Stories & articles of our work & our people
11/12/2013 0 Comments
Papali'i Dr. Pita Taouma is the head of the Malietoa Pouesi family in Aotearoa/Niu Sila. He is most well-known as a dentist who served our community for many years, first in Samoa as the head of dentistry at the hospital in Matautu, Apia and then for many years as a dentist here in Aukilani.
Papali'i was first sent to Niu Sila to take up a scholarship at Whangarei Boys High School at the age of 14. He spent these years schooling while also traveling to Aukilani during holidays to spend time with family, mostly in and around the Ponsonby area.
Papali'i then went to Otago University to study dentistry – a profession which ran in the family as his father Tofa Fesula'i Taouma Leteletaneolevao was also one of a group of seven dentists originally trained in the craft in Samoa.
During his time at Otago, Papali'i met his wife to be, Janice, got married and had two children. He also was the captain of the Otago University Rugby League side and played in the NZ University side. Papali'i also did well in cricket and other sports.
At this time Papali'i started and headed the Samoan Students Association, started the Samoana Rugby League team and played in a well-known band around town. After ten years in Dunedin, Papali'i, his wife and two children moved to Samoa where he took up position as the head of dentistry at the hospital.
During his ten years in Samoa Papali'i and Janice had a further three children and he was involved in many civic duties. At this time Papali'i created the International Samoan Dance Theatre Troupe, which was famous for their tours through the United States West Coast in which they raised the largest amounts of money of any travelling group before and since. During this time in Samoa, Papali'i also worked on several committees and directed Samoa's first ever musical production – a rendering of Jesus Christ Super Star.
After ten years in Samoa and being involved in many activities including being involved in the Samoan Rugby and Cricket Unions, Papali'i decided to once again move back to Niu Sila – this time in Aukilani. He and the family moved to Aukilani in 1979, where he set-up practice on Ponsonby Road.
This was to be the centre of many activities both Samoan and general Pacific. As well as serving the community as a dentist, Papali'i became a deacon and later secretary of the PIPC (Pacific Islands Presbyterian Church) in Newton. He also soon became a prominent community figure, as an organiser, commentator and entrepreneur.
Papali'i with his wife Jan were part of the group to setup the first Samoan pre-school, the Aoga Fa'aSamoa in 1984. He was also part of the group that established the Pasifika Festival in 1992. Papali'i was involved in many steering groups and committees, one of which also established the Fale Pasifika building at Auckland University.
In 2010 Papali'i retired from dentistry after complications during a surgical procedure left him wheelchair bound. He now lives in Blockhouse Bay, Aukilani.
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