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Samoan canoe in Social Science Tower September 13, 2011

Posted by ucisca in Early UCI Campus.
Tags: , , , , , ,

Have you ever wondered where the canoe in the Social Science Tower came from? It was actually made on the UCI campus in 1968 by an experienced Samoan boat-builder. The 36-year old man was from the village of Satalo on the island of Upolu, Western Samoa. His family had a long history of expertise in carpentry, and he was an experienced boat-builder and fisherman. Known as UliUli, he held the chiefly title Uliulileave, and he had spent his entire life on the island of Satalo before coming to UCI.

AS-061. University Communication Photographs. Special Collections and Archives, the U.C. Irvine Libraries, Irvine, California.

There are 3 motion pictures from the University of California, Irvine, Department of Anthropology documenting the construction and use of a canoe by Uliulileave from Satalo, Samoa, as well as the work of a master Yucatec Maya potter named Alfredo Tzum. For more information on these films, visit UCI Space.

UPDATE: We are sorry to report that Uliuli passed away on January 25, 2015. More information is available here —



1. Jessica - November 4, 2011

My dad, Philip J. Epling, arranged for UliUli to come from Samoa. He is a relative of my mom, Dr. Epling’s wife. We have many more pictures, I believe. I’m pleased to see it isstill there!

Anonymous - June 4, 2012

You may be interested in the exhibit “Learning by Doing at the Farm,” which opens this Thursday. More info: http://sites.uci.edu/thefarm/

Missy - February 3, 2015

Hey Jessica,

just wondering im Uliulileava’s Grandaughter…just seeing this post on FB shocked me alot and after your comment just a question hw is your mum related?? it would be really great to get everyone connected again

Jessica Irvine - January 25, 2016


Uliuli is a distant cousin on the Talo side of my mom’s family. My mom knew of him as a child in the village of Satalo — she’s much older than he. My grandmother was a Talo and was married to Iosea Fualautoalsi. He was an orator chief in the 30s until his death in the late 1950s.

2. Anonymous - March 31, 2013

wow this man pictured here is my grandmother’s first cousin. He is still alive today. I had a picture taken with him last week in Samoa. This is amazing!!

ucisca - April 2, 2013

Send me the picture, I’ll post it. You may also be interested in two films that were made of him while he was here at UC Irvine, the first and the third link here:
They take a bit of time to load. Enjoy!

3. Anonymous - February 2, 2015

O.m.g. I didn’t knw there are photos of my beloved grandad (Uliulileava Olano) on this site. For your information, he is 82 years now and he is still strong.

ucisca - February 4, 2015

I wanted to let every one of you know that Bill Maurer, the Dean of the School of Social Sciences, is planning to hold a “rededication” of the canoe in the Social Science Tower on April 2, 2016, as part of the celebration of the 50th Anniversary of UCI. This event is being planned now. It will include several speakers, but he is envisioning this as a fun, community-building event at which we’ll welcome alums and have a chance to reconnect with this part of our past. Dean Maurer would love to invite family and friends, as well as Uliuli himself, to this event. Relatives who are interested in this celebration and can help us contact Uliuli or his family, please contact me, Steve MacLeod at smacleod@uci.edu or 949-824-4967. Thank you.

Priscilla Olano - January 25, 2016

I am his grand daughter too lol! It is truly amazing to see my grandfather in these photos.

Eseta Agaiava-Agege - January 31, 2016

Hi Steve, we are honored & grateful for sharing this article with us. I’m a niece to Uliuli and my brothers & I reside in California. Unfortunately, my uncle Uliuli just recently passed last wk in Western Samoa (his funeral services will be nxt wk Feb.3, 2016) He is survived by his children, grandchildren. I will definitely inform my sister/relatives in Samoa to let his children know about this special event. We will be honored to attend. I will contact you via phone. Thank you & God bless.

4. Priscilla Olano - January 25, 2016

Talofa to you guys 🙂

My name is Priscilla Olano, and I am one of Uliuli’s grand daughters. My grandfather, Taloolemaagao Uliulileava Olano Maua, sadly passed away yesterday, Monday 25th January 2016.

I came across this article last year around September, and I showed these photos to my grandfather. He was very happy to see them and he loved telling us, his grandchildren, stories of his time there.

I just thought of contacting you to let you know of his passing. He had been very sick for the past few years after he had an operation, and had been in so much pain for too long. The doctors tried all they could to help him but, my grandfather wanted to rest a long time ago.

We all miss him dearly, but we know that he is very happy to finally be with our grandmother and with our Father in heaven. He looked so peaceful as we said our final goodbyes yesterday.

And thank you for this great article! We are all so proud of our grandfather’s achievements, and to have these photos of him really brings so much joy to our hearts.

Thank you again!

5. Priscilla Olano - January 25, 2016

I noticed that you mention the videos of the construction of the canoe. Is there a possibility of our family having access to that as well? or is that only for the university students?

Thank you,
Priscilla Olano

ucisca - February 4, 2016

The two videos are available here — https://goo.gl/6EPxjE
If any one knows who the other man in the canoe is, please let me know.
Thank you!
–Steve MacLeod

6. Rach Williams - January 28, 2016

Sad to see this Priscilla as you grandpa has just passed away and I hope the Uni updates it’s infor whilst you all get connected with your relatives the Jessica Epling.

7. Rach Williams - January 29, 2016

Priscilla can you contact Steve Macleod on his email address to update him on the passing of your grandpa this week.

8. Eseta Agaiava-Agege - January 30, 2016

My brother just shared this on our Family Facebook. Uliuli is my late Father’s brother. Unfortunately, he just passed last week. And we are sharing this piece (article) on our Family Page and we will be honored to attend this event at UCI. Hopefully my Uncles children or grandchildren will be able to join us. My husband Dr. Agege was teaching at your UCI extension campus here in Sunnyvale. We will both make plans to attend. *Thank You UCI*

9. Maua - February 3, 2016

Great Uncle Uliuli, also known as Talolemaagao, passed away in January and yesterday my family in Samoa laid him to rest. Uncle Uliuli is grandma’s first cousin but were raised as brother and sisters. He was a very intelligent and loving man. I am planing to attend the rededication ceremony in April in honor of his legacy and the significant of the canoe mentioned on the article above. I am named after uncle Talo’s dad “Maua”.

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