by RUPI MAPUSUA
Sueina and Lafaele Mapusua met and fell in love in 1957. She was 16, going on 17 years old, a nurse trainee and Presbyterian; he was a 19-year-old accounts clerk at Moto’otua Hospital in Apia, Samoa, and he was Catholic.
When the parents refused outright to give their blessings, they eloped and lived in a small fale o’o (Samoan fale) in the middle of nowhere.
Somehow, they managed to work the land, grow a plantation and have four healthy, beautiful, baby girls.
Yet people said they wouldn’t last! He was a gentle sheep. She was a lion! On January 31,1961 — a month after the birth of their first baby, they married at Mulivai Catholic Church in Apia. It was a private ceremony, with only the priest, and the couple, with the catechist and his wife as witnesses.
Sixty years later, on January 31, 2021, they sat in the front pew of Our Lady of Fatima church in Tawa, Wellington, at a community Mass and renewed their vows. As Fr Rico de la Torre blessed their rings, they embraced each other, and the congregation erupted in applause as they witnessed their happy and special day.
The reception was held at Pataka Art Gallery and Museum in Porirua, in one of the main studios. Unbeknown to the guests, the event was a triple celebration — the 60th birthday of their eldest and 80th birthday of Sueina (Mum) were both marked. Both the birthdays were in December. The jubilee couple shared their story and one running theme dominated the years — service in the Church. After arriving in New Zealand in 1969, they served at Holy Family Parish in Porirua East and in the Samoan Aulotu (church). They served in Marriage Encounter as a team couple in 1981, when they formed and led a group of 30 Samoan couples at Holy Family (some of these couples were at the anniversary). They served the Samoan Aulotu as Samoan catechists at St Mary’s, Elsdon, Wellington, and currently do so at Our Lady of Hope in Tawa.
A strong faith and trust in the love of God for 60 years plus has sustained and renewed Sueina and Lafaele’s love as a couple. Those at the celebration serenaded them to Ruth’s song, “Wherever you go, I shall go”.
Their love was clearly seen once again as they held onto each other, looked into each others’ eyes — a few tears — as they danced their waltz. “Two hearts — one blessed life.” He is 82 going on 83. She is 80 years old and counting. Praise God.
Rupi Mapusua is a daughter of Sueina and Lafaele Mapusua.