All Blacks coach's matai title for work with Samoan players
A Samoan community leader explains why All Black coach Steve Hansen has been given a chiefly title.
A Samoan leader in New Zealand says bestowing this country's national rugby coach, Steve Hansen, with a chiefly title is in recognition for his work with Samoan rugby players and his strong connection to the Samoan community.
Mr Hansen was given the title of Tupuivao in the village of Vaiala in Apia following the All Blacks game against Manu Samoa.
Vaiala is the village of Luamanuvao Winnie Laban, who is an assistant vice chancellor at Victoria University after serving in the previous Labour Government.
She told Moera Tuilaepa-Taylor why Mr Hansen was given the matai title.
LUAMANUVAO WINNIE LABAN: First of all Steve Hansen has served and given a lot in terms of rugby, but also has a special connection which is almost sacred with the Samoan and Pacific boys that play. He is very, very supportive of them and provides good mentoring and structure. If it wasn't for him the All Blacks would not have come through Samoa. And enter my brother who is a long time friend Fauono Ken of Steve and my brother basically went to talk to my uncle who is the Sa'o Patu Tivalu in Vaiala about recognising the fact that Steve was primarily responsible for the All Blacks coming to Samoa and how important it would be to give him a title after the game. And so, hence the saofai and my uncle agreed he saw those historical connections. And secondly for us we were born in New Zealand of Samoan parents and Samoan ancestors. So that special relationship of friendship affection and family between New Zealand and Samoa is signified in the most deepest of our culture which is the title.
MOERA TUILAEPA-TAYLOR: So he has had a special relationship always in New Zealand with the Samoan community. But now that has been extended to the Samoan community in Samoa.
LWL: That's right and he was given a Alii title which is called Tupuivao which is King of the Forest. And as you know we all have genealogies and the King of the Forest the Tupuivao title in the genealogy in relation to all the other genealogy related to us is linked to Fauono who is my brother Ken Laban and Luamanuvao myself and Ken's daughter who is also a Matai. And the fact that we were all born in New Zealand and that special connection culturally is great. The other beauty about the Fa'asamoa and the culture is its deep humanity and its deep affection and inclusiveness. You know people will laugh why a palagi? Well Steve Hansen we are honoured that he accepted the title he was humble, he's gracious, he's strong and he just realised the significance of being given that honour which is really the highest in terms of Fa'asamoa.
MTT: How did he respond to that? It would have been quite overwhelming for him and quite emotional I am sure.
LWL: I think it really started when the plane touched down at Faleolo airport. Just to see the alofa and the oneness of Samoa to come together. How appreciative and how loving and supportive they were of the All Blacks in coming to Samoa. And I think that started it and because of the saofai we also had some English as well because there were a lot of people from the New Zealand Rugby Union there too. And the media, so they could also understand what the language was what the titling meant the other ceremony the sua with the fine mats and the suckling pigs. But when he came to drink his ava when he was anointed the Tupui Vao title, he is a tough bugger but I could see that he was overwhelmed by the generosity, the alofa and the humanity and you know he looked quite emotional.
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