Olaf Frederick Nelson (born 24 February, 1883, Safune, Samoa – died February 28, 1944) was was a Planter, Business man and one of the Nationalist members of the Mau Movement along with Tupua Tamasese Lealofi III.
Nelson was an outspoken critic the New Zealand colonial administration and an effective leader of the Mau Movement in the 1920’s. His father was a Swedish-born trader and his mother was Samoan. The matai (chief title) Taisi, an ancestral name which he would later hold, originated from his mother’s family link to the Sa Tupua lineage.
Nelson was fluent in Samoan, English and German.
The movement was a group that wanted Independent rule for Samoa from the governing German and later New Zealand authorities.
Working for his Swedish father, Nelson learned the ropes of the copra business and by the time he was 35, he was well on his way to becoming one of the richest men in Samoa as a Merchant trader.
Unhappy with the political situation on the Island, Nelson founded a newspaper ‘The Samoa Guardian’, and started to lobby for peaceful change, which eventually led him to take the Mau movement’s case to the League of Nations in Geneva.
New Zealand’s governing authorities at the time were not happy with Nelson, and so after branding him as being unscrupulous and a trouble-maker, it resulted in him being imprisoned and then exiled from Samoa to New Zealand from 1928 to 1933.
It wasn’t until after the Labour party won New Zealand’s 1935 General Election, that Nelson was allowed to return to Samoa where he helped in the signing of the co-operation agreement between the Samoan leaders and the New Zealand administration.
Finally in 1962, Samoa was granted Independence, sadly, something Nelson never lived to see as he had died eighteen years earlier in 1944.
Today, Nelson would have been proud to have known that after years of fighting against New Zealand’s administration to rule over Samoa – his grandson, Tuiatua Tupua Tamasese Ta’isi Tufuga Tupuola Efi, would become the third Prime Minister of Western Samoa from 1976-1982 and then Samoa’s Head of State (O le Ao o le Malo o Samoa) in 2007.