Samoan trailblazer who could be nation's next PM relishes being role model for young women

Source: 1News

Samoa is awaiting official election results, with a dead heat between the two main parties leaving all eyes on independent candidate Tuala Tevaga Iosefo Ponifasio as to who will become the Pacific Nation's prime minister.

The election could mean remarkable change for the nation, because after more than two decades Tuilaepa Aiono Sailele Malielegaoi has been the second-longest serving Prime Minister in the world.

As well, his HRPP party has dominated Samoan politics for four decades.

But that could all come to an end once the results are finalised — expected at the end of this week.

Former Deputy Prime Minister Fiame Naomi Mata’afa is now leader of the Faatuatua i Le Atua Samoa ua Tasi (FAST) party, which has put up an incredible challenge.

As the results currently stand, Fast and HRPP both have 25 seats, with one additional kingmaker seat going a first-term independent MP Tuala Tevaga Iosefo Ponifasio.

Fiame this morning told Breakfast, though, that the independent MP had indicated siding with her party Fast.

"Tuala has said prior to the election that if he won he would come to us, that has also been the message that he took out to the constituency ... so, we'll see," she said.

The pair are yet to speak since Samoans took to the polls on Friday, but they plan to meet today.

"I'm still feeling very thankful for the response from the country through the voting," Fiame said.

However, she wouldn't take all the credit for building such a strong force so fast — praising her colleagues for their work on the campaign.

Fiame did hope, though, that her success would be a good example to women, especially young women.

"I've been a very strong advocate of women's participation in politics," she said.

"I don't think it's just being Prime Minister — I think in any field where women have trailblazed — so I think I've always been conscious of the fact about being a role model."

Meanwhile, earlier on Breakfast New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said she had met with both prime minister contenders, and both had strong relationships with New Zealand.

"It's really interesting to watch what's happening there and over the coming weeks."

Ardern said whoever becomes prime minister, the relationship with New Zealand will remain "business as usual".

"The fantastic thing is — both with the current Prime Minister and the contender for prime minister — both [have] strong relationships with New Zealand."