The scene at the Tuana’imato Sports complex this morning shortly after the Samoan flag was raised to celebrate 54 years since the country became an independent nation. PHOTOS by Gerwin Polu
By Lance Polu
APIA, SAMOA: WEDNESDAY 01 JUNE 2016: His Highness the Head of State, Tui Atua Tupua Tamasese Efi today paid tribute “to our forbearers and to remember and celebrate their success and struggle to hold on to what is ours.”
He was addressing the nation and invited guests at the celebration of 54 years since Samoa took control of her own political affairs when she finally became independent from New Zealand in 1962.
The celebrations were held at the Tuana’imato Sports complex, the first time the independence celebrations have been held away from the traditional malae at Tiafau where the construction of a new Parliament building has just started.
“Over a hundred years ago our forbearers set sail on a journey to reclaim Samoa for Samoa. They realized that if they did not get hold of Samoa’s destiny, they and we will lose her forever. They realized that if they lost her, then all that make us Samoa and Samoans will also be eventually be lost,” said His Highness.
“We come together today on 01 June to remember and celebrate their success and their struggle to hold on to what is ours.
“This year we celebrate 54 years of independence as a nation. We celebrate 54 years of being at the helm of our destiny. Of being able to hold on to our Samoan heritage, traditions, identity, language, lands, seas and chiefly system.
“As an independent nation, we have shown the world that we can maintain peace and order throughout Samoa.
“We have shown the world that despite being a small country in the middle of the Pacific, we have the knowledge and resources and the will to stand up for what is right and good in our lives.
“As Samoans, we believe that our achievements are blessings from God. Our national motto is Samoa is Founded on God. This was the prayer of our forbearers and continue to be our prayer today. We are deeply spiritual people and our spirituality is not prohibitive or condemning as it is always humble, loving and forgiving. It is full of conviction and compassion.
“On this 54th Independence Day, we have another opportunity to re assess the past, routes and vehicles chosen for our journey.
“This year marks the first year of governing for our 16th Parliament. Your five year journey has just begun. As any good tautai, captain or navigator knows, one must be constantly assessing the elements and its potential impact on us. The Samoans say Ua fa’apopo aso ua ae le tu’ua aso folau remind us that sailing is an imperative and so too is the means to negotiate the elements.
“Our culture, our traditional navigation by the stars and the elements was once core to Samoa life.
“Sadly it is no longer or widely practiced or understood. The word faa-tautai is commonly used to refer to somebody with the skill and manner of a tautai or someone learning to be a tautai.
“The word tautai literally speaks of someone who can read the tides, both high tide – tai sua and low tide – tai pe.
“Those considered to have the anava hold significant responsibility. Their natural talents are not to be wasted.”
His Highness then he referred to the story of the famous Hawaiian traditional navigator Nai Loa of the Hokulea who had to keep the island of his destination firmly in his mind.
“On achieving independence we can say our forbearers have kept the island firmly in their minds. In negotiating the elements, they paid heed to the message of leadership embedded in the navigation oriented saying “Saili i le tai se agava’a” – the right leader can withstand the test of the sea.
“Today we celebrate and remember the journey of our forbearers. We celebrate and remember the lessons of their journey. And we know in our mind, body and soul that the key to the success of any journey is humility and faith.
Soifua and God Bless.”
This years’ invited guests included the President of Tahiti – Tagaloa Edouard Fritch & Mrs Fritch, the Governor of American Samoa – Lolo Moliga and the Head of Tokelau – Hon. Aliki Faipule Afega Gaualofa & Mrs Kilita Gaualofa.
The president of Fiji, His Excellency George Konrote & Mrs Konrote were on the guest list but cancelled at the last minute.
The one day ceremony was well attended and thousands of students from various government and private schools, organisations and government ministries were at the park by 5.30 am as the organizers planned on utilizing the morning before the bright mid year sun was up.