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The Samoas unite to celebrate Samoa's 60 and 61 years of Independence

The American Samoa contingent led by Gov. Lemanu P. S. Mauga, as well as Congresswoman Uifa’atali Aumua Amata

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — The 2Samoas united to celebrate Samoa's 60 and 61 years of independence. The delegation from American Samoa, led by Gov. Lemanu P. S. Mauga made it to the Independent State of Samoa just in time for the finale of the country’s year-long 60th Independence Celebration. Congresswoman Uifa’atali Aumua Amata was also able to attend the celebration.

Governor Lemanu and delegates arrived at Faleolo Airport on Tuesday, May 30, 2023, at the invitation of Prime Minister Fiame Naomi Mataafa.

A statement released by the Governor’s Office says the delegation from American Samoa is also joining in the Celebration of the 61st anniversary of Samoa’s Independence on the next day, Thursday, June 1.

On arrival, Toelupe Poumulinuku Onesemo, Minister of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT), and Peseta Noumea Simi, Chief Executive Officer Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT ) welcomed Governor Lemanu. 

A statement issued by the local office of the Governor mentioned: “The American Samoa delegation also includes Chief of Staff Loa Tuimavave Tauapai Laupola, Attorney General Fainuulelei Falefatu Alailima-Utu, Governor’s Chaplain Reverend Mageo Patolo Mageo, and Deputy Secretary of Samoan Affairs Tauese Va’a Sunia.

Congresswoman Uifa’atali Amata also traveled to Samoa for the celebration and congratulated the people of the Independent State on the 61st year of independence. “Samoans, whether they are from the eastern or western islands, honor the achievements that the Independent State of Samoa has made over the past six decades,” said Congresswoman Amata.

“Samoa has become a regional hub of travel, commerce, and culture, and is a vibrant democracy that has shown the strength to withstand several crises. Samoa continues to contribute to enduring Samoan values, traditions, and the preservation our language. I am happy to be in Samoa to celebrate this momentous occasion! Ia fa’amanuia le Atua i le Malo Tuto’atasi o Samoa ma Samoa atoa.”

Faletua Sina Apineru Hunt and family hosted a lunch at the Orator Hotel for the vising dignataries.

Samoa’s 60th Independence celebration yesterday, May 31, was well attended by overseas guests, who were invited to the Opening of the 61st Independence celebration festivities to take place on June 1.

On Jan. 1, 1962, Samoa became independent of New Zealand. Independence Day, however, is celebrated on June 1, and this day continues to be recognized by the Samoa community in New Zealand.

The Samoa journey of independence began with the signing of the Western Samoa Act in 1961. This treaty of friendship was signed by New Zealand and the then-new Samoa government.

Samoa was originally under the rule of the German Empire from 1899 to 1915. It later came under the joint rule of the British and New Zealanders for 45 years. New Zealand’s involvement in Samoa can be traced back to World War I in 1914. At that time, New Zealand’s expeditionary force landed in Apia after a request from the British Government. This move ended the rule of the German forces in Samoa and was the beginning of a joint British and New Zealand colonial era.

From the end of World War I until 1962, New Zealand governed Western Samoa as a Class C Mandate under the trusteeship of the then League of Nations, later known as the United Nations. Between 1919 and 1962, Samoa was handled by the Department of External Affairs, a government agency established specifically to oversee New Zealand’s Island Territories and Samoa. The Department of External Relations, later renamed the Department of Island Territories, was created in 1943 to handle New Zealand’s overseas affairs. Their administrators were responsible for two major incidents during New Zealand’s control, the Spanish Flu Pandemic, and the Mau Movement.

The first incident, the flu pandemic, killed an average of 22% of Samoa’s population in 1918, sparking grievances among the local Samoans.

This outbreak was due to an un-quarantined ship from New Zealand landing on Samoan shores.

The second incident started with an initially peaceful protest by the Mau, which escalated when the police intervened and shot two of their leaders. At least 10 people died that day and 50 were injured by police batons and gunshot wounds. That day is known in Samoa as Black Saturday.