Samoa celebrates Waitangi Day
As Samoa celebrated Waitangi Day on Friday, it was also a moment of reflection on the cordial relations and its shared history with New Zealand.
The Waitangi Day Reception was held at the official New Zealand High Commissioner’s residence in Apia.
The New Zealand High Commissioner to Samoa, Dr Trevor Matheson, said that the event was to celebrate the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi while adding that the Waitangi Day is the National Day of Aotearoa New Zealand.
Mr. Matheson also relayed that on 6 February every year everyone will gather together at Waitangi in the Bay of Islands to commemorate the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840.
“COVID has turned our world upside down and inside out, in this ongoing period of adversity and disruption, our partnership has been stronger than ever,” he added.
Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sailele Malielegaoi stated in his keynote address that on this day of reflection, “we are all too aware of a chaotic start to 2021 globally, which has underscored the catastrophic effects of misinformation.”
“We know that rhetoric left unchecked - and amplified across social platforms - has harmed how countries have responded to the pandemic, and impacted democracy."
Tuilaepa noted that as the world continues to battle the COVID-19 pandemic and the devastating effects that it has brought to populations and their livelihoods, Samoa is able to find solutions in partnerships, inclusive participation and collective protection in collaboration with its partners and friends.
“While as leaders we were required to make hard decisions to close our borders as a protective measure, we also had to minimise the impact of these closures on our people," he added. “New Zealand remains one of these critical partners to ensure the effective and successful implementation of our COVID-19 response through: the continued weekly flights to ensure adequate necessary supplies.
“And the support for the repatriation of thousands of Samoans and more recently the kind offer of COVID-19 vaccinations for our population akin to similar commitments of assistance from our other development partners.”
Furthermore, the Prime Minister said that the ongoing seasonal workers scheme, even in the thick of border restrictions, continue to improve the livelihoods of many Samoan families.
“The scholarship programs, though delayed and the multiple projects, especially to support the various focal sectors remain key for Samoa’s development.
“As we approach the end of our first triennium of current development cooperation, it is an opportune time to revisit the processes and delivery mechanism involved, so we can adequately address the challenges and uncertainties, in order to build back better from the impacts of the pandemic.”
Tuilaepa also added that Samoa and New Zealand value their close collaboration in the global arena – to ensure Blue Pacific countries have a strengthened collective voice on matters of urgent priority to the region – in particular climate change, health security, oceans and implementing the Sustainable Development Goals.
“I wish to underscore the importance of the New Zealand – Samoa Treaty of Friendship," he emphasised. “Almost 59 years ago, our two countries expressed a desire to ‘maintain and strengthen the bonds of amity and goodwill’ and ‘to provide for continued cooperation.’
“We continue to live up to the promise of this special treaty, which is most evident in our people to people connections and the increased number of those of Samoan descent who have secured positions in the various echelons of the New Zealand parliament.”
Tuilaepa also acknowledged on behalf of the Samoa’s Government and people, their sincere appreciation for the significant contribution New Zealand has made and continues to provide towards the development of the country and improving the livelihoods of its people.