Family roots bring mother and daughter to Samoa

By Anina Kazaz ,

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Paige and her mother Rhonda Boonen searching for the roots of her family between the palms.

Paige and her mother Rhonda Boonen searching for the roots of her family between the palms.

Finding our roots is one part of discovering ourselves.

For Paige Boonen, her trip with her mother to Samoa is more than just a normal holiday.

The 14-year-old college student from New Zealand came to Samoa with her mother, Rhonda.

It is their second trip to Samoa.

“It is just us, mother and daughter. Paige’s great great grandmother, Frieda Schwenke, is buried here in Apia at the Magiagi cemetery. So Paige has Samoan heritage,” Rhonda explained. 

“Last time we came, we had difficulties in finding the grave. We did not find the family members to show us. This time we are very happy because we found one relative and she took us to the cemetery where we left some flowers.”

For Paige, this trip was a very special experience.

“All I ever wanted was to come here because of my background. Last April, a year ago, was the first time I visited the island with my mom. 

“I guess it has been a special place with the connection I have. I love walking around and I recognise it is so different to New Zealand. It is more down to earth. The houses are so different. Everyone is so humbled and relaxed. I really do like it.”

This time around, they have been blessed to meet their relatives. 

“We now know some of our relatives here. We stayed at another resort and one of the staff members offered to look after the names. So she found one of our relatives and drove us to her. It was the first time we met her and she has been very lovely,” Rhonda said. 

“It is something special and different to meet the family here,” Paige added.

They are considering coming to Samoa and this time maybe stay for a year.  

“I thought about living here, maybe after I finished with school. I am still in college,” Paige shared. 

As tourists, they explained the difficulties they are confronted with while staying here. 

“When you go to the trench for example, it is hard to see the sign, they are very small and it is hard to not miss them especially while driving from the road,” Rhonda explained.

Paige added: “What I would like is maybe more opportunities for tourists to try local food. Here in the resort, there’s more normal food. Bacon and eggs for breakfast for example. A little bit more culture in the resort would be great.”

They both agreed that the highlight of their stay is meeting their family members here.

© Samoa Observer 2016

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