|Chief Apostle Dr. Samani Pulepule|
The Late Chief Apostle with the Late First Lady
13 October 1923
|Died||4 June 2013
Mangere, New Zealand
Evangelist Presiding President Samoan Assemblies of God
|Years active||1960 - 2011|
|Successor||Reverend Motu Matia|
Samani Pulepule (13 October 1923 – 4 June 2013), formally His Eminence and Most Reverend, Chief Apostle Dr. Samani Pulepule was a Samoan minister since the early 1950s in the Assemblies of God movement. Dr Pulepule was also the Chief Apostle of the Samoan Assemblies of God in New Zealand for over 40 years and was elected as the World Chairman of the Samoan Assemblies of God International. Also the Tokelauan Assemblies of God and Tuvaluan Assemblies of God came under his leadership.
The Right Reverend was the senior pastor for the Grey Lynn Samoan A/G congregation in Auckland. It was one of the fastest growing and largest Samoan congregation in the world. Dr Pulepule also planted over 100 churches throughout New Zealand, and was a leading key factor in the establishment of the Samoan Assemblies of God around the world where Samoan communities were present. In Australia he planted over 60 Samoan A/G Congregations. He was heavily involved in mission work, especially in Samoa and American Samoa where almost 200 congregations make up the District Council of the Assemblies of God in Samoa. His leadership reached mainland USA who currently has over 90 congregations mainly along the west coast states. Dr. Pulepule also administered the establishment of the Samoan Assemblies of God in Hawaii and Alaska where together over 50 congregations thrive. In the 1990s Pulepule assisted in the establishing of the Samoan Assemblies of God in England and Germany. The World Tongan Assemblies of God fellowship began when the Tongan leaders sought assistance from Dr. Pulepule who helped establish a worldwide movement. In 2005 the New Zealand Samoan movement he led went through a phase of division where 40 churches stayed under the Assemblies of God in New Zealand umbrella, and 45 churches left and became an autonomous fellowship under his direction.
Since 2005 the church under his direction has grown from 45 to over 80 at this present time, and the church continues to grow and is still known to be the fastest growing Pentecostal movement in New Zealand.
On 25 September 2011, Pulepule officially resigned from all his posts of Chief Apostle, General Superintendent and World Chairman in the Samoan Assemblies of God movement. In attendance were the former General Superintendents of the Assemblies of God in New Zealand, Assemblies of God leaders around the world, the Mayor of Auckland, the Auckland City Council and Members of Parliament as well as leaders of all the other Pentecostal denominations who all paid tribute to Dr. Pulepule and the First Lady.
Since the beginning of the Samoan Assemblies of God in New Zealand, the church group have rejected many traditional Samoan cultural practices.
Pulepule was known as one of the eldest serving Pastors in the Southern Hemisphere.
His wife, First Lady Sapapali'i Pulepule died on 21 May 2013. Pulepule died two weeks later on 4 June 2013. Thousands attended both memorial services for two great pioneers in the Assemblies of God movement. The New Zealand Government also presented gifts and the national flag of New Zealand was draped over their coffins.
Early life and History
Pulepule was born on October 13, 1923, in the village of Solosolo, Samoa (formerly Western Samoa) to Tupolesava Pulepule Matu'u II and Aimama Tuala Tagaloa of Saluafata who were members of the L.M.S in Solosolo. He has 9 siblings and is the second eldest child.
He became a teacher at Avele College, and later met his wife Sapapali'i, both were members of the CCCS (Congregational Christian Church of Samoa or L.M.S). By then the Assemblies of God from American Samoa had already begun missions in the Samoan islands.
In 1963, Pastors Makisua & Mauosamoa Fatialofa were holding Revival meetings in Lotopa. It was at these meetings that Samani and Sapapalii were saved. The Late Pastor and Evangelist Barry Smith, a school teacher at that time who worked with Samani at Samoa College, had brought them to the meetings, and it was from that day on, Pulepule and the First Lady devoted the rest of their life to the church and its purposes. (Pentecost to the uttermost: History of the Assemblies of God: Dr. Tavita Pagaialii,Pg.53)[verification needed]
In 1965 they were both appointed to lead Faleasi'u Assembly of God (the first A/G church in Samoa), and within 1 year moved to New Zealand and began to witness the power of God that transformed their lives. In New Zealand, there were already a few Samoan Pentecostal churches at the time, the first one starting in Wellington by the late Pastor Fred Ama.
Pulepule and his wife planted a church in the Grey Lynn area in Auckland, and the church grew rapidly, having to extend their church more than 5 times just to cater to the 500 plus strong congregation. In 1967, Grey Lynn Samoan A/G was the first ethnic church to align with the Assemblies of God in New Zealand. The 20 or so Samoan Pentecostal churches thought their church would become more effective if they all came together, and at that time these Pentecostal churches had united and officially became the Samoan Assemblies of God in New Zealand under the leadership of Pulepule, there he was elected as the Superintendent of the Samoan movement in New Zealand, and it soon became the fastest growing church in New Zealand.
In 1992 the Samoan Assemblies of God Convention Centre officially opened. The center was named the "Samani Pulepule Convention/Community Centre" and it seats up to 4,000 people.
In 1999 the Grey Lynn church relocated to Mt. Roskill where it purchased an old factory building for NZ$1.6 million, and renamed their church from Grey Lynn to Auckland Samoan Assembly of God, which has been the church of the General Superintendent for over 40 years.
In September 2011, Pulepule resigned as the Superintendent for the Samoan Assemblies of God fellowship around the World.
Family and Heritage
During their time in ministry, Pulepule and the First Lady had 3 children, Onesemo, Sera and Talalelei. Onesemo moved to Australia and founded the Melbourne Samoan Assembly of God church, and in 2001 was elected as the General Superintendent of the Samoan Assemblies of God in Australia. All are Samoan-born. His brother Taulapapa Mama Pulepule is also currently Pastor for the Falefa Assembly of God in Samoa and has been for several years, His younger brother Ieti is also a Pastor for the Paraparaumu church. His other brother Tautiaga (who holds the Magele of Lufilufi & Lemusu of Solosolo titles) and sisters Masina, Tivalo & Lanuola. Other siblings who died at a young age were Niu, Levao, Momoemaluapia.
A three-day homegoing celebration was held from 13–15 June 2013. The first celebration service was a Pastors celebration service held at the church he founded, Grey Lynn Auckland Samoan Assembly of God, eulogies were made by local pastors, as well as the Executive Council of the Samoan Assemblies of God in New Zealand. The second celebration service was held at the Samani Pulepule Convention Centre, a complex which seats 4,000 people, eulogies were made by family members, and a special musical from the Auckland Samoan A/G church. In attendance were the Tongan Assemblies of God, a church that Pulepule had helped with becoming a worldwide fellowship, also in attendance were the former Assemblies of God Leaders from around the world, local members of Parliament, and leaders of other major denominations. The third service was the Assemblies of God National/International service. This was held at the Auckland Samoan Assemblies of God, and a special presentation from the New Zealand Government, the National and Labour Parties were made to Pulepule's family. Tagata Pasifika, a well-known television news broadcast had special coverage of the homegoing services. Pulepule was buried next to his wife, who had died two weeks earlier. Thousands of people from all over the world gathered to celebrate a life of devotion and faithfulness. Sunday services the following day were spread out across the Auckland metropolitan area to cater to the thousands of dignitaries and pastors from around the world. Over 4,000 people gathered every night of the three-day celebration.
From between 1962 and 1963 Pulepule became the 3rd Pastor of Faleasi'u Assembly of God, he then moved to New Zealand in 1963 and founded the Grey Lynn Samoan A/G and in 1999 Pulepule founded the Auckland Samoan Assembly of God, a church that grew from 4 families to over 500 adherents in 10 years.
Since 1967 he was elected as the General Superintendent at one of the Camp Meetings in Wellington, and recently resigned from this post in September 2011.
He was also elected as Chairman of the Worldwide Fellowship following the death of Pastor Max Haleck, Jr. in 2006. From 2006 and 2011 Pulepule held the post of World Chairman, until he resigned in September 2011. Succeeding him on this role is his son, Onesemo Pulepule, who was called into office at the resignation of his father.
Pastor Motu Matia
In an interview with ABC Australia presenter Geraldine Coutts, New Zealand MP William Sio said that Dr. Pulepule had genuine concern for the people he led. In a question asked by Coutts mentioning the way the church went about things with traditional Samoan practices and the pioneering role he had had in the change, she asked about the practices in particular were rejected. Sio replied that in the case of weddings and funerals etc., it was the exchange of fine mats. And often money and food which puts a burden on the extended family. He found that even though the practice still exists, it has been somewhat modified without the extravagance they were accustomed to and making it more in line with what the communities could afford.
This played a key role in the church's rapid growth. People were drawn to his genuine concern for their wellbeing spiritually and physically. His message to the worldwide fellowship was received with a rousing support. Dr. Pulepule will be remembered because he was simply a servant. The Samoan congregations will never forget the time where the Te Puke Samoan A/G church were preparing to bless their new church when a few members of the church were in a fatal car accident, a father and two sons died leaving a widow and their youngest child. During the service where a love offering was collected for Dr. Pulepule, he stopped the service and collected a love offering for the widow and her child. These were one of many great things Pulepule had done, and one of the many reasons he was admired and known as the spiritual father of the movement.