This Month in History: 2015 First Woman Appointed Justice of the Supreme Court of Samoa

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August 2015:  Justice Niava Mata Keli Tuatagaaloa was appointed judge of the Supreme Court of Samoa. Justice Ida Malosi had been the first woman to serve on the Supreme Court, however, her appointment was on a temporary basis and Justice Tuatagaloa was the first woman to be permanently appointed.

Earlier in 2011, Justice Tuatagaloa was also the first woman to be appointed District Court Judge that included the Family Court and Youth Court.

Born in Samoa, Niava obtained her legal education in New Zealand and Australia, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts from Waikato University, a Bachelor of Laws from the University of New South Wales, and also pursued post graduate legal studies at the Australian National University (ANU).

Niava was a partner of Brunt Keli and also served as President of the Samoa Law Society before being appointed a Judge.

Judge Tuatagaloa is known to being tough on domestic violence after sentencing a man to 11 years and 9 months in prison for attempted murder after he attacked a woman with a machete, breaching a protection order against him.

In October 2020 Niava became Acting Chief Justice during a period of Chief Justice Satiu Simativa Perese’s absence, seeking medical treatment in New Zealand.