Samoa through New Zealand
New Zealand, influenced by the United Nations and capable Samoans such as Malietoa, granted Samoa its independence and entered a bilateral Treaty of Friendship. New Zealand also fostered Acts of political self determination in other Pacific Island countries.
The first Samoan woman MP in the New Zealand Parliament, Luamanuvao Winnie Laban, was amongst those who joined the New Zealand Governor-General, Prime Minister, MPs, Mayors, Samoan community, Maori and other leaders to pay respects to Malietoa, dubbed one of the fathers of Samoa. Descendants of other fathers of Samoa, including the Tamasese family, paid their respects and provided a reminder of success and failure in New Zealand’s colonial period in Samoa. Overseas Samoans returned home. Some brought their Polynesian New Zealand styles of journalism - MPIA’s Harrington with his interviewing via cellphone, Leota Ale with his Hard Talk, Samoan Capital Radio and NiuFM with their community building content.
Amongst the foreign delegations paying their respects were Malietoa’s Tongan relatives – including the King of Tonga and a school age descendant of these two leading families. Their presence was a reminder of similarities and differences between Samoa and its neighbours – Ma’atu, the young man personified the union between the two countries.
The speaker expects two names to emerge for consideration for the appointment
of Malietoa’s successor as head of state – logical candidates
for the five year appointments by Parliament are Tuiatua Tupua Tamasese
Efi and Tuimaleali'ifano Sualauvi II
Women too, play an increasingly strong role in Samoan public life affirms Tate Simi, a New Zealand educated draughtsman and poet who generously gave of his time and knowledge on Malietoa’s day of burial to provide impromptu comment for this report.
“Women’s role has improved dramatically in government and politics over the last few years”.
He gives much credit for the increasing participation of women to Fetaui Mata’afa, widow of the first Prime Minister of independent Samoa, Fiame Mata'afa Faumuina Mulinu’u II, and second woman elected to the Samoan Parliament. In turn, their daughter, Fiame Naomi Mata'afa, now a senior cabinet minister in Apia, demonstrates the increased influence of women in Samoan public life – from Parliament to the Judiciary.
Tate Simi expects his daughter, now finishing a degree in New Zealand, will find the increasing democratisation of life in Samoa will give her even more opportunities to participate. Her generation enjoys equality in access to education. They have a lot to be thankful for to these pioneers.
Tate Simi decribes the contemoporary Samoan New Zealand relationship
as “finally matured”. The countries are now open and frank
about the nature of their relationship, warts and all. He recalls the
apology given to Samoa some time ago by Prime Minister Helen Clark for
“some of the indiscretions of the New Zealand administration”
in colonial times.
Three retired former New Zealand foreign service officers, Sir George Laking, Frank Corner and Gerald Hensley, deserve credit for their efforts to overcome the legacy of those early Kiwi indiscretions.
Contemporary community voices, officials and Parliamentarians in New
Zealand have to manage both their relations with self governing Pacific
Islands, Samoan and other Pacific New Zealanders living as Kiwis. Private
conversations with senior New Zealand officials in Wellington, the day
after Malietoa was laid to rest, provided a reminder that institutions
charged with managing some of these domestic and external relations are
by Anthony Haas, who flew with part of the official New Zealand party on the RNZAF Hercules to Apia for the funeral of Malietoa.
20 May 2007