Renovation work disputed

By Ilia L. Likou ,

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NOT HAPPY: Gerrit Buurman and Josef Baukes.

NOT HAPPY: Gerrit Buurman and Josef Baukes.

A German man who has made Samoa his home has expressed disappointment about the lack of recognition given to the work he did to repair two memorials that belong to Germany at Mulinu’u.

Josef Baukes told the Samoa Observer he had spent a lot of time, money and energy to refurbish the memorials at Mulinu’u only to find that his name has been removed. 

Instead, the renovation work has now been credited to a sign, which reads “By the help of the German Embassy in Wellington.”

“How come they put the name - refurbished by the German Embassy in Wellington?” he asked.

“To my knowledge, they only just put on some paints and the floor on it but the job was already done. I had done the job.”

In 2008, Mr. Baukes said he came across the memorials and he felt that as a German, he wanted to make them look good. He obtained the approval from Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi.

 “So I took lots of expensive materials, I spent money and my time to fix it up. We worked from early in the morning until late at night in refurbishing everything.”

Mr. Baukes said the “German Embassy hadn’t done anything.”

“I’m not a millionaire but I know the German government has millions and yet they did nothing,” he said. 

“It was me who paid for it and refurbished it.”

Another frequent visitor to Samoa and German citizen, Gerrit Buurman, said he had been to Samoa a few times and seen that the memorials hadn’t been repaired.

“I have lots of friends here in Samoa and I‘m very interested in the Pacific,” he said. “Coming to Samoa a few years back, I talked to the past German (Embassy) about why nothing had been done to refurbish the memorials.

“But then I found that it was fixed. I said great.” One day, Mr. Buurman visited a local bar and he met Mr. Baukes.

“I spoke to him about how wonderful it is that they’ve finally refurbished it. But then Joe told me it was him who fixed it.

“So I asked him, but there is a sign that says it was fixed by the German Embassy in Wellington?”

Mr. Baukes said he wanted to make the issue public because he believes people deserve to know the truth.

Contacted for a comment, German Honorary Consul in Samoa, Arne Schreiber, said the issue was a misunderstanding.

 He confirmed that Mr. Baukes had refurbished the memorial in 2008 but it has been seven years and the memorials needed to be refreshed. 

He said the German Embassy funded the latest renovations, completed at the end of last year.  Mr. Shreiber said the contractor who carried out the renovation work had accidently painted over Mr. Baukes’ name. He said the painting will be removed to acknowledge Mr. Baukes’ work.

© Samoa Observer 2016

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