Samoans rejoice with the Aussies on Australia

By Samantha Goerling ,

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GUESTS: Paul Bolger, Her Highness Filifilia Tamasese, His Highness Tui Atua Tupua Tamasese Efi and Jackie Frizelle.

GUESTS: Paul Bolger, Her Highness Filifilia Tamasese, His Highness Tui Atua Tupua Tamasese Efi and Jackie Frizelle.

A lively performance from Don Bosco Technical Centre was the highlight of the official celebration of Australia Day at Tiapapata on Tuesday night.

The mini-concert which was thoroughly enjoyed by the audience was a preview of what Don Bosco is likely to showcase when they tour Australia later this year.

Among the audience was the Head of State, His Highness Tui Atua Tupua Tamasese Efi, the Masiofo, Her Highness Filifilia Tamasese, Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi, Cabinet Ministers, members of the diplomatic corps and the Australian community in Samoa.

They were hosted by Australia’s High Commissioner, Sue Langford, who emphasised the importance of Australia- Samoa partnerships in terms of skill-development, education, infrastructure, employment and even sport.

“We remember, with pride, the role the four players of Samoan heritage played in the Wallabies World Cup Squad last year,” she said, referring to Scott Sio, Matt Toomua, Christian Leali’ifano and Will Skelton. 

In addition she highlighted the focus of the national day.

“Australia Day in 2016 celebrates diversity and tolerance. People from some 170 countries around the world call Australia home- including 60,000 who were either born in Samoa or are of Samoan ancestry,” she said.

Prime Minister Tuilaepa highlighted the strength of bonds and partnerships of many types between the two countries.

“The growing number of Australian-Samoans is the enduring part of the relationship between our two countries and will remain so into the future,” he said. “The Samoan diaspora has the potential to make a very important contribution to the diversity of Australian society and help reinforce Australia’s credentials as a successful multi-racial society.”

The Prime Minister concluded by proposing a toast “to the success and prosperity of the government and people of Australia.” 

When it was Don Bosco’s turn, they sung with pride the Samoan National anthem and Waltzing Matilda- an Australian classic.

Later this year, on the 18th of August, the group of nineteen students and three staff will travel to Australia for a month long tour. During this time the group will perform in Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney and at other Salesian Schools in those cities. 

Speaking to the Samoa Observer, Joseph Iosefo, a staff member who is also part of the group said that concerts will be one or two hours in length and will be a cultural showcase of “the old and the new”. Songs will be performed in Samoan, English as well as Latin and include some Australian numbers.  

The trip will be entirely funded by Don Bosco Technical Centre Alafua after a mammoth fundraising effort to be organised by the staff.  Current plans involve a coffee table evening for a thousand guests.

Iosefo explained that while the trip will involve sharing the Samoan culture there will also be many other valuable benefits. 

“The trip will be about sharing Samoan culture and to keep the bond between Australia and Samoa strong. It’s also about friendship. Not only do we want to share Samoan culture we want to learn about Australian culture. The Salesian Schools are like family to our school.”

Happy Australia Day!

Sue Langford 

Australian High Commissioner

Remarks on Australia Day

Australia Day – 26 January – does not celebrate an anniversary of independence.  Nor the birthday of a king or a queen.  Rather, it marks the date that Europeans first arrived in 1788, joining the Indigenous people who had lived and thrived in the country we now call Australia for more than 40,000 years.  

Australia Day in 2016 celebrates diversity and tolerance.  People from some 170 countries around the world call Australia home – including 60,000 who were either born in Samoa or are of Samoan ancestry.   

Today, here in Samoa, it is an opportunity to celebrate the success of the Australia-Samoa relationship.  We have a close, broad ranging and special relationship which is growing in many ways.

Our Government-to-Government relationship is under pinned by regular two-way Ministerial visits.  We have enduring partnerships and twinning programs across the public sector – between our Parliaments, our police forces, our Government Departments and Ministries.  We are a close team on maritime cooperation through the long-running Pacific Patrol Boat Program.  We are close partners in the region and we work together on the international stage.  Importantly, we are working together to implement the Sustainable Development Goals – or SDGs –adopted by the global community late last year. 

Australia is proud to be a major development partner with Samoa and we are committed to continue supporting the areas of education, infrastructure, health and gender to contribute to sustainable economic growth and raise living standards.

We have supported the education of Samoans for many years.  In coming weeks, we will send 32 young Samoans to further their studies in Australia and in the region.  

In a few years they will join over 300 Samoans who have graduated with Australian support since 1996.  

Australia is continuing to fund Samoans to gain skills including through the APTC – for careers in key trades such as hospitality, commercial cookery, plumbing and metal fabrication.

Australia is committed to supporting economic infrastructure in Samoa.  This year will see the completion of the widening of Vaitele Street which we are funding with the World Bank.  

This will substantially reduce the travel time from the Vaitele industrial area to Apia business district – supporting trade and economic growth.  

To further support Samoa’s economic growth, Australia is pleased to partner with other donors in support of a new ICT submarine cable to Samoa.

The Australian Government continues to support and facilitate people-to-people links which are the engine room of our strong and growing relationship.

This year, over twenty Australian volunteers are working in partnership with Samoan colleagues in Government Ministries and Non-Government Organisations.  

This is a 25 year old program where volunteers and their counterparts share ideas and learn valuable skills from each other.  

I thank the volunteers and their Samoan counterparts here tonight for your hard work and dedication in Australia-Samoa relations and for Samoa’s development.

In 2016, we will welcome eighty students from six universities around Australia to Samoa to undertake placements in engineering, education, nutrition, geography, journalism and sport.  

These students are participating in the new Colombo Plan, a signature initiative of the Australian Government supporting under-graduate students to study in Asia and the Pacific to increase their generation’s knowledge of the region.

I very much look forward to working with the Samoan Government to increase Samoa’s participation in the Seasonal Workers Programme.  

Since 2012, 413 Samoans have worked in Australia under the Programme.  This number is set to grow with the Programme’s expansion.  

There is now no cap on numbers and sectors have expanded from horticulture to include the broader agriculture sector and tourism in parts of Australia.  

This programme is important for both our countries.  It will provide skills development and income for Samoa and address workforce shortages in Australia.  It’s a win-win.  

Our sporting and cultural links are growing.  Samoa – along with other Pacific island nations – are changing the face of sport in Australia.  

This is particularly the case in rugby league, where a remarkable 42 per cent of players are of Pacific heritage.  And we remember, with pride, the role the four players of Samoan heritage played in the Wallabies World Cup Squad last year.

I value the bonds that have been built between Australia and Samoa.  

On behalf of the Australian Government, I look forward to continuing to build on all aspects of this close and special relationship.

In conclusion it is my honour to invite you all to raise your glasses and join me in a toast: to the Head of State, to the Prime Minister and the Government and the People of Samoa.


© Samoa Observer 2016

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