Samoa Language Week 2012 offers the perfect opportunity to discuss the future of Samoa-New Zealand relationship given that this year we also celebrate Samoa’s 50th Anniversary of Independence on 1stof June, and the 50th anniversary of the Samoa-New Zealand Treaty of Friendship on 1st of August.
Many New Zealanders probably aren’t aware that New Zealand administered Samoa for 48 years and that period gave rise to a unique Treaty of Friendship which was signed between the two countries in recognition of a ‘special relationship’ once Samoa had become the first Pacific island nation to become independent in 1962.
On the eve of the 50th anniversary there is growing discussion within the Samoan community in New Zealand to revisit the meaning of the ‘special relationship’ between New Zealand and Samoa, and what that ‘special relationship’ means for Samoans both in New Zealand and Samoa.
The younger generation are asking questions as to which country benefits the most from the Treaty of Friendship and what, if, any are the financial implications given New Zealand’s formal apology to Samoa in 2002 that included an admission to the errors of past New Zealand Administrators which caused the deaths of thousands of Samoa.
In 1918 the New Zealand authorities administering Samoa allowed the ship Talune carrying passengers with influenza New Zealand to dock in Apia. As the flu spread, some twenty two percent of the Samoan population died. The New Zealand authorities refused the offer of assistance from the American Samoa health officials. This tragedy is recorded as one of the worst epidemics in the world, and was preventable.
New Zealand authorities were also responsible for the deaths of at least nine Samoans, including Tupua Tamasese Lealofioaana III with fifty others injured, when armed New Zealand police fired upon a peaceful march of non-violent protesters in Apia in December 1929.
I am encouraging and supporting Lemi Ponifasio to roll out a series of MAU Forums under the theme of Samoa mo Taeao or Samoa for Tomorrow to lead these discussions about these future issues.