New Zealand Deputy PM Takes a Journey of Discovery and Identity

"Since the time I learnt of the Malu, I knew that would be the only tattoo I would ever get"

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Samoan and Deputy Prime Minister of New Zealand, Rt Hon Carmel Sepuloni has finally received her traditional Samoan tattoo, the Malu.

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The Deputy Prime Minister says the malu is the only tatau she has ever wanted. “I’ve never had any other tattoos because I’ve wanted the malu first. I’ve waited my whole life for this.”

Sepuloni says she had been trying to work out a time to be tattooed, and is glad that it is finally done..

“Since the time I learnt of the malu, I knew that would be the only tattoo I would ever get,” posts Sepuloni.

“It has taken some time for it to be the right moment but the timing couldn’t have been better.”

Sepuloni met with Samoan tufuga Lia’ifaiva Imo Levi to talk through the process and lock down the date – the 4th of July will now always be remembered as her special day.

“So grateful to the humble and talented tufuga, Liaifaiva. Since I first heard of him – I knew he would be the one to do this,” said the Deputy Prime Minister.

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“When I met him in person and learned his family history, there was an immediate connection.”

The DPM’s father, Fa’atali’i Kamisi Sepuloni is of Samoan and Tongan decent. His family are from the village of Vailele in Samoa.

Hon Carmel Sepuloni with tufuga, Li’aifaiva Imo Levi.

“This is a journey of discovery and identity. I’m so humbled by all the people that came out to support me in this journey..”

“I look at this as part of being the support I need to do my role, and the stars have aligned beautifully in this time of Matariki to make this happen..”

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Family, friends and Labour Party colleagues were there to support Sepuloni during the 6-hour process and traditional ceremony that followed.

Carmel’s Tongan side of the family were also proudly present in support of the gifting of the malu, alongside all of her Samoan family.

The intricate malu design are ancient marks of Samoa delineate that highlight the specific role of tama’ita’i Samoa, and have been worn by other ancestral women in Carmel’s lineage.


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