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Samoans prep for festival


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POSTED: Saturday, August 01, 2009

Despite a lack of financial support from American Samoa's government, Samoa Heritage Week in Hawaii will go on as planned from tomorrow through next Saturday, planning committee members say.

America Samoa's government delayed the approval of $200,000 for the event, and officials from America Samoa's Hawaii office would not comment on where the funds are coming from.

Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann and American Samoa Gov. Togiola Tulafono planned the festival to celebrate positive stories of Samoans in Hawaii, in response to negative articles involving Samoans that Tulafono saw while visiting the state in April.

“;Too often Samoans receive bad publicity in the media as underachieving troublemakers,”; Tulafono said in a news release.

Gus Hannemann, chairman of the planning committee, said one of the purposes of the week is to “;accentuate our own culture, but we also need to learn about adjusting to the culture here ... and hopefully we can get the general public here to see our culture in its true form.”; He added that the celebration is for people of all ethnicities, not just Samoans.

The weeklong festival will include sport tournaments, a beauty pageant, cultural games, a concert, a military ball and a parade, making this Samoan Heritage Week like none other before, according to Easter Asi, one of the committee members for the event.

“;It's a small, positive step forward to start up a regular event that will bring Samoans together and provide motivation to help our own people in Hawaii,”; said Asi.

The festival kicks off tomorrow with a church service featuring all religions. The committee invited all Hawaii churches because religion is such an important aspect in Samoan culture, Asi said.

“;It'll probably be a historic service because I don't think the community has gotten that many churches together from all the different religions,”; she said.

Another highlight of the week will be a free concert by Matt Catingub and other Samoan artists Wednesday at the Blaisdell Concert Hall. Catingub is the conductor of the Honolulu Symphony Pops season and son of Mavis Rivers, a jazz vocalist who was known as “;Polynesia's First Lady of Song.”; In April 2007, Catingub was the final person bestowed the title of Samoan “;high chief,”; or “;laauli,”; by King Malietoa Tanumafili II, calling it one of his proudest life achievements on his Web site.

In the first of its kind in Hawaii, the Samoan Joint Services Military Ball will be held Friday at Dole Cannery Ballrooms. The program will include an all-Samoan joint color guard, recognition for wounded warriors and 17 fallen soldiers from American Samoa, and honoring the last surviving Fita Fita guard, Tusi Tavui, who resides in Mililani. The Fita Fita guards were part of the first military unit created in American Samoa in 1904. The festival will conclude with a parade at Keehi Lagoon next Saturday and an award ceremony for accomplished Samoans in Hawaii.

CELEBRATION

Samoa Heritage Week events will be held at Keehi Lagoon Beach Park unless stated otherwise:

» Tomorrow: Samoan Church Service, Blaisdell Concert Hall, 4-8 p.m.

» Monday: Miss Siva Samoa pageant and oratory competition, 6 p.m.

» Wednesday: Golf tournament, Navy Marine golf course, 8 a.m. Concert by Matt Catingub and local Samoan artists, Blaisdell Concert Hall, 6-10 p.m.

» Friday: Samoan Joint Services Military Ball, Dole Cannery Ballrooms, 5 p.m.

» Next Saturday: Samoan Heritage Week Final Parade and Award Ceremony, 9 a.m.- 1 p.m. Monday-Friday: cricket, volleyball and women's rugby tournament, 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Cultural workshops, 9 a.m. Cultural games and competitions, 4-6 p.m. Entertainment from church youth groups and Samoan comedians, 6-9 p.m. (on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday).