Tapumanaia & Lasela
Their Life Of Service To The People, Church and Island Community
Tapumanaia and Lasela lived a life dedicated for service in the church and the Funafuti island community sectors. They were catalysts of change within the whole island of Funafuti primarily and the wider Tuvalu communities as well. Both were devout Christians and lived an exemplary lives wherever they lived. They were both talented and a capable couple in various fields and trades. Tapumanaia was a very talented musician, composer and a renowned singer within the church, Funafuti and wider Tuvalu community. He was responsible for the formal establishment of a proper church choir on Funafuti and taught many hymns which are still sung in church today. Many of the “salamo” (psalms) he composed and taught are amongst the very popular hymns sung by the Funafuti choir even today.
Not only was Tapumanaia talented in church gospel songs but he was also very creative in composing contemporary music and songs, even the traditional dancing chants or “fatele” His musical talents greatly influenced his children to the extent that when he passed away his sons took over the leadership role in the church and in the Funafuti community for a long time. Other younger leaders were aspired to the leadership role at a much later time and this has been a blessing to the church and island community alike.
Tapumanaia was a natural charismatic leader with great influence. He was an eloquent speaker with rich and deep knowledge of the traditional protocols and customary practices of the day. He was known to be a proactive, innovative and creative leader with great visions in the community. His strategic thinking and vision on the music scene actually changed and shaped the rhythm and beat of the Funafuti “fatele” to a large extent.
Lasela on the other hand had her own talents and areas of expertise involving women and family life. She was an early champion in establishing and encouraging the formation of Sunday Schools within the church curriculum. She did not wait for people to come forward to teach the children but she took the initiative and became a teacher herself. She was a very able teacher to young children and the children loved her very much. Not only was she a teacher to the young children but she was also a trainer of trainers for young mothers. She trained many of the young mothers to be teachers in the Sunday School and she continued to teach even to the age of 90 years. She actually left a legacy for her grand children who are now mothers in their own rights and are also taking up the teaching challenge in the Sunday School system.
TAPUMANAIA AND LASELA: WHO ARE THEY? WHERE DID THEY COME FROM?
Tapumanaia Mamani hailed from Auala, Savaii in Western Samoa. He was a paramount chief or high chief of his village where he was bestowed the chiefly title of Tapumanaia and held it until his death in 1960. He was succeeded by his son Tapumanaia Livi. This family title was later bestowed on Tapumanaia Falefaea when his older brother passed away in 1992. Tapumanaia Mamani’s father Tapumanaia Kitiona was the first Samoan missionary to the Ellice islands (Tuvalu) in 1865. After he graduated from Malua College he accepted the call to go and serve as a pastor on the island of Niutao in 1865. It is obvious that Tapumanaia Mamani spent his early childhood days in Tuvalu when his father was serving as a missionary pastor for the LMS church on Niutao island.
Years later, Tapumanaia Mamani returned to the Ellice islands (Tuvalu) where he married Lasela Tulafono in 1918. These two good people brought 12 biological children to this world plus three adopted children making a total of 15 children raised by them. These siblings were: Malo, Tapu, Falefaea, Vaisamoa, Pepetua, Vine, Eleni, Senitelela, Fuatino, Ueli, Folau, Senitima and Taumaia. From these siblings came the bigger army of the Tapula at the estimated figure of about 300 grand children to Tapumanaia Mamani and Lasela Tapu. These are generally known as the “napa tasi” of the Tapula. It is estimated that there are about 500 to 600 great grandchildren being siblings of the “napa tasi”.
Lasela Tulafono hailed from Funafuti and Nanumea. She was the daughter of Tulafono (Funafuti) and Eleni (Nanumea). Lasela came from a very big family in Tuvalu. Not only her father’s family on Funafuti was big but her mother’s family on Nanumea was fairly big as well. So it was no surprise she was able to bring many children to their immediate family from which most of us come. According to history, Lasela’s father (Tulafono) succeeded Elia as the Aliki of Funafuti when the later passed away in (1900). Hence she actually had a connection to the chiefly echelon herself from her father.