Over the years, Barbara and Uini Uini have developed a special bond with Samoa.
Uini lived in Siumu village, Samoa until he turned 15 when he left for New Zealand with his parents. Since then, he has returned to the islands when there was an opportunity – this time he came with his wife.
They have been married for 29 years and have five children. The couple live in Auckland.
Barbara is originally from New Zealand and also lived in Samoa for two years about 27 years ago.
For Uini, he loves coming back to Samoa.
“I come here and enjoy it, it is eat and sleep, what I like,” he joked.
Uini noted the development on the islands.
“I think it is the village life, entertainment was more like live concert, but now everybody has their T.V. and the kids have these mobile phones. Those days it was sort of self-entertainment, a lot of talking and activities.”
“The kids play at evening outside. That was what I saw kids playing rugby, but now it is all different. A lot of the time, you see people, the older ones too, with their phones, which is kind of sad. There is less family communication because of the new technology.”
Uini also said the rate of criminal activities is alarming these days compared to the past.
“I think there is a big change in this respect. In those days there were no incidents like breaking into someone’s house in the village. There has been stealing like taro, but not breaking in people’s houses. It is not in every village, but now these days you hear more of it.”
For Barbara, Samoa has changed in terms of tourism development, compared to the time she lived here.
“It is a lot touristy then before. I think they are making really good use of their resources now,” she said.
Uini added: “I think some of the things that you see they created from New Zealand and I think a lot of them are empathised on your service. How, the people are equipped in the tourism service some of that could have been better. Maybe some more training could be very good.”
Barbara explained: “I mean you want to come to another country and experience and you don’t want to see it completely European. I think what has been done since we were last here, I think it is fantastic. There has been a lot of improvement to 27 years ago.”
Now they plan to travel more often to Samoa as it would be important for their kids to appreciate their roots.
“They like to come here and have some sort of connection to Samoa,” Uini said.
“Two years ago they came here and they are still talking about it,” Barbara added.
“We have enjoyed it. I feel relaxed,” Uini said.
“It is a beautiful island. It is great work what they have done in tourism. I think they got something for everyone from the beach to more luxury,” Barbara said.