Popular musician, Tanuvasa Faamanatu Solomona, has graduated with a Master of Development Studies from the National University of Samoa.
It took Tanuvasa one and a half years to complete the Masters programme, after first achieving a Post Graduate Diploma in Development Studies in 2018.
A Choir Master for EFKS Vaivase-Tai, Tanuvasa is most popularly known as a judge for various musical talent shows and the popular Star Search programme aired on national television each year.
He says shuffling time between studies, music and his full time position as Principal Officer for Samoa’s Apprenticeship Scheme at the Ministry of Commerce Industry and Labour (MCIL) was his biggest challenge.
During the past year, Tanuvasa has also been assisting individuals and church groups with CD recordings, such as the EFKS Moataa choir.
Tanuvasa’s early years was marked with a’oga faifeau, with the late Reverend Vavae Toma, who was also his first musical inspiration.
He attended Vaivase-Tai primary school and is a proud Avele College Old Pupil. In Higher Education Tanuvasa also holds a Diploma in Teaching of Expressive Arts, and a Certificate in Human Development from the University of the South Pacific.
Although born to Solomona Nuuletau Tanuvasa of Paia and Nofoalii and Clare Godinet of Samauga, Tanuvasa Faamanatu was raised by his greatest motivator and buggest fan, the late Peata Ameperosa.
“I was adopted by Atoaaana Ameperosa, Peata’s daughter, then she left on scholarship to NZ when I was 6, so I was left with Atoaaana’s mother, Peata”.
However a year later, when Tanuvasa was only 7 years old he tragically lost his adopted mother. Atoaaana was on the Pan Am Flight 806 from Auckland that crashed on the night of 30th January 1974 as it tried to land in Pago Pago, killing 87 passengers and ten crew members.
“I was 7 years old, and it was very hard because I knew her as my mother. I will always remember the memory of her as my first Mom,” he shares.
Peata Ameperosa, Atoaaana’s mother and Tanuvasa’s father’s sister then brought him up as the youngest of her 10 children, until she passed away in 2014.
Tanuvasa says being adopted means he has the best of both worlds, because he is also a brother to all of his biological brothers and sisters.
Tanuvasa worked for USP Alafua for a short stint between 1989 and 1991, teaching Continuing Education in Expressive Arts, but most of his working career has been with his current employment.
He first joined the Labour Department in 1993, now known as the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Labour (MCIL). Tanuvasa has dedicated 28 years of service to the Ministry as a public servant.
He recalls his early years growing up as a member of EFKS Vaivase-Tai as defining for his character, and the blessing of being raised by his Mama Peata with life lessons that will stay with him forever.
“I grew up with aoga faifeau church members from EFKS Vaivase-Tai who are high achievers and gone on to be doctors, lawyers, judges, CEOs – and that’s been an inspiration for me.”
Tanuvasa was born the year EFKS Vaivase-Tai was constructing their first church building, and his name, Faamanatu, is in remembrance of this important event.
“In 1967 Papa and Mama were looking after the EFKS parish and the church building construction was completed, so yes, I am the same age as our Vaivase-Tai Church”.
Asked who his greatest inspiration has been in life, Tanuvasa doesn’t hesitate or stop to think in responding.
“The love of my life”, he laughs. And then with a straight face he says, “Fauono is my biggest supporter. She believes in me and has been by my side cheering me on in everything that I do. I couldn’t have done this without her,” shares Tanuvasa.
Speaking to Samoa Global News from China, their eldest son, Benjamin Solomona, agrees and says his Mom, Fauono Gladys, has not only been an inspiration to his Dad but also to him.
“Yes I know my Mom is a big part of Dad’s life and also to me, always being there for us,” he shares.
He says he could never be more proud of what his Dad has achieved.
“I know he’s already an inspiration to us his children, but it’s even more encouraging for us to keep on striving no matter what,” says Benjamin.
“Our Dad has taught us that even if we fall, we can always get back up and keep on going. He says there’s no time to waste feeling down, but rise up and conquer whatever is coming our way,” says Benjamin.
“I love them both and can’t wait to be home to see them”.