Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II presenting our first Pro-Chancellor, the late Masiofo La`ulu Fetauimalemau Mata`afa of Samoa with the Royal Charter establishing USP as a university. This picture was taken in 1970.
It is with deep regret that we announce the passing away on 19 November 2007 of USP's first Pro-Chancellor, Masiofo La`ulu Fetauimalemau Mata`afa of Samoa. Mrs Mata’afa (as she was known to many staff and students of the USP during the 1970s) was the Pro-Chancellor and Chair of the USP Council from 1970 until 1976.
It was during her term of service to the University that the foundation for USP's academic and professional programmes was laid and the roles of different parts of the institution defined.
Mrs Mata’afa brought to the USP Council valuable professional and community knowledge and experience, the result of a successful career as a school teacher (primary and secondary), religious, community and regional leader. At the time of her appointment as Pro-Chancellor, she was the President of the Western Samoan National Council of Women and the President of the Red Cross in Western Samoa, the Chairperson of the Pacific Conference of Churches, President of the Pacific Fellowship of Girls’ Brigade, and a member of the Western Samoa Parliament. After she left her USP post, she went on to become the General Secretary of the Western Samoan Council of Women Inc., and served from 1984-88 as the International Secretary of the Pan Pacific and South East Asia Women’s Association (PPSEAWA), an organisation of which she was a life member. Upon leaving her parliamentary work, Mrs. Mata’afa continued to work as diplomat serving as the Samoa Consul-General in Auckland from 1989-1992, during which she was Dean of the Auckland Consular Corps from 1991-1992. In 1993 she served as the Samoa High Commissioner in Wellington, a post she held until 1997.
Mrs. Mata’afa had a distinguished career as an educator, community worker, politician, and diplomat both in her own country Samoa as well as in the region generally. She was a strong advocate for improved access to higher education particularly for women, and, together with other Pacific women, helped lay strong foundations for many active and successful women’s organisations both in Samoa and in the region.
Samoa awarded her the Order of Tiafau in recognition of her leading role in the development of women both in Samoa and the Pacific. The Victoria University of Wellington awarded her the honorary degree of L.L.D for outstanding services to education in the Pacific as well as outstanding services on behalf of and for women. USP also awarded her our first Honorary Doctorate of Laws in 2005.
Mrs Mata’afa was also the widow of Mata’afa Fiame Faumuina Mulinu’u II, C.B.E., the first Prime Minister of the independent state of then Western Samoa. She is survived by her daughter, the Hon Fiame Salaevalu Naomi Mata’afa, the University’s current Pro-Chancellor and Chair of Council.
As a mark of respect, flags on all USP campuses will be flown at half-mast on Friday 23 November.