Fiame Mata'afa Faumuina Mulinu'u II

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Fiame Mata'afa Faumuina Mulinu'u II
2nd Prime Minister of Samoa
In office
1 October 1959 – 25 February 1970
Preceded byAlbert Barnes Steinberger
Succeeded byTupua Tamasese Lealofi IV
In office
20 March 1973 – 20 May 1975
Preceded byTupua Tamasese Lealofi IV
Succeeded byTupua Tamasese Lealofi IV
Personal details
Born5 August 1921
Died20 May 1975 (aged 53)
Spouse(s)Laulu Fetauimalemau Mata'afa
OccupationParamount chief & former prime minister of Samoa

Fiame Mata'afa Faumuina Mulinu'u II, CBE (5 August 1921 – 20 May 1975) was a paramount chief and the second Prime Minister of Samoa. He was Prime Minister from 1 October 1959 until February 1970 and again from March 1973 until his death in 1975, he was bestowed the paramount matai chief title of Mata'afa in 1948, following the death of his father, Mata'afa Faumuina Fiame Mulinu'u I, a leader of Samoa's pro-independent Mau movement.

In 1957, he entered national politics in the general election from the electoral constituency of Lotofaga in the Atua district at the east end of Upolu island.

Paramount Chief & Titles[edit]

Residence in Lepea village, home of his matai chief title Faumuina.

Mulinu'u II (first name) held a number of important chief titles in Samoa, his highest title was Mata'afa which made him one of the four most important Paramount Chiefs in the country. The title Mata'afa is part of the Tama-a-Aiga ('Sons of the Families')[1] a quartet of chief titles, which were of national Paramount rank at the time; the other three Tama-a-Aiga Paramount Chief titles are Malietoa, Tupua and Tuimaleali'ifano.

His other names Fiame and Faumuina are also individual chief titles. As one individual can hold a number of different chief titles in Samoa, the exact order of an individual's 'names' can sometimes change. For example, he is referred to as Mata'afa Faumuina Fiame Mulinu'u II in Democracy and custom in Sāmoa: an uneasy alliance by Asofou Soʻo.[2] Individual chief titles (i.e. Mata'afa, Fiame, Faumuina) are designated by consensus of extended families and kinship ties under Samoa's traditional 'matai' system, and in relation to a particular village or political district.[3] A 'matai' title is collectively 'owned' by families through blood ties and kinship;[4] the bestowal of a chief title upon an individual is done by traditional ceremony and ritual, marking the support and approval of an entire extended family and kin group for that person to take on the responsibilities of a leader of their family.[5] Only 'matai,' those with chief titles can become a member of parliament in Samoan politics; this still exists today.

The high ranking chief titles of Fiame Mata'afa Faumuina Mulinu'u II played an important part in his entrance into parliament on the cusp of Samoa's political independence where a European political system would exist alongside Samoa's traditional socio-political structures.

Apart from the paramount chief title Mata'afa, he was also a descendant from another high ranking Tama-a-Aiga title, Malietoa, adding weight to his selection as the country's first prime minister. Mata'afa Iosefo, a previous holder of the paramount chiefly title had played a key role in the rivalry for the kingship of Samoa during the country's colonial era.

The word 'chief' in the Samoan language is 'matai' and chief names come first in Samoan naming conventions. Matai titles in Samoa can be bestowed upon women or men; the wives of the Tama-a-Aiga are referred to with the cultural honorific Masiofo.[6]

Personal life[edit]

Fiame Mata'afa Faumuina Mulinu'u II was the son of Paramount Chief Mata'afa Faumuina Fiame Mulinu'u I (died 1948) who had great influence with the colonial administration and a president of the Mau movement.

Fiame Mata'afa Faumuina Mulinu'u II was educated at the Marist Brothers school in Apia, he married Laulu Fetauimalemau Mata'afa, a teacher educated in New Zealand and who later became Samoa's High Commissioner (1993–1997) to New Zealand.[7] After their marriage, Laulu was referred to as Masiofo. On his death in 1975, his wife ran for his vacant seat in the Lotofaga Electoral Constituency, she won and entered parliament, under the chief title of Laulu, also bestowed from Lotofaga, becoming only the second woman in Samoa to become a member of parliament. His daughter Fiame Naomi Mata'afa now holds the high chief of title 'Fiame and has been a member of parliament for many years, holding senior positions on Cabinet.


Fiame Mata'afa Mulinu'u II was one of the framers of the Constitution of Samoa and held a pivotal leadership role in Samoa's transition from colonial rule to political independence in 1962, in his dual roles as Prime Minister as well as a high ranked paramount chief, he was also part of the political family 'Aiga Sa Levalasi.'[8]

He entered parliament in the 1957 general election under his title Fiame from the electoral constituency of Lotofaga. Afterwards, in the same year, he became Minister of Agriculture in the new Legislative Assembly of Samoa.[9] In October 1959, he was elected by the legislative assembly as the first Prime Minister of Samoa, he was elected again at the general election in 1961.

At the time, "a substantial majority of members of the working committee on self-government, favoured 'a full-blooded' Samoan to be the country's first prime minister."[10]

In 1960, he travelled to New York where he addressed the 4th Committee of the General Assembly. In the same year, he went to Buckingham Palace in the United Kingdom for his investiture as Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire.[11]

At the formal independence ceremony on 1 January 1962 when Samoa officially gained political independence, Fiame Mata'afa Mulinu'u II lowered the New Zealand flag.[12] At the 1964 and 1967 general elections, he was returned as Prime Minister, unopposed.

Anti-nuclear protest to France[edit]

In 1963, the Prime Minister issued a protest to France over nuclear tests in Tahiti.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ [1] Tradition versus democracy in the South Pacific: Fiji, Tonga, and Western Samoa by Stephanie Lawson, p. 146
  2. ^ [2]
  3. ^ "Samoan PM defends matai-only parliament", Radio Australia, 15 February 2012
  4. ^ [3], Lagaga: a short history of Western Samoa by Malama Meleisea, Penelope Schoeffel Meleisea, p. 27
  5. ^ [4], Elite communication in Samoa: a study of leadership by Marie Margaret Keesing, p. 39
  6. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 26 March 2009. Retrieved 11 October 2009. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  7. ^ "Samoa weeps at the death of a great woman chief and leader", Luamanuvao Laban, 23 November 2007
  8. ^ [5] O tama a ʻāiga: the politics of succession to Sāmoa's paramount titles by Morgan A. Tuimalealiʻifano, p. 43
  9. ^ [6] The Pacific Islands: an encyclopedia By Brij V. Lal, Kate Fortune p.285
  10. ^ [7] Democracy and custom in Sāmoa: an uneasy alliance by Asofou Soʻo
  11. ^ [8] Lagaga: a short history of Western Samoa By Malama Meleisea, Penelope Schoeffel Meleisea, p.212
  12. ^ [9] ABC Radio Australia interview with Masiofo Laulu Fetaui Mataafa

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Position created
Prime Minister of Samoa
Succeeded by
Tupua Tamasese Lealofi IV
Preceded by
Tupua Tamasese Lealofi IV
Prime Minister of Samoa
Succeeded by
Tupua Tamasese Lealofi IV