Wider Auckland Samoan Catholic Community
1950 – Catholic Samoan Community in Auckland was formed.
1957- The first chaplain for the community arrived in Auckland from Samoa: Father Lui Schwer.
1960 – Because of the growing size of the Samoan community it was divided into two groups,Ponsonby Samoan Community and the Grey Lynn Samoan Community.
Ponsonby Samoan Community
The Ponsonby Samoan Catholic community was established in 1962, formed under the common vision and purpose of faith, prayer and fellowship by founding and first members Mr and Mrs Luli (deceased), Leilua Vitale and Meleisea Leavai.
1963 – The community adopted St Therese as their patron saint and continue to celebrate her feast day every year on October 4. There is a mass and then a community gathering and meal; sometimes at someone’s home, sometimes at the Parish Hall, and sometimes at a beach.
There was a statute of St Therese in the old church in O’Neill Street but it disappeared many years ago. To honour St Therese there is now a mirror portrait of her at the rear of Sacred Heart Church in Vermont Street.
With increasing numbers of Catholic Samoan’s in Ponsonby, naturally what followed in 1963 was a choir, at that time directed by Sanele Tunai. Patea and Cecilia Niupopo and Nick Tunai soon after joined the community. Nick Tunai stepped into his brother’s role and has served as Choir master for over 30 years and son Mike has accompanied for over 20 years. The choir remains very important to the community. They sing at Sacred Heart Church every third Sunday, and at the Auckland Samoan Mass on the second Sunday of every second month.It also performs at weddings for not only its own community but also at palagi and Chinese weddings.
1965 – The community started The Legion of Mary which continues today though not as large and active as it once was. This group was very important to the community. They visited Samoan people new to Ponsonby, particularly those who did not attend church. They visited hospitals, jails, and sick people in their own homes. It was a centre of the community’s activities.
1975 – A Samoan youth club was formed and continues today.
1997 – The community celebrated the 30th anniversary of their celebration of the Feast of St Therese.
Ponsonby Samoan Community
President: Lofipo and Sita Peilua.
Vice President.Patea and Silia Niupopo.
Secretary Tunai and Mele Siamoa
Treasurer: Fai’ifa’i and Kalolina Collins.
Choir Master: Tuataga and Fatima.
Choir Leader: Mailo and Tuala Tuala.
Women Leader: Afamasaga T.McDonald.
Men’s Leader: Lemalu and Fa’afetai Lemalu.
Teo and Sua Niumata.
Aigamau and Melesete Roach.
Fataloto and Fou Savelio
Faumui and Toomata Ioane
Ailupotea and Susi Afele
Tunai and Sai Sala
Manase and Lagi Toluono
Aimiti and Kilisi Pau
Of the 17 original families, only two still live within the parish. Seven families live as far afield as Avondale and Papatoetoe, but because of the fellowship within it, they remain as members of the Ponsonby Catholic Samoan Community. Many have been involved for 10 and 20 years. Leilua Vitale is a founding member and the longest serving member of the community. He still lives in Ponsonby. Patea and Cecilia Nuipopo are still active members of the community, Meleisea has retired as a member but remains a faithful parishioner, and Sililo Iuli – son of Mr and Mrs luli – has been on the Parish council. The community remains active with a women’s fellowship and a men’s group on a monthly basis.
The vision realized by the founders continues today with the monthly congregations of choir and fellowship gatherings.
Samoan community office/leaders:
President: Tevaga Tuala
Vice President:Kapeli Sala
Treasurer: Faifai Collins
Secretary: Fatima Tunai
Held 3rd week of every month, to discuss/update matters inside and outside the community. It is chaired by the President.
The office also attends meetings held every 1st Sunday of the month at the Auckland Samoan Catholic Centre at Malaeola, Mangere.
The youth of the Samoan community meet regularly, and provide a support to the community. Activities include fundraising, organizing social events, mass and liturgy prep.
Monthly fellowship gatherings
Gatherings are held on the last Saturday of every month, hosted each time by a different family. It begins with prayer and continues with a shared meal and Social meeting and discussions. In past years, the mother’s and father’s fellowship have travelled to Australia and Samoa.
Once a year a fund raiser is held on Queen’s Birthday weekend, all proceeds go towards financing the celebrations of our patron saint St Therese of Lisieux and a monetary gift for the Parish.
Auckland Samoan Catholic Community
Every second Sunday of each second month, the Samoan choir leads the Samoan mass and liturgy at Malaeola Centre.