How time flies.
This time last Monday this country was all wrapped up in the ‘Jacinda Ardern mania.’
The New Zealand Prime Minister was the undisputed star of the show, touching down for a flying one and a half day visit, which totally captivated everyone she came in contact with – including our leaders.
But then who wouldn’t?
She has quite a presence and she is great at what she does, judging from her public appearances here.
Her first official visit as Prime Minister, Samoa sure rolled out the red carpet to welcome her and her entourage – a rather large one at that too – which would no doubt cost New Zealand taxpayers plenty of dosh.
After a few speeches here and there, taking in some of the local scenery and giving a $17.5 million mealofa, Ms. Ardern was back on the plane, on to the next destination.
And while she said a lot of great stuff, it was her Deputy Prime Minister, Vaovasamanaia Winston Peters, who would be remembered for his parting shot before he boarded the Royal New Zealand Air Force Hercules.
In light of the raging controversial debate about the Land Titles Registration Act 2008 and customary lands in Samoa, Vaovasa did not mince his words.
He warned that Samoa should learn from what has happened in New Zealand, with regards to foreign investment and ownership of their lands.
“In my country, you’ve seen a dramatic transfer of land and houses to foreign interests,” Vaovasa said.
“It has driven the price up so bad that people are now buying in Auckland houses that are 12 times their annual income.”
The Deputy Prime Minister said this has come at a huge expense for some of the poorest people in New Zealand – many of them Maoris and Pacific islanders.
“It used to be three and a half times,” he said. “Twelve times means that a lot of these people, mainly in the bottom of the economy - Maori and Pasefika - will never ever own their own homes and that’s a tragedy.”
He went on to say something Samoa’s leaders of today would do very well to remember.
“They’re not making any more land around the world.”
No we couldn’t agree more with Vaovasa. In Samoa, they’re not making any more new land in Samoa either. Rather, more and more foreigners are crowding to Samoa and all these people will need somewhere to go.
Coming from New Zealand, Vaovasa would have seen what has happened there.
Which is perhaps why he also commended people who are fighting to ensure land rights remain with traditional land owners.
“I commend the people for standing up for themselves,” he said.
“I recommend people to look very carefully about what happened to New Zealand because we’re a new government and we’re stopping it. No more optional ‘buy now’ because we’ve got to look after our own people first.”
We hope our leaders take the time to read and hear what Vaovasa had said. It is a masterstroke from a seasoned politician who would have seen it all. They are words of wisdom we would do very well to heed.
Have a wonderful week Samoa, God bless!