Samoan villagers relax and play in the sea

New Zealand and Australia

New Zealand

When World War I broke out in 1914, New Zealand was tasked by Britain to take Samoa from the Germans and neutralise a German wireless station above Apia. 

Lieutenant-Colonel Robert Logan led about 1,400 members of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force Advance Party to Samoa, where they found no local resistance at all when they landed on 29 August; the one gunboat assigned by Germany to monitor its Pacific colonies would never actually visit Samoa.

As a result, the next day New Zealand proclaimed British military occupation of Samoa, raised the Union Jack and took over administration. 

Unfortunately, New Zealand’s seizing of Samoa would lead to a devastating outbreak of influenza that killed 7,000, or 20%, of the country’s population from 1919.

The Samoan people were left feeling angry with ongoing foreign rule of their country. This led to the Mau resistance movement - O le Mau a Samoa - in the late 1920s, which sought to become independent from New Zealand. With most native Samoans, and a number of Europeans, supporting the movement, a campaign of passive resistance against the New Zealand administration was started. People refused to pay taxes, they stopped working on plantations, children were taken out of government schools and local and committees groups, including district councils, refused to meet. 

Things came to a head when administrator George Richardson called for two Royal Navy warships to be sent to Samoa in 1928. The result was 400 arrests, which was too much for Samoa’s detention centres, and as a result everyone was released. Richardson left Samoa and was replaced with Colonel Stephen Allen.

The worst incident in NZ's relationship with Samoa occurred on Saturday 28th December 1929. It was precipitated by a fracas that erupted during a Mau parade along Apia's waterfront to welcome home two members who had been exiled in NZ. The incident culminated in police opening fire on the crowd, leaving at least eight dead. Tragically, this fire mortally wounded the prominent Samoan leader Tupua Tamasese Lealofi III and this day is remembered as Black Saturday. 

Tensions continued to simmer between the two sides until New Zealand’s newly elected Labour Government recognised the Mau as a political organisation in 1936. 

Progress towards a Samoan government was interrupted by the Great Depression and World War II. Eventually, pushed by the United Nations, New Zealand declared Western Samoa independence on 1 January, 1962, under Samoan Prime Minister Fiame Mata’afa. 

On 4 June 2002, the New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark formally apologised to Samoa.

New Zealand and Samoa continue to have a close relationship and share a vision for a prosperous and resilient Samoa with a skilled and healthy Samoan population. The New Zealand Government supports Samoa to foster economic development and adapt to and mitigate the impacts of climate change.

Australia

Samoa’s early contact with Australia was mainly through missionaries, who began visiting Samoa in 1857. 

Samoans began coming to Australia in the early part of the 19th century, after sailing there onboard whaling and trading vessels, followed by pastors seeking training and work, but this migration ceased after the White Australia Policy restricted immigration in 1901.

Australia and Samoa continue to have close ties. Australia is the largest destination for Samoan exports and is Samoa's fifth largest source of imports.

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