Fa’aso’otauloa Pati, his children and grandchildren proudly stand on the patio of the new FPT Investment on the busy Vaitele road
By Lagi Keresoma
APIA, SAMOA – TUESDAY 13 NOVEMBER 2018: A fire completely destroyed a two storey commercial building and a bakery at Vaitele on New Year’s Eve 2017. Almost a year to the anniversary of the fire, a new building and a bakery now stands tall as a sign of a new beginning and chapter in the business life of Fa’aso’otauloa Pati Taulapapa.
“The new building, FTP Investment, is a replica of the old building, and I was in New Zealand attending a family reunion when we received word of the fire, and I did not think of rebuilding as there was no money,” said Fa’aso’otauloa.
However, blessings seem to follow Fa’aso’otauloa’s business career.
His late wife had savings that he never touched until May 2018 when he decided to use the savings to rebuild.
Last Saturday, Fa’aso’otauloa, his children and grandchildren came together to witness the christening of the work that took 6 months to rebuild.
Fa’aso’otauloa’s business career started in Wellington, New Zealand way back in 1968 where he used to live with his family.
Apart from his daily job, he sought other means and avenues to develop his family on foreign land.
“I started a Take Away Bar after loaning $9000 from a former employee of Morris Hedstrom in Samoa,” said Fa’aso’otauloa.
In those days, things were much cheaper and Fa’aso’otauloa said he was lucky because he got some of the goods for his business free of charge.
He then opened up a small business in Porirua where he sold food and taro from Samoa. He also had houses for rent in Wellington and four taxis.
He was doing well and his children had good schooling in New Zealand, but there was a call from Samoa. Then he had to make a huge decision. He gave up his business in New Zealand and returned home to look after his sick father.
He returned to Samoa in 1985, bought a land at Siusega where he operated a small shop and later a bakery, a chicken and pig farm to assist with the development of his family.
Then he turned to politics and got into parliament in 1991 representing Gaga’emauga No.2. He also served as a Minister of Lands. In 1993, a two storey building on the busy Vaitele Street was put up for sale.
“I applied for a half a million talā loan at NPF, but the Vaitele building was up for sale for $650,000 and I decided I wanted that building and land,” said Fa’aso’otauloa.
“There were offers of $550,000 from other people but I was surprised when the owner took my offer of $450,000 and I believe this to be a blessing from God,” he said.
He paid off his loan at NPF within 10 years and one of his late sons was in charge of the family business at Vaitele.
With the loss of his son, and most of children residing in New Zealand, he leased out the building and bakery up until building as destroyed by fire late last year.
Politics was not far from his life and the former Cabinet Minister came through the 2016 general elections and is the Associate Minister of Agriculture.
But the business remains a significant part of the family. One of his daughters, Betty said the business started from very humble beginnings, and it has a significant meaning to the development of their family.
“All the grandchildren schooling were funded from the business at Vaitele,”said Betty.