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Group adamant old Court House can be saved

A not-for-profit organisation that is behind a campaign to save Samoa’s old Court House on Beach Road in Apia says the iconic building can be preserved and saved.

Samoa Tofia Mai le Atua (S.T.M.A. Inc.) Executive Board Chair, Taloto Obed Unasa said according to a preservation plan that has already been formulated and implemented, the building is in a “fair condition".

He said architects and engineers have checked the building and based on their own assessment, it is repairable as it is in fair condition. 

“It can be restored — with careful obvious repair work and all the other stuff — that building as it stands can be repaired and restored.

“The neglect of the building doesn’t help though, over that period of like four years (since) 2016, nothing has been done about it, nothing has been looked after. We’ve just been waiting for it to fall down,” he said.

The old German Court House was designed and built in 1902 and was opened in 1903. It was the original seat of the German administration in Samoa. But when Samoa was annexed by New Zealand in 1914, the Germans were replaced with Crown-appointed administrators who then extended the original building to its current size.

Taloto said the building was built from timber made from Redwood California, which has a lifespan of 2000 years.

“It’s termite resistant, the bark of the tree is actually fire resistant so there’s no way you can go, oh it’s actually termite. The original building that was built in 1902 was made out of Redwood, the other additions around it though may be the ones that the other people are talking about.  

“But the original building itself has not actually changed from its original structures, so the point is whatever else you add around it; people talking about hotels and that, you can build it still at the back though, doesn’t mean you can take that off and it doesn’t make sense,” he added. 

Tuatagaloa Joe Annandale, who was closely involved with the now disbanded Apia Courthouse Trust, said it would be a pity to see the building get torn down.

He said they did not have any association with the building today, but it is his hope that the S.T.M.A. Inc. is successful in its bid to convince the Government not to pull down the historical building. 

“I think it would be a pity for the courthouse to be dismantled and taken off and changed with another building. Unless they were to build something that would be exactly the same as the structure there is right now, using the same architecture as the old building,” he said.

When asked if the Trust was willing to back the S.T.M.A. Incorporated’s efforts to save the Apia Old Courthouse, he said he cannot speak for the rest of the trustees.

“But I can only speak for myself, I’m happy to help where I can in the work of the new group right now, I can speak to the other members of the Trust to see whether they are prepared to support.

“I’m sure they will because that was the eagerness of the group before and I’ll be very surprised if they don’t feel the same way now,” he added. 

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