Actor, journalist steps into political ring
A movie star, businessman and a journalist, Tuiasau Uelese Petaia, is stepping up to challenge the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Lopao’o Natanielu Mua, for the Vaisigano No. 1 seat in Parliament.
Tuiasau joins another first time candidate, Niuava Eti Malolo, as the challengers for the seat in next April's General Election. He is flying the Human Rights Protection Party (H.R.P.P.) banner.
Tuiasau, who is 67 years-old, is one of the stars of ‘One Thousand Ropes’ a 2017 New Zealand drama directed by Tusi Tamasese.
One of his earlier roles in film was in the feature ‘Sons for the Return Home’.
“There are a lot of questions being asked at the moment about the different political parties that have come up, and I think from where I stand it's better the devil you know than the devil you don’t,” Tuiasau said, when he was asked about his choice of party.
“This has been a long term decision to eventually go into politics. For me, this is the next step in life as a chief and a leader of the family and in the village.”
Tuiasau said entering the political arena requires the quality of optimism, but at the same time being prepared to accept reality in case of loss.
Tuaisau worked in the media for more than 40 years in Samoa and New Zealand.
The roles included being a General Manager of TV Samoa, owning LAU TV and a being a Manager for E.F.K.S. TV. He was also recently the Media Officer and Marketing Coordinator for the Samoa Rugby Union
A founding member of the Journalists Association of (Western) Samoa (J.A.W.S.); Tuiasau is also the former Vice-President Pacific Islands News Association (P.I.N.A.).
“This move was in the pipeline since 2016," he said.
"I wanted to run for office then, but I was away making movies and I didn’t make the [...] closing of the registration [... in] time.
Tuiasau says he is particularly focused on health.
“[The Government] has spent millions every year in treatment [locally and overseas] and if we could spend [some] of that money in preventative measures that [money] would be allocated elsewhere,” he said.
“And so we’re looking at changing people’s mindset particularly the professionals. We need to look at alternatives that are available.”
Tuiasau, who has been a vegetarian for close to seven years, says that promoting healthy eating among the population is critical.
“Investing in your health means a complete transformation of your lifestyle, eating right and eliminating sugary, salty and oily foods,” said Tuiasau.
As a journalist, Tuiasau said that media outlets should not be opposed to the Government, but should raise issues as they see them and whether the Government is doing a good or bad job of developing the country.
Tuiasau also commented on the controversial Land and Titles Court bills pending in Parliament.
“There are issues in there that people feel should not be in [the bills] and it would be interesting what the committee comes back with and that is what everyone is waiting for,” he said.
“These kinds of policies are major issues and we need to look at major consequences when [they take effect] and sometimes we tend to follow a certain line of thought and when you do that you are blinded to see what else is happening so we need to be open-minded,” said Tuiasau.
“It is important to wait for [the report of the Special Parliamentary Committee soliciting public feedback to be delivered] they have already said there are certain things they want to change”.
The H.R.P.P. candidate also serves as the current President of the Samoa Arts Council and member of the New Zealand Actors Equity.
Tuiasau attended Samoa College and furthered his education in New Zealand. He is the father of 10 children and has 18 grandchildren.