Dame Meg Taylor proud of Samoa’s achievement
To see the region rally together around the XVI Pacific Games has been a joyous experience for Dame Meg Taylor, Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat.
Even flying into Faleolo International Airport was an emotional moment, she said.
“I came in on Fiji Airways, and I looked out the window and there was Air Niugini, and on the other side was an aircraft from the Cook Islands and I just felt that this is amazing, we’re coming in on our own planes.
“I felt really elated by it and quite emotional.”
Dame Meg, the first female Secretary General of the P.I.F.S, is a Pacific Games alumni herself. In 1971 she represented Papua New Guinea in the French Polynesia South Pacific Games, and won silver in the pentathalon and bronze in the 4x 100 metre relay.
She said feeling Samoa’s warm hospitality, especially on the journey from the airport to town is fantastic.
“It is a different kind of ambience because it is about the joy of being together. The sports, the young people, the old people, all of us are here together and there is a real camaraderie.”
Not one to pick sides, Dame Meg has brought the flag of the P.I.F.S in order to support every athlete, she said.
“Do you best, enjoy and go home with great memories and friends that you will keep in touch with,” she said, a message to the athletes about to take up their countries flags in the opening ceremony.
“I still keep in touch with the woman I competed with in Tahiti.”
Samoa’s effort to put on the Pacific Games in just 14 months has been a point of interest in the region. Dame Meg said she hears a big thank you to Samoa most often.
“A lot of the comments I hear around the Pacific is good on Samoa for doing this for us, so thank you Samoa.
“They were able to step in and it shows that a country that pulls together and does this – one in spirit is a fantastic message for us all to carry, not just for the games but in everything we do.”
She said the plans to make the Games plastic free is commendable, and something she is working towards in the Secretariat as well. Eventually, a total ban on plastic imports in the region would be her wish.
In Rwanda where she recently visited, plastic has been banned and pilots inform guests to leave their plastic on the plane or risk a hefty fine.
“I think it is really important that we care for our islands and our own environment, and what happens to the ocean we eat from,” she said.
“It can be done and I am sure the Pacific leaders will show leadership there.”