We take them for granted.
They don’t seem to matter when the weather is fine.
But what happens when the weather turns ugly?
Where do we turn when an earthquake strikes, downpours belt the earth without seizing? What do we do at the slightest hint of a tropical depression developing into a storm, possibly a cyclone?
That’s where the Samoa Meteorology Division comes into play.
And for many years, Mulipola Tainau Ausetalia Titimaea, has been Samoa’s weatherman.
He is the guy behind the team that brings the weather bulletin to the whole of Samoa and the person most criticized whenever weather predictions don’t always hold to plan.
But he isn’t in it for the fame that comes with being the man who sends out alerts whether a storm will be calling a meeting with our palm trees and sand beaches and thatched roofs.
His reasons for getting involved in a 24-hour job that his kids have no wish to associate themselves with as a career path, was instilled in his system as a young child by someone close to him.
That person was his uncle, Sitivu Kamu Wright, a former Technician with the Meteorology Office.
It was his normal practice of taking the young Mulipola with him to his daily work as a weather technician that prompted the now A.C.E.O. of the Meteorology Office of the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources to receive an education that would eventuate with him being employed by Samoa’s Met Office.
“He used to come to our house and take me to collect data on the first of the month or on the 15th of the month,” he said.
“When this day fell on a Saturday, uncle Sitivi would come and ask his mother for permission to take him along with him, however Mulipola would run away.”
Despite that, in 1975 when he graduated from Samoa College and was a scholarship recipient to Victoria University, he decided that he wanted to pursue a career in this area.
The university didn’t offer the subject for the career he wanted, so he was transferred to Waikato University.
In 1980, he returned with a Bachelors Degree in Science.
“Whenever I came for holidays, I took a part time job at the Met Office in Mulinu’u and this helped me a lot in drawing my attention and interest to become where I am today.”
“I firstly worked under the hydrology project to conduct investigation on water resources, as of that time, the government was looking at producing renewable energy from water.”
“Basically I was involved in collecting information studies from Lalomanu, Sauniatu, Afulilo, Faleolefe’e and LotoSamasoni hydro power schemes. The government plan at that is to subsidize the high cost of oil.”
“I worked at the Met office until 1988 and then I went overseas.”
“However in 2003, I got a call from Seumanutafa Malaki who was the C.E.O. for the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries if I was interested in coming back.”
“I applied and got through the process and I was successfully selected by the panel.”
“I can recall my great mentors at that time; they are Egg Burk who was a peace corp volunteer and Luatua Ioane from Puapu’a and Magiagi, who was leading the Office and Tuisamoa SeveIoesa.”
However, any work there is always a downside of it.
“I was here during cyclone Val which struck our shores.”
I can recall that we send the information through manual recital fix to Fiji and they prepare the weather and send back to Samoa. We have to wait for three hours in order for us to get the weather back.”
“We have to translate the weather forecast into our Samoan language then we distributed it to the general public through Radio 2AP’s Va’asiliega Iupati and the late Tupa’i Brown.”
Back in the office, it was harrowing experience during Cyclone Val.
“There were no seawalls surrounding the Met Office in Mulinu’u so the strong waves just come through the office and covered half of our feet.”
“We camped at the Office just to make sure that we are able to provide our people with the weather forecast.”
Mulipola said that is their commitment to Samoa.
Fast forward to today, a lot has changed.
“There is a big change in the services and I am very grateful to the government for their support in increasing the budget every time and every year for the services that we provide for our people,” he said.
“Now I have been through four C.E.O’s and they are Dr. Tuu’u Ieti Taulealo, Taulealeausumai Laavasa Malua, Suluimalo Amataga Petaia and Ulu Bismarck Crawley.”
“It has been a journey where I have been able to meet people who acknowledge my work. I would also like to commend and acknowledge the hard work of my staff members in making sure that we are able to provide weather forecast to our people during natural disasters and every other day.”
Mulipola is married to Olea Faalogo Titimaea. They have five children and six grandchildren. The 60-year-old resides at Lotopa.
Interestingly, none of his children is interested in following Mulipola’s footsteps. He said they do not like the fact it is a 24 hour, seven days a week role.
But he is not giving up hope just yet.
“I hope one of my grandchildren would pursue it,” he said. “I do hope that I get to see one of them and I would be able to help out with their studies.”
Well let’s hope they do.
Samoa needs more hard working weather men like Mulipola.