Palauli Heritage Trail reopens for tours
The Palauli Heritage Trail is scheduled to reopen at the end of the month and will offer tours to cultural and traditional sites in Palauli.
The site is the focus of a project led by the Palauli Heritage Trust and the National University of Samoa's Center of Samoan Studies, who have received funding from the United Nations Development Programme [U.N.D.P.].
It was officially opened in March this year but due to the state of emergency [S.O.E.] orders, tours were suspended but have now resumed on the last Saturday of every month.
A researcher with the N.U.S. Center of Samoan Studies, Dionne Fonoti, told the Samoa Observer that the decision to reopen the site was made during the Father's Day long weekend.
"We have been in talks with them to figure out when is the best time to open and we went over there on Monday the Father's day holiday weekend and visited the site and met with the Trust," she said in a phone interview.
"The trails are managed and operated by the Palauli Heritage Trust which is a charitable trust that was set up last year."
Mrs. Fonoti described the area as a "cultural tourism site" for anyone interested in visiting a site that has historical and cultural significance to Samoa.
“Most of the features we are highlighting in this tour are at least 500 years old. So it's much much older than I think a lot of the things that people get to see or visit when they come to Samoa,” she added.
She also spoke of an ongoing collaboration with the village – to be able to not only let people visit the site – but to also enable them to conduct research.
"Not very much research has been done, a little bit has been done but certainly there is a lot more that can be done so that is one of the major reasons why we want to support the communities in the village and all the money goes back to the trust and the village that is operating it.”
The archaeological history on show at Palauli will enable visitors to dig into the oral history and the traditions of the people in Palauli, according to Mrs. Fonoti, who added that it was an opportunity to learn what Samoa’s ancestors were doing more than 500 years ago.
“If you are interested in that kind of stuff and want to see what old Samoa was like this is a great opportunity to do that,” she further reiterated.
“I guess the most spectacular thing that people could see is the star mound, a complete star mound that we feature on the tour and that’s pretty amazing when you get to see it upfront and personally, because if you have never seen one before, you probably just heard of them, they are pretty spectacular.
“We have a complete star mound that’s in pretty good shape, it hasn’t been destroyed too much overtime.
“This could be 300 or 500 years old so it's quite an old star mound."
The options available for visitors to Palauli are immense, emphasised Mrs. Fonoti, besides its archaeological history.
"There’s lots to see. We’ve actually got a traditional Samoan Fale that was built by the village for this place as well," she said.
“We just really want to be able to start to share this with people."
She then expanded on the mandate of the N.U.S., which is to contribute to research around Samoa, and help develop the people’s understanding of Samoa’s past and history and to make that available to the students and local Samoans.
“On the village side of it and the community side of it, it’s the opportunity to get to know your ancestors better, which is really quite fun,” she said.
“We are just going to open the last Saturday of every month for the time being until we can kind of get the word out and let people know and hopefully gather more interest."
Mrs Fonoti said people taking part in the tour will be picked up from the Samoa Tourism Authority office in Salelologa and transported to Palauli for the programme.