During the time of the great historical Queen and Chief of Tao, there was a war between the western and eastern sides of Savai’i. Each side was competing for the title and land of the entire island. Land is very important in the Samoan culture or any culture for that matter because there are more people than allocated land. The whole family and its members (especially males) have more prestige if they own land.
As the daughter of Saveasi’ she was bestowed her title because she brought peace to Savai’i through winning wars and avenging her uncle. During this war, Tai’i’i’s people were forced into slavery and if the High Chief Liloma’iava caught anyone from the east side on the west, he would punish them by making the person climb a coconut tree up side- down. He did this to show his brutal power to the entire island he planned to conquer.
One of the villagers caught was Tai’i’i and was forced to climb the tree feet first, as he was climbing he let out a huge sigh. A sigh so loud, his older brother Saveasi’ and Nafanua heard about it and became angry. He told Nafanua to cut down the Toa tree to make four weapons to drive away the High Chief Liloma’iava and his army. The tree laid out and drying out had seashells around it and there became a saying ” E gase Tao ae ola pule ” which literally means that the shells are live but the tree is dead. The people saw this as a metaphor for, “Although we have great strength and power as human beings, we do not succeed if we do not have wisdom to make a good, solid decision. It takes courage to make wise decisions.”
Before leaving for battle, her father ordered her to stop the killing when she reached a village called Fualaga because that’s was some of her mothers family. It wasn’t until the wind blew up her tiputa (coverings) and exposed her to the men, that her dads order came to mind. They felt humiliated because out of all the men fighting, she was the only woman.
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