Malietoa Tanumafili II (born January 04, 1913 in Samoa – died May 11, 2007) was the former Head of State of Samoa and eldest son and third child of Malietoa Tanumafili I and Momoe Lupeuluiva Meleisea. Malietoa’s wife, Masiofo Lili Tunu passed away in 1986. They are survived by two sons and two daughters.
He succeeded to the paramount title Malietoa in 1940 and was appointed a Fautua or advisor to the New Zealand Governor. At the time of his death, Malietoa Tanumafili II was the oldest national leader in the world and the third longest reigning living monarch, after Thailand’s King Bhumibol Adulyadej and Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II.
He was educated in Samoa at Le ifi ifi School and in New Zealand at St Stephens College and Wesley College in Pukekohe.
New Zealand had governed Samoa with mixed success since the early 1920s but prominent Samoan leaders such as Malietoa helped pave the way for independence. In 1959 he became joint Chairman of the Working Committee on Independence and constitutional convention.
In 1962 after years of negotiations with the United Nations and the New Zealand Administration, Samoa became an independent state and Malietoa became joint head of state O le Ao o le Malo with Tupua Tamasese Mea’ole .
However, almost a year later, Tupua Tamasese Mea’ole died and Malietoa became the sole head of state for life – a role he performed at every state occasion with dignity and humility.
Malietoa traveled widely having attended the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles and made official state visits to China, South Korea, United Kingdom and was among the foreign dignitaries who attended the funeral service of Japanese Emperor Hirohito in 1989. Closer to home, he regularly attended the birthday celebrations of his good friend the late King of Tonga, Taufa’ahau Tupou the fourth.
In 1977, Queen Elizabeth II visited Samoa for a day and presented King Malietoa with the Collar Badge and Star of the G.C.M.G., the Knight Grand Cross of the Most Distinguished Order of St. Michael and St. George. Also bestowed on Malietoa was the title of Honorary Commander of the Order of the British Empire during his life.
A follower of the Baha’i Faith later in life, Malietoa dedicated the Baha’i House of Worship in Tiapapata, Samoa in 1984.
A keen sportsman in his youth, he played rugby and cricket and was known as a good boxer. Malietoa continued his love of sport well into his later years.
Some of the messages from World Leaders on the passing of King Malietoa Tanumafili II:
I was shocked and saddened to learn of the passing away of His Highness, Malietoa Tanumafili II, Head of State of the Independent State of Samoa. On behalf of the Government and people of the People’s Republic of China, and in my own name, I wish to convey our deepest sympathy and sincerest condolences to the Government and people of Samoa, and to the bereaved family of His Highness.
His Highness was a statesman of noble character and high prestige who made outstanding contributions to the independence and development of Samoa. As Head of State of Samoa, he was not only friendly to China but was also committed to maintaining and promoting the cordial and cooperative relations between Samoa and China, which the Chinese people will never forget.
I hope and believe that the cause of friendship initiated by His Highness will be continuously consolidated and strengthened with joint efforts by both the Samoan and Chinese Governments.
The People’s Republic of China
“I have learned with great sadness of the death of His Highness Malietoa Tanumafili II, I recall with pleasure my visit to Samoa, with Prince Philip, in 1977. I could see then the great affection and respect which the people of Samoa felt for him, earned by a long record of service to his nation. His Highness’s passing will be mourned widely throughout the Commonwealth.
“Prince Philip joins me in sending our condolences to the Samoan people.”
Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II
“On behalf of the American people, I extend my deepest condolences to you and the people of Samoa on the death of His Highness Malietoa Tanumafili II. “For forty-five years, Malietoa promoted democracy, prosperity, and peace in his country and in the Pacific, values that we in the United States also share. Malietoa fostered a close relationship between our countries and peoples, especially through his contact with Amercian Samoa. His regular visits to American Samoa for the annual Flag Day festivities along with his sincerity, goodwill, and humility will be greatly missed.
“As you and the people of Samoa mourn the loss of His Highess Malietoa Tanumafili II, please know that the people of the United States stand at your side.”
George W. Bush
United States of America
“Being one of your Nation’s most prominent leaders, who founded the Independent Sovereign State of Samoa, His Highness became the sure beam of National Unity and Harmony for your people and Nation, since assuming Office as Head of State.
“I, and the people of Solomon Islands, join with you, the Government and the people of Samoa, in conveying our sincerest condolences, as you mourn the death of one of our most distinguished Regional Leaders of the Pacific Region.
“May the Soul of His Highness, Rest Eternal with God our Creator.”
Sir Nathaniel Rahumaea Waena
On behalf of the people of the Republic of Palau, I write to express our most sincere condolences at the loss of His Highness Malietoa Tanumafili II. Our nation celebrates the life and mourns the death of this esteemed Pacific leader.
Over his 45 years of rule, Malietoa Tanumafili II exemplified what a Head of State should be. Strong yet sensible, skilled yet humble, he was guided solelyby his commitments to the well-being of the Samoan people and the endurance of the Samoan nation. During the critical years as Samoa moved from foreign rule to independence, it was the able guidance of Malietoa Tanumafili II that ensured a peaceful and successful transition. And it was that same leadership that helped Samoa modernize without sacrificing its sacred traditions. All leaders, especially those in the Pacific Islands, can learn from the example set by Malietoa Tanumafili II.
During this difficult time, please be assured that the people of Palau share both the Samoan people’s sadness for this great loss as well their faith in the continued properity of the Samoan nation.
Tommy E. Remengesau, Jr
Republic of Palau
“I extend sincere condolences on behalf of myself, the Prime Minister, the Government and the people of Vanuatu to Your Excellency, the Government and the people of Samoa on the passing of the esteemed Head of State His Highness Malietoa Tanumafili II.
“We share the loss of His Highness, and remember him and the elder pioneer statesman of the Samoan nation and a visionary of today’s Pacific family.
“We pray for God’s guidance and blessing on Samoa.”
Kalkot Matasekelekele MAULILIU
On behalf of King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden, I hereby convey this message of condolences for the great loss of His Highness, the Head of State, Susuga Malietoa Tanumafili II
Head of Delegation
It is with deep sadness that we learnt of the passing away of His Highness, Malietoa Tanumafili II, Head of State of the Independent State of Samoa. His Highness as the longest serving Head of State throughout the Pacific and afar was a humble person and well liked by all who knew him in person and even for those who only heard of him. He was the father of all Samoans and I for one having spent some memorable moments with him will miss him. The passing away of His Highness will be an enormous loss to the people of Samoa and the Pacific.
On behalf of the people of Tokelau I wish to extend to you Sir, our deepest sympathy and condolences for this great loss.
May His Highness rest in peace in our Heavenly Father’s loving hands.
The United Nations family is deeply saddened by the passing away of the Head of State, His Highness Malietoa Tanumafili II. On behalf of the United Nations Secretary General, all UN Agencies, and on behalf of the entire United Nations family in the Pacific, I would like to extend our deepest sympathy and sincere condolences to the Council of Deputies, the Government of Samoa, His Highness’ family and especially to the people of Samoa for their irreparable loss.
I had the honour and privilege of meeting His Highness on two occasions: at the 95th birthday celebration and at the recent ANZAC Day commemoration. Judging by his humble and gentle ways, it is easy to see why Samoa is a country of peace and tranquility, forged together by its rich culture of mutual respect and reciprocity as embodied in the faa-samoa.
His Highness represented ideals of peace, respect for others, service and leadership by example that reflect the principles and values that the s192 United Nations member states seek to promote and achieve for their countries and citizens. May his life of service continue to inspire and touch the lives of generations of Samoans in the years to come.
May his soul rest in peace, and may the Good Lord’s comfort be with you, your Cabinet, the Parliament, his family and the people of Samoa in this time of grief and sorrow.
Source – Samoa Head Of State Website