Rare coin collection honours great friend

By Sina Filifilia Seva’aetasi ,

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THANK YOU: Museum Officer, Ailini Ah Ken Eteuati, with Uili’s Neice and Nephew Trevor Sa’aga and Christine Sa’aga, with Micheal and Patty Rhodes and Tuifa'asisina Maraea Slade.

THANK YOU: Museum Officer, Ailini Ah Ken Eteuati, with Uili’s Neice and Nephew Trevor Sa’aga and Christine Sa’aga, with Micheal and Patty Rhodes and Tuifa'asisina Maraea Slade. (Photo: Misiona Simo)

Samoa has welcomed a first to its archives: a rare German coin collection.

The Coin Collection will soon be on display at the Museum of Samoa in Malifa in memory of Uili Sa’aga, who was a great friend to the  donor of the collection, Michael and Patty Rhodes.

Mr. Rhodes left Samoa 54 years ago, but Samoa never left his heart.  

Mr. Rhodes shared how the idea of bringing a coin collection came about.  

“About seven or eight years ago, I was mentioning this to a friend, Bob Roberts, a very famous coin dealer,” he said. 

“I said to Bob that I’d like to do something to remember Uili and perhaps something that can be a start of a collection that Samoa can build off.”

The pair including Mr. Rhodes mother collected a handful of German coins to bring to Samoa. He said,  “we’ve assembled what we hope is the start of a collection that can become the memory for Uili and something for his family to look at when they come to the Museum.  And for other people who have coins that are Samoan to add to this collection.” 

Michael Rhodes went to Samoa College as a young boy as and his parents taught at Avele College.

 “I left Samoa 57 years ago, I was a pupil at Samoa College and my teacher was Ms.Va’ai.   I always remember that she was quite  a lovely teacher and I had happy times there,” He shared.  

“We left and I went back to New Zealand and went to Wellington College for my Secondary education.  I left there 51 years ago.”

Back in Wellington, Mr. Rhodes shared dormitories with the only Samoan at the school, Uili Sa’aga 

The two schoolboys bonded over past memories of Samoa. 

First for the National Museum of Samoa: A coin collection of Samoan Coins from German Colonization times.
First for the National Museum of Samoa: A coin collection of Samoan Coins from German Colonization times.

“We were in the same dorm, “ Mr. Rhodes shared.  

“We’d sit on our beds early in the morning and he’d help me practice my Samoan.”

“I would help him with some of his English. We’d talk about Samoa a lot. He was the only Samoan at Wellington College.  Naturally, when you’re away from your home country, you get homesick and need someone to talk to.”

Mr. Rhodes shared that Mr. Sa’aga was a very good student in school and set out to become Samoa’s first ever librarian.  

“He was clean and he didn’t swear.  He was good at school and never got detentions.  He never got out of sorts with the teachers. He was a very good student.”

“Uili was going to Auckland to be trained as a librarian and become this nations first ever librarian.”

Unfortunately, Mr. Sa’aga never got to see his dream fulfilled as his life was cut short due to a tragic accident.  

“Sadly, he was killed by a bus two years later and never got to practice the career  he wanted and the nation  lost an asset.  A wonderful man who could’ve been of such service, because his life was cut short.

 “However, This (coin collection) is for my love and affection for my friend Uili and I give this to Samoa.”

Mr. Sa’aga is from Malua and the youngest of his siblings.His legacy lives on through his nieces and nephews Mr. Sa’aga’s nephew, Trevor Sa’aga, said, “I myself am a Wellington College Old Boy.  That was because of Uncle Uili.  Wellington College has a rule that if you have siblings that have been going to school there then they’ll accept you.”

“Up until now, I have nephews that are going to school there.”

© Samoa Observer 2016

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