- Mere Bella Tuaniu
Remembering a Humble Servant One Year On
Updated: Mar 23, 2022
Earlier this week on the 13th of March 2022, marked one year since the passing of our beloved late Managing Director – Latu Sauluitoga Kupa. Today we wish to honor his memory as we reflect on the man he was, the work he did and how much he meant to those of us who knew him.
Latu was born on 9th April 1963 in Papa Puleia, Savaii to parents- Reverend Kupa Euta and Fiapapalagi Kupa. He attended Lotofaga Primary School from 1969 – 1974 and continued his education at Leifiifi Intermediate from 1975-1976. From thereon, Latu made it to Samoa College (1977-1980) and in his final year was appointed as Deputy Head Boy. He was, by various accounts, a natural leader and in hindsight it seemed God granted him opportunities to lead people at an early age, equipping him for the calling God had on his life. After graduating Samoa College, he earned a scholarship to New Zealand and enrolled at New Plymouth Boys High School in 1981 before pursuing his Bachelor of Engineering, Mechanical at Canterbury University from 1982-1983 and then 1985 – 1988. While in Samoa, Latu dedicated a year to teaching Mathematics at Samoa College in 1984 before returning to Canterbury the following year. Upon graduating, he came back home determined to serve the people of Samoa with the knowledge he had acquired from his studies. Looking back on his academic journey, it is evident that from humble beginnings, his hard work and steadfast faith in God propelled him into his career.
Initially he worked as the Head of the Mechanical Division for the Public Works Department in 1989 -1991 before becoming the Deputy Director from 1992-1993, working alongside the Director of Public Works at the time – Leiataua Isikuki Punivalu. His experience while working with the Public Works Department primed him for what later became the foundation of Samoa Water Authority and eventually when he established his own private engineering consulting firm- KEW Consult Ltd. He was very passionate about water and this was apparent in the work he did.
In 1993, Latu became the General Manager of Samoa Water Authority. He coined the original slogan that SWA was known for in its formative years- “Water is life” (Suavai o le ola). Three simple words that not only portrayed what the corporation stood for but also symbolic of his faith in God.
John 7:38 (KJV) – “He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.”
After a decade of service at Samoa Water Authority, Latu established a private engineering consultancy firm in 2003. KEW Consult was short for Kupa Engineering and Water Consult. A company that was reflective of his morals and passion for providing professional services, ensuring sustainable development as well as clean and accessible water for Samoa and the region. KEW Consult’s values are- Christian principles, Integrity, Quality and Accountability. All of which were not only evident in the work implemented but also embodied by Latu well beyond the confines of his office.
When speaking with one of his staff members Maria Petaia who has worked for KEW Consult for 13 years now, she explained- “It will take more than a day to share about the great things Latu has done. There are too many to name. But of all his achievements, what was most notable was his unwavering faith in God. It was evident in the work he did in the office, out on the sites, at his Eagle Christian Fellowship church and in the way he loved his family. No matter what highs and lows we experienced as an office, in all my 13 years here, I have never seen Latu falter in his faith. He was optimistic, encouraging and always wore a smile. He never took credit for the work he did and was adamant in glorifying God in all his ways.”
The interview ended in a few tears and served as a reminder that KEW Consult did not only lose a leader but a father, a brother, a mentor and dear friend to many.
His eldest son Abraham Moega Kupa who had also worked closely with his father over the years shared an intimate insight on his experience working for his dad at KEW Consult-
“It was easy for me to communicate with my father about any issues that needed addressing, the challenge was to not cross the line which separates him from being father at home and boss at work. Working for my father was an opportunity that not many people get to experience, and it had more advantages than disadvantages. He was a great teacher and an even better mentor. I learnt a lot from him regarding the work that needed to be done. I often found myself marveling at his knowledge about the engineering field and did not realize how well respected he was in the engineering community. Although the knowledge that he had, awed me, what I was very proud of was the wisdom that he used to apply that knowledge. It often pushed me to work hard and strive for the same wisdom that I observed. I worked for him for 3 years, and not once have I seen him lose his calm, although there were times when the company was going through some problems with different projects, he stood steadfast in the face of the storms. I believe what anchored him so was his great faith in God, I saw the faith and trust that he had in God, enabling me to seek the same faith. Working for my father was one of the greatest experiences I have ever had in my life, and I will always cherish it and carry it with me through-out my work life.”
Apart from his work for KEW Consult, he was also simultaneously serving in other ways. From 2008 – 2016 he was the Voluntary Executive Director of Pacific Water and Wastes Association Secretariat and Pastor of the Eagle Christian Fellowship at Vaigaga, from 1998 until the day he was called home.
His commitment to service throughout his career was distinguished by his fervent faith, genuine compassion and personal humility that characterized his concern for everyone’s welfare. As we reminisce and attempt to remember him, we are honored that we can celebrate his life a year after his departure. We hope and endeavor to fully honor his memory through the way we live, the way we love, the way we work and most importantly in the way we worship and serve God. Time has not made it easier as his absence is still very much felt every day. However, God’s grace and comfort has carried us through. Therefore, we celebrate in the resounding knowledge that we will meet again in eternity. For now, we will hold on forever to the legacy and lessons Latu gifted to us before he departed to be with his Maker. We will continue to press on towards the mark of our calling and smile as he did, remain as humble as he was and be as steadfast in faith wherever and whenever we are called to serve.
(This blog is a memorial tribute which is not intended to glorify our late boss but to give all praise and honour to our God, whom he served faithfully)