13 August 2012
Honorary Doctorate for Samoan Prime Minister
Victoria University of Wellington will confer the honorary degree Doctor of Laws on the Honourable Tuilaepa Sa’ilele
Malielegaoi, Prime Minister of Samoa, during his visit to the University today.
Vice-Chancellor of Victoria University Professor Pat Walsh says the Prime Minister’s contribution to Samoa has been
“I am delighted to announce that Victoria University is bestowing this honorary degree on Tuilaepa Malielegaoi.”
Mr Malielegaoi is recognised as an outstanding leader in the Pacific region, and his distinguished career as a public
servant and politician spans more than 30 years.
Before entering politics, Mr Malielegaoi pursued a career in the Samoan public service, which included being Deputy
Financial Secretary in the Treasury, and working in the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group of States General
Secretariat in Brussels as the Intra-ACP trade, transport and communications expert.
A wish to contribute to his own country saw Tuilaepa Malielegaoi return to Samoa at the end of 1980 and begin his
political career as a Member of Parliament. He was appointed Finance Minister in 1982, and elected Deputy Prime Minister
in 1991. He filled both roles until the end of 1998, when he assumed the office of Prime Minister—a responsibility he
has now held for 14 years.
His stewardship of the Samoan economy has been widely praised for its combination of innovation and careful judgement.
In 1997, he presented Samoa’s case in Geneva for membership of the World Trade Organisation, which the country has
recently joined, and it is anticipated that Samoa will graduate from Least Developed Country status in 2014.
He has also been a public advocate for improving health and education in Samoa, has been involved in recent
constitutional reform, and led the country through the devastating tsunami which struck Samoa in September 2009.
Tuilaepa Malielegaoi is noted for his efforts in strengthening Samoa’s relationships with other nations, including New
Zealand, and advocating for regional approaches on political, security, education and resource management issues. Last
year, he initiated the establishment of the Polynesian Leaders Group, which aims to promote and protect Polynesian
cultures, traditions and languages, and achieve sustainable development and prosperity in the region.
“It is particularly fitting that in this year, the 50th anniversary of Samoan independence and the Treaty of Friendship
between Samoa and New Zealand, we recognise the enormous influence Tuilaepa Malielegaoi has had in shaping his country,”
says Professor Walsh.
“Victoria University has a long association with Samoa, and the opportunity to develop closer educational ties will be
of tremendous benefit to both parties.”
As part of the visit, members of the Samoan delegation and Victoria University will sign several agreements:
• PhD Scholarship Agreement with the Government of Samoa
• Scholarship and Co-operation Agreement with the Scientific Research Organisation of Samoa
• Scholarship and Co-operation Agreement with the National University of Samoa