Parliament soft opening unveils a time capsule

Australia’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, Julie Bishop feeding signed photographs of the new Parliament building into the time capsule at the soft opening yesterday as Prime Minister Tuilaepa looked on.

By Lagi Keresoma

APIA, SAMOA – FRIDAY 10 AUGUST 2018: The soft opening of the Parliament building yesterday also marked the unveiling of a time capsule that will safeguard photographs of the original Parliament house built in 1916, the first modern Parliament house built in 1972, and the signed photograph of the new Parliament currently under construction.

The time capsule will be buried under the new Parliament building with the hope that in the next 200 years when a new building is constructed on the site, the records of the Maotafono are still within the time capsule for future generations.

Prime Minister Tuilaepa Lupesoliai Sailele Malielegaoi and Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs Julie Bishop officiated at the unveiling yesterday before inspecting the construction progress.

Bishop said Australia is pleased to assist in the rebuilding of the Samoan Maotafono, and that their support has enabled Samoa to construct a building that not only has an architectural design significant to Samoan culture, but is driven resilience within the community.

“We think this building will serve the Parliament well and the reason why Australia agreed to support an infrastructure project like this,” said Bishop.

“This is a symbol of Australia’s deep and enduring passion for Samoa, our love and affection for the people of Samoa, and may Australia and Samoa be the closest and dearest of friends,” said Bishop.

The new Parliament building under construction

In 2012, Samoa celebrated her 50 independence anniversary and the Australian Government announced her support to co-fund with Samoa the significant infrastructure project to construct a Maotafono.

Tuilaepa said the construction involves the use of iconic timber similar to the materials used in the old building. It also includes a Hansard booth, a Public Gallery, a Government and Opposition meeting rooms, Speakers meeting room, Translation room and Press Area.

“It is an important symbol of Samoan independence and culture, and I am happy to see that the structure reflects Samoan traditions, artwork and designs which take into account climate resilience of its coastal location and health safety standards,” said Tuilaepa.

He hopes that Parliamentary debates return to Tiafau before the conclusion of their term and Australia’s commitment is a reflection of a strong relationship between the two countries.

Julie Bishop and Tuilaepa sign photos of the new building to be stored inside the time capsule