Hamilton to Samoa: A taste of Samoan culture

Hamilton Boys High students after preparing their first umu. [Photo: Tony Callaghan, The Samoan Photographer]

How important is culture?

Very important, it seems for a group of year 9-14 students from Hamilton Boys High, New Zealand visiting Samoa for a week.

The group made up of mainly of students with Samoan descent is being led by teachers Oliva Cowley, Phillipa Grace as well as parents Ted Pogai and Fa’amanu Lavasi’i.

Cowley, whose roots are in Vaigaga and Vaiusu, says the visit is about getting a taste of Samoan culture.

"Our objective is to allow the boys to experience some of the activities that Samoans participate in, and to have as many cultural experiences as possible.

“Also I want to give the boys opportunities to donate their gifts, time and labor to assist a school and/or community."

Upon arrival, the group was hosted by Fogalepolo and Joan Lepou at Ifieleele Plantation, Fasito’o-uta.

One of the highlights of that stay was the shared preparation of the Umu by the group, gathering popo, ulu and fa'i, husking and scraping the popo, preparing the iá, lu'au, taro, ulu and fa'í, followed by a Fiafia show performed by school children from Fasito'o-uta Primary School and Nu'uausala College.

For the children of Fasito’o-uta, they were treated in kind with pese and haka from their visitors. Not to be outdone, the children performed the Manu Samoa dance in return, a wonderful display and sharing of cultures thoroughly enjoyed by all.


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