Taufua beach fales flourishing a year on

By Cherelle Jackson

The owners of the Taufua Beach Fales were determined to rebuild what it had taken them 20 years to create. Photo / Supplied
The owners of the Taufua Beach Fales were determined to rebuild what it had taken them 20 years to create. Photo / Supplied

The restaurant of the Taufua Beach Fales is bustling with life.

There are more than 30 customers ranging from a 12-year-old Dutch boy to a 70-year-old Kiwi holiday maker.

The fish and chips is popular, and the waiters keep the flow of drinks going. It is after all a Saturday afternoon and the tourists are soaking up the sun and the atmosphere of Paradise at Taufua.

It's hard to believe that just a year ago the place was a wasteland, metres deep in debris left in the wake of the tsunami.

Lalomanu, dubbed the Waikiki of Samoa, was the hardest hit, and Taufua Beach Fales was at the heart of the devastation.

Everything was destroyed - not even the concrete slab of the original restaurant was visible after the tsunami hit the area.

All that remained of the Taufua Beach Fales were tourist luggage strewn on the beach, a stuffed animal, a broken cup, a nail and random small reminders of what used to be there.

The patriarch of the Taufua family at age 97 and great-granddaughter Moanalei Long, 9, were just two of 13 family members who perished in the tsunami.

The Taufuas not only suffered the loss of their family members, and injuries to the survivors, they also lost everything they worked for for 20 years and their livelihoods.

Owners Sili and Faáfetai Taufua were severely injured; it took six weeks of intensive care at MedCen Hospital for both of them to recover.

"It's one of those things where you think to yourself, this is it, it's all over," Sili said in an interview with nzherald.co.nz.

He said he and his wife talked about their future while lying in hospital recovering.

"It was easy to give up, but the truth is too many people depended on Taufua for us to give up on them too," Sili said.

He said the rebuilding of more than 20 beach fales was going to be a mission, but one that both him and Tai were driven to accomplish.

Today, if you stand on the beach and look back at the Taufua Beach Fales, you would never know that it was completely destroyed a year ago.

It has come back in full force, with more fales, a slightly bigger restaurant, and more staff.

"We built in one year what it took us 20 years to build before the tsunami," Sili said.

Their resilience is obvious in the success of Taufua Beach Fales, with a recorded 100 per cent capacity on weekends, filled with overseas and local tourists alike.

Amongst the tourists are Kiwis Roselle Gould, Dave Beaty and their daughters Teresa and Louisa.

"We had to come and support the local tourism industry. These people deserve the support," Roselle said.

The couple are in Samoa for a week and say they are impressed with the recovery made by Taufua in one year.

"To think that this was all ruined by the tsunami and now it's back into the full swing of things," Roselle said.

A Taufua waiter approaches the table and hands the family a menu. With a smile, he turns around and waits for their order.

It is just another day in the busy Taufua restaurant.

- NZ Herald

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