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 lowered the NZ flag, and Samoan Prime Minister Fiame Mata’afa Faumuina Mulinu’u II the Samoan flag. 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.
Samoa had become the first Pacific Island country to regain political autonomy.
This followed 63 years of foreign administration, first as a colony of Germany (1899-1914) and then as a trusteeship of New Zealand (1914-1962) under a mandate from the League of Nations. Through the Fono Fa’avae — the Constitutional Convention (1958-1961) that was comprised of representation from all districts in the country — Samoa adopted a national constitution based on Christian principles and Samoan traditions.
Later, on 1 August 1962, Samoa and New Zealand signed a Treaty of Friendship which endures to this day. The treaty continues to underscore the warm and friendly relations between the two countries over the years.
Since 1962, annual Independence celebrations have moved from the 1st of January to the 1st of June. This is to take advantage of the pleasant weather in Samoa at that time of the year.
The theme for the 50th Independence celebrations, “Ua sau le va’a na tiu, tau mai i le va’a na tau ae o lo’o mamau pea lago o le va’a na fao afolau,” draws on an old Samoan fishing proverb.
It literally refers to three canoes. The first canoe—which was out fishing—is returning from the deep sea, the second canoe is at berth on the lagoon and the third canoe lies in the boat shelter on the beach.
In a humanistic context, it refers to the fisherman heading home from a deep-sea expedition, the fish-carriers (au taliva’a) in the shallow lagoon and the village elders, in the shelter, praying for the seafarers’ success and safe passage home (tapuaiga).
In reference to this year’s celebrations, it can be interpreted as Samoa’s travels in the last 50 years: The daring fisherman (conqueror of the oceans), those who await his return and the prayers of those who keep the vigil of Samoa’s journey, keeping the home fires burning.
Samoa’s voyage in the last 50 years has not been smooth sailing. It has had to master the high winds and rough seas. Many times it has had to rely on strong leadership and visionary stewardship, as well as its dedicated crew, to conquer what challenges the oceans have conjured up.
The day after the official flag-raising ceremony on 1 June at Ti’afau, the groups of Seventh-day Adventist Sabbath Keepers will combine for a full-day Special Sabbath program at the National University of Samoa.
We invite you to worship with us, and please let your families and friends know to join us for a special Sabbath (on Saturday).