Samoa

Formerly: Western Samoa, now,Full Name: Independent State of Samoa

Samoans are the original inhabitants of the Samoa Islands. There are many explanations for the name Samoa. One is that when the earth’s centre - known as ‘moa’ - was born,Salevao, the god of the cliffs, brought water to wash the new child. He made water ‘sa’ (holy) to the child and all that grew on the earth. 

Population: 179,186 (2006 est.)

Capital: Apia

Ethnic groups: Samoan 92.6%, Euronesian (mixed European and Polynesian) 7%, European 0.4%.

Religion: In 2006 census, 80% Pacific peoples living in New Zealand identify as Christians. In the Wellington region 25% Catholic, 22% Presbyterian, Congregational and Reform, 8%Pentecostal, 8%Methodist, 4%Latter Day Saints,

20% Christian.

Language: Samoan, English.

Climate: Samoa has two distinct seasons - the dry season from May - October and the wet season from November to April.Temperature ranges between 20-30ºC.

Terrain: The islands are of volcanic origin, and the coasts are surrounded by coral reefs. Rugged mountain ranges form the core of both main islands.

Government & Political Situation: Constitutional monarchy under a native chief. 

Number in New Zealand: 131,103 (2006 census) with 20,556 Samoans living in the Wellington region.

Cuisine: Food is a very important part of Samoan life.Wherever and whenever Samoans travel they take food with them, usually in boxes labelled 'umu', named after the traditional method for cooking food where a fire is built and stones placed on it. Green bananas, breadfruit, taro, fish and lu'au are placed on the stones in the embers, covered with banana fronds and left to cook.

One of the most important aspects of the Samoan cuisine is that food is not heavily spiced… coconut milk and cream are used. Special dishes are:

New Zealand contact: In 1899, possession of Samoa was divided between Germany (Western Samoa) and the United States (Eastern Samoa). At the outbreak of World War I in 1914, New Zealand occupied Western Samoa and administered the islands until 1962, under a mandate from the League of Nations. Despite the tough immigration laws, Samoans continued to enter New Zealand. Between 1971 and 1981 the number of Samoan-born residents doubled, reaching 24,141. In 1982 the Citizenship (Western Samoa) Act granted citizenship to Samoan born New Zealanders. In 2001, 115,017 people of Samoan ethnicity were living in New Zealand.This represented half of those of Pacific ethnicity.

In June 2002,New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark formally apologised to Samoa for three actions taken by the New Zealand administration between 1918 and 1929: Allowing the ship Talune, carrying passengers with influenza, to dock in Apia which resulted in the deaths of 1 in 5 Samoans; shooting non-violent protestors in December 1929; and banishing Samoan leaders and stripping them of their chiefly titles.

Fa‘asamoa – Samoan culture: The concept of fa‘asamoa is essential to Samoan identity, and consists of a number of values and traditions:Aiga (family), tautala Samoa (Samoan language), gafa (genealogies), matai (chiefly system), lotu (church), fa‘alavelave (ceremonial and other family obligations).The central element in Samoan culture is the aiga (family) where giving and receiving tautua (service), fa‘aaloalo (respect) and alofa (love) are crucial.

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