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Object: Lauaki Namulau’ulu Mamoe

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Title Lauaki Namulau’ulu Mamoe
Production Andrew, Thomas (photographer), circa 1909, Samoa
Medium summary black and white photograph, platinum print
Materials platinum, paper
Classification platinum prints, black-and-white prints, studio portraits
Technique black-and-white photography, platinum process
Registration number O.001123/01

Lauaki Namulau`ulu Mamoe (18??-1915) was a leading tulafale (orator chief) from Safotulafai, the political centre of the Fa`asaleleaga district on Savai`i, Samoa. In the late nineteenth century, Namulau`ulu and Tuilagi were two of the most important orator titles, which on occasion could speak for the whole of Savai`i (Davidson 1970:268).Lauaki was known throughout Samoa for "his mastery of history and legend, for his talents as a speaker and political negotiator, and for his prowess in war."(Davidson 1970:267)

Lauaki went on to be the first leader of an important political movement called the Mau of Pule, the Opinion of Pule. The term "Pule" was the collective name given to a number of influential orator groups on Savai`i. The tulafale and tulafale ali`i of Pule spoke for the principal nu`u and district of Savai`i as a whole and served it's ranking ali`i (Meleisea 1987:15).The aim of the Mau of Pule was to challenge German rule and try to secure for Samoans more involvement in their own affairs of government. Under Lauaki's leadership the movement was initially successful, but struggled due to factionalism.

In 1909, and because of his resistance to the colonial authority, the German Colonial Governor at the time took Lauaki into custody. Later Lauaki along with nine other chiefs and their families were exiled to Saipan in the Mariana Islands as punishment for refusing to give up their opposition. Six years later in 1915, the New Zealand government sent a ship to bring Lauaki and his supporters home. But Lauaki died during the return voyage from dysentery.

Writing in 1970, J.W. Davidson noted that Lauaki Namulau`ulu Mamoe was still well remembered with respect. "In Saipan, where the exiles maintained the conventions of their homeland in a village they built near Tanapag, the commanding figure of their leader has not yet been forgotten. In Samoa, old men recall the splendours of his oratory."

References

Davidson, J.W. 'Lauaki Namulau`ulu Mamoe, a traditionalist in Samoan Politics', in Davidson,J.W., and Scarr, D.A., (ed) Pacific Island Portraits, pp.267-299.Australian National University Press. Canberra, 1970. page 268

Davidson, J.W., page 267

Meleisea, M., The Making of Modern Samoa. Institute for Pacific Studies of the University of the South Pacific.Suva, 1987. page 15

Source: Mallon, S., Samoan Art and Artists. O measina a Samoa. Craig Potton Publishing: Nelson and University of Hawaii Press: Honolulu 2002

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