Chief Sielu

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Chief Sielu

Malietoatauasa Faamoetauloa
Chief Sielu in 2015
Folosielu Avea

(1961-08-20) August 20, 1961 (age 62)
Savai'i, Western Samoa
  • Samoan
  • American
CitizenshipUnited States
  • Luau producer
  • Host
  • Comedian
  • Fire knife dancer
  • Actor
  • Musician
  • Singer
  • Author
Years active1982–present
Spouse(s)Sharla Avea (m. 1998)

Chief Sielu is a Samoan-born Hawaiian, comedian, and ambassador of Polynesian culture.[1] Since 2012 he has been the producer and host of Chief’s Luau, a Hawaiian Lūʻau on Oahu.[2][3]

In 1993, he became the first World Fire Knife Dance Champion, which is held annually in Laie, Hawaii,[4] and has performed in dozens of countries. Chief Sielu has appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show, The Tonight Show, MTV, and BBC Television, Drunk History,[5] Impractical Jokers,[6] and the Miss Universe Pageant. In 2002, he threw the flaming spear that ignited the ceremonial torch at the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City.[7][8]

Chief Sielu’s formal title awarded to him by the Head of State of Independent Samoa is Malietoatauasa Faamoetauloa.[9]

Early Life

Chief Sielu was born and raised in the remote jungles Western Samoa on the island of Savaiʻi. He was five years old when he encountered the first person outside of his immediate family. He and his family of ten lived off the grid farming mainly taro and bananas.[10]

In 1981, he moved to Oahu to attend Brigham Young University-Hawaii. While majoring there in mathematics, he also worked part time at a nearby cultural museum where he honed his entertainment skills. The experience changed the direction of his life.[10]

At 25, he was tapped by the elders of Samoa to return to endure a weeklong tattooing ceremony after which he was awarded the esteemed title of High Chief bestowed upon him by the Head of State of Independent Samoa.[9]


While a student at BYU Hawaii, Chief Sielu taught himself the art of fire knife dancing and pioneered a comedic routine for coconut husking and fire making cultural demonstrations. He performed regularly at the Polynesian Cultural Center in Laie, until leaving the center in 2002.[10] During his tenure there, he became the first official World Fire Knife Dance Champion and for his charismatic charm and humor was recognized as one of Hawaii’s premier cultural ambassadors and performers perpetuating traditional Polynesian culture.[11]

BYU Magazine observed that Chief Sielu was a born comedian whose entertainment skills were so captivating, his audiences don’t realize how much they are learning. After starting a fire with the aid of just two wooden sticks and some coconut fiber, the writer described how he then climbed a coconut tree barefoot with only a loop of cloth to aid him striking poses for photos on his way up to a steady stream of laughter.[10] His fire knife dance routine is recounted as a flaming knife burning circles in the air, occasionally tossed high above the crowd. At a certain point he adds a second knife, twirling them both while jumping and doing handsprings over them. A final observation was given that the fire knife dance is appropriately named, as Chief Sielu’s arms and hands are covered with scars and burns.[10]

Chief Sielu is recognized by the Samoa Tourism Authority as an international Polynesian celebrity and tourism ambassador, a status achieved through his three decades of entertaining tourists at the best luaus on Oahu, most recently since 2012 at his main production, Chief’s Luau in Honolulu where he shares his Polynesian culture with Hawaii visitors.[3]

Earlier in his performing career, Chief Sielu had performed his fire knife dance at other luaus on Oahu including Germaine’s Luau and Paradise Cove Luau.[12][13] In 2014, Chief Sielu took a one week hiatus from his Honolulu luau to headline Samoa’s 24th annual Teuila Festival accompanied by his group of 20 luau performers at an invitation from the nation’s Prime Minister.[7]

Chief Sielu was featured on the cover of MidWeek Magazine on October 16, 1991. Chief’s Luau is now a prominent Hawaii activity on Oahu.[11] Chief Sielu was the featured entertainer at Samoan Heritage Week in Honolulu in 2010.[14]

Chief’s Luau

The foundation for Chief’s Luau was laid in the late 1980’s when Chief Sielu was performing daytime cultural demonstrations. During that time, he was approached by Eddie Sax and Charlotte Sax, founders of the Honolulu Comedy Club which is now operating as the Waikiki Comedy Club at the Hilton Waikiki Beach.[15]

After seeing Chief Sielu’s comedy coconut husking and fire making presentations, the Saxes asked him to appear at their comedy club alongside the stand-up comedians they brought to Hawaii from Los Angeles and New York, among which included George Wallace, Jeff Foxworthy, Brad Garrett, Jeff Dunham, and George Lopez.[11] His working relationship with the Saxes expanded in 2012 when they partnered to create Chiefs Luau.

Chief Sielu explains the philosophy behind his Oahu luau production in that it goes beyond revitalizing ancient tradition and custom. He incorporates an interactive experience with his guests so they become an integral part of the entire luau experience. Included are the instructional and learning portions of the luau program with his cast of warriors and directly participating in the stage production which occurs later in the program.[11]

In its 1991 cover story on Chief Sielu, MidWeek Magazine noted his ultimate goal was to create the best luau in Hawaii, a passion born from what he says he perceived as a lack of Hawaii activities which focused on cultural preservation with enough entertainment value to hold visitors’ attention. The Chief described his work as different, because he shares the ways of old Polynesia but with the energy from his Samoan roots for feasting, celebration, and hands on interaction.[16][11]

The early part of the Chief’s Luau program includes activities such as teaching audience members how to weave Polynesian headbands from palm leaves and learning how to make fire from rubbing sticks. The latter entertainment portion of the event focuses on the history of Hawaii and the Pacific Islands through song, humor, and dance.[17]

In December 2017, Wet'n'Wild Hawaii created a brand new home for Chiefs Luau and its owners, Chief Sielu and Eddie Sax. The 50,000 square foot renovation for guests was designed by Chief Sielu himself and his vision made reality by Jerry Pupillo and Scott Loos of Wet’n’Wild Hawaii.[18][19]

In a 2018 television interview on KHON-TV, Chief Sielu noted that as the creator, producer, and host of Chief’s Luau, the motivation behind how he designed the new space, which is located in a secluded section inside the Wet’n’Wild facility, was based on feeling. The experience is more than just a show, he explained. It’s for the people and the feeling he says he wants them to have. From May 2012 through December 2017, Chief’s Luau operated its luau at Sea Life Park until moving to its permanent venue at Wet’n’Wild Hawaii.[20]

Chief Sielu credits his mother and father with instilling within him the desire to share his Polynesian culture with people from all walks of life. Chief Sielu explains that for the show there is no script, but all through feelings and spirit. He advocates the necessity to always share the Aloha spirit with everybody who comes to the islands. Compared to all Oahu luaus, he believes his vision has been achieved in Chief’s Luau.[21]


Chief Sielu made his cinematic debut in Brett Wagner’s short film entitled Chief, an award-winner at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival.[11][22] The film follows the character Semu Fatutoa, played by Chief Sielu, who drives a taxi in Honolulu, Hawaii. Previously he had been a village Chief in Samoa, but tragedy compelled him to cover his tattoos and flee his home. The plot of the movie has his character driving in circles, trying to forget about his old life. Unfortunately, his old life is looking for him as he comes upon a young Hawaiian girl in desperate need of his help.


In 1994, Chief Sielu published an authoritative work on the Samoan tattoo entitled, Tatau: The art of the Samoan tattoo.[9]


Chief Sielu Avea, his wife; Sharla Avea, and their two children, Samuta and Siela, live in Hauʻula, Hawaii on the north shore of the island of Oahu. Samuta plays basketball for University of Hawaii in the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors basketball program.[23] Siela is an all-star high school volleyball player.[24]


  1. Wells Tower,"The Hawaii Cure". 12 March 2017. Retrieved 26 September 2020.
  2. "Chief's Luau is headed West with a permanent home at Wet'n'Wild". 12 January 2018. Retrieved 26 September 2020.
  3. 3.0 3.1 "Samoa Tourism Sector Plan 2014-2019" (PDF). 12 March 2017. Retrieved 26 September 2020.
  4. "Pulefano Galea'i: The History of PCC's Special Event and Samoan Knife Dancing". 6 May 2016. Retrieved 26 September 2020.
  5. "Drunk History". Retrieved 26 September 2020.
  6. "Impractical-jokers season-8 episode-28 Summer Vacation". Retrieved 26 September 2020.
  7. 7.0 7.1 "Stellar line up for 24th Teuila Festival 2014 in the heart of Apia". Retrieved 26 September 2020.
  8. "Stellar line up for 24th Teuila Festival 2014 in the heart of Apia". Retrieved 26 September 2020.
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 Avea, Sielu (1994). Tatau: The Art of the Samoan Tattoo. Published by Sielu Ent.
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 10.4 Connie Myers,"Polynesian Cultural Center: Cultural Feast, Student Lifeline". Retrieved 26 September 2020.
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 11.3 11.4 11.5 Chris Fleck,"Chief Sielu Avea". 29 February 2012. Retrieved 26 September 2020.
  12. [Samoan Showman: Sielu Avea, Fire Knife Dancer and Comic, Cover Story, Midweek Magazine, by Ceil Sinnex, October 16, 1991]
  13. "Chief's Luau moves to Wet'n'Wild". 2 January 2018. Retrieved 26 September 2020.
  14. "Event celebrates Samoan culture". 13 August 2010. Retrieved 26 September 2020.
  15. Wayne Harada, "Comedians Eddie Sax and Bo Irvine perform at Turtle Bay". Retrieved 26 September 2020.
  16. Samoan Showman: Sielu Avea, Fire Knife Dancer and Comic, Cover Story, Midweek Magazine, by Ceil Sinnex, October 16, 1991
  17. Claire Leckie, "HAWAII ROCKS Discover the lush landscapes of Hawaii where Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson filmed Jumanji: The Next Level". 7 December 2019. Retrieved 26 September 2020.
  18. "West Oahu Means Business". Retrieved 26 September 2020.
  19. A. Kam Napier,"PBN's West Oahu Means Business panel discussion: Slideshow". 10 May 2019. Retrieved 26 September 2020.
  20. "Chiefs Luau: New Home". 5 January 2015. Retrieved 26 September 2020.
  21. "Island Explorer: Chief'S Luau". Retrieved 26 September 2020.
  22. "Q&A: Brett Wagner". Retrieved 26 September 2020.
  23. "UH Men'S Basketball Signs Avea During Early Period". 17 November 2016. Retrieved 26 September 2020.
  24. "wp content uploads". Retrieved 26 September 2020.

External Links

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