Samoa’s Independence celebrated in Queensland
Aiga Samoa Association
North Brisbane Inc.
Samoa’s 54 Years of Independence was finally celebrated by Samoans and the wider community in Brisbane on Monday last week at the Pine River Showgrounds in Lawnton, Queensland.
Extreme weather conditions and flooding resulted in the cancellation of the much anticipated Samoa Independence Day celebrations on June 4th, just days after it was commemorated in Samoa.
While the weather forecasted rain again this past Monday, it was not enough to prevent the event from going ahead.
On Emcee duties were Joyita Stanley-Slade and Le’autuli’ilagi V. Tuala Tamalelagi Le’apai who welcomed all who came out to celebrate and kept the programme running smoothly throughout the day.
Welcome to Country was delivered by Senior Police Liaison Officer and Aboriginal Elder Deb De Bree. Reverend Elder Taua’aga Mata’afa led the Church service and prayer to open the day followed by remarks from the speakers for the day.
Chris Whiting, Member for Murrumba, Moreton Bay Regional Council stated that he felt right at home amongst the Samoan community having attended many over the past 14 years. He went on to encourage Samoans residing in Australia to continue to maintain their (Samoan) culture. Patron of the Samoa Combined Associations Brisbane Forum, Tau’ili’ili Malifa recounted the history of celebrating Samoa’s Independence in Brisbane saying the journey up to this point hasn’t been an easy one, but we now celebrate unified as a Samoan community and it continues to grow each year. Taulapapa Lemalu Roy Slade, President of Samoa Combined Associations Brisbane Forum talked about the importance of ones Samoan identity and the need to embrace and celebrate being a Samoan in our adopted country of residence, Australia.
The raising of the flags ceremony and parade officially kicked off festivities. Australia’s flag was raised by Reverend Elder Lau’ie Lupematasila and Samoa’s flag was raised by Samataua Sitagata Hanamenn Hunt. Both National Anthems were sung by EFKS Southwest Brisbane Sunday School Choir under the direction of Reverend Elder Taua’aga Mata’afa.
After the formalities, VIP Guests and the public were then treated to some amazing entertainment which continued throughout the day. Musical performances by Marina Davis of the popular three piece New Zealand 90s girl group MaVElle and Radio 4EB’s very own Uo Ala’alatoa Brown brought the house down. Mrs Davis performed with her beautiful daughters who have obviously inherited her vocal talents.
Grey skies were a fixture during the day with intermittent showers throughout. Rain was always inevitable, falling in earnest just before and during lunch.
This year, community groups and individuals were recognised for their contribution within the Samoan Community in Brisbane: Samoa Radio 4EB—Broadcasting Group, Rarotonga Tevita, Senior Police Liaison Officer, Redcliffe Police Station, Le Penina O Le Asuisui—Media, Miss Ariana Taufao—Miss Samoa 2015-2016 and first Miss Samoa Australia to win at a Miss Samoa contest, Miss Evania Pelite-Denny—2016 Olympic Games Gold Medal Winner—Rio 2016 and 11 year old Exodus Lale—Performing Arts. Exodus is the youngest to be cast as Young Simba in Disney’s the Lion King Musical, Australian Tour. Certificates of Appreciation were handed out to Marist St Joseph’s Association Inc., Fa’alavelave Frank Front—Master, Taekwondo and Mafutaga So’ofa’atasi—Community Service.
No Samoa Independence Day celebration would be complete without the ever present support of stall holders selling scrumptious Samoan and Pacific Island Food, Maori Smoked Fish and Hangi, Ice Cream, Slushee, Fairy Floss, Seafood, Hot Food, Raro Doughnuts, Keke Pua’a, Fresh Niu and much, much more. With over 60 stalls, all food cravings were covered.
There were also stalls selling clothing, printed t-shirts, sports gear, island wear, handicrafts and jewellery, CDs, Art and cookery. Attendees were seen leaving with bags of goodies, clearly stocking up with their favourite food items as Samoan food shops are few and far between in Brisbane.
Major Sponsors who came on board before June, continued their monetary support through to October. The Samoan Combined Associations Brisbane Forum would like to thank Taumesina Resort Hotel, Import Auto Centre and Instant Pacific Financial Services, QLD, Moreton Bay Regional Council, Western Union, Digicel, Ipswich City Council, Money 3, Movement Twenty Two and Niko Burgess, owner of Runik Polynesian Town for their financial support and donations which contributed towards the day.
Major sponsor Taumesina Resort Hotel provided lucky VIP Guest winner Mr Finau with a 4 nights’ accommodation in one of their 2 bedroom Waterfront Villas at the newly opened luxurious resort.
Samoans in Brisbane normally celebrate Independence Day in June during the Queen’s Birthday long weekend. As this holiday has now been moved to the first Monday in October, organizers will have to decide whether to continue to mark the occasion in June or permanently move to October during the long weekend so as not to clash which other events held throughout the year in Brisbane. Next year regardless, Independence Day will hopefully celebrated with sunny weather.
Note: Samoa Combined Associations Brisbane Forum is made up of: Taupati Fa’atasi, Aiga Samoa Association Brisbane Inc., Voice of Samoan People Inc., Samoa Victim Support Group, Miss Samoa Australia Inc., Radio 4EB Radio 98.1FM, Ailao Manu Association Inc., and Mafutaga Tofa Sa’ili.