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Samoan Media Freedom Fighter To Visit New Zealand

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SAMOAN MEDIA FREEDOM FIGHTER TO VISIT NEW ZEALAND

An internationally renowned Samoan journalist and media freedom fighter is set to visit Auckland later this month. Savea Sano Malifa, editor of Samoan newspaper the Samoan Observer, will be guest speaker at the second annual Pacific Islands Media Association (PIMA) conference on 27 and 28 September.

Savea was named one of 50 world press freedom heroes of the past 50 years at the 2000 International Press Institute conference in Boston. He was also winner of the Commonwealth Press Union's Astor Award for Press Freedom (1998) twice winner of the Pacific Island News Association's Media Freedom Award in 1994 and 2001.

Kalafi Moala, the chairman of the PIMA, says he is delighted Malifa will be the keynote speaker at the conference.

"Journalists throughout the Pacific have been suppressed by successive island governments for reporting on issues which people have a right to know about," says Moala.

"Like myself, Savea has experienced government oppression for doing his job. I'm sure our Pacific media in New Zealand will be inspired by his experiences."

Savea originally studied engineering in Wellington, NZ between 1972 to 1974 before switching to creative writing and journalism. He later travelled for two years around America and published his first book of poems called "Looking Down at Waves" in 1975.

In 1978 he launched the Samoa Observer newspaper and followed this up nine years later with another publication, "Sunday Samoan". Savea's diverse career has seen him publish a second book of poems "Song and Return", a play "Kava Bowl Named Paranoia" in 1992, his first novel "Alms For Oblivion" in 1993 and a short story "The Funeral Seekers" that won the National University of Samoa's Short Story Competition last year.

Savea has become well known as a strong supporter of press freedom, particularly in his home country Samoa. His radical stance caused a negative political and cultural backlash, and in 1994, his office and printing plant was destroyed by a "suspicous" fire.

Undaunted, Savea and his wife Jean rebuilt the facilities that same year after winning the Pacific Island News Association's Freedom of Information Award. Last year he and wife Jean also won the Media Council of Papua New Guinea Press Freedom Award for their fearless defence of the right of Samoans to freedom of information and expression.

Savea is one of several guest speakers to appear at the PIMA conference to be held at Auckland University of Technology. PIMA was established as a support and networking group for Pacific Island media in New Zealand.

Other guest speakers include chairman of the national Pacific radio network, Simativa Perese, former University of the South Pacific Journalism Head, David Robie and the Maori Television Service board chairman, Derek Fox.

Ends

For more information contact:

Kalafi Moala - PIMA Chairman: (09) 579 0358 or 025 278 1251 Iulia Leilua - PIMA Secretary: (09) 578 1366 or 021 378 639 Website - www.pima.org.nz

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