Sam Ah Chookoon, aka The Samoan Cowboy, is flying into Hawke’s Bay to headline a fundraiser being put on to help the communities in Samoa devastated by the measles epidemic.
A young man with rapper looks and a huge country voice, Sam Ah Chookoon is massively popular in the Pacific Islands and has a rapidly growing audience across New Zealand, Australia and the US. The relationship between Hastings District Council chief executive Nigel Bickle and Samoa triggered The Cowboy’s involvement.
The gig is on Friday night (December 20) at 5pm in Flaxmere Park, and there will be a whole heap of local talent on the stage backing up the Samoan star, says co-organiser Tumema Faioso.
The measles epidemic has ravaged Samoa over the past weeks and the local Samoan community has been putting a plan together to achieve two aims: raise funds for the struggling families in Samoa who have lost more than 70 loved ones, and to bring the Pasifika and wider community together in Hawke’s Bay to support each other.
“It has been a real time of grieving here too for our community from Samoa; we have family living through this and it really is the only thing we are all talking about – at church, at home, at work,” says Ms Faioso. “We really feel a strong need to do what we can to help.”
Bringing it all together has been a real labour of love by a whole range of Hawke’s Bay people.
A conversation between Mr Bickle, who has very close links to Samoa, and some of the 140 Samoan RSE workers staying in the Bay, has led to Sam Ah Chookoon taking part.
“Tuatagaloa Joe Annandale, who is the chief of my village over in Samoa, gave me a call the next morning and said Sam had been planning to come and perform on a different date here and he could move it to fit in with the fundraiser,” says Mr Bickle.
That will prove a big hit with the Pasifika community, which is already passionate about his music – and will give a whole new audience a chance to hear him.
But he will not be the only highlight of the night, with the 140 Samoan RSE workers also practising this week ahead of taking to the stage and performances by the Mafia Dance Group, Project Prima Volta, and the Tongan community.
The group putting the gig together includes Samoan leaders from within the community: Charles Faletutulu, Tivaini Fomai, Tumema Faioso, Tofilau Talelelei Taufale, Peleti Oli and Traci Tuimaseve.
RSE employers are covering the cost of getting Sam Ah Chookoon to Hawke’s Bay, while the star is giving his talents for free.
“This time of grief is bringing us all together to do what we can for our families in Samoa,” says Ms Faioso.
All of the funds raised will be managed by Unicef “as they are best placed to know what our people need”.
For those who can’t make the concert, donations can be made via the link: www.unicef.org.nz/appeal/samoa-measles-emergency
17 December 2019
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