Tauese P. F. Sunia was born in Fagatogo, American Samoa. He earned a bachelor’s degree in history and political science from Kearny State Teachers’ College in Nebraska, a master’s degree in educational administration from the University of Hawaii, and an honorary doctorate from the Golden Gate University. Governor Sunia spent many years as a teacher, educational television instructor, administrator, American Samoa Community College vice president and territorial director of education. He started practicing law as a counselor for Samoan land and title cases in 1968, and later served as president of the American Samoa Bar Association from 1991-92. Governor Sunia had also served as a deacon with the Congregational Christian Church in American Samoa since 1971. The highest Am. Samoa Ta’u Island talking chief title “Tauese” was conferred upon him in 1984.
He became Lt. Governor during the Governor A.P. Lutali electorate of 1993-96. Afterwards, he was elected twice as Governor of American Samoa in 1996 and again in 2000, thereby becoming the first American Samoan governor elected to two consecutive terms. He was elected chairman of the CCCAS church in 1996 and was appointed to oversee all of its affairs in American Samoa, Hawaii, New Zealand, and the mainland United States. During his governorship, one of his highest priorities was health care.
He passed legislation to separate the LBJ Tropical Medical Center from the government and created a semi-autonomous authority to manage the hospital. He worked diligently towards a promise to make every child computer literate, and to ensure every school had a computer room with Internet access. He also instituted a Dare to Compare standard, whereby students were measured against national educational benchmarks as opposed to local standards, thereby raising the level and quality of the American Samoan Dept. of Education. Governor Sunia died enroute to Hawaii in 2003 and was survived by his wife Fagaoali’i, children and relatives.