Samoan High Commissioner comments on Otago Daily Times

By Bronson Perich, Heta Gardiner
H.E Leasi Papali’i T Scanlan (foreground) / Source - Facebook (Michel Tuffery Artist)

The Samoan High Commissioner to Aotearoa, His Excellency Leasi Papali’i T Scanlan, has given a statement regarding the cartoon, printed in the Otago Daily Times.

H.E Leasi informed Te Ao Māori News, that it was unusual for him to react to a media article. However the situation in Samoa, was of such a great concern, that comment was essential.

“It is indeed very sad and disappointing for the creator of the cartoon Mr Garrick Tremain, to make joking remarks through his artwork in relation to the tragic measles outbreak that has continued to take many lives of mostly innocent children in Samoa.

“Whilst I have noticed that there has been a lot of public reaction to the said cartoon, and also noted that Mr Garrick Tremain has posted an apology on his website page, I would like to use this opportunity to acknowledge the generous support, assistance, donations and prayers from the Government and all the people of New Zealand to Samoa.”

The High Commissioner expressed that the priority of the Samoan Government was to save as many lives as possible and the families of those directly affected.

Te Ao Māori News recently interviewed Tuala Tagaloa Tusani on his efforts to send medical supplies to Samoa. When asked about Tremain’s cartoon, this was his response.

“We are just too focused at the moment, working on how we can get these supplies to the homeland, with our volunteers.

"So I don't even know the guys name! I know what he's done, and I know it was down south somewhere, but I can't even focus on that."

Tusani also pointed out, that Pākehā businesses had assisted him with his collection drive.

“The first freight company that came on board, were white owners, EIF International, were white people. The trucking company, our trucking sponsor, that’s moving all our gear from all over New Zealand to our destination, and they’re white people there too.

“So at some point, we’ve gotta focus on what’s right, and the people that are doing the good stuff, instead of one person that makes a mistake and that overloads the news.”

The High Commissioner believed that there was something to be learned from this debacle.

“I ask that we take the poor judgement and actions of Mr Garrick Tremain as a lesson to others to please refrain from posting or writing any such pictorials and unwelcomed remarks in the social media outlets whilst Samoa is hurting!"

His Excellency ended his statement with a request and a bible verse.

“I also humbly request that you continue to include Samoa in your prayers, with the earnest hope that with the joint medical efforts of our Government and all the countries, along with the organisations who have offered assistance, the measles epidemic will be over very soon.

“Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven."

The ASA Foundation has called for a prayer service tonight at the Consulate-General of Samoa in Mangere. There they will gather with religious and community leaders, to offer inoi and karakia for their whanaunga at home.