Tupua Tamasese Lealofi III

Tupua Tamasese Lealofi III

Tupua Tamasese Lealofi-o-a’ana III


Tupua Tamasese Lealofi III became a prominent figure to take over the leadership role for the Mau movement after once of its earlier leaders had been exiled. 

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.

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.

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 demonstration, it was disrupted with the throwing of stones from the locals and the NZ military police drawing gun-fire, wounding many and killing several people including Tupua Tamasese Lealofi III. He was critically injured from a gun-shot to the back as he turned to face the demonstrators calling for continued peaceful demonstrations 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.

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