Samoa Observer Editor stepping down

After a career spanning more than two decades at the newspaper, Mata'afa Keni Lesa is stepping down as the Editor of the Samoa Observer. 

Mata'afa has been in the Editor’s chair at the newspaper since May 2006. 

“I want to thank Editor-in-Chief Gatoaitele Savea Sano and Publisher Muliaga Jean Malifa from the bottom of my heart for the opportunity to be part of this great establishment for nearly 22 years and the privilege of being Editor for nearly 15 of those years,” he said on Tuesday. 

Mata'afa, whose career at the newspaper began in 1999 when he was recruited as a junior reporter has spanned stints as a political correspondent, sports editor, and news editor before his promotion to Editor. 

“Looking back now and thinking about the magnitude of the work, the challenges day in and day out, the successes and all that a daily newspaper entails, I marvel at the grace of God, his faithfulness and the commitment by Gatoaitele and Muliaga to Samoa during the past 42 years,” he said. 

“It is what has sustained the newspaper and allowed me to do my job.”

Mata'afa was in 2017 named the recipient of the prestigious Boerma Award by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (F.A.O.). He was the first Pacific islander to win the award. 

Gatoaitele Savea Sano Malifa and Muliaga Jean Malifa, the newspaper’s Editor-in-Chief and Publisher respectively, thanked Mata'afa for his contribution to the newspaper as its Editor and in other roles over the past two decades. 

“He has worked in the service of the readers of the Samoa Observer for a long time and for that we thank him and wish him all the best as he moves on,” they said. 

Reflecting upon his career, Mata'afa said he was overcome by a sense of gratitude toward the many people who work to make editions of the Samoa Observer run off the presses every night. 

“Today, the newspaper is in great hands and it is being run by a great team with some very exciting things in the pipeline,” Mata'afa said.

“I have the greatest admiration for all my colleagues in the newsroom, layout, printing, advertising, sales, accounts, production, including the newspaper sellers on the streets and I will miss them. I want to thank them for all their hard work. 

“I also want to thank our dear readers for their loyalty and support."

Mata'afa's career at the Samoa Observer included covering several defining moments in the nation's history, from the 2009 tsunami to domestic and foreign political realignments. 

He struck a philosophical note about leaving the newsroom after such a long time in journalism and at the newspaper.

“I believe in a God of times and seasons," he said. 

"I am grateful for the season I have enjoyed with the Samoa Observer and I will always cherish it but it is time for the newspaper to take another step, and for some new faces and new talent to take over and shine. Our readers deserve new and the best ideas.

He made special mention of his wife and two children and others who supported him throughout a career that often had him left in the office overseeing several late breaking stories and editions. 

"Lastly, I take this opportunity to thank my villages of Salamumu and Papa Sataua, my Apia Harvest Centre church, and my families of which I have many in Samoa and all over the world. Thank you for your prayers and support. 

"Thank you for understanding the demanding nature of my work and when I have to leave to put the paper to bed. I appreciate you all. In this business, it is a lonely walk, it is a lonely life but you have one or two friends you cry and laugh with. 

"I thank my wife, Laufa and my two girls, Fina and Lania for being there always for me, waiting for me every night, no matter how late. 

"To anyone I might have offended and wronged, I ask for your forgiveness."

As for what's next for the inveterate journalist, his focus is now on his loved ones: “I’m looking forward to a good break and spending the weekends with family.”

Today is his final day at the Samoa Observer.

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