A tool to build, not to destroy

By Gatoaitele Sano Malifa 01 April 2016, 12:00AM

The writer spoke at the launch of the book of short stories by the Samoa Observer called “Our Heritage, the Ocean” as well as the launch of the Pasifika Media Association online training course called Pasifika Trainer last night. This is what he said:


Reverend Ruperake Petaia 

Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Dr. Sa’ilele Malielegaoi,

Deputy Prime Minister, Fiame Naomi Mata’afa

Honorable Members of the Diplomatic Corps,

Distinguished Guests,

Representatives of the Media,

Ladies and Gentlemen.


Welcome and greetings to you all.

On behalf of Samoa Observer’s publisher, Muliaga Jean Ash Malifa, editor, Mata’afa  Keni Lesa, and staff, let me say thank you very much for making the time to be with us this evening.

As you are now all aware, we are here to launch two regional projects.

First is the book of short stories called “Our Heritage, the Ocean”, and second is the online, media training course called Pasifika Trainer.

Let’s start with “Our Heritage, the Ocean”.

This is the end result of the Samoa Observer’s inaugural, regional short story competition called Samoa Observer Tusitala Short Story Competition, which prize-giving was held in December last year.

This was the first time this annual competition, which has been running for several years, had gone regional. 

As it turned out, the overall response from short story writers around the region, including New Zealand and Australia, was pretty impressive, and in fact quite encouraging. 

And today, the book, “Our Heritage, the Ocean”, is on sale in New Zealand and around the Pacific, and also here in Samoa. 

The deadline for this year’s competition is November, so that perhaps today is the time to get copy, and then when you get home start urging those budding writers out there, to start writing those stories.

And then there is Pasifika Trainer, the newest media training e-learning course to be introduced in the South Pacific, and we are launching it here in Apia this evening.

It will be made available to all working journalists and media operators in the region and the good word is that, it will be free of charge. 

Briefly, Pasifika Trainer is an initiative of the region’s media organization, Pasifika Media Association, or PasiMA. 

Based in Apia where its head office is located, PasiMA is guided by a 6-member Board of Directors, led by an Executive Committee that includes Savea Sano Malifa, Editor-in-Chief of Samoa Observer, Kalafi Moala, Publisher and CEO of Tonga’s Taimi Media Network, as Vice Chair, John Woods, Managing Editor of Cook Islands News, as Secretary-Treasurer, Ana Currie of Honolulu as Project Co-ordinator, and Samoa’s media owners, Faumuina Lance Polu and Autagavaia Tipi Autagavaia.

The project started four years ago. It did with the proposal to establish an on-line training programme for journalists working in the South Pacific region.

Along the way, the proposal was boosted with the assistance of the Associate Professor in the School of Communication and Arts, at the University of Queensland School of Journalism and Communications, Martin Hadlow.

Down the way still, the British High Commission in Honiara, the Solomon Islands, became involved. It did when the then British High Commissioner there, Timothy Smart, and Deputy High Commissioner, Tom Oppenheim, showed much interest and they then approved funds for the project. 

At that time, Martin Hadlow and Tom Oppenheim travelled to Apia to meet with PasiMA’s board of directors, where the project for which the funds had been approved, was discussed.

Soon afterwards, the project’s Phase 1 began.

It was in early 2012 shortly after PasiMA had been established. 

About a year later, in late 2013 when the project’s Phase 2 began, the Australian government’s Pacific Media Assistance Scheme, PACMAS, came forward with the funds needed.

The project was designed and developed by the educational technology expert in Honiara, David Leeming, with the assistance of a team of regional journalists.

And this evening, we are here to launch it.

So that as the Chairman of PasiMA, and on behalf of our board of directors, I am pleased to say thank you very much to the former British High Commissioner in Honiara, Timothy Smart, Deputy High Commissioner, Tom Oppenheim, Associate Professor of Journalism, Martin Hadlow, as well as the Australian government’s Pacific Media Assistance Scheme, PACMAS, for their financial assistance that enabled this project to be completed as it is today.

And so, as we’re gathered here this evening to launch it, I feel it’s time now to urge all those working journalists in our part of the Pacific, to take advantage of this opportunity, and use it wisely to better themselves, their families and their countries.

Let me explain that the guiding principle behind this project was to raise the quality of journalism across the region, especially in investigative journalism. 

It is free of charge to all working journalists, so that media operators themselves stand to benefit from it, since there will also be no cost to them and their staff. 

That way, it should help media managers and reporters upgrade their professional and technical skills, so that they are then in a position to support other community media projects in their parts of the region.

It’s an opportunity not to be missed. 

Now let me urge all reporters to use this opportunity well, to enhance their collective role as the so-called watchdogs of their respective governments, so that the public is well informed. 

And lastly, let them think of it as a friend, and never as a prank to rile an enemy. Let them instead think of it as a tool to build, and not one to obliterate and destroy. 

By Gatoaitele Sano Malifa 01 April 2016, 12:00AM

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