Samoa Independence Day – June 1, 2023

Samoa Independence Day is celebrated on June 1. The country gained independence from New Zealand on January 1, 1962, and it’s the first pacific island country to gain independence. The date was originally January 1, 1962, but it was changed to avoid having the special celebration fall on New Year’s Day. Samoa is a Polynesian island consisting of two main islands. Its capital city is Apia, its official language is English, and its estimated population is 198,410 citizens, as of 2020.

History of Samoa Independence Day

The Samoan journey of independence began with the signing of the Western Samoa Act in 1961. This treaty of friendship was signed by New Zealand and the then-new Samoan government. Samoa was originally under the rule of the German Empire from 1899 to 1915. It later came under the joint rule of the British and New Zealanders for 45 years. New Zealand’s involvement in Samoa could be traced back to World War I in 1914. At that time, New Zealand’s expeditionary force landed at Apia after a request from the British Government. This move ended the rule of the German forces in Samoa and the beginning of a joint British and New Zealand colonial era.

From the end of World War I until 1962, New Zealand governed Western Samoa as a Class C Mandate under the trusteeship of the League of Nations, then the United Nations. Between 1919 and 1962, Samoa was handled by the Department of External Affairs, a government agency established specifically to oversee New Zealand’s Island Territories and Samoa. The Department of External Relations, later renamed the Department of Island Territories, was created in 1943 to handle New Zealand’s overseas affairs. Their administrators were responsible for two major incidents during New Zealand’s control, the Spanish Flu Pandemic, and the Mau Movement.

The first incident was the flu pandemic, which killed an average of 22% of Samoa’s population in 1918, sparking grievances among the local Samoans. This outbreak was due to an unquarantined ship from New Zealand landing on Samoan shores. The second incident started with an initially peaceful protest by the Mau, which escalated when the police intervened and shot two of their leaders. At least 10 people died that day and 50 were injured by police batons and gunshot wounds. That day is known in Samoa as Black Saturday.

Samoa Independence Day timeline

1722
The First European Explorer

Jacob Roggeveen, a Dutch Navigator, is the first European to explore Samoa.

1830
London Missionary Society

The London Missionary Society, which was an interdenominational evangelical missionary society formed in England in 1795, arrives in Samoa.

1914
New Zealand Occupies Samoa

Acting under the directives of the British government, New Zealand, in the wake of WW1, seizes Samoa from Germany.

1997
The Name Change

Western Samoa drops ‘Western’ from its name and is known simply as Samoa.

Samoa Independence Day FAQs

Why is Samoa Independence Day so special?

The country itself is distinguished, being the first country in the South Pacific to gain independence.

What does the Samoa flag look like?

The Samoa flag consists of a red field with a blue rectangle in the canon, which bears the Southern Cross, four large white stars, and one smaller star.

What is Samoa’s motto?

The country’s motto is, “God be the foundation of Samoa.”

How to Observe Samoa Independence Day

  1. Throw a party

    Samoa Independence Day celebrates freedom. Participate by throwing a party in the spirit of freedom.

  2. Learn the history

    You would appreciate this special day more if you knew the history of how Samoa became independent. Enjoy the interesting story of Samoa’s journey to self-rule.

  3. Help your community

    Samoa was only able to achieve independence because some people fought for it. There might be no need to fight for freedom anymore because Samoa is already free, but where you see that you can be of use to your community, you should not hesitate to help.

5 Interesting Facts About Samoan Culture

  1. Samoa has only one city

    Apis is the capital city of Samoa and it is also the only city in the country.

  2. Birds that are endemic to the country

    84% of the species of Samoa’s land birds are found nowhere else in the world.

  3. Tattooing is a part of their culture

    Tattoos are a part of their culture and they even have gender-specific tattoos.

  4. Samoans love to play kilikiti

    Kilikiti is a form of cricket that was introduced to them by the European missionaries.

  5. Traditional Samoan houses had no walls

    Their houses had no walls and this promoted bonding between members of the community.

Why Samoa Independence Day is Important

  1. It reminds us of our freedom

    Samoa Independence Day reminds us that we are a free and independent country. People who were alive when the country was under colonial rule dreamed of the day when they would be free, and we are grateful we get to experience the type of freedom they longed for.

  2. It is a day to appreciate our past heroes

    People who fought for Samoa’s freedom are past heroes, and Samoa Independence Day celebrates them too. We can learn some of their names, family histories, and maybe even meet some of their descendants.

  3. Its history inspires resilience

    Samoa was first colonized by Germany, and later by Britain and New Zealand. Despite its long history of colonial exploitation, the country remains strong and united, celebrating its 60th year as an independent state.

Samoa Independence Day dates

YearDateDay
2022June 1Wednesday
2023June 1Thursday
2024June 1Saturday
2025June 1Sunday
2026June 1Monday
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