Oscar Kightley signs off as columnist

A Samoan-born columnist for New Zealand's Sunday News newspaper has signed off after nearly nine years with a message of hope and positivity for his readers. 

Vai To'elau Osa Isa'ako Mase Kightley was born in Apia, Samoa and moved to New Zealand with his parents at the age of four. He is originally from the villages of Faleatiu and Aele Fou in Samoa and is now a writer, actor, director and keen storyteller living in New Zealand.

Growing up in the West Auckland suburb of Te Atatu, he was a shy but a keen reader, though he never was a performing child.

It was when he became a reporter for the Auckland Star, when he was encouraged to change his name from ‘Osa’ to ‘Oscar’, and it was where he remained as a columnist for close to nine years. 

In response to questions from Samoa Observer, Mr Kightley says that Stuff NZ had been forced to reduce costs because of the economic squeeze brought on by COVID-19.

"I was their last columnist but at the end of the day it's more important to pay reporters," he said.

When asked what he plans to do next, he said that he will continue with his work as a filmmaker. 

He said that he had been privileged to have a weekly column and be one of the Pasifika voices on such a platform.

"It was an immense privilege to have a weekly column. As one of the few Pasifik voices with that platform, it was a good opportunity to try and offer a different way of looking at things," Mr Kightley said.

And as a former journalist, he said he had worries regarding what he did and what kept him going was using the privilege to write on such a platform.

"As a former journo, I have a terrible addiction to information. I was worried about everything and at times I had to limit my news intake for the sake of my mental health. My inspiration to keep writing was using the privilege of having a platform like this," he said

According to Mr Kightley, his first job after high school was at a newspaper company, where he was blessed to have been trained and then worked with some of the best journalists in New Zealand.

And he also owes his success to his parents for having and giving him so much, which enabled him to become successful in all that he did.

In a parting advice to aspiring and young journalists,  the Samoan actor, director and writer said working in the media industry is a great craft but it comes with important responsibilities.

He also appealed for more “brown ones” to join the industry and described his experience as wonderful.

Last Sunday, Mr Kightley wrote his last opinion piece for Sunday News before signing off with a quote by India’s Mahatma Gandhi.

"There are no goodbyes for us. Wherever you are, you are always in my heart,” he writes. "It's a Gandhi quote I came across and I really liked it. It fits a Samoan way of looking at life in that you keep your love for people, physically in your body. I'll always have a love for New Zealand."

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