Age is nothing but a number for 81-year-old Marie Margaret Ripley.
Having served the people of Samoa for 64 years as a public servant, she is exceptional and was deservedly the recipient of the Long Service Award for her service during the Public Service Awards this year.
Even at her twilight age, Mrs. Ripley remembers her first day of work as if it were yesterday.
“My first day of work was 3 August, 1953, and it was like winning the lottery,” she said.
“Back then, getting a job was rare, so earning the spot and getting a job was a big deal to me.”
“My first job was at 2AP as a shorthand typist.”
According to Mrs. Ripley, the highlight of her working career was working under four Prime Ministers.
“I worked at the Prime Minister’s Office, during the time the New Zealand Government was in office.
“And then when ‘Samoa became independent’, I served under Prime Ministers Fiame Mata’afa Mulinu’u II; Tufuga Efi; Vaai Kolone and Tofilau Eti Alesana,” she said.
According to Mrs. Ripley, secretarial work is very vital in any Government Ministry.
“We are the heart of every office. We are in charge of all clerical and administrative functions such as drafting correspondence, scheduling appointments, organizing and maintaining paper and electronic files, or providing information to callers.”
“We as secretaries or administrative assistants are essentially clerical and organizational professionals who help keep the office or workplace run smoothly.”
She said at times their work is not recognized, but then without secretaries, the office would not function properly.
“I am one proud secretary,” said Mrs. Ripley.
A graduate of St Mary’s, Ms. Ripley said being a Secretary “you literally have to be superwoman”.
“As the support personnel, we have tough jobs trying to keep offices together, arranging meetings, taking phone calls and dealing with angry people on a regular basis.”
“Pleasing people is part of our daily job and at times that is a bit difficult, but that is why you are a secretary you make sure everything runs smoothly and so people skills is a must in this line of work,” she told the Samoa Observer.
“The key to having a healthy working relationship in the office is to include interpersonal, organizational and with a positive professional attitude,” she said.
Her last post prior to retirement was being the second Secretary to the Minister of M.N.R.E. and Deputy Prime Minister, Fiame Naomi Mataafa.
“I worked for her father, Samoa’s first ever Prime Minister, Mata’afa Faumuina Mulinu’u II and I retired while working under his daughter, who is Deputy Prime Minister.”
“Another highlight for me,” she said proudly.
“Fiame is the true meaning of a tama’ita’i tamali’i.”
“A very good boss, a very considerate boss and I’m happy that I retired while working under her leadership.”
“I am happy that Samoa’s history has Fiame as Deputy Prime Minister and I was working under her.”
“She’s a strong advocate for greater participation of women in Parliament,” said Mrs. Ripley.
Ripley was married to the late Avalogo Edward Ainu’u Ripley, and they have three children, Edward Edmond, Tua’ifafie Leiataua Peter and Filomena Tu’uolo.
“I am a grandmother and a great grandmother,” she said smiling.
At the Public Service Commission, award ceremony this year, Mrs. Ripley was recognized for her long service, dedication and loyalty to the people of Samoa and government.
The Public Service Commission, on behalf of Government, commends Mrs. Ripley for her dedication and loyalty to the Public Service and she is truly an inspiration to us all working in the Service.
Mrs. Ripley exemplifies the values of the Public Service and is highly praised for her commitment to her work and contribution to Samoa.
Mrs. Ripley employment history in the Public Service:
• She started work in the Public Service on the 3rd of August 1953 as a Shorthand typist in the Broadcasting Department.
• In 1964 she became the Stenographer in Charge for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs up until 1997.
• In this same year, Mrs. Ripley became the Second Secretary for the Honourable Fiame Naomi Mataafa as the Minister of Education, Women, Justice and MNRE, marking this year as her 20th year as Second Secretary.
Mrs. Ripley worked under Five Secretaries to the Government through her service under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.