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Source: University of Auckland

Waipapa Taumata Rau, University of Auckland’s Pro Vice-Chancellor (Pacific) Professor Jemaima Tiatia-Siau has paid tribute to much loved educator and Sāmoan leader Melegalenu’u To’alepaiali’i Ah Sam (MNZM).

The acting Principal of Māngere College, Principal Ah Sam passed away earlier this week, she was also lead coordinator for the Polyfest Sāmoan stage for more than 30 years, and was well known by the thousands of youth who have performed at the festival over the past decades.
A dear friend of the University, she was a frequent visitor to the Fale Pasifika and Waipapa Marae for community engagements in her roles as a Principal and her long standing relationship with the University as a long-time sponsor of the Sāmoan Stage.

The 75 year-old also taught and mentored a number of University students and staff, Principal Ah Sam is also the mother of professional teaching fellow in Mathematics Josephina Ah Sam-Tamatoa.
Pro Vice-Chancellor (Pacific) Professor Jemaima Tiatia-Siau paid tribute to the Pacific leader known affectionately as the ‘Queen of Māngere’ stating Melegalenu’u To’alepaiali’i Ah Sam was irreplaceable in every way imaginable.
“Melegalenu’u To’alepaiali’i Ah Sam (MNZM) – irreplaceable in every way imaginable.
A woman of stature, a fighter for good, a defender of Gagana Sāmoa (Sāmoan language), a holder of traditions and sacred knowledge, one of Oceania’s prolific educators, and a heart and love for our youth – our future. A Sāmoan proverb comes to mind that embodies the person she was – Tautua nei mo se manuia taeao (serve now, for a better tomorrow).
Our Waipapa Taumata Rau family have benefited from her wisdom, her generosity, and her alofa for generations to come.
Mālo le tautua matavela, lau afioga le masiofo o Magele (Thank you for your commitment to serve, the Queen of Mangere).”
A contingency from the Office of the Pro Vice-Chancellor Pacific visited the Ah Sam family home to pay their respects and acknowledge the enormous contribution made.
In 2022, Ah Sam was recognised as a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to Pacific language education. Ah Sam was also a deacon of the EFKS New Vision Church and served as the treasurer for many years.
Several memorial events have been held this week, ahead of Ah Sam being flown home to Sāmoa at the weekend with her family. A final service will be held on Monday 22 April at EFKS Vaimoso, before burial at the nearby family cemetery.