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Long serving weatherman exits

Samoa’s longest serving weatherman, Mulipola Tainau Ausetalia Titimaea, has called it quits after thirty seven years of service.

The Assistant Chief Executive Officer in the Ministry Environment and Natural Resources (M.N.R.E.) has worked at the Samoa Meteorological Office since 1988 and served under four different Chief Executive Officers, including Ulu Bismarck Crawley, who recently resigned to contest the 2021 General Election.

Responding to questions from the Samoa Observer to confirm his exit, Mulipola said his resignation was a personal decision he made after the Public Service Commission (P.S.C.) declined his request to extend his leave with pay. 

“It was a personal decision because my extension of leave with pay until the end of my contract in January 2021 was declined by the P.S.C.,” he said.

“One other offer was leave without pay until Dec 31st which was not favourable to me so I made a decision to resign.”

The Samoa Observer understands the former top bureaucrat is currently abroad.

Asked if he envisaged resigning at this time, Mulipola said the thought of leaving came but at the end of his fifth term as the A.C.E.O in 2021.

The A.C.E.O. started working as a Hydrologist at Samoa Meteorology Division in 1980 and became the division head in 1988, where he clocked 32 years.

Mulipola said the job was never about the money but learning from his peers and enjoying the tasks at hand as a meteorologist. 

“And that is why I have enjoyed the job and been here, done it for 37 years, foremost it was an area God had called me to serve our people and country; safety of lives and protection of properties always come first,” he added.

“Nevertheless, despite the tragic nature of some of the natural disasters, glad to be part of and contribute mainly to the monitoring, issuing and dissemination of warnings with enough lead-time to prepare our people for natural and man-made disasters.”

And he has worked through some of Samoa’s major natural disasters and the challenges that came with it. They include Tropical Cyclones Ofa [1990], Val [1991], Evans [2012] and more than 30 storms that triggered water-related disasters such as flooding.

But it is the memory of the deadly earthquake and tsunami of 2009 that will always remain with him.

“I am happy that I've done my part helping others more than myself. Anyway, hope I can again serve once I get better and very optimistic about it,” he said. 

“Personally, I am really proud  also that I have left a  legacy the Samoa Meteorological Office in good stead, as a recognized center of excellence in the Pacific region in the fields of meteorology [climate and weather], geo-science [earthquake, oceanography, geomagnetism, geotechnical investigations] and ozone services,” he said.

Looking back at some of the challenges he faced in the early part of his career, he said they had to put up with the stereotype views and criticism of the work they do as meteorologists.

But he said the misunderstanding was understandable in that era as the infrastructure and equipment used at that time was obsolete with the Fiji Meteorological Service providing the weather forecast for Samoa, which was an arrangement that ended in 1998.

“That is the reason we worked really hard to modernise and ensure our warning facilities are timely and accurate and become more visible to our political masters where funding is a source,” he added.

“Nowadays with development, Samoa Meteorological Office [S.M.O.] continues to face the challenges of the budget shortfall [and] delayed processes, especially procurement which linked also to the sustainability of the network infrastructure mainly equipment.

“Furthermore, good service comes with expertise in the fields and the country lacks science graduates having the core physical science foundation [which is] a precursor requirement for specialized professional development to meet the growing needs of staff. 

“Finally, the current static institutional arrangements is a challenge to keeping it in tandem with the technology and communications developments.”

Mulipola is of the view that a review should be done by the Government of the functions of the S.M.O. in order to address the problem areas he highlighted. 

Nevertheless he said he is thankful to the Government for the opportunity to serve and contribute to Samoa and the support they gave him in terms of his professional development.

He also acknowledged his staff and advised them to work with integrity and commitment.

"Ole ala ile pule o le tautua,” [the way to higher honors is service] he said.

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