By Renate Rivers
The groundwork for Samoa’s very first crematorium is finally underway at the Tafaigata site where a multi-purpose facility is expected to satisfy a growing demand for cremation services.
Set within the grounds of the Tafaigata Cemetery and adjacent to the Tsunami Memorial, the crematorium will also boast a chapel and related facilities set to cater for funeral services.
According to Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, cremation will offer an economical option for families already faced with high funeral costs, as well as providing a service for foreigners visiting or living in Samoa.
“This is another service for the country… we want to ensure that opportunities available in other countries are also made available for the people of Samoa, as well as for visitors and expatriates who reside in Samoa but wish to be taken back to their homeland in the event they pass away on Samoan soil.”
Local stalwart of the interment services industry, Pau Sefo Pau – of Sefo’s Funeral Services – will operate the crematorium and associated facilities.
Pau spoke of the importance of being prepared, and having options for overseas visitors to Samoa.
“As was shown with the tsunami of 2009, we must always be prepared for the unexpected… so to have a facility such as this to meet any unforeseen needs both from our local community and especially from visitors to Samoa, is very important.”
“The costs involved with cremation are substantially lower than that of traditional burial services, as the process is straight-forward and the remains are then stored or scattered, as opposed to the costly process of burial that includes caskets, headstones etc,” Pau explained.
This was also maintained by Tuilaepa who said that the cost of burials can be enormous burdens on the aggrieved – with little respite from the demands on resources to furnish the ceremony – which can include embalming, a casket, cement for the gravesite, headstones etc.
The crematorium will service all of Samoa, and according to Pau Sefo, plans to open a similar facility in Savaii will remain on the backburner for now.
Construction will commence this week and services are anticipated to be ready by June of this year.
The crematorium will sit on two of the 23 acres currently set aside for the Tafaigata cemetery and memorial site.
*Pictured: Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi breaking ground with Pau Sefo Pau