Samoa Observer hires new editor

The Samoa Observer has hired a new editor, Renate Rivers.

A former Assistant Chief Executive Officer (A.C.E.O.) with the Government’s Press and Communications Division, Ms Rivers, 39, began her new role with Samoa’s only daily newspaper on Monday.

She joins the newspaper after 10 years in the public service, including a stint as the editor at the Savali newspaper, and will work with colleague editors James Robertson and Alexander Rheeney at the newspaper's Vaitele Headquarters.

In an interview with the Samoa Observer, Ms Rivers said she is walking into the deep end and she has big shoes to fill. 

“It’s uncharted waters, being able to direct something much more open or beyond the scope of government so for me that’s exciting,” she said. “I know they are big shoes to fill, to step into but I do recognize that we have very experienced editors already here.

“And I am really happy to be on board and join their efforts in seeing where it takes the paper and what I can provide.”

Born and raised in Samoa and educated in the Catholic schools all her life beginning with St. Mary’s College, Ms Rivers is a strong writer.

Ms Rivers started with the Press and Communication Division in 2010, working as a sub-editor for the Savali newspaper. 

Prior to that she lived in New Zealand where she attended college and did some university studies and moved back to Samoa in 2009 to be with her parents.

She also worked in a variety of fields from hospitality to corporate, including working with Samoan and Pacific families in the social welfare field, to writing for a trade and exchange publication.

“I used to write personal ads for people and that was always interesting because I always enjoyed writing. My dad always said that writing is my strongest suit…[when] I came back I was hired to write,” she said.

Ms Rivers oversaw the Government Press Secretariat and the Savali government newspaper, its monthly Lands and Titles Court (L.T.C.) edition and the weekly news edition, including Savali contributors as well as layout, marketing and distribution staff.

“I focused on development, presenting developments in the Government and what would be interesting to the taxpayers and to show what the Government is doing – that was the main focus,” added Ms Rivers. “I was sort of thrown into the fire and I started working out of the blue and it was really a big learning experience for me. 

“I liked learning more about Samoa, everything, our history, our culture…it was a really good refresh…still now I have this feeling of wanting to do something for my own country.”

She left Samoa's public service in 2019.

Looking back at her decade-long employment with the Government, Ms Rivers said it gave her a good exposure to Samoa’s development challenges and its identity as a country and people. 

“Public service to me was a good start and it is something that has formed a lot about who I am now and how I think about our country and where it is going and where it has been.

“Politics obviously, have been a huge part of my working life here for 10 years and something that is a part of our lives everyday. 

“I am also interested in youth development, women’s issues and I am very involved in the sport of outrigger canoeing. 

"It is something I am very passionate about because I can see a pathway there for a lot of people.”

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