University, school students take a day to celebrate Samoan culture

Cooking, dancing and storytelling took centre stage at the National University of Samoa's (N.U.S.) cultural day on Friday.

Friday's event is the second time the university has hosted the event dedicated to celebrating Samoan culture across each of the universities faculties. 

Aumua Ausilafa’i Matiu Gatᾱvai Tautunu, a Senior Lecture for Samoan Language and Culture at NUS said the day provided an opportunity for foundation students at the school to reconnect with cultural learning. 

“We are aware of the fact that pre-, primary and secondary schools along with colleges also conduct their own cultural days; our goal as a university is to have our foundation students successfully come up to us and see that the practice of cultural day is resumed in terms of preserving the ways and traditions of our Samoan culture,” Aumua said.

Aumua said students displayed a rich understanding of their culture and the desire to dedicate themselves to its preservation in future.  

The day was divided into displays of traditional Samoan food and dances. For the latter the sasa and ma’ulu’ulu were performed with each of the university's faculties displaying their own take on centuries old tradition. 

The faculties also each contributed cooking to put on a spread for attendees. 

Samoan meals were prepared including: suafa’i by the education faculty; tunu moa Samoa (boiled chicken) by the faculty of health science and the umu taro, lu’au and pua’a (pig) that was prepared bu the center of Samoan studies (CCS) and Oloamanu.

When it came to dancing and performances the ancient legend of the Nafanua was portrayed by the faculty of education; the faculty of arts portrayed the story of Salamasina; and the faculty of technical education recreated the ancient story of Pili. 

An 18 year old Foundation commerce student, Sebastian Lesᾱ of Fasito’o uta, said the day had been a chance to add depth to his knowledge of Samoan culture. 

“The standard is quite high up here at N.U.S. in terms of developing the Samoan culture," he said. 

Martys Matagi of Lefaga, who also also majors in commerce, said the day had raised his understanding of tradition. 

“There is a very big difference in the knowledge taught about our Samoan culture in N.U.S. and high schools," he said. 

“This cultural day has helped out a lot to the perseverance of the Samoan culture as well as the learning of the students."

Coincidentally, the Samoa Adventist College happened to be holding their cultural day as well on the same date.

A few students shared their understanding of what Samoan culture means to them and whether it is being maintained or diluted. 

18 year old Tala’i Onesemo told the Samoa Observer: “As we celebrate culture, it’s really important because nowadays we hardly see people of Samoa knowing who they are, where they’re from and their identity. Modernisation has taken its place with a lot of influence from other cultures and countries.”

The thirteenth grader said she was grateful for the activities her college conducted to revive a culture she sees as gradually being forgotten. 

11 year old Leah Niuula from the school's sixth grade said Samoan culture was very important to her despite being half from New Zealand; the more she gets to learn about her family history and how the Samoan people defended their land the more interested she becomes, she said. 

“The importance of being Samoan is when you come together as a family and learning all about how Samoans used to do stuff,” Leah said. 

“I think the Samoan culture is fading because of all the technologies that are coming to the land. Also with how the Australians and New Zealanders are bringing over new stuff to Samoa and this makes the Samoan people forget about their culture."

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