In a first for Hastings, Samoan Independence Day was celebrated at Hastings District Council on Monday, June 1.
Flaxmere councillor Peleti Oli instigated the initiative to recognise the Pasifika community in Hastings, who comprise the largest ethnic group in the district after European and Maori.
The occasion included the raising of the Samoan flag outside the council buildings on Lyndon Rd, and another flag was installed on the Hastings CBD clock tower for three days.
Attendees, whose numbers were limited in line with COVID-19 restrictions on physical distancing, included invited members of the Samoan community who acknowledged the friendship agreement between Samoa and New Zealand with the presentation of two wreaths.
Mr Oli said he wanted to do something special to recognise the contribution of the Pasifika and Samoan community to Hastings, including those who had gone on to were role models to the young people of those communities.
“This was an acknowledgement of our belonging to the Fruit Bowl of New Zealand and I’m hoping if other ethnicities see the flags they will feel inspired to also celebrate their special identity,” he said.
Hastings Mayor Sandra Hazlehurst said it was an honour to come together with the Samoan aiga (family) and the wider Pasifika community to recognise an important day in their country’s history, when they received independence in 1962.
“I was incredibly proud to be able to celebrate Samoan Independence Day for the first time in almost 60 years and showcase our community’s cultural diversity.
“The strength of our Pasifika community in Hastings really shone during the recent COVID-19 emergency, where they rallied around to work with Tihei Mauri Ora to help hundreds of our vulnerable whanau get through the lockdown.
“Today was a wonderful chance to show our love and support for our Samoan community who are an important part of our culturally rich and vibrant district.”
2 June 2020
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