Former Australian international rugby player Digby Natu Ioane was bestowed the Tuala title on Saturday morning in a historical day for his Tuala Vaauli family at Leauvaa.
Tuala Digby is taking his commitment to his family seriously and says he plans to move and live in Samoa for good.
Speaking to Samoa Global News after the matai bestowals, Tuala says he wants to truly embrace his culture and commit to his family and his new responsibilities as a new Tuala title holder.
The thirty seven year old also has ties to the villages of Saleimoa and Sapapalii in Savaii where he is also a holder of the Papalii title from his father’s side.
The Tuala title bestowed on him this weekend alongside 101 others, is from his mom’s side.
“My partner and I will be moving back in two months for good,” he said.
“We will be staying here in Leauvaa and I promise you guys, I will change things around,” said Tuala.
“It’s an honour to get the paramount title for mom’s side of the family here at Leauvaa
Tuala Digby says all his life, he has known his roots as a Samoan, however, never really had the chance to embrace it.
“I have retired from rugby and to be honest, for me I never embraced the Samoan culture when I was playing, but I believe that everything happens for a reason,” said Tuala.
“And when my father passed away in 2019, that’s when I found myself,” he shares.
“So I did get lost but eventually I found myself again when my father passed away.”
“So I am grateful that my father gave me the title Papalii from Sapapalii because it was there that I found myself again.”
“For me the wealth and richness is right here in our Samoan culture and I am just grateful to honor mum through the Tuala title and also my dad’s Papalii title, and I am going to embrace it.”
The former Queensland Reds who also played a stint with the Crusaders before heading overseas says he wants to also lend a hand to the development of rugby in Samoa, and help in any way he is needed.
“You know what, it’s a secret and it’s going to be a surprise and I can’t wait to start,” said Tuala.
“It’s a lot of things, it’s helping humanity..”
“For me it’s like people say that in Australia it’s greener, well I’m here to tell you it’s not, this is.”
Tuala Digby is the youngest of Natu and Fia Ione’s nine children. He received the Tuala title alongside some of his siblings this weekend.
During the bestowal blessing by Reverend Isaia Kalepo of the Congregational Christian Church of Samoa in Leauvaa, the faifeau told the new Tuala holders that they have been chosen to serve.
“You have been called to lead your families, villages and church,” said Reverend Kalepo.
“Being a leader is no easy task, you have to set a good example for your family and most especially you have to lead your family with love.”
The cultural conferment of the titles was then held at the Maota o Tapusilia at Leauvaa.
The last time the Tuala family held matai bestowment was 15 years ago.