Tufele Liamatua

Tufele Liamatua
2nd Lieutenant Governor of American Samoa
In office
January 3, 1978  January 3, 1985
Governor Peter Tali Coleman
Preceded by Office Created - 1st elected Lt. Governor
Succeeded by Eni Faleomavaega
Personal details
Born September 1940
Died October 13, 2011 (aged 71)
Honolulu, Hawaii
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Tofiga Tufele[1]

Tufele Faatoia Liamatua, also spelled Tufele Li'amatua, (September 1940 – October 13, 2011) was an American Samoan politician, businessman and paramount chief.[2] He served as the first elected Lieutenant Governor of American Samoa under former Governor Peter Tali Coleman from 1978 to 1985.[3]

The chiefly title of Tufele before Liamatua's name was bestowed on him by the village of Fitiuta in the Manu'a Islands.[1][4] He was a paramount chief.[1]


Personal life

Tufele Liamatua was born in American Samoa. His 70th birthday gala was held on Saturday, September 4, 2010, at the Gov. H. Lee Auditorium.[5] His wife, Tofiga, is a longtime nurse at LBJ Medical Center.[1]

Lieutenant Governor

U.S. Rep. Phillip Burton of California introduced a Bill on June 10, 1976, in the U.S. House of Representatives to allow for the popular election of the Governor and Lt. Governor, rather than appointment by the Interior Secretary.[6] The Bill passed the House by a 377–1 majority.[6] American Samoa Governor Hyrum Rex Lee approved Public Law 15-23 on May 16, 1977, which called on the U.S. Secretary of the Interior to allow the direct election of the Governor and Lt. Governor.[6] On September 13, 1977, the Department of the Interior issued Order No. 3009 which provided a "Provision for Elected Governor and Lieutenant Governor, and Creation of Office of Government Comptroller".[6] This paved the way for American Samoa's first popular gubernatorial election in November 1977.

Peter Tali Coleman, who had previously served as appointed Governor during the 1950s, and his running mate, Tufele Liamatua, won the 1977 gubernatorial election on November 1, 1977, becoming the first directly elected Governor and Lt. Governor of American Samoa, respectively.[6] Liamatua was inaugurated as Lieutenant Governor of American Samoa on January 3, 1978.[7] Coleman and Liamatua successfully campaigned for a second full term in office in the 1980 gubernatorial election. Liamatua left office on January 3, 1985, and was succeeded by Eni Faleomavaega.

Public career

Liamatua later served as the Governor of Manu'a District.[2][8] He also held the position of police commissioner at one point.[8]

Liamatua was appointed as the chairman of the Future Political Status Study Commission in 2006. American Samoan Senator Tuaolo Fruean was appointed the Vice Chairman of the commission. The commission was created to study the potential political status of American Samoa, which is currently classified as an unincorporated territory of the United States. Liamatua asked for an extended deadline for the commission's findings.[9]

Liamatua called for full autonomy for American Samoa in November 2006, citing a list of political weaknesses which needed to be addressed by the Future Political Status Study Commission. Liamatua noted concerns that while the Governor of American Samoa is elected by the people, he or she can be removed by the U.S. Secretary of the Interior at any time. Liamatua also cited three other examples in his argument for complete autonomy for American Samoa. He reiterated that the United Nations lists American Samoa as a non-self governing territory. He also cited American Samoa's application to join the Pacific Islands Forum as an associate member by Governor Togiola Tulafono, which the U.S. State Department wanted to rescind because the application was not handled by the federal government. Finally, Laimatua criticized interference by the U.S. National Park Service on a deal negotiated by Governor Tulafono to construct a McDonald's restaurant on Utulei Beach.[10]

In 2009, Governor Tulafono nominated Liamatua to the board of directors of the LBJ Medical Center.[8] He was confirmed by the American Samoa Senate in a 14-2 vote.[8] Liamatua was elected to the American Samoa House of Representatives in 2006, representing Su'a Number One District.[11] He became the chairman of the House retirement and communications committees.[11]

Secretary of Samoan Affairs

Governor Togiola Tulafono appointed Liamatua as Secretary of Samoan Affairs on January 7, 2009. He succeeded outgoing Secretary Mauga Tasi Asuega. Liamatua simultaneously became the head of the Department of Local Government upon his appointment to the office. Under American Samoan law, the Secretary of Samoan Affairs is selected and appointed by the Governor from the territory's senior matai, or chiefs. The selection of the Samoan Affairs Secretary is the sole discretion of the Governor and does not need the approval of the American Samoa Fono.[2]

One of Liamatua's first duties as Samoan Affairs Secretary was to officiate the ava faatupu, which was held on January 9, 2009, for the second inauguration of Gov. Tulafono and Lt. Governor Ipulasi Aitofele Sunia.[2] Secretary Liamatua is also charged with welcoming visiting dignitaries, including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on her brief visit to American Samoa in November 2010.[12][13]

On November 28, 2010, Secretary Liamatua called on the American Samoan community to help prevent the spread of HIV and AIDs in a keynote speech presented in the run-up to World AIDS Day at a Sunday church service.[14]


Tufele Liamatua died unexpectedly in Honolulu, Hawaii, on October 13, 2011, at the age of 71.[15][16] He was flown back to American Samoa on board a Hawaiian Airlines flight on October 20, 2011.[16]


  1. 1 2 3 4 "Governor appoints Tufele Li'amatua to hospital board of directors, page 5" (PDF). Tapuitea Volume III, No. 18. 2008-05-09. Retrieved 2011-08-19.
  2. 1 2 3 4 Mata’afa, Tina (2009-01-07). "Gov names five directors to be confirmed, two appointments made". Samoa News. Retrieved 2011-08-19.
  3. "Tufele Confirmed By Senate to LBJ Board of Directors". Malama TV. 2008-04-29. Retrieved 2011-08-16.
  4. "Tufele v. Mose - American Samoa Bar Association". American Samoa Bar Association. 1988-06-27. Retrieved 2011-08-16.
  5. "Friends and family gather to fete HTC Tufele Li'amatua". Samoa News. 2010-09-07. Retrieved 2011-08-19.
  6. 1 2 3 4 5 Sorensen, Sam (2008). "The Samoan Historical Calendar 1606-2008" (PDF). Office of the Governor American Samoa Government. p. 266. Retrieved August 19, 2011.
  7. Sorensen, Sam (2008). "The Samoan Historical Calendar 1606-2008" (PDF). Office of the Governor American Samoa Government. p. 6. Retrieved August 19, 2011.
  8. 1 2 3 4 "PC Tufele Li'amatua confirmed as newest LBJ board member, page 4" (PDF). Tapuitea Volume III, No. 19. 2008-05-09. Retrieved 2011-08-19.
  9. "Tufele Liamatua to head American Samoa's status study commission". Radio New Zealand International. 2006-06-02. Retrieved 2011-08-19.
  10. "Call for complete autonomy for American Samoa". Radio New Zealand International. 2006-11-27. Retrieved 2011-08-19.
  11. 1 2 "Bluesky Comms in American Samoa has new officer". Radio New Zealand International. 2009-02-12. Retrieved 2011-08-19.
  12. "Secretary of State Hillary Clinton Here For Nearly Two Hours". Talanei.com. 2010-11-08. Retrieved 2011-08-19.
  13. "Governor and local delegation welcome US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton" (PDF). Tapuitea Volume V, No. 45. 2010-11-09. Retrieved 2011-08-19.
  14. "American Samoa govt calls on local to prevent spread of HIV/AIDs". Radio New Zealand International. 2010-12-01. Retrieved 2011-08-21.
  15. Sagapolutele, Fili (2011-10-14). "Secretary of Samoan Affairs, Paramount Chief Tufele Li'amatua dies in Honolulu at 71". Samoa News. Archived from the original on 2011-11-25. Retrieved 2011-10-26.
  16. 1 2 "HC Tufele Li'amatua brought home to territory". Samoa News. 2011-10-25. Retrieved 2011-10-26.
Political offices
Preceded by
Elected office created
Lieutenant Governor of American Samoa
Succeeded by
Eni Faleomavaega
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