Today Samoa celebrated 50 years of independence.
Samoa was a German colony before World War I, but in 1914, New Zealand governed it under an agreement with the League of Nations.
In the early part of the twentieth century, there were non-violent protests from the Mau movement against the colonial government. On December 28th 1929, 11 Samoans were shot dead by the New Zealand military police during a peaceful protest. This day was called Black Saturday.
In the next 30 years, New Zealand started to give Samoa more self-government. In 1962, Samoa became independent with its own Parliament. This was the first Pacific country to become independent.
Ten years ago, the New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark, apologized for the way New Zealand treated Samoa during colonial times.
Independence celebrations will continue until Tuesday. Today in the Samoan Parliament grounds there was a religious service, a ceremony to raise the Samoan flag and cultural performances followed by fireworks in the evening.
Samoans in New Zealand also celebrated today. The number of people born in Samoa but living in New Zealand was 50,000 in the last census. However, many of these people have children who were born in New Zealand. In the last census, 131,000 identified their ethnicity as Samoan. Most of these people live in Auckland.
• colony – governed by another country; not having your own government
• apologized – said “Sorry”
• treated –acted, behaved
• A census counts people. (New Zealand has a census every five years but because of the Christchurch earthquake 22nd February 2011, the 8th March 2011 census was not held. The next census in New Zealand will be 2013).
• ethnicity – race and culture