Afioga Leaupepe Taulapapa Fuatino Faimaala Vaovasamanaia Filipo (photo courtesy– Samoa Times)
By Lagi Keresoma
APIA: WEDNESDAY 11 JUNE 2014: The first woman parliamentarian Afioga Leaupepe Taulapapa Fuatino Faimaala Vaovasamanaia Filipo’s was laid to rest at her residence at Tulaele, yesterday morning.
In honor of her service to Samoa, the police guard performed the normal honorary gesture to her family.
Her casket was covered with the state flag and was later presented to the family as recognition for her service.
The funeral was attended by their Highnesses Tui Tui Atua Tupua Tamasese Efi and Masiofo Filifilia, Cabinet and government officials.
Leaupepe died in New Zealand where she had resided for many years and her body arrived in Samoa last Saturday.
Leaupepe was the first woman to enter parliament in 1970.
Under the title Taulapapa, she represented Palauli i Sisifo for two consecutive terms until she used her matai title Leaupepe and successfully contested the Aana Alofi seat.
She was also the only woman to be elected as a Deputy Speaker of the House.
She made history not only being the first woman in politics, but also in the legal field when she became the first woman Judge for the Lands and Title Court.
She and her late lawyer husband Vaovasamanaia Filipo, a former Minister of state made history when they both served as parliamentarians and Judges at the same time.
Leaupepe served in the Land and Title Court and Vaovasamanaia as a Judge in the High Court.
Leaupepe was a nurse by profession.
She was educated at Leififi before attending Samoa College and later St Mary’s College then moved to New Zealand to embark on a nursing career.
After graduating with a degree and as a registered nurse, Leaupepe took up work in Dunedin, Wellington, Auckland and Gisborne before committing herself to serve Samoa at the Moto’otua hospital.
Leaupepe was born in 1932 and was 82 years old when she passed on.
She received the Leaupepe title from her father’s side at Fasito’o-uta and the Taulapapa title from her mother’s family in Taga, Savai’i.
Leaupepe has been referred to as an “icon” and role model in many gender discussions for taking a bold stand in her belief as a Samoan ‘woman’