Alataua group accompanies traditional leaders for ta’alolo
APIA (Samoa News) —American Samoa made its traditional gift presentation late Friday afternoon (June 1, Samoa time) as part of Samoa’s Golden Jubilee Celebration at the “Malae o Ti’afau” in downtown Apia. The gift presentation followed an afternoon of colorful cultural performances of siva and pese.
Just after 5:30p.m. the Alataua County group of 200 members accompanied some of the territory’s traditional leaders as they carried out the Samoan “ta’alolo” or the traditional gift presentation with the group’s orator, American Samoa chief Malemo Tausaga, who restated that despite their different political affiliations, the two Samoas are one.
Malemo expressed sincere thanks to the Samoa government and its people for American Samoa’s invitation — for the governor and village groups — to take part in the Jubilee celebration.
Samoan Affairs deputy secretary Nanai Afuola then addressed the gathering in traditional Samoan language before the gift presentation got underway with the traditional “sua” for the Samoa government.
This followed the various gifts from Gov. Togiola Tulafono and American Samoa and among the gifts was US$10,000 — counted out in 100 dollar bills as 100 members of the group presented them.
Specific gifts were given to the Head of State, US$3,000 and the Prime Minister, US$2,000 — along with traditional fine mats. The minister who conducted the opening church service was presented with US$300 and other items.
American Samoa ended its gift presentation with the ‘taualuga’ dance performed by First Lady Mary Ann Tulafono, accompanied by others, including the governor and Congressman Faleomavaega.
Earlier in the day, more than 150 groups, making up some of the thousands of people, gathered early Friday morning to await the arrival of VIPs, guests and dignitaries for the celebration. Students from various schools in the country started arriving at the malae around 3a.m. or 4a.m.
On an overcast day in 1962, the New Zealand flag and the Samoan flag which had flown side-by-side at Ti’afau since 1948 were lowered by then New Zealand Prime Minister Hon. Keith Holyoake (NZ flag) and Samoan Prime Minister Fiame Mata’afa Faumuina Mulinu’u II (Samoan flag), according to the country’s history provided by the government.
Joint Heads of State Malietoa Tanumafili II and Tupua Tamasese Mea’ole then raised the lone Samoan flag to the apex of the flag pole signaling the birth of the Independent State of Samoa, which was the first Pacific island country to gain independence.
On a sunny morning on June 1, 2012, the official flag raising ceremony got under way just after 7a.m. at the Malae o Tiafau with the arrival of Samoa’s Head of State, Tui Atua Tupua Tamasese Efi, who delivered his Independence Day address calling this year’s celebration an historic one for Samoa, saying that “Samoa, is not government - Samoa is family and brotherhood.”
“From the first of June last year, we as a country and as a people began to prepare ourselves, mentally, physically, spiritually, and resource-wise for this day,” he told the gathering in a five hour ceremony broadcast live on radio and television, which included a live television feed to neighboring American Samoa. “This is a momentous day in the history of our country. Today is the 50th anniversary...the birth of our nation, the Independent State of Samoa.”
“Today, we come together from far and wide, as children and friends of Samoa, to take pause, bear witness, reflect on and share in the maturity of our nation,” he said.
“Today, we are a grateful and a proud nation,” he said and spoke about the birth of the nation, following its struggle to gain independence with the later support of the New Zealand government. He recalled what he described as an “historic moment” 10 years ago, when New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clarke “came to Samoa to say on behalf of her government and people ‘we recognize the wrong of our early administration and we are sorry’.”
The “power” of her gesture and her words “will live on in our hearts,” he said. The Head of State also acknowledged the “good leadership” of past prime ministers and heads of state. He recalled briefly some of the issues faced by Samoa during its Fifty-years since independence and cited the most recent one, which was the 2009 tsunami that killed more than 100 people in Samoa.
Another part of recent history for Samoa dealt with sports, such as the country’s Manu Samoa rugby team and weightlifting team. The country has also twice hosted successful South Pacific Games.
As part of the 50th anniversary, he said the government offers amnesty to 35 prisoners. (The government provided no other details)
“In our remembrance, we forgive, we acknowledge, we are thankful and we celebrate in unity our independence as a nation,” he said.
Following his address was the official flag raising followed by the country’s national anthem.
Thereafter was a pass-in-review, or parade, which lasted for about three hours.
Samoa News will have more updates on the celebration when more information becomes available.
Samoa News reporter Fili Sagapolutele contributed to this report from Pago Pago, American Samoa.