The Old Court House – Samoa’s last Remaining Historical Building will soon disappear as demolition started today.
By Lagi Keresoma
APIA, SAMOA – 18 MAY 2020: It is ironic, that as Samoa joins the world to celebrate the International Museum Day today, the workers started demolishing on an iconic building that has been a major part of its modern history.
Today, the workers started pulling out the age old timber of the 118 year old Court House in downtown Apia. They want to save what can be saved knowing the value of the timber. Looking dilapidated and sad, the old Court house built in 1902 by the Germans will soon disappear, only to remain in memory and photographs.
But the richness of Samoa’s history associated with the building will remain.
The old court house was the headquarters of both the German and New Zealand colonial administrations. At the corner where the traffic lights are today, the leader of Samoa’s independence movement, Tupua Tamasese Lealofi III, was shot dead by New Zealand police in 1929, along with eleven other Samoans.
When Samoa gained independence in 1962, the building was turned into the main administration building with the Prime Ministers’ office and the court house on the ground floor.
As it deteriorated over the years, the Prime Minister’s office and Cabinet and other ministries moved to the central administration building on the Eleele fou, and the courts and administration offices moved to its building at Mulinu’u.
Various efforts were made by individuals and organisations to solicit funds to restore or rebuild the building but no one was successful. In a ceremony marking 100 years of New Zealand’s takeover of Samoa in 2014, the Prime Minister announced that the old building was to be a major part of the Apia Waterfront Development with funding from New Zealand. The dream then was to turn the building into a museum, hotel and restaurants to complement the ongoing Apia waterfront development project.
But both the lack of funding and the lack of Governments commitment to spend money to restore the building was a race against time and the elements.
The building had since been under the Samoa International Finance Authority (SIFA) and there has been talk of a hotel to replace the old building.