Book to uncover 'Mau hidden truths'

By Elizabeth Ah-Hi ,

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Mau leaders and Tupua Tamasese Lealofi III in front of Mau office 1929.

Mau leaders and Tupua Tamasese Lealofi III in front of Mau office 1929.

It has been more than 30 years since the book “Mau: Samoa’s struggle against New Zealand Oppression” by Michael Field was published.

Now it’s about to be updated in a new book that the well-known journalist and author is working on which promises to uncover some hidden truths about what really happened on Black Saturday.

In the past three decades, Field’s book about the Mau was one of the only in depth books about the history of the Mau movement and it was widely used by educational institutions around the world to reference this part of Samoa’s history. 

However, Mr. Field tells the Samoa Observer that at the time he wrote it, he felt then that there was a lot of information that was still missing and he had hoped that other Samoan scholars and researchers would have built on what he published.

“Even when I wrote the first book 30 years ago, I knew there were many missing aspects of the story," he said. 

"At the time, I did not have the time (or the greater knowledge) to fill in all the gaps. To tell the truth, I thought some Samoan writers and scholars would come in and use my book to write bigger and better books themselves.”

Revisiting an era of Samoa’s history that holds an enormous amount of pride as well as sadness, the author has uncovered some new material that paints another picture which shows a different story around what we already know about what happened on Black Saturday.

“As I rewrite and re-research the material, I realise there is a great deal, an enormous amount, that we do not know about the Mau period particularly around Black Saturday. What I am finding - and what I have suspected for a long time - is that there really is a different story around Black Saturday.

It was not as we all felt it was. What Helen Clark apologised for is not the full story, and New Zealand has kept a lot of information secret. To this day,

"It is quite fascinating and awfully sad.”

Mr. Field also believes that there are people in Samoa who are aware of this hidden information and have not been forthcoming, which makes it even harder to piece the story of the Mau together.

 “I think there is an old fa'a Samoa tradition of hidden or secret knowledge. Families hold key matters close to them. The problem with this approach is that the information can be lost. It is why for example, that Kramer's book is so important at the Lands and Titles Court; he wrote down a lot of secret information. When the Influenza Epidemic hit, most of the information was lost."

At this time, Mr. Field says his book is about a year away because he has discovered more information that will require more research and waiting time because he is in the process of requesting information under the Official Information Act which he believes has been kept secret since 1929. 

The author also said there are stories to be told from Samoa in the Mau period that are terrible and personal and have not been told.

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