Tautai finally arrived in May 2017 and so began an incredible series of launches in four countries. When a book appears no one can guess how it will be received. Early indications (lectures presented since 2012) were very good, but still no guarantee of how the book will fair. So we took Tautai on the road.
The launching of Tautai began in the Maryland suburbs of Washington DC where a book party was graciously hosted by Professor John McNeill, my former colleague at Georgetown University and president-elect of the American Historical Association, and his wife Julie Billingsley. It was a wonderful evening and great to spend it with family, DC-based friends and colleagues from Georgetown and the larger DC area.
The Australian Historical Conference at University of Newcastle, Australia, was the next stop. Here UoN colleague Professor Victoria Haskins did the honours of launching Tautai. It was wonderful to have the opportunity to mark the occasion with many valued colleagues.
It was then time to bring Tautai home to Sāmoa. It’s impossible to describe what happened in Sāmoa. It was profoundly emotional experience for Patricia, the Ta’isi family and many others touched by the story of Ta’isi O. F. Nelson. People came from many corners of the world to be there to represent branches of the Ta’isi family and take part in ceremonies.
18 August 2017
On this day Ta’isi family, dignitaries and members of the diplomatic corps gathered at Tuaefu for a deeply moving religious ceremony beside the grave of Ta’isi followed by the laying of wreaths on his grave and those of Rosabel Nelson, Noue Tamasese, Viopapa Nelson and Ta’isi Nelson (Ta’isi and Rosabel’s son who perished in the influenza epidemic in 1919). This was followed by an elegant reception to rival those of Ta’isi’s time.
19 August - Official Launch in Samoa
On Saturday August 19 Tautai was officially launched at the Tui Atua Tupua Tamasese Efi (TATTE) Building, Apia. A capacity crowd witnessed the occasion presided over by Letuimanu’asina Dr. Emma Kruse-Va’ai and attended by many aiga and dignatries including their Highnesses Tuimalealiifano Vaaletoa Sualauvi II and Masiofo Fa’amausili Leinafo. Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi presented the first review and said “every Sāmoan should read this book”. He was followed by Dr Rachel Buchanan who presented a Māori historical perspective about Tautai and the writing the book in her review “Friendship can be Revolutionary” that you can read here [insert hyperlink]. Professor Meleisea Leasiolagi Malama Meleisea finished proceedings with his review of the book [insert hyperlink] in which he said “Dr O’Brien has provided the deepest historical account ever written of Colonial Sāmoa between the two World Wars”. It was a wonderful event made possible by the great efforts of many aiga and Fiti Leung Wai and her team from SSAB, the booksellers of Tautai in Sāmoa.
Monday August 21, 2017
On Monday August 21, Patricia and T’aisi’s grand daughter Papali’i Dr Viopapa Atherton Annandale joined school children and teachers at the SSAB store for a wonderful event where we talked about history and the story of Tautai. We all look forward to seeing the books these aspiring young historians will write.
Official Launch in Auckland, NZ
After the extraordinary events in Apia, it was onto to Auckland for the launch of Tautai and Tui Atua’s Gaualofa Trust at the Malaeola Community Centre, Mangere, Auckland on August 24, 2017. This was an incredible event made possible by the extraordinary organising efforts of Tuala Tagaloa Tusani, Tamasailau Suaalii Sauni and a wonderful, energetic team of young people. Over five hundred people attended the event hearing speeches from Tui Atua, the Honourable Helen Clark, Sir Michael Niko Jones KNZM, Professor Toesulusulu Damon Salesa and Patricia O’Brien as well as many incredible performances.