23 Dec 2019

Trailblazing Samoan matriarch farewelled

9:58 am on 23 December 2019

One of Samoa's trailblazing women, Va'asiliifiti Moelagi Jackson, has been farewelled at a funeral on Savaii.

Va'asiliifiti Moelagi Jackson.

Va'asiliifiti Moelagi Jackson. Photo: Tauiliili Ete Sione

She died on Wednesday at the age of 77.

At a time when it was uncommon for women to be bestowed matai titles, Va'asiliifiti was made a high chief at the age of just 22.

She was a pioneer of eco-tourism, and accrued eight matai titles during a lifetime of service to the community.

She started one of the first hotels in Savaii in 1978, and was one of the first women to head organisations such as Samoa Red Cross.

An accomplished sportswoman in her younger days, Va'asiliifiti later became President of the Savaii Rugby Union.

She is also reported to have worked with former United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan on indigenous conservation issues.

Va'asiliifiti is survived by seven children, 28 grandchildren and eight great grandchildren.