Miss Samoa crowned in Apia over the weekend

Pacific News Briefs
compiled by Samoa News staff

A large crowd gathered at Tuanaimato to witness the crowning of Alexandra Iakopo as the new Miss Samoa.

The 23-year-old from Sapapali’i, Fusi Safotulafai and Moamoa overcame the challenge from eight other contestants to walk away with the title.

Ms. Iakopo is the second youngest in a family of three brothers and one sister. Her parents are Deacon Isaako Iakopo and Fagamalama Iakopo.

“It’s been a challenging journey for me and I thank the Lord Almighty for his grace which has given me the will and opportunity to stand before you today as your Miss Samoa,” said Alexandra as she acknowledged her Sponsor, House of Gold, her parents, as well as the host of the pageant, the Samoa Events Incorporated at the prize giving Sunday to officially conclude the pageant events. 

As a survivor of rheumatic fever, Iakopo had two life threatening heart surgeries in 2007 and 2011.  

“I am convinced this is the reason why I survived and that is for me to represent and serve my country as their Miss Samoa,” added the Samoa Qualification Authority officer.

 And her parents Deacon Isaako Iakopo and Mrs. Fagamalama are grateful for the Almighty’s blessings.

“We’re blessed to have her as a daughter and we’re thankful to our Father in heaven for His divine love for our daughter,” said Deacon Iakopo.

“She is straight forward, no beating around the bush.”

(Source: Samoa Observer)

SAMOA HEALTH MINISTRY SAYS IT WAS MISQUOTED

Samoa's Ministry of Health says the media has misunderstood its recommendations surrounding abortion.

Over the past week media reports have said the Ministry was urging the Government to legalize abortion and gay marriage.

This prompted public outrage and a statement from Prime Minister Tuila'epa Sa'ilele Malielegaoi that he would never allow what he calls "heathenistic practices."

Director of Health, Leausa Toleafoa Dr. Take Naseri says the media has misquoted and taken out of context the national policy paper.

He said the ministry did not advocate making abortion legal, as it is illegal and the ministry is compliant to the law.

He said the policy merely underlines that current law states abortion is only legal for women who are victims of rape, incest, and or those with sexually transmitted infections or HIV.

It also refers to mothers whose health could be threatened by giving birth.

As for gay marriage, Leausa said marital practices do not fall under the legal charge of the ministry so it would never make any recommendations on such a matter.

(Source: RNZI)

ICONIC COOK ISLANDS VAKA OFF TO NZ FOR REPAIRS

The iconic Cook Islands Te Marumaru Atua vaka was sent to New Zealand for repairs after being damaged by fire earlier this month. No one was injured, but significant damage was caused to the starboard hull, which is where the crew sleeps.

The secretary of the Cook Island Voyaging Society, Cecile Marten said the cause of the fire is unknown and an investigation is underway.

Ms. Marten said the traditional voyaging vaka is set to be shipped to New Zealand for repairs.

"We were fortunate we had one of the builders from Salthouse (boat builders, NZ) here on holiday and popped down to have a look on Monday at the vaka."

"I just received an initial assessment that they don't believe that we can repair the hull. It looks like we are replacing the hull completely," she said.

The Voyaging Society is presently building another vaka, which it hopes to have finished early next year in time for a festival in New Zealand.

The iconic Cook Islands Te Marumaru Atua vaka. [Photo: Teinesavaii]

(Source: RNZI)

SPC SUPPORTS UNIVERSAL HEALTH COVERAGE FOR PACIFIC ISLANDS

An agreement to achieve universal health coverage and address non-communicable diseases in the Pacific region was signed by the Commonwealth Secretariat and the Pacific Community (SPC) on Sept. 8 in Apia, Samoa.

The Memorandum of Understanding means both parties will work together using their resources and networks for health protection and promotion in the region. Examples include providing technical assistance to develop a regional legislative framework; policies in health, sports and education to promote healthy lifestyles in children and young people.

The MOU was signed by Commonwealth Secretary General, Patricia Scotland, and Director General of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), Colin Tukuitonga.

Secretary General Scotland said the Commonwealth welcomes the chance to work more closely with Pacific regional organizations such as the SPC, on Pacific priorities.

“There is no doubt about the leadership and commitment that our membership has shown towards the Pacific’s Healthy Islands vision, thanks to the support of partners like the Commonwealth Secretariat,” said SPC’s Colin Tukuitonga.

“I am confident we will see rapid progress towards that vision.”

Both parties will also have opportunities to develop joint funding proposals.

(Source: Matangi Tonga)

U.S. GRANTS HELP SAMOAN GROUPS

The U.S. Embassy this week honored 10 Samoan organizations and two individuals at a Grantee Ceremony at the U.S. Embassy Residence, Vailima. 

The organizations received funding from the U.S. Embassy Apia’s 2017 Public Diplomacy Grants programme as well as other funding support.  

The two individuals are participants of the United States’ International Visitor Leadership Programme.  

Susan Thornton, Acting Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, who was the Head of the U.S. Delegation to the Pacific Islands Forum, congratulated the recipients. 

This year’s grants total more than $200,000.

The Public Diplomacy Grants Programme is a small competitive programme offering grants of up to US$5,000 to local non-government organizations to strengthen democracy, engage youth, promote U.S.-Samoa links, address environmental and health issues, advance science and technology, increase respect for civil society and the rule of law, advance human rights and women’s rights.  

The International Visitor Leadership Programme (I.V.L.P.) is the U.S. Department of State’s premier professional exchange programme. 

Through short-term visits to the United States, current and emerging foreign leaders in a variety of fields experience America firsthand and cultivate lasting relationships with their American counterparts.

(Source: Samoa Observer)

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