Tupua Tamasese Lealofi III (born May 04, 1901 - died December 29, 1929) was a prominent leader in Samoa’s pro-independent Mau movement during the 1920’s. The Mau’s motto for the movement was ‘Samoa Mo Samoa‘ (Samoa for Samoa).
Lealofi III, held the title ‘Tupua Tamasese’ which is one of four paramount titles (Malietoa, Mata’afa and Tu’imaleali’ifano being the other three), in Samoa’s chiefly system (fa’amatai), from 1901-1929.
Lealofi III’s resting place, is made up of a black tombstone that can be found in the village of Lepea.
“We are moved by love, but never driven by intimidation” - Samoan Proverb
The Mau Movement: After one of the leaders of the Mau movement, Taisi Olaf Frederick Nelson, was exiled from Samoa, Tupua Tamasese Lealofi III took over Nelson’s role and became the prominent figure to lead the Mau movement.
Under Lealofi III’s time of leadership, the Mau continued it’s sentiment of civil disobedience to oppose the New Zealand administration by boycotting imported products, refusing to pay taxes and forming their own police force, picketing stores in Apia to prevent the payment of customs to the authorities. Village committees established by the administration ceased to meet and government officials were ignored when they went on tour. Births and deaths went unregistered. Coconuts went unharvested, and the banana plantations were neglected.
In 1929, New Zealand had appointed a new Administrator to Samoa – Stephen Allen, who under his administration to Samoa, targeted leaders of the Mau movement. Lealofi III was arrested and served six months imprisonment for non-payment of taxes.
Black Saturday: On December 28, 1929, as people of the Mau movement and its supporters took to the streets and assembled together in what was supposed to be a peaceful Mau movement demonstration, it was disrupted with the throwing of stones and New Zealand military police drawing gun-fire.
Thereafter the massacre had occurred, it was now known as ‘Black Saturday’. The New Zealand military police had wounded many and killed several people, along with paramount Chief – Tupua Tamasese Lealofi III, who was critically injured from a gun-shot to the back as he turned to face the demonstrators calling upon and pleaing for a continued peaceful demonstration from his followers. As Lealofi III lay dying, he made a final plea to his followers:
My blood has been spilt for Samoa. I am proud to give it. Do not dream of avenging it, as it was spilt in peace. If I die, peace must be maintained at any price
The Mau movement eventually led to Samoa’s independence in 1962.