July 11 is Samoan Flag Day in Hawaii
HONOLULU, Hawaii — Today, July 11, 2013 has been declared Samoan Flag Day in Hawai’i, by a proclamation signed by Hawai’i Gov. Neil Abercrombie and Lt. Gov. Shan Tsutsui.
“Samoan Flag Day reaffirms the ties of friendship, culture and mutual esteem felt between the people of Hawai’i and Samoa,” says the proclamation dated June 20, 2013. “Samoan Flag Day encourages the Samoan community to demonstrate its distinguished record of civic achievement and pride in the home islands and adopted communities around the world, as well as celebrate Samoan song, dance, sports and education on Samoan culture and traditions.”
Samoan Flag Day 2013 will be celebrated July 11-13 at Ke’ehi Lagoon Park.
Among family members and supporters July 1, 2013, Lt. Gov. Tsutsui presented the proclamation to High Chief Alo Lupeomatasila F.A. Williams during a small ceremony at the State Capitol. Alo is president of the Atoa-o-Ali’i, a longstanding council of Samoan chiefs and orators in Hawai’i.
The Council has hosted what is simply referred to as ‘Flag Day’ by Samoans in Hawai’i – for 48 years.
Flag Day last July was held at the Hawai’i State Capitol. At the 2012 ceremony, Atoa-o-Ali’i bestowed the honorary title of “Atoa-o-AliifaimalaugaoSamoaiHawaii” upon then Honolulu Mayor Peter B. Carlisle.
“Samoan Flag Day commemorates the 113th anniversary of the raising of the American flag over the Territory of American Samoa on April 17, 1900, and the 48th anniversary of the Atoa-o-Ali’i celebrating the event in Hawai’i with the community,” reads the proclamation.
Gov. Abercrombie and Lt. Gov. Tsutsui ask the people of the Aloha State “to join us in recognizing and celebrating the men and women of Samoan ancestry the world over and particularly the Samoan community in Hawai’i for its unique contributions to the diverse and multicultural fabric of our State.”
Hawai’i Sen. J. Kalani English who represents District No. 7 (made up of of Hana, East and Upcountry Maui, Moloka’i, Lana’i and Kaho’olawe) also attended the July 1 gathering where Alo was presented the proclamation last week.
Rugby organizers Ma’afu Wendt and Kelly Wade McGill were also in attendance. Wendt is on the Board of Directors for Hawai’i Youth Rugby and president of Rugby Hawai’i Union. McGill, former University of Hawai’i football player, is a Rugby League player. He is a member of the USA Tomahawks, the country’s National Rugby League Team.
Samoa Flag Day is separate from the Samoa Heritage Week in Hawai’i, which has been held in the first week of August in the past years and organized by the American Samoa Government.
Gov. Lolo M. Moliga has said he wishes to continue the event, with a re-focus on encouraging tourism and businesses to the territory. There has been no formal announcement from the Lolo Administration when the event will happen, who will attend, and how it will be funded.
Samoa News notes that according to the district ledgers concerning the $1 Million that was given to each of the three districts of the territory for Capital Improvement projects — Western, Eastern and Manu’a — some of the money was instead used to help fund the Samoa Heritage Week in Hawai’i, as well as pay for airfares and per diems for certain local leaders to go to the event. Samoa News published stories about the ledgers in May and June 2013, and can be found on its website archives: samoanews.com
Tina Mata'afa-Tufele is editor of Tautautala.com and a former Samoa News reporter.