Tugaga Misa Telefoni gives insights on new book

By Fuimaono Lumepa Hald 07 August 2022, 11:15PM

A former deputy prime Minister of Samoa has given insights on a book he has written on his life working for the Samoa Government including the challenges he faced as a cabinet minister.

Tugaga Misa Telefoni, in a recent interview with the Pacific Media Network (PMN), talked about his book “Tautua – The Memoirs of a Public Servant” which covered his life journey from his upbringing to his time in public office culminating with his appointment as the deputy prime minister. 

Speaking the P.M.N.’s Lorenzo Kaisara on some of the challenges he faced while in public office, he talked about the dilemma he faced when he had to chair the board of shipping, which his brother Tui was sitting on as a member.

He then asked his brother to step down from his position as board member, only for Tui to tell him that only then prime minister Tofilau Eti Alesana could remove him, as it was him who made the appointment.

Consequently, Misa said he went off to see the Prime Minister and requested that his brother be taken off the board, only for Tofilau to look him in the eyes and say he was the appointing authority.

"I am the one who chose Tui, he lives near the wharf, he knows the happenings of the wharf,” Misa said of the prime minister’s response. 

“But you know what Misa, what you are suffering from is being stupidly honest." 

The former deputy prime minister told Mr. Kaisara that his book has such personal testimonies. 

"Inside the book I talk about the happenings with the cultural significance of the stories," he said.

"I also included Seiuli Rock who came to Samoa and a photo was taken where he is being honoured by the Malietoa Tanumafili II.”

Misa said when Seiuli the Rock arrived in Samoa, he was the first one to receive and host him.

"I hosted him and told him there is a fundraiser for Mapuifagalele and Malietoa wanted him to get a matai," he said.

"So I did a manupalagi (cow) and an ie toga (fine mat). I told him that he just needs money to add to it.

"The Rock's villages are Saleaaumua and Poutasi and we went there, he also gave $30,000 to the little sisters.

"Pika Maivia the wrestler was his grandfather. The Rock and his mother go every year to his grave and sing a song Tautalatala means ‘Too much Talk’, which was actually composed by my mother Pili’opo Retzlaff in the 1950s.  

“It  was recorded by the Tuli Brothers from Apia in Australia.”

The former Samoan politician then talked of his mother’s talent for song composition and singing.

"She also made up a song called ‘farewell Samoa’ and the song ‘can't you see I'm sorry’," he said.

"I think that song was made for my father, she made up this song and Amani (my father) felt sorry for her. If not for that song, I wouldn't be here.

"My favourite song is called, it's only a memory. I wonder if you ever think of me or is your heart is completely free. 

“If Frank Sinatra found this song it would be a major hit.” 

The book also has excerpts dedicated to the assassination of Luagalau Levaula Kamu, whom he said was his friend.

"That week was the conference of the Methodist. We went. Any Methodist, the one thing they wait for is the committee,” he said. 

“I won and Luagalau was eighth. We talked on Friday and Luagalau said to me, this is the last year you will win.

"On the same Friday there was a function for H.R.P.P. he told me to come as he was the M.C. and he said to me ‘I am wearing pants cos I will be standing up from the stage’.

"I took my daughter Erica. Luagalau introduced the Prime Minister then he went to the back of the stage.

"The gun was leaning against the tiles. We heard a noise but did not think it was anything till we saw him being brought out. 
“My car was the first car at the exit so we took him in it. I was the minister of health at the time. 

“Aisoli Vaai tried to revive him. Steve Shortland was investigating. The conference was not complete on Sunday.

"I call it the end of the age of innocence. The truth is, we never knew something like this will ever happen in Samoa.”

A review of the former deputy prime minister’s book by Touchstone New Zealand stated that the publication will be a pleasant read for Samoans, who resonate with the times of Misa's life story. 

The book review also made reference to his close relations and adoration of his father whose influence was apparent in his book. Misa will be in Samoa for his book signing in October this year.

Misa joined the government of Tofilau Eti Alesana in 1991 as Minister of Agriculture, Forests, Fisheries and Shipping. In 1996 he became Minister of Health, and in 2001, Deputy Prime Minister. In addition to that role, he held the portfolios of Finance, Commerce, Industry and Labour. Retzlaff was educated at King's College in Auckland, New Zealand. He studied law at the University of Auckland before going on to practice law in Samoa. He was appointed Attorney-General of Samoa in 1986.

By Fuimaono Lumepa Hald 07 August 2022, 11:15PM
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