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Aai o Fiti residents receive 22 water tanks under the $1m Development Project

By Lagi Keresoma

APIA, SAMOA – 17 APRIL 2023: The residents of the Aai o Fiti community, located between Vaimea and Alamagoto and just outside Apia town, have got what they specifically prioritized under the Vaimauga No 4 $1million District Development Project.

They wanted water tanks to solve a longstanding problem of either a dirty water supply or no water at all when the supply lines are damaged during heavy rains and flooding.

The project of 22 water tanks of 2,000 liters each cost $35, 200.

The village mayor, Tupuola Vili said it is the first time their small community has received this much needed assistance from the Government.

He said the village is vulnerable during the rainy season and they face many challenges especially when the nearby Fuluasou River overflows and water runs all over the land.

“Two things happen; the water supply is either cut when damaged by flooding or we get dirty water,” he said.

So when the village was approached to submit any project they felt would help develop their families, the residents’ unanimously opted for water tanks.

“I believe it was a smart choice given the situation we have been facing during bad weather,” said Tupuola.

A community of Fijians
The Aai o Fiti – or Community of Fijians comprise of 25 households and the water tanks were delivered and distributed last week.

The village has a population of close to 200 people according to the 2021 Samoa Population & Housing Census.

Historically, the community was established to accommodate the Fijian workers who were brought in during the colonial administrations to work in Samoa in the 1900s.

aai o fiti tupuola
aai o fiti tupuola

Descendants of the original Fijian workers that established Aai o Fiti is the village mayor, Tupuola Vili and Nicky Nielson during the water tanks presentation.

Tupuola’s grandfather was one of the original Fijian workers brought in at the time and he cited stories passed down the generations of how some of the Fijians returned home, while others like his grandfather married a Samoan woman and built a family at the Aai o Fiti.

“They came over as labourers and my grandfather was one that loved Samoa and made it his home,” said Tupuola.

Like Aai o Fiti, similar communities were established to accommodate other Pacific island communities established at around the same time. There is Aai a Niue for the Niueans, Aele – inland of Faleula for the Solomon Island indentured labourers and Elise for the Ellice Islanders inland of Vaiusu Village.

Like these communities, Aai o Fiti is not a recognized traditional village – Nu’u Fa’avae. But having intermarried and building up Samoan families with linkages to Samoan traditional titles, the residents who are Samoans of Fijian ancestry have built a community based on Samoan traditions and culture.

Tupuola believes it was time that Aai o Fiti is recognized as a traditional village.

Pupumai Nicky Nielson, another Samoan of Fijian descent said the land where Aai o Fiti is now located was gifted to them by the then Government.

“The community’s location, just on the outskirts of Apia town, points to a longstanding problem of basic human needs such as a clean and improved water supply.”

Now they have identified their needs and used the funds available under the government’s village development project, to meet those needs.

Tupuola said their village’s next project is on health and they have already submitted a proposal to their District Council.

Vaimauga No 4 Member of Parliament, Faualo Harry Schuster is the Minster of Police and Prisons. He congratulated the community leaders and encouraged them not to let the size of their village limit the projects they must establish to address their daily needs.

aai o fiti group
aai o fiti group

Members of the Aai o Fiti community with their MP and Minister of Police, Faualo Harry Schuster and some members of the District Council after the presentation.