Sunday, 17 July 2016

Shame on you 60 Minutes and Are You Serious Stui?

Last night I watched 60 Minutes and saw a report on a deeply traumatic event that happened to a couple who had visited Samoa.  I am sincerely saddened by the disgusting behaviour of a single man who committed this crime and I wish to apologise for the horrible ordeal that they had to face at his hands.  No one should ever have to go through such pain anywhere in the world. 

I would however, like to state that I am appalled by the sensationalist reporting of 60 Minutes for this particular segment.  The advertisements for the segment refer to Samoa as an “idyllic paradise or hell on earth.”  The commercial voice over stated “This island paradise is every holiday makers dream...the catch?  You might pay for it with your life.” 

If we were to label every country that has had an escaped convict commit a repulsive crime then we would all be living in hell.  Bad things happen to everyone everywhere.  To bring about fear of visiting a country based on the putrid acts of single person is to knowingly set out to sabotage a tiny island’s tourism sector.

Even with state of the art prisons, Australia has had many prisoners escape from the confines of the facility they resided in.  Stephen Jamieson escaped Goulbourn Prison, one of Australia’s most secure penal complexes in broad daylight using sheets and a pillow case.  While on leave at the prison farm Bernd Neumann simply walked to freedom with a dog on a leash and is yet to be recaptured.  My point here is that no matter how secure the facility there is always a possibility that a prisoner can escape.  Should we then instil fear in all Australians because of this fact?

I moved back to Melbourne two years ago and have never felt as unsafe in my own home as I have in this time.  In the two years that I have been back I have had a drive by shooting in the street behind where I lived, a murder in the next suburb, several brutal home invasions in nearby suburbs not to mention a man threatened at gunpoint at my local petrol station.  I run around locking all my doors and panic if someone I don’t know rings the doorbell.  I am nervous when I drive down the street as I don’t want to be carjacked or hit by a drunk driver.  I often lay awake at night wondering if the noise I just heard was an ice addict trying to come in a kill my whole family.  Unfortunately fear is an everyday event here in Australia and around the world, even if just a little bit.

60 Minutes’ aggrandizement of the crimes of a single person induced fear to many who know nothing about Samoa as a country, including the people.  The article did not present the many projects that are in place to make changes so that such horrendous incidents no longer occur.  Instead they chose to feed on the fear that people in Australia are already living in so that they can make more money.
I am in no way negating the fact that Samoa needs to make changes to their prison system or that this was a disgusting attack on an innocent couple.  They are both valid issues that need to be addressed, but not by making people feel fearful of their lives unnecessarily and without reporting the complete story.

60 minutes stated in the segment that Samoa relies heavily on tourism, yet they blatantly threw the Samoan tourism under a bus to get ratings.  I just hope Australians are smarter than that and can see through the obvious yellow journalism.

I am utterly embarrassed that the PM of Samoa could be so arrogant about such an important issue.  I have stated it many times in regards to the PM; you have to think about what you want to say and how you will go about saying it, because you have no control on what or how the interviewer will use your words.  What works in Samoa does not always work outside of Samoa.  Am I saying that you should lie down and kiss the feet of every foreigner in the world?  No I am not, I am simply saying be prepared. 

  • Ask for the questions ahead of time, so you are not left babbling or making comments that are completely inappropriate
  •  Research the topics that are pertinent to the interview so you are not left babbling or making comments that are completely inappropriate 
  • Stop being so arrogant.  You can get a point across without sounding like you are letting the other team “win” and without babbling or making comments that are completely inappropriate

All you had to do was answer the questions like this:
I am deeply saddened that this happened to them and my heart goes out to the couple.  Samoa has invested the money received by Australian Aid into the separation of the prison system and the police force so that equal attention can be made toward both areas of our country’s security system.  Samoa has also used these funds for the building of a new prison, the development of a stronger police force, a domestic violence unit, a K-9 unit as well as many other areas relating to the safety and security of Samoa and tourists.
Samoa is much like any other place in the world, including Australia, we can never be certain of what can happen.  We are working on ensuring the safety of the Samoan people and visitors to our wonderful islands.  While we build the new prison we want the public to know that we are committed to the safety of all who visit Samoa and hope that the actions of one individual does not deter them from experiencing beautiful Samoa.

Remember Stui you don’t need to answer all the questions they ask, you can give them hundreds of reports for them to do their own research which backs up what you have just stated and remember that what you say affects Samoa and the way Samoa is viewed by the world.

If 60 Minutes would like me to give them some tips on how not to be so money hungry give me a call.  Mr PM if you need a PR person just let me know!

Sunday, 7 February 2016

Life with a one month old baby

You cannot tell just by looking at me, but I gave birth to my second child last month.  She is a beautiful child and I love her dearly.  As she was born in Australia I wanted to make sure that she had a strong connection to her Samoan heritage so I gave her a Samoan name.  I named her Measina.  Measina translates to treasures of Samoa.  It isn’t referring to the gold or silver riches, but the beautiful culture that Samoans worldwide hold dear to their heart.

Measina has been growing slowly.  However, Measina is not like any other child.  Measina is my new business venture.  While she may not be flesh and blood I care for her just like I would my own child.  She takes up all of my time, I am frequently tending to her needs, she keeps me up all night and wakes me up in the early hours of the morning.

Just like I do for my son I teach Measina the values that help make me who I am such as giving back to my roots and maintaining my Samoan identity.  Measina is incorporating this in her life so far by ensuring that she only sells products that are from Samoa in the hopes of opening more avenues for Samoan products to be sold around the world.  Measina is not only for Samoans.  Measina hopes to share with others the treasures that Samoan manufacturers can make.

I also see a future for Measina in supporting schools and programs to ensure that the Samoan culture and Measina a Samoa stays alive in our Samoans living away from Samoa.

Just like all babies, the future is bright with my daughter Measina.  If you would like to follow the progress of Measina and support her future, like her facebook page, follow her on instagram @measinasamoa or help Measina help Samoan communities by making a purchase at

Sunday, 13 September 2015

Dear Mr Prime Minister and Mr Dutton

Dear Mr Prime Minister and Mr Dutton,

I just wanted to thank you for your joke about Pacific Islands facing extreme hardship as a result of climate change.  You further reiterated my stance that you and your colleagues are not fit to govern the country that I live in.  Your joke showed that you really do not care for the Aboriginals in Cape York nor the Pacific Islands and their well-being.  Your joke showed that you belong in colonial times where the white man is always right and the stupid coloured savages are there only to be the butt of your jokes.

However Mr Prime Minister and Mr Dutton, I believe the joke is on you!  Not only are your remarks offensive to the Aboriginals living on Cape York and the Pacific Islanders living on the islands, they are also offensive to the hundreds of thousand Australian citizens who are of Aboriginal and Pacific Island descent.  Not to mention the millions of Australian citizens who do not share your humour.  All of whom will be voting in the next election.

Your negative stance on climate change policies and now your jokes about time and sea level rising sends a clear message that a) you’re not very funny and b) you need to think before you speak in front of a microphone.  Your sorry excuse for an apology was not because of what you said, but because you got caught out.

I spoke to a man today who believed that the media are blowing your comments out of proportion and that what you said was nothing.  I have lived many years on a tiny island and witnessed firsthand the effects of climate change so I disagree wholeheartedly. 

I don’t want you to apologise again Mr Dutton and am yet to hear any kind of an apology from Mr Prime Minister.  I would like to challenge the both of you, and the man that I spoke to, to live a week as a local in Kiribati, not like a politician but a true local, including the $2 an hour pay scale.  To see there is a massive lack of freshwater.  To see the loss of land from increasing sea levels.  To learn that you can only swim in certain parts of the ocean at certain times of the day because it is not sanitary to do otherwise.

I believe that if you have lived like the people of Kiribati or any other Pacific Island you would not be taking lightly any jokes about waves lapping at doors.

I look forward to the next election so that I can vote for anyone else but you!

Kind Regards,

Morwenna Petaia

Sunday, 28 June 2015

What Same-Sex Marriage Means to Me

I have been raised in a Christian family.  I attend church fairly regularly.  I believe in God, Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost.  I believe in the marriage of a man and a woman as stated in the bible.  I am also not against same-sex marriage.  In saying that I would like to clarify a few things.

1. Having same-sex marriage legalised will not change what I believe marriage to be.  It will not affect how I teach my child or what I practice religiously.  In my eyes marriage is always going to be different whatever your religion.  The LDS faith believes in eternal marriages while Anglicans believe in marriage till death.  There are two differing views on what a marriage is and that is because they are different religions.  I see this change as an extension of the differences in society today.  That does not mean that I will go out and do it.  It just means that I am not bothered by this change as long as it does not change how I am able to practice my religious beliefs. 

2. The institute of marriage is no longer the sacred symbol we see in the bible.  This is evident in the fact that there are so many broken marriages and infidelity.  My parents were divorced.  I was divorced.  More than half of all marriages in the USA end in divorce.  That to me shows me that marriage between a man and woman is not always going to work out and it is far from being perfect.  I don’t see why so many of us are up in arms about marriage being destroyed by same-sex couples when heterosexual couples are already doing a great job at destroying its meaning already.

3. I have read stories of children being adversely affected by same-sex marriages.  Today we are stricken with single parent home, incest, child abuse, spousal abuse, infidelity, neglect and the list goes on.  Being a product of a divorced family has impacted me psychologically, financially and in other ways, yet I am the result of a heterosexual marriage, surely that means I should be perfect and problem free.  The way we raise our families and how our children are brought up is a result of the parenting skills and partly the environment we grow up in.  There is no direct evidence that shows a child is going to grow up any worse being raised by two men in a loving relationship as opposed to a man and woman in a loving relationship.  Parenting skills have nothing to do with your sexual orientation.

To me same-sex marriage means that people still believe that marriage is sacred, if they didn’t they wouldn’t fight so hard for it.  People still believe that marriage is a commitment that is to be taken seriously and they still want to do it.  I may not agree with homosexuality, but I don’t have to.  What I do need to believe in is people loving each other and being kind to each other regardless of their differences.  What I choose to believe in is respect for everyone, even if I don’t agree with the God they choose to worship, not believing in a God or who they choose to love.  It also means that I am not forcing my beliefs on you, it is your personal decision, but I would like to know what same-sex marriage means to you? 

Thursday, 12 March 2015

My First Australian Government Blog

Most of my posts have centred round Samoan and Pacific issues as that is where I lived for the last nine years.  I now live in Australia and I feel like sharing my opinion on the Bali situation. 

Photo Credit: The Sydney Morning Herald
I am sure you all know, but just to sum it up two Australians, Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran (pictured above), were found guilty of planning to smuggle heroin into Bali, Indonesia.  Their penalty for this crime is execution by firing squad.

While I feel that execution by firing squad is inhumane, I don’t think I am completely against the death penalty.  If one of my family members were murdered in cold blood I would want the death penalty for their killer.  I would not want to know that my loved one’s life has ended while their murderer is free to learn new skills, breathe fresh air, still see their loved ones and live a life.  Because regardless of whether they are locked in a jail and not able to have the same freedoms as you and I they are still living while my loved one is not.

The charges that these two people were found guilty of are not misdemeanors that require just a slap on the wrists.  Drugs are an enormous problem not only in Australia, but throughout the world.  Drugs and their effects do not just have an impact on the individual drug user, it impacts their families and the whole of Australia.  Alcohol and drug related problems are some of the more common reasons people in Australia seek medical attention.  I love our Medicare system and don’t think it should change, but I don’t think that Australian taxpayers should have to bear the burden of drug related health issues.

While I feel for these two individuals and their families I believe that Indonesia have every right to uphold their rights and stop the often fatal drugs from entering into their country.  I feel it was wrong of Australia to remind Indonesia that they gave them billions of dollars in aid after the tsunami.  This indicates that the aid that Australia gives is tied and you are bound to do whatever Australia wants if you are to continue to receive not only the aid but the patronage of Australian tourists.  You visit a country because you want to experience a new culture and to see the beauty of the land.  If you decide to boycott for this sole reason then really you are hurting yourself because Indonesia is such a beautiful country with so much to offer.  People around the world are not going to stop going for this one reason.

People say you need to dig deeper and know that if the ADF had done something earlier then this would not have happened.  This is so true!  Why are you now picking on a country for carrying out their laws and caring for their country?  Why are the Government of Australia not asking their federal police why they did not stop this from happening when they had all the information from the beginning?  I know this is harsh but they did their crime and knew the consequences, I don’t see this verdict is going to change.

As for getting upset at the fact that Indonesian police monitored the transfer of prisoners through photographs, are you serious!?  They were not showing the prisoners being harmed or in a derogatory way.  In fact the photos were tasteful in comparison to the photos of members of the Indonesian Army photographed with an innocent member of the West Papua community who they had just killed!  Why is the Australian Government not outraged by the treatment of these innocent human beings in West Papua?  Why is no one boycotting Indonesia for their murderous actions in West Papua?

Now is the time for my conspiracy theory.  I feel the Government of Australia is feeling guilty because they know they could have stopped the Bali Nine incident from happening, but instead chose to see what would happen and if these nine led to even bigger drug lords with whom they could convict.  Now that Australia see that the Indonesian government will be transparent and actually put into play the skills in governance and law they received through technical assistance from Australian Aid, the Australian Government now want Indonesia to revert to their corrupt former selves and make exceptions to laws because they are Australian?  I feel that there are more pressing issues that Australia should concentrate on rather than trying to fix a mess out of guilt for not moving to action and preventing the whole mess in the first place!
Ok I feel that I have sufficiently shared my thoughts, what do you think?

Sunday, 8 February 2015

School in Samoa vs. School in Australia

As many of you may know I recently moved with my son to Australia after nine years of living in Samoa.  There were many reasons for this move, most are personal, but ensuring that my son has a good education was a major reason for this move.

All of my son's schooling was in  Samoa, except for six months where he was in Australia.  In this time he attended both public and private schools.  At all of his schools he had a cousin who he knew before hand so it was easy for him to make the transition.

This year he is attending a public Australian school.  It is a different school to the one that he attended previously because we lived out of the zone for the previous school he attended.  I was actually surprised at how strict the zones were.  We had to provide proof that we lived within the area before they would even discuss what the registration process was.

I remember in Samoa that it was more of a matter of who you knew at the school that determined whether or not you attended the public school.  There were zones in place, but this was not adhered to strictly.

My son's new school in Australia was so new the buildings had not been finished when we registered so we had to go to a different venue for registration.  Registration was streamlined the forms were all ready and I called ahead so that I knew which documents I needed to provide.  The forms also included the books and fees that were needed and payment could be made at registration.  It came with a list of uniforms and prices so that I was able to get an idea of what I needed to purchase.  To sum up the experience it was very organised.

I looked at the prices for school books and uniforms and automatically compared them to what I was paying in Samoa.  This is what I found:

Australia Public School Books (including stationery): AUD$210
Australia Public School Uniforms (three shorts, three tops, two jumpers, backpack, hat, socks & shoes): AUD$282
Australia Public School fees: AUD$300 (this was not so much a school fee it was payment for technology and building contributions)
Australian Public School TOTAL: AUD$792

Samoa Public School Books: AUD$0
Samoa Public School Uniforms (three shorts, three tops, shoes): AUD$140
Samoa Public School fees: AUD$80 (AUD$20 a term and there were four terms and not called a school fee but a parent contribution)
Samoa Public School TOTAL: AUD$220

Samoa Private School Books: AUD$50
Samoa Private School Uniforms (three shorts, three tops, shoes):  AUD$140
Samoa Private School fees: AUD$1200 (AUD$300 a term and there were four terms)
Samoa Private School TOTAL: AUD$1390

This was a little surprising to me.  I was sure that even though I paid school fees per term that the exchange rate would make any school in Samoa less expensive than a school in Australia.  How would I rate the service in relation to these prices?

Australian Public School, as I said earlier they were very organised.  The school buildings are brand new and there are state of the art technology that is accessible to my son.  He was most excited that he would be using an iPad as a part of his schooling.  There was an orientation day where we could go in and meet the teacher before the school year began.  My son was placed in a composite class for grades 5 and 6.  As enrolments increased the school saw a need to divide the two classes and hire a new teacher so that there was a separate year 5 and year 6 class.  The school organised all the stationery and books to be purchased in bulk by the school making it a little more affordable.  These came in packages that each student picked up and took to their class.  I have been most impressed with the communication from the school.  When there was a change in teacher I received a letter.  The teacher sent home a letter explaining the homework and when PE would be held and what would be happening in class.  This is helpful for me as I now know when I should have sports uniforms ready and when to expect homework.  They have a before and after school program in place so if ever I need child care for my son before or after school a program is already in place.  I am very impressed with this school thus far.

Samoan Public School, well you get what you pay for.  The classes were over crowded with more than 50 students in a class.  The students sat on the floor the majority of the time.  Stationery was provided free of charge which was great.  The service was poor.  There was no communication from the school.  The teachers still use threatening tactics and have even hit my son.  So much so that he would cry some mornings because he was scared of his teacher.  My son could not read and his writing was extremely poor after four years of attending a Samoan public school.  At the time that was all I could afford so like I said you get what you pay for.

My son loved the private school that he attended in Samoa.  He was happy to go to school and actually looked forward to it.  The class sizes were reasonable with less than 30 in a class.  This allowed my son the attention that he needed to get himself to the level that he should have been at.  They offered after school tutorial classes free of charge for students like my son who needed the extra attention.  There were class assistants to ensure that my son did not go unnoticed and so he received the assistance he needed.  There was regular communication from the school so I was well informed.  I loved the bus service that was offered by the school.  It allowed me to save time and petrol as the school as quite a distance from my house.  My son learnt a lot from his time at this school and I am very pleased with his progress.  I believe that the value I received was worth the price I paid.

While we loved the private school I am happy with the move and look forward to my son's continued education in Australia.  I do hope that the education system in Samoa make the necessary changes so that people stop moving overseas to get a better education.

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Bucketlist Combined

Ok so I was supposed to write each of my bucket list of things I've done in Samoa in an individual post each week for six weeks.  That was over two months ago and I didn't do it.  I can list each of my excuses for not doing this, or I could just get on with it and write my list.  Well here is the list:

Namua Island
My son and I loved this place!  The customer service officer was lovely.  She was well mannered and able to give me all the information that I needed as well as take the booking.  When we arrived the boat was ready to leave.  The boat driver (? I think there is a term for this I just can't think of it) was also very accommodating.  He was nice but not too nice where once could come off as being sleazy.  The facilities were well maintained and very accessible. 
I am a bit of an environmentalist so I was ecstatic to see that they used solar power for their lights, gas for cooking and water tanks for the water.  I would love to see them look into a biogas system to treat wastewater and also generate power for cooking and lights.
The path up the mountain was not set up as well as it could be.  If they had a dedicated and well maintained path up the mountain it could add to their already lovely establishment. 
Namu'a is beautiful, it is quiet and just lovely.  I can't wait to go back!

Afu Aau Falls
I am not a good driver and having to follow a map while driving at the same time was a challenge for me.  I found the drive and signage for the Afu Aau Falls very easy.  The road going to the falls is not paved.  We went on a nice day so it was easy for our Hyundai Getz to get up, but I can see that it would be more difficult if wet weather so be mindful of this when planning your trip.
The falls themselves are beautiful.  Like so much of Samoa the beauty really is something that you need to see first hand in order to understand just how beautiful it is.  The entrance fee was not expensive and the people at the gate were friendly.

Canopy Walk
I have always wanted to do the canopy walk ever since I first saw photos of it.  I also loved that I would be able to share my first experience on the walk with my son.  When you arrive there was a little hut where a group of men sat.  This was not very inviting and made me a little apprehensive to approach them.  They ended up being nice men.  The price of entrance was a little steep, but I was told that it included the price of entrance for two other attractions down the road, the foot print and a stone house I think.  I had not planned on going to either of these sites but because it was included we added it to our itinerary.
We had a guide take us up the canopy walk.  It was higher than I expected, but if my 11 year old can climb up I was not about to chicken out now.  So we climbed and the views were spectacular.  You could also see that there were huge improvements made to the canopy walk in comparison to the photos that I had seen.  This made me feel even more comfortable paying so much to enter.  The walk itself was shorter than I expected.  It was a beautiful walk though.  Then we reached the other side and climbed up a massive tree up into the sky.  I felt a little like Jack and the beanstalk climbing up to see the giants.  We didn't see giants but could see the leafy tree tops that led to the ocean.  Absolutely amazing experience.
We finished our tree canopy experience and made our way to the foot print.  The signs were not well placed or easily visible.  When we arrived we expected to see a sign for parking or for costs to see the footprint, there was nothing.  Instead a man walked up to us so we showed him our receipt and told him about what the man at the canopy walk told us.  The footprint man explained that neither he nor the stone house guy are accepting the receipts anymore and we needed to take our receipt back to the man at the canopy walk and tell him that.
This incident put me off and there was no way that I was going to talk to anyone.  If the footprint guy had a problem with the canopy guy they needed to discuss it amongst themselves and not include the paying customers.  I was saddened that their miscommunication had ruined my day and my visit to this area.

Pizza Place
I had always wanted to visit the pizza place in Savaii opposite the Le Lagoto Resort.  I had been told great things about them and I love my food so thought I would give it a try.  The service was not the best, she appeared to enjoy talking to other staff more than taking my order.  We love niu and wanted to drink as much of it as we could before we left and was so disappointed that this niu somehow tasted like mould and we couldn't even finish them.  The pizza was costly so I expected that it would taste amazing, again I was disappointed.  The crust was flaky and too light and the chef seemed to think that toppings were optional so he didn't use many.  It tasted ok but I would not pay that much money for the size and quality of pizza from this establishment.

I don't gamble.  I can't bring myself to waste money on something when I could use it for things like food or books.  I did however spend $10 at the casino.  I couldn't just go there and not play anything.  Anyway, first we entered and gave our passports, because you can only go to the casino if you hold a passport that is not from Samoa.  Once registered I smelt the delicious aroma of fried sausages and grilled onions.  We walked past the BBQ area not sure if the special hot dogs were for sale or what the purpose was.  We walked through the outside entertainment where the courtyard was completely empty except for the entertainment.  Then inside the downstairs area we saw a handful of people.  We asked for assistance on how to gamble and were offered a complimentary hot dog (I was cheering on the inside).  Then when I lost all my $10 we went upstairs.  The set up was much like downstairs.  We were offered another hot dog each and I thought to myself no you didn't just waste $10 you just brought two $5 mini hot dogs.  It did not have the glitz or the glam that I was expecting.  It was a lot smaller too, but that is understandable given the clientele is not as big as it could be.  All in all my trip to the casino was good, just don't ask me to comment on my dinner at the resort restaurant afterwards!

There are still some things on my Samoan bucket list but I will have to tick them off the next time I go.  This post made me miss Samoa even more but I am still sitting at a computer sweating in 30 degree heat so I guess that is as close as I will get for now.