Pacific News Briefs

compiled by Samoa News staff

AMATA MEETS WITH ALASKA’S SAMOAN COMMUNITY 

Washington, D.C. – Congresswoman Aumua Amata was privileged to meet late Monday with some of the Samoan and Polynesian community in Alaska, hosted by the Polynesian Association of Alaska, and discussed issues such as access to healthcare on the islands, immigration and visas, as well as the importance of maintaining a strong culture and communities.

“Samoan is the third most common language spoken in the Anchorage school district, Alaska’s largest metropolitan area,” said Aumua Amata. “It was a real pleasure to be greeted by Samoan dancers in Alaska, and update the local Samoan and Polynesian communities on all our efforts in American Samoa and Washington. I want to express my appreciation to Congressman Young for hosting us, and his focus on a broad array of important issues.”

CENTRAL BANK OF SAMOA WARNS OF SCAMS, CON ARTISTS…

The Governor of the Central Bank of Samoa, Maiava Atalina Ainuu-Enari, is yet again warning members of the public to be vigilant to protect themselves against scams and the work of con artists.

Speaking to the Samoa Observer yesterday, she reminded that scammers are imaginative, manipulative and are not afraid to lie their way into conning innocent victims. Maiava confirmed that there have been many cases in Samoa where people have been fooled. 

One such case involved a Samoan woman who thought she had found love online.

“She had been in contact with the scammer (via email, Facebook and on the phone) for quite some time,” she said. “Finally, he convinced her to remit AUD$17,000 as payment for costs and fees so that he could come and meet her in person. 

“He never showed up and finally, she realized that this was a scam, yet she spent all that money.”

According to Maiava, scams come in all shapes and forms.

“Scams do not always involve large amounts of money. There are lotteries, sweepstakes, promotions and competitions. 

“Also with banking, credit cards and online accounts, as well as money transfer requests — internet spams, malicious software, internet shopping, business supplies, dating and romance, jobs and employment.”  

The Governor pointed out that common sense should be applied when in doubt.

“You didn’t pay for a lottery ticket yet all of the sudden you have won the lottery and you have to pay a certain percentage to get your full lottery win... it just does not make sense.” 

Maiava said, “Just remember: if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!”  

There are also people selling different types of scams. Recently, two individuals, who claimed to be representatives of an international investment company, came to Samoa and conducted promotions on a digital currency product. 

“They presented their investment proposal to different organizations and village communities,” Maiava explained.

“Innocent investors were attracted to their investment plan — that is, invest money and within a very short period of time, earn ten times more in return. As such, people invested their money in the scheme. 

“Later on, it was proven that the scheme was too good to be true and these two individuals are now serving time at Tafa'igata Prison.”

Maiava said scam artists are always on the look out for ways to fool unsuspecting members of the public.

 “We have been working with the local banks and money transfer operators to look for signs of a scam when people come in to send money to off-island accounts. 

“The bank tellers, who are the front-liners, are the ones who should know almost immediately their customers are sending money to scammers, by asking questions. 

“Sometimes our people are stubborn and despite advice against sending the money, they tell the tellers that it’s their money and they will do what they want with it. 

“Sure enough, a week later they come back and by the time we get in to it, we find out the off-island account has been dissolved. That is why our people need to be vigilant and apply common sense, especially when sending money off island.”

Governor Maiava said, “Please, if you are unsure, come into our office we are more than happy to look into the matter for you to make sure this is not a scam,” she said. “This is one task that our office is keen on, to reduce the amount of people falling into scams especially from online and overseas.”

(Source: Samoa Observer)

LOOK TO THE MAUNGA ... IT CAN LIGHTEN YOUR DAY

New Zealand — The healing powers of Mount Taranaki are being summoned by a community keen to help young people combat mental health issues.

Local health provider Tui Ora, together with the Department of Conservation and the Taranaki Mounga Project, are developing a new program to immerse at-risk youth in the region's prized tāonga.

On a chilly morning last week, a group of 10 and 12-year-olds were taken up the snowy mountain.

They were shown old pā sites and taught local knowledge, including why the Kapuni River is sacred and how it is used to perform blessings.

Tui Ora general manager Ruth Smithers said it was the second group to head up the mountain as part of the new program.

“They talked about the maunga, how they felt better on the maunga,” she said. "It looks different, smells different, sounds different and away from the hustle and bustle — it helps them relax."

Taranaki Mounga Project director Jan Hania said the group would teach young people about conservation and restoration so they could help the mountain while it helped them.

"We are trying to understand what wellbeing benefits can come to people through being involved in conservation work on the mountain," he said. "It is well-documented that people being involved in nature derive a whole lot of mental benefits."

Figures released in January showed suicide rates for young Māori men were two-and-a-half times that of their non-Māori counterparts.

Rangatahi suicide prevention advocate Mauriora Tawaroa-Takiari said there was a similar project in Hawke's Bay to get rangatahi involved with the sea.

She had the same message for at-risk rangatahi she met.

"If you are feeling pouri, like you don't know who you are or where you belong, then go back to your marae, go back to your maunga, go back to tangaroa," she said.

"Simply go to the river, do a karakia and then find your wairua, whakapiki o wairua from there."

Tawaroa-Takiari said it was hugely important that adults took advice from young Māori on how to best protect their peers from suicide.

By June next year, Tui Ora hopes to take a total of 75 young people up the mountain as part of the new project.

Kanihi hapū chair Daisy Nobel said more could be done to raise awareness of mental health problems in young people.

But calling on the mountain for its healing powers was a good start, she said.

"There is a wairuatanga aspect to our maunga and there always has been, and always will be," she said. "It is not necessarily something that is seen, but more something that you know is there.

"You can look to the maunga and with just a few words, it can lighten your day."

(Source: RNZ)

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