Sāmoa celebrated 60 years of independence on the 1st of June 2022. The Australian Museum celebrates alongside Sāmoans as they reach this milestone. This series was created and will be released throughout the month of June in celebration.
Fono Sāmoa NSW proudly hosted Sāmoa Day earlier this week. The day saw thousands of Sāmoan and Pacific Islander diaspora gather at Liverpool’s Whitlam Centre to celebrate 60 Years of Sāmoan Independence. It was a safe communal space to celebrate culture, dance, music, art, sports and food.
Sāmoa gained independence from New Zealand on the 1st of January 1962. However, the Sāmoan community annually celebrate Independence Day on the 1st of June.
The family-friendly event featured 6 hours of performance artists and groups such as Matavai Pacific Cultural Arts, Manea Pacifica, Alo o Samoa Brisbane, Holy Spirit College Lakemba, Methodist Youth Penrith, Tongan Groups and other youth groups and entertainers. The outside communal spaces saw over 30 food stalls, business stalls, kids rides and sports workshops to ignite joyful unity and cultural pride.
One of the Australian Museum’s (AM) staff members performed at Sāmoa Day, and attested to the importance of Pacific Islander diaspora communities coming together to celebrate their cultures. She was deeply inspired by the way masses of Sāmoan people made the effort to commemorate such a milestone, and who evidently strive to uphold Fa’a Sāmoa (The Samoan Way) in a country far from home. Fa’a Sāmoa refers to the Sāmoan culture and traditions that make up the fabric of Sāmoa.
As Pacific Islanders living within the diaspora, we possess authentic traits of our Ancestors and the societies that shaped us. The opportunities laid out for us here in Australia, are important tools that we can use to match the brilliance of our Ancestors. Moemoana Schwenke
The celebration of Sāmoa Day in Sydney is an important celebration for Pasifika-Australia to remember the adversities Samoan forefathers encountered during the colonial era.
The AM holds over 500 measina Sāmoa in the Pacific Collection. Measina is a word used to describe Sāmoan treasures, and can be anything that holds a sacred place.
Many measina Sāmoa were used throughout Samoa Day in Sydney, which highlights the importance of preservation and perpetuation of cultural practice. Siapo (bark cloth), ‘Ie Toga (fine mat), Kiki Fulumoa (body adornment), Nifo Oti (dance implement), Tanoa (‘ava bowl), Ula Lopa (necklace), Pale Fuiono (forehead band) and many other traditional measina were seen throughout Sāmoa Day in Sydney.
For many, the use of measina Sāmoa is a way for people to signify, acknowledge and claim their cultural identity. To see tangible and intangible aspects of Sāmoan culture displayed at the event, gives a great sense of hope that they can be sustained for future generations. These cultural practices also promote a sense of wellbeing and cultural continuity in diaspora contexts.
Sāmoa Day in Sydney amplified the positive fundamentals of Sāmoan culture, and demonstrated how Sāmoan diaspora in Sydney Australia continue to hold steadfast to their cultures in Western societies.
The Sāmoan proverb "lele le toloa ae ma’au lava i le vai”, translates to “the toloa bird may fly to greener fields, but it will always return to the water where it was nurtured."
This proverb is used by many Sāmoans to express that no matter where you are in the world, you carry Sāmoa within you and will always be defined as a Sāmoan. It reminds the younger generations to never forget their roots.
Fa'afetai tele lava for reading our series "Fa’amanatuina o le 60 Tausaga o le Tuto’atasi o le Malo o Sāmoa. Celebrating the 60th Anniversary of Sāmoa’s Independence".