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Queen Salamasina (floruit in the 1500s) is perhaps the most famous female figure in all of Samoan social history. She descended from several powerful royal bloodlines and held the four papā titles which lent her the paramount status of Tafa‘ifā. Contrary to popular belief she was not the first Tafa'ifā as the titles were willed to her by their previous possessor, Nafanua (Tonumaipe'a Nāfanua).
Salamāsina's mother, Vaetoefaga, was an extremely highborn noblewoman who enjoyed a lofty position in both Samoan and Tongan societies. Vaetoefaga's father was the Tu‘i Tonga Kau‘ulufonua II (a son of Tu'i Tonga Kau'ulufonua I and the Samoan noblewoman Vainu'ulasi) and her mother was Taupoimāsina, the daughter of high chief Lefono of Amoa, Savai'i.
As a teenager Vaetoefaga became the tenth and last wife of the Samoan paramount Tuia‘ana Tamaalelagi, with whom she conceived a daughter named Salamāsina. One of Tamaalelagi’s royal attendants named Utufanunutunutu traveled to Tongatapu with the intent of securing Vaetoefaga as Tamaalelagi’s wife. He thoroughly deceived her family with fantastical stories about the land and people of Samoa and succeeded in arranging the marriage and an impressive dowry. As part of the arrangement, Vaetoefaga’s brother Ulualofaigā was given political concessions in Fagaloa (in the Atua district). Vaetoefaga prompted the construction of the Tuia‘ana’s “unofficial” residence (akin to a vacation home) near Vaialua in Nofoali‘i, A‘ana after being threatened by the families of Tamaalelagi’s other wives. Vaetoefaga left Nu‘uausala (the Tuia‘ana’s residence in Leulumoega) to seek refuge among her Tongan relatives who had settled in the villages allotted to her brother (Tamasese 2004:10). Her home was named Afeafe-o-Vaetoefaga (“refuge of Vaetoefaga) to commemorate this fearful time of persecution and conflict between the budding Tongan community and the established Samoan factions.
Upbringing and Adulthood
Salamāsina’s mother, Vaetoefaga, returned to Tonga and entrusted the future queen to Levalasi So‘oa‘emalelagi. So'oa'emalelagi was the principal wife of the leading chieftain of the Atua district, Tuiātua Māta‘utia, and Salamāsina was raised as their own daughter. She was betrothed as a youth to marry a chief named Tonumaipe‘a Tapumanaia in order to form a political alliance with the influential Tonumaipe‘a faction of Savai‘i. Much to the distress of her future in-laws, Salamāsina eloped with the man of her choice, the untitled Alapepe. This relationship brought forth a daughter named Lupefofoaivaoese who grew to become Tuia‘ana and the ancestress of several prominent Samoan families. Her father Alapepe, however, was pursued by the furious Tonumaipe‘a clan to the Tongan island of Tongatapu where he was killed for “defiling” the taupou Vaetoefaga. Salamāsina’s son by Tapumanaia was named after his father and later received the Lesātele title of the Salani and Sālesātele villages in Falealili, Atua, ‘Upolu.
Queen Salamāsina was buried following a long and peaceful reign in Mulifusi, Lotofaga, Atua, ‘Upolu. She had attained the lofty status of Tafa‘ifā during her lifetime and both her son (by Tapumanaia) and her daughter (by Alapepe) inherited high rank and prestige through her. Her reign is notable in Samoan history for its absence of warfare and many Samoans today feel pride in tracing their ancestry to Queen Salamasina.
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