neil Abercrombie and Hawaiian Airlines.

The Prime Minister and his delegation left Hawai'i for Samoa, Friday, June 14.

Check back again with for more from the Samoan Community Conference.

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