Len Brown the Warrior
Auckland mayor is gifted Samoan titleMICHAEL FIELD
Auckland Mayor Len Brown has stripped down to his bare chest, put on a head band and a necklace and wrapped a mat around his middle and become a Samoan matai or chief.
The village of Lepa, near Samoa's capital Apia, has bestowed the title Taua'aletoa ("Taua'a the warrior") on him.
According to Talamua News Online, Brown - who from now on will be known in Samoa as just Taua'aletoa - promised to fight for Pacific people.
"I would fight for those who have no hope," he told the gathering of village chiefs and orators with the Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele, who himself has added two more titles to his now-vast name.
Tuilaepa bestowed the title.
"I am honoured and humbled by the title," Brown said.
He said as a youth in Otara he grew up knowing a lot of fa'a Samoa or culture.
"I know the significance of the title, the commitment and expectation it carries," he told Talamua.
"I may be a palagi (pakeha) by colour, but my heart is with the Pacific people."
In his acceptance he recalled was when he collapsed while giving a public speech in Auckland.
"The first people to come to my aid were the Pacific community in Auckland and I will never forget that," he said.
Brown is leading Auckland Council's first trade delegation to Samoa, Tonga and the Cook Islands in order to foster stronger business links with Auckland.
A succession of politicians from New Zealand have been made ali'i or high chiefs - including David Lange, Phil Goff, John Key and Winston Peters.
Technically it is against Samoan law for non resident foreigners to be granted chiefly titles but Samoans have long got around this by simply not registering the title with the powerful Lands and Titles Court.
Many more people tend to avoid taking ali'i titles because it involves being silent - the duty of talking belongs to the tulafale or talking chiefs - and giving money.
The Samoan prime minister discretely reminded the new great white chief of this, pointing out his duties of monotaga to the village.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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