The University of Waikato acknowledges the passing of Distinguished Alumnus Le Mamea Taulapapa Sefulu Isaia Ioane QSO, aged 85.
Le Mamea was one of the University’s first Pacific graduates in 1974 when he completed a Bachelor of Arts in Humanities. Two years later he graduated with a Master of Arts with Honours in English literature.
La Mamea was dedicated to education. Having been Head Boy, Dux and Captain of the First XV rugby team at his high school in Vaimoso, Samoa, he left home for New Zealand where he finished secondary school.
He studied at Ardmore Teachers’ College in Auckland so he could return to Samoa to lecture at Teachers’ Training College. In 1968, he came back to New Zealand as a biology and maths teacher at Melville High School in Hamilton, working there while he completed his studies at Waikato.
Le Mamea made significant contributions to education in both Samoa and New Zealand. In 1976, he became the first director of the Pacific Island Education Resource Centre (now named the Pasifika Education Trust), which was established in Herne Bay and provided English language education and skill development for Pacific peoples.
He then held many significant roles in the years following, including Deputy Chairman of the Council for Māori and South Pacific Arts of the QEII Arts Council, Chairman of the New Zealand Festival of South Pacific Arts and Culture, Chairman of UNESCO group, Auckland City Councillor, President of the Samoa RSA and was a Justice of the Peace. He was awarded a Queen’s Service Order for public service in 1990.
Le Mamea was a high chief and leader in Samoa, and highly regarded for his tireless contributions to education and the community. He paved the way for others in teaching, languages and education.
The University flag has been lowered to half mast to mark Le Mamea’s passing, and our thoughts are with his family and friends.
Faafetai i lau afioga Le Mamea i lau lagolago ina ole Univesete o Waikato. Ia manuia tele lau malaga. Soifua.