Tui Atua Tupua Tamasese Efi

Tui Ātua Tupua Tamasese Tupuola Tufuga Efi (born Olaf "Efi" Tamasese;[2][3] 1 March 1938) is a Samoan political leader and as holder of the maximal lineage Tama-a-'āiga title of Tupua Tamasese, is one of the four paramount chiefs of Samoa. He also holds the royal pāpā title of Tui Atua ('sovereign' of Atua).[4]

Tui Atua Tupua Tamasese Efi
Tupua Tamasese Tupuola Tufuga Efi 00 (cropped).jpg
O le Ao o le Malo of Samoa
In office
20 June 2007 – 21 July 2017
Acting: 11 May 2007 – 20 June 2007
Prime MinisterTuila'epa Sa'ilele Malielegaoi
Preceded byMalietoa Tanumafili II
Succeeded byTuimalealiifano Va'aletoa Sualauvi II
3rd Prime Minister of Western Samoa
In office
18 September 1982 – 31 December 1982
O le Ao O le MaloMalietoa Tanumafili II
Preceded byVa'ai Kolone
Succeeded byTofilau Eti Alesana
In office
24 March 1976 – 13 April 1982
O le Ao O le MaloMalietoa Tanumafili II
Preceded byLealofi IV (acting)
Succeeded byVa'ai Kolone
Other offices
Member of the Council of Deputies
In office
2004 – 20 June 2007
O le Ao o le MaloMalietoa Tanumafili II
Deputy Prime Minister of Western Samoa
In office
30 December 1985 – 8 April 1988
Prime MinisterVa'ai Kolone
Succeeded byTuila'epa Sa'ilele Malielegaoi
1st Minister of Foreign Affairs
In office
18 September 1982 – 31 December 1982
Preceded byVa'ai Kolone
Succeeded byLauofo Meti
In office
24 March 1976 – 13 April 1982
Succeeded byVa'ai Kolone
Member of the Samoan Parliament
In office
26 February 1988 – 2004
Preceded byAfioga Savea Sione
Succeeded byLufilufi Moefaauo
ConstituencyAnoama'a East
In office
7 February 1970 – 26 February 1988
Preceded byTaimalie Meapelo
Succeeded byAlipia Siaosi
ConstituencyAana Alofi No. 2[1]
In office
May 1965 – 25 February 1967
Preceded byMasoe Tulele
Succeeded byVa'ai Kolone
ConstituencyVaisigano No. 1
Personal details
Olaf Efi Tamasese

(1938-03-01) 1 March 1938 (age 83)
Motootua, Western Samoa (now Samoa)
Political partyIndependent
Other political
National Development Party (1988–2003)
Christian Democratic Party (1985–1988)
Spouse(s)Masiofo Filifilia Imo Tamasese
MotherIrene Gustava Noue Nelson
FatherTupua Tamasese Meaʻole
Alma materVictoria University of Wellington

Tui Atua served as the third prime minister of Samoa from 1976 to 1982 and again later in 1982.[5] On 16 June 2007, he was elected as Samoa's Head of State (O le Ao Mamalu o le Malo) from 2007 to 2017.[6] He was sworn in at Samoa's Parliament (Maota Fono) on 20 June 2007.[2]

Personal lifeEdit

Tupua was born on 1 March 1938 at Moto'otua in Samoa.[2] He is the son of Samoa's first co-Head of State, O le Ao Mamalu o le Malo Tupua Tamasese Meaʻole (1905–1963) and Irene Gustava Noue Nelson, of Samoan, Swedish and British descent.[2] He is also the nephew of Samoa's celebrated independence movement leader, Tupua Tamasese Lealofi III and the cousin of the nation's second Prime Minister, Tupua Tamasese Lealofi IV.[7]

Tupua attended primary school at the Marist Brothers School at Mulivai in the Samoan capital of Apia. He continued his education at St. Patrick's College in Silverstream, Wellington, New Zealand.[2] He was also educated at Victoria University of Wellington,[2] in New Zealand's capital city.

Tupua is married to Masiofo Filifilia Imo,[2] who is also known as Masiofo Filifilia Tamasese.[2]

Prime Minister of SamoaEdit

Tupua began his political career in May 1965, when he was elected to the Legislative Assembly from the Vaisigano No. 1 constituency.[8] He served as Samoa's Minister of Works from 1970 until 1972.[2]

Tupua served as Prime Minister for two consecutive terms from 1976 to 1982.[2] He also served as Deputy Prime Minister from 1985 to 1988.[3] It was during his second term as Prime Minister that the Public Service Association went on a general strike in 1981, paralysing the country for several months and paving the way for the opposition Human Rights Protection Party's entry to government in 1982. The party would go on to hold power until 2021.[9]

Tupua became Leader of the Opposition following his Christian Democratic Party's election defeat in 1982.[2] He also headed the Samoan National Development Party. He continued to serve Anoama'a East as MP until 2004[2] when he became one of the two members of Samoa's Council of Deputies along with Tuimaleali'ifano Va'aletoa Sualauvi II.[3] Both Efi and Va'aletoa served as temporary acting heads of state (O le Ao o le Malo) following the death of Malietoa Tanumafili II in May 2007.[3]

Head of State - "O le Ao Mamalu o le Malo."Edit

On 11 May 2007, following the death of Malietoa Tanumafili II, Samoa's head of state since independence in 1962, Tupua became one of the two acting heads of state alongside Tuimaleali'ifano Va'aleto'a Sualauvi II.[3] Tupua was elected Head of state on 16 June 2007. His was the only nomination put forth in Samoa's Fono (parliament) and thus the decision was unanimous. His election was welcomed by many Samoans both in Samoa and abroad.[10] He was sworn into office on 20 June 2007.[11]

He was re-elected in July 2012 by a majority vote of the Legislative Assembly. However, he was not re-appointed as of 20 July 2017 after a controversial move by the Prime Minister which saw a legislative assembly vote of 23 to 15. This was after an initial vote that was taken, which saw the Tama-a-'āiga gain the majority of support from the ruling HRPP caucus. This was seen as but a mere formality and that Tupua would again be elected to office to serve as Head of State. However, owing to decades of tension with the then Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, Tui Atua was instead replaced in a backroom vote by another Tama-a-'āiga, Tuimaleali'ifano Va'aleto'a Sualauvi II.[12]


Tupua held a number of academic positions during and after his political career as an MP and Prime Minister.

Tupua served as an adjunct professor for Te Whare Wananga o Awanuiarangi in New Zealand.[2] He later became an Associate Member of the Matahauariki Institute at Waikato University.[2] He was a PhD examiner at Australian National University in Canberra for Pacific and Samoan history.[2]

Tupua was a resident scholar of the Pacific Studies Centre of the Australian National University and the Macmillan Brown Centre for Pacific Studies at University of Canterbury in New Zealand.[2]

Tupua helped to begin excavations at Samoa's important Pulemelei Mound archaeological site. Samoans, under Tupua Tamasese, carried out a ceremony to honour Thor Heyerdahl for his contributions to Polynesia and the Pulemelei Mound excavations in 2003.[13]

In late 2007 Tupua established an overseas boarding school scholarship to St. Patrick's College, Silverstream, which allows one student per year to live and be schooled in New Zealand for all their college years, beginning in 2008.[14]

Tupua was awarded an honorary doctorate by St Andrew's University in 2019.[15]


Tupua wrote three books, and articles in scholarly journals and publications.[2]


He holds the following titles:

  • Tui Atua pāpā title of Atua. One of the 4 Tafa'ifa (sovereign) titles of Samoa, bestowed by the faleono of Lufilufi.
  • Tupua Tamasese Tama-a-‘Āiga title of Sā Tupua, one of the 4 Tama-a-'āiga titles and 2 royal lineages of Samoa. The title is held and bestowed by its heirs and custodians - Aiga Sā Fenunivao of Falefa and Salani.


Upon Tupua Tamasese Lealofi IV's death in 1983, the question as to a successor was raised with Tupuola Efi staking his claim. However, this would require 'Āiga Sā Fenunuivao agreeing to his appointment. Salani agreed however, Falefa and Lufilufi opposed it. Tupuola Efi proceeded without the unanimous support of Āiga Sā Fenunuivao. On the morning of his installation ceremony at Vaimoso, the nation's public broadcaster, Radio 2AP, read an announcement from the Moeono at the time, Moeono Alai'asā Kolio, notifying the country that 'Āiga Sā Fenunuivao as well as the leaders of Lufilufi - the traditional seat of the Tupua Tamasese title - had not sanctioned Tufuga Efi's ascension to the title, effectively nullifying the candidate's grasp for the title once again.[4]

In 1986, Tupuola Efi sought out Āiga Sā Fenunuivao's blessing. Falefa and Lufilufi eventually agreed to Tupuola Tufuga Efi's ascension to the titles. 'Āiga Sā Fenunuivao joined with 'Āiga o Mavaega and 'Āiga Sā Tuala to jointly conferred the Tupua Tamasese title on Tupuola Efi in an installation ceremony at Vaimoso in November, 1986, jointly registering the title under their family names.[4]

However, the right of joint conferral was later challenged in court. In 1987, the court ruled that the right of conferral of the Tupua Tamasese title belonged exclusively to 'Āiga Sā Fenunuivao of Falefa and Salani, based on the customary criteria of descent, relevant knowledge and skill, residence and service.[16]


See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Samoan election results by constituency 1964–2016
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q Jackson, Cherelle (20 June 2007). "Two men make history in Samoa". New Zealand Herald. The New Zealand Herald. Archived from the original on 20 December 2012. Retrieved 26 June 2007.
  3. ^ a b c d e Sagapolutele, Fili (18 June 2007). "Samoa Head of State Announced". Pacific Magazine. Pacific Magazine. Archived from the original on 14 June 2007. Retrieved 26 June 2007.
  4. ^ a b c Tuimaleali'ifano, Morgan A. (2006). O tama a 'aiga = the politics of succession to Samoa's paramount titles. Institute of Pacific Studies. ISBN 978-982-02-0377-8. OCLC 225140826.
  5. ^ Genealogy
  6. ^ New Zealand Herald (16 June 2007). "New head of state for Samoa". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 16 June 2007.
  7. ^ Wendt, Albert, 1939- (2004). 'Guardians and wards' : a study of the origins, causes, and the first two years of the Mau in Western Samoa. New Zealand Electronic Text Centre. OCLC 173284174.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  8. ^ Western Samoa's Parliament under fire Pacific Islands Monthly, July 1966, p13
  9. ^ "Samoan Court Clears The Way For The Nation's 1st Female Prime Minister". NPR. 23 July 2021. Retrieved 11 September 2021.
  10. ^ Niu FM. "Samoans in NZ welcome Tupua Tamasese as new head of state". Archived from the original on 28 June 2007. Retrieved 20 June 2007.
  11. ^ Radio New Zealand. "Samoa swears in new head of state". Retrieved 20 June 2007.
  12. ^ Samoa’s parliament reappoints Tui Atua as head of state Radio New Zealand, 19 July 2012
  13. ^ "Kontiki". Archived from the original on 9 September 2007. Retrieved 26 June 2007.
  14. ^ "Boarding Scholarships". St Patrick's College.
  15. ^ Lesa, Mata'afa Keni (28 June 2019). "Tui Atua dedicates Doctor of Letters from University of St. Andrews to forebears". Samoa Observer. Retrieved 18 August 2020.
  16. ^ LC2440, 29 March 1965. The court ruled that the pule of the Tupua vested in the family of Sā Fenunuivao of Falefā and Salani.
Political offices
Preceded by
Prime Minister of Western Samoa
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Prime Minister of Western Samoa
Succeeded by
Preceded by
O le Ao o le Malo of Samoa
Succeeded by
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Tupua Tamasese