Villagers thankful for commemoration

Vaimoso village mayor Faleafa Matai’a has expressed his village’s gratitude at the Government’s decision to commemorate 100 years since the outbreak of the Influenza Epidemic in Samoa. 

Speaking to the Samoa Observer as villagers and youth put the finishing touches at the venue which hosted yesterday’s event, Falefa said they had been preparing for the commemoration since mid-2018.

“We have been preparing for this event from the middle of the year and the whole village was involved.  

The reason we are commemorating this event is because the majority of the people who had passed are laid in Vaimoso cemetery and also the land mark is there,” he said.

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Village chief, Manuleleua Asiata Ioane, said looking back at history, it was a dark period at that time due to the large number of casualties when the New Zealand vessel Talune arrived in Apia on November 7, 1918. 

“If we go back in history to the time this had occurred, we would have been heart struck with grief for the lives lost. 

“Lives could have been saved, had the ship been quarantined or had we refused ships in the harbor like American Samoa. Unfortunately, at that time under the administration of New Zealand, we had not and for that it had cost us many lives,” he told this newspaper.

The lack of doctors and medicine and the absence of a proper burial for the victims of the epidemic was tragic for Samoa, Manuleleua added.  

Prime Minister Tuilaepa Lupesoliai Sailele Malielegaoi and Acting New Zealand High Commissioner Nick Hurley led yesterday’s commemoration at Vaimoso. 

There was a moment of silence before wreaths were laid in a procession led by His Highness, Head of State of Samoa, Tuimalealiifano Vaaletoa Sualauvii II, the Prime Minister and Mr. Hurley. Following the laying of wreaths, the P.M. and the New Zealand diplomat did a ground breaking ceremony at the Vaimoso memorial ground before they attended a historical photo exhibition.

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