Hastings’ Samoan community was celebrated yesterday with a special ceremony held to acknowledge Samoa Independence Day.
Hosted at the Hastings District Council chambers, this year is the 61st anniversary of the passing of the Western Samoa Act by New Zealand’s parliament, which came into effect on January 1, 1962, and marked Samoa becoming a fully independent, sovereign state.
Former Flaxmere councillor Peleti Oli organised the event that featured performances by Mahora, Raureka and Peterhead School groups, and heartfelt prayers and speeches.
Guests included the student representatives, church ministers, community leaders and members, RSE worker representatives, and Hastings district councillors.
Mr Oli, who instigated the Samoan Independence Day celebrations in conjunction with Hastings District Council in 2020, said it was another special event.
“It’s important to bring the community together at any time, but especially now with Hastings’ newly-formed friendship agreement with the village of Poutasi – coming together like this helps strengthen our relationships.”
Hastings mayor Sandra Hazlehurst noted that this time last week she had been in the Samoan village of Poutasi, signing a friendship agreement with the Falealili district, at the same time bestowed the chiefly title of To’osavili.
On that trip, Mrs Hazlehurst and council chief executive Nigel Bickle were also part of a delegation of local horticulture industry representatives, iwi representatives, and trade commissioners who attended the WE Trade and Business Summit in Apia from May 22 to 24.
This was aimed at exploring mutual development opportunities between the two districts, building on the existing relationship with the RSE employment scheme.
“This celebration of Samoa Independence Day further connects us and recognises our countries’ shared vision to bring prosperity and opportunities for our people.
“Following on from our visit to Samoa we can see many mutual benefits arising from the connections that have been built within our Hastings community, and with the seasonal workers who for the past 17 years have come to our district each year to help harvest our crops.
“There is huge potential for our districts to work together and help each other to sustainably build on our primary industry relationships, as well as exploring other business and trade opportunities, and community development in areas such as education, health and welfare and parks and planning.”
The finale for yesterday’s celebration was the raising of the Samoan flag outside the council building.
2 June 2023
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