Saturday, May 20, 2017


Just finishing up on  our holiday here in Samoa.   Stayed at the 'Return to Paradise' Resort which was brilliant.    Isolated and not too much to do and that suited us just fine.   Hot, 30-33 degrees, but with four swimming pools and the sea just twenty feet away life was bearable.   Not crowded and ankle biters were conspicuous by their absence.

Unlike Fiji, Samoa has yet to be 'found'.   It's not 'touristy' and that suits us just fine.   Island time rules ok.    What does amaze us is their genuine friendliness ... when the reality is that really they have much to be angry about given New Zealand's appalling record of 'colonial' stewardship starting from when, in 1918, an incompetent administration allowed the SS Talune, inbound from Auckland and with influenza rife among both passengers and crew, to land.   The result ... over 7,500 deaths (22% of the population).   Contrast that with American Samoa where they quarantined ships for five days before allowing them entry.   The result there  ... no outbreak, no deaths.

Equally bad was the New Zealand response to the Mau (independence) movement which culminated in 'Black Saturday' (28 December 1929) when New Zealand military police opened fire with rifles and a machine gun on a parade of members and supporters of the Mau movement through Apia.   Eleven Samoans were killed including the Mau leader and High Chief Tupua Tamasese Leafoli.   One policeman was clubbed to death.   Shortly afterwards the New Zealand ordered the HMS Dunedin along with it's compliment of Marines to Samoa in order to help suppress the rebellion.   In the ensuing two months until a truce was declared two Samoan children were killed by the marines.   The Government also deployed an aircraft from the fledgling RNZAF in support of operations.   In a previous visit I met an elderly Samoan who claimed that as a boy he had witnessed the aircraft making straffing runs over the interior where members of the Mau were in hiding.   I have however been unable to verify this from official documents.   The plane was later wrecked while attempting to land. 

Clearly the Samoan people are forgiving.   Not sure I would be so magnanimous.    They make you feel welcome ... at the Return to Paradise Resort (scene of the movie of the same name ... staring Gary Cooper) you are treated, not as tourists but as one of their family.   That's why, for us, Samoa is so special.


Anonymous said...

The command structure must have been interesting. NZ did not have a stand alone navy but formed a New Zealand Division (ex-China station) of the Royal Navy of which HMS Dunedin formed a part, it was manned by 30% NZers but the Marines were Royals under command of the British ships captain.
Different mindset at the time, if you were white, anglo saxon and protestant you literally could get away with murder regardless whether you were American, British or whatever. The US border patrol was set up to deter Chinese not Mexicans from entering the US and committed many atrocities that went unremarked.

Lord Egbut

The Veteran said...

Egbut ... The command structure was pretty simple really. The country was run by an Administrator appointed by the NZ Government under the provisions of the Samoa Act 1921 (up until then country had been under direct NZ military rule). The reality was that the Administrator was 'God'. He made the rules and although in theory he answered to the NZ Government he had pretty much a free hand to run the country as he thought best.

The 'Palagi' (European) attitude towards the Samoan people following the Black Saturday incident is perhaps best summed up by a RN Marine Officer from HMS Dunedin when he said ... "At the present moment he [the Samoan] is in the position of a sulky and insubordinate child who has deliberately disobeyed his father, as the administrator is generally termed, and no peaceful persuasion will induce him to submit. There is no alternative, therefore, but to treat him roughly. Force is the only thing which will appeal to the Samoan".