Letterman: Joseph Churchward’s World of Type.”
|Museums join to celebrate creativity|
By Lumepa Apelu – Principal Officer Museum of Samoa
Museum of Samoa and the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Togarewa join
hands for the first time to share an exhibition, featuring a Samoan
born New Zealand artist, Joseph Churchward, passed in May 2013.
The exhibition pays tribute to his remarkable contribution to the arts.
dedicated his life to letters. ‘Hand-lettering is superior,’ his
business cards proclaimed, a reflection of his belief that the subtlety
of a curve could only be captured by hand.
six decades, Church-ward created more than 600 typefaces –
representing several hundred hours of work. International recognition
came after the leading German company Berthold Fototype acquired a
number of his fonts in the late 1960s. His playful, idiosyncratic
typefaces – produced, in later years, from his Wellington home – are
used around the world.
creative, Church-ward found inspiration in his family and Samoan
heritage. He remained enraptured by the possibilities of the alphabet:
‘Without letters ... we wouldn’t be able to communicate.’
Mallon, senior Pacific curator of the donor museum has said that it is
with great pleasure that they give this work to the people of Samoa.
Akeli, the curator of the said exhibition is currently the Manager of
the Postgraduate Development Studies in the National University of
Samoa, and will voice more on the occasion of its launching. |
Chief Executive Officer of the Ministry of Education Sports and
Culture, Dr Karoline Afamasaga Fuata’i will officially open the
exhibition for the public in a ceremony at the Museum of Samoa, on the
26th Of February 2016.
|Museum Exhibitions Are Alive|
by Lumepa Apelu
So you know that the museum is a place where our old things are made
mention of. You also know that part of the museum ventures is to talk
about our history in the context of connecting with your eyes, ears,
In your museum, there is a story for everyone who is related directly or indirectly to our shores.
show you through the walk into five rooms, that your culture is rich,
lively and luckily for a very small island culture, strong. We also
show you that the perils of today’s living are possibly cured by the
intrinsic connection of our innate superb cultural inheritance, to
1914 fale Samoa, credit of National Library of New Zealand
|When you point to the environment, natural disasters and health issues,
the museum takes a look at things such as our natural resources, our
resourceful people, our healers, our plenty fruits, birds, trees, in
the past, and our patience for things we do not need, for example. |
you point to the rising social changes, our museum looks at our matai
system, our ancient governance, the ways of communal care for the
benefit of all rather than a few, and the wisdom in such ideals for an
island, separated from many countries by the large ocean.
you point to the environment, natural disasters and health issues, the
museum takes a look at things such as our natural resources, our
resourceful people, our healers, our plenty fruits, birds, trees, in
the past, and our patience for things we do not need, for example.
you point to the rising social changes, our museum looks at our matai
system, our ancient governance, the ways of communal care for the
benefit of all rather than a few, and the wisdom in such ideals for an
island, separated from many countries by the large ocean.
year has been a very mindful reach out to various influential partners.
We hope that more schools will enjoy the most recent exhibition brought
to us by the Auckland Museum under the directorship of Mr Roy Clare.
The exhibition is valued at 140,000NZD, with the assistance of the
Government of New Zealand who shipped everything to us for free.
in our museum exhibitions is the fale Samoa and “sennit” exhibitions
which the government of USA, local artists and artisans, (Galumalemana
Steve Percival, Mata’afa Autagavaia, fale builder Laufale , and
overseas donors, ( Laauli Dr Francis Higginson, Philip Lair) has
assisted with, valued at over 100,000USD in total if we include the
conversation with New York about climate change too.
upcoming exhibition funded solely by the Museum of New Zealand, Te Papa
Tongarewa, Wellington will be launched in December. Its content will be
another article coming soon.
museum is mostly about our cultural heritage. And for the heritage
workers, it is a wonderful challenge to be part of the small and
devoted work force these days. All over the world, heritage
professionals, aim for the same reason we do, which is that, a deeper
understanding of ourselves leads to enlightenment and open mindedness
about challenges and what different things entail.
we know also that the world gets smaller every day. To know ourselves
only is not enough. We must also endeavour to preserve whom and what we
are, for the benefit of all. So, in our humble view, no small effort is
useless when it comes to promoting our cultural heritage.
A village in Japan attracts 2 million visitors per year.
Preserved for its original styled buildings.
|Creativity and Museum Challenges|
By Lumepa Apelu
back, makes a lot of sense when you work in a museum such as ours. It
is based on history and culture. The history part is tricky. We have so
many artifacts, so much story to tell, but very little space. So I
often think that if we want a big museum, why not use the whole country?
we go to places like Japan for instance to look at how they conserve
their heritage, you find whole villages being part of the scheme of
preservation, where townspeople make a living from restaurants, gift
shops, touristy things that are both pleasing to the eyes, clean and
on our homeland, I wonder sometimes if we could the same. It permeates
a culture of pride and humility, when we are true to our beginnings. I
guess as a museum or heritage worker, it is a big challenge to
implement such ideas when there is no money to use to prove a point.
we try to partner with museums and institutions overseas, whom are kind
enough to understand the need to develop and continue promoting our
purposes. The partnerships we form internally, meaning inside our
country, is a little scattered like star dusts in the sky of
preservation but I guess we can hope to hope that we will get
|Sometimes, if we compare the value
of a mat for instance, and the prize it takes to weave it, then couple
that with the worry of a faalavelave and the meagre frustration for
school fees and food things, the mat is valued at perhaps minus zero
important. But when we consider the meaning of the mat, the resources
it required to make it, the skills that strengthen the hands of the
weavers, and the avalanche of opportunities that prevail from a
persistence towards the making of mats, we can up its value to wealth
and well being of a community. The same can go towards the art of fale
making. Trees would be made to grow again for the sake of fale
building, and more and more people would enjoy the mindful caretaking
of an environment that would support them financially and morally.|
Needless to say, not one
institution has all the answers to our perils these days. Everyone
plays a part in making a good difference. So the point of this article,
is to revitalize the meaning of the museum collection and what it
stands for. It also looks indirectly at a visionary influence for a
There is currently a new exhibition
in the museum, donated wholly to our country by the Auckland War
Memorial Museum, with the assistance of the New Zealand High
Commission, and the University of Auckland. Director Roy Clare for the
said museum is so excited that he wants to give us another exhibition,
a more modern one, in the near future. I believe like Martin Luther
King believes, and more accurately, as Tamasese Meaole indicated, that
peace is to reign, as would the suffering of getting there would be
appreciated and held high in our minds.
I ponder on intentions and good will, I think about one discoverer of
our islands, who wrote many years ago, that Samoans are an intelligent
race. A blessed week to all. God speed.
of Cultural Heritage Deeper Meanings
on the one month training in Conservation of Cultural Heritage, the
Japanese government, ICCROM and ACCU, extend the training into talks
about natural disasters and the importance of cultural heritage in the
scheme of revival of the human spirit during hardships.
the tsunami hit Japan in 2011, several people and families, suffered
psychological issues. Many couples divorced as a result of the tsunami
because fathers left their duty to look after the family, from the
hopelessness of beginning life again. Children suffered too from the
loss of models and happiness in the home. If you and I think back, the
tsunami of Samoa, had similar challenges. And if we think of the human
spirit, many people recovered slowly but with the help of communal
participation. That said, our well being, is in our togetherness.
Japan, the heritage conservationists immediately reacted to finding out
all the damaged buildings and chances of restoring them. The
realization that cultural heritage offers hope to the spirit of a
people is what makes such work important to the conservationist. In a
country such as Japan where temples and shrines are places of calm and
community strengthening, the sites have become national heritages. They
date back to centuries of existence. Some of the oldest buildings in
the world are preserved in Japan. Needless to say, laws, regulations
and policies made to protect these buildings and other cultural
heritages are very well placed in the society.
Photo by Lumepa Apelu: At a
shrine in Nara, offerings to the gods,
“ Good life, ever happy.”
importance is given to the owners or custodians of the cultural
heritage. This means, in Samoa, weavers and carvers, fale builders and
sennit weavers would be well funded to preserve their art and also
placed in sustainable income making businesses that promotes the art to
younger generations and also allows for making a living.
the next generation is as much a challenge in Japan as it is in Samoa.
Young people prefer the easy life, from the life in the plantation, the
life of growing trees to source the fale building, of building canoes
to go out fishing, or weaving mats to exchange for other mats instead
of the canned herrings and “pisupo”. The same story happens in big
countries like China.
questions to be posed, are simple. How much do we spend on treasuring
the past and what part of it is actually investing in the future? More
importantly, where are we hoping to land in the future? Such questions
are open to the general public, not just the people working in museums,
cultural institutions, art galleries, universities, no. These are
really questions for the community at large. The community should
include mostly the rural areas in Samoa, where the focus of strength is
directed in the seating of matais, and their honorary ruling. Much
emphasis lies on their shoulders. Those are the pillars given to us by
our ancestors which seem a bit rusty these days if we collect the chaos
in daily living. But change is inevitable in any society. What I may
find rusty could be the cleansing of old to something adorably new and
fitting to what we need to move with to the future, and in these
challenging times, necessary.
interlinking of practicality with meaning is an ever attractive feature
of the cultural heritage phenomenon to me as an individual. I find that
in it, we are wholesome people, not just workers, making a buck or two
to take home. I find that it is impossible to defeat one’s identity as
a world citizen in such a setting. People from all over the world with
various expertise come together to discuss the well being of their own,
by looking back and appreciating their own place of birth, rather than
compare it. We do not choose where we were born, but we can definitely
choose where we belong. So far, I belong with the hope you have in your
eyes. “Good life, ever happy.”
Islands Exhibition which came from Auckland Museum to the Museum of
Samoa: Auckland War Memorial Museum photo.
for The Entangled Islands Exhibition
Museum of Samoa is ever
pressing for promoting what it humbly holds in the century aged old
building in Malifa. Guests arriving from overseas, or those local
advocates, who were born and somewhat raised here remember going to
school in the compound we now are housed in.
museum worker we are taken back through the years, and through the
guests’ eyes, the magnificent simplicity of the past. But this article
is partly individual and mostly universal for the heart we share is the
same when it comes to pride in our living culture, our country.
|History as you know is museum
knowledge as poetry is to the heart of literature. May we thus
introduce to you through this open letter an extended invitation to a
recently launched exhibition, donated by the Auckland Museum, NZ and
with the help of the New Zealand High Commission to Samoa.
Exhibition is both historical and the largest exhibition donated to
your Museum through the love and support of its mentioned partners.
Dated as early as the 1800s and up till now, the exhibition covers wide
and large the journey of Samoa and New Zealand. It touches the heart
through personal stories shared by individuals who lived and survived
through the sorrowful, and happy times altogether. Open to your
interpretation, and your additional stories, we welcome you to visit
the Museum and contribute what you can to our historical experiences.
a Sustainable Society
awareness on the importance of our Samoan culture is a major museum
Museum of Samoa is a cultural institution focused on history, the
fa’a-Samoa, documenting and exhibiting colonial, pre-history and modern
times, as well as other Pacific island cultures. A
hefty task reliable first and foremost on persistence and dedication,
the museum team and volunteers are ever mindful of their audiences near
Museums all over the world will celebrate the important role of museums
around the 18th of May 2015.
This year’s theme for the event
will be Museums for a
sustainable society. It highlights the role of
museums in raising public awareness about the need for a society that
is less wasteful, more cooperative and that uses resources in a way
that respects living systems.
Group of children at Safune,
Savai'i, Western Samoa,
photographed in the 1900s by Alfred John
Note the whaleboats in the background.
|ICOM (International Community
of Museums) President, Prof. Dr Hans‐Martin Hinz, adds:
as educators and cultural mediators, are adopting an increasingly vital
role in contributing to the definition and implementation of
sustainable development and practices. Museums
must be able to guarantee their role in safeguarding cultural heritage,
given the increasing precariousness of ecosystems, situations of
political instability, and the associated natural and man‐made
challenges that may arise. Museum work, through education and
exhibitions for example, should strive to create a sustainable society.
must do everything we can to ensure that museums are part of the
cultural driving force for the sustainable development of the world.”
together as a community is ever the Samoan way of life. The museum has
relied heavily on partners and individuals to enhance its collections
and programs. There has been a rise in donors by way of artifacts to
the museum. The museum is ever grateful to such advocates for their
love of Samoa and Samoans is depicted by honoring the current and
future generations with such generosity.
to our shores also is the notion that giving is part of our culture.
The museum stands to not only remind with gratitude but to also embrace
such intentions from advocates of culture and art near and far. The act
of giving is contagious as you will see when we write more about the
kind of people who are generously helping the museum this year.
a museum perspective, and when sitting around a table with other museum
promoters, it is realized that “Our gift is in whom we are and what we
that the Samoan way of life and values are permeated to inspire our
audiences in their fields of interest, the museum seeks and continues
to enhance with enthusiasm its partnerships with local and overseas
artists, artisans, institutions, and community cultural workers through
educational workshops, museum tours and talks, as well as exhibitions.
reflection: Last year the mural that was painted on the museum during
the SIDS conference by overseas and local artists is credited to the
Conservation International, a non-profit organization making a
difference in environmental issues and perils.
photo in this article reflects one of the images we have on the museum
face-book page this month and which has gained much attention from the
viewers. We look forward to a year of cultural and artistic enrichment.
Thank you Samoa and God bless.
Phillipe Lair for the Museum of Samoa exhibition
|A fale Samoa exhibition in the
Museum of Samoa
Museum of Samoa has recently launched an exhibition on the fale Samoa.
Photos were donated to your museum by French architect-photographer,
Philippe Lair, who was photographer and illustrator of the Fale Samoa
book published by UNESCO Office of the Pacific States. The book is
authored by the first director of the said office, Laauli Dr.
Francis L Higginson.
Fale Samoa exhibition is an
inspiration of the industrial nature of Samoans. From carving, weaving,
building and designing, the fale Samoa highlights the innate creativity
of Samoans. It also touches on the concepts of conservation and
Fale Samoa exhibition is an inspiration of the industrial nature of
Samoans. From carving, weaving, building and designing, the fale Samoa
highlights the innate creativity of Samoans. It also touches on the
concepts of conservation and community efforts.
exhibition also is an extension of the climate change project with the
American Museum of Natural History where both museums reflected on the
notion of home and the impact of hazardous weather towards
displacement, community strengths or weaknesses and future
recommendations on home designs. An exchange of cultures and
experiences was taken to heart by its participants. The fale Samoa
model for the exhibition we now write about was made possible through
it is unfortunate that the art of fale building is not prevalent in our
modernized society, there is still hope because not all the builder’s
knowledge is lost. If you ponder as an individual the beauty of a fale
Samoa, safety and strength of community aside, you too can appreciate
the essence of the exhibition I write about here.
to the tufuga, Laufale, the art of building is handed down to his sons
through projects they are called to do. Laufale has also led a team
into getting accredited by the Samoa Qualification Association. I
realize also as I learn from the needs of the museums and the struggles
of empowering practitioners that lifting the profile of traditionally
skilled professionals is encouraging and pressing considering the art
we talk about.
the windows of the museum work things I have come to realize, that
without a deep connection with our traditional practitioners, we have
very little fortune at promoting our own culture in the museum.
Promotion as you know is lasting if heartfelt. I hope that this article
has also stated in so many words that our culture is nothing but
is a matai in his sixties from the village of Sa’anapu. He is the
tufuga of many fales and also the builder for the fale Samoa model in
the museum. To him we credit much of our respect for the fale Samoa
exhibition as he is one of few practitioners who is still building and
still sharing his knowledge with his sons. Practitioners like Laufale
are rare these days. The exhibition is housed in the same room as the
sennit exhibition held late last year for the sake of keeping the same
and continuing story in one space. God speed you on, Samoa.
Photo: Museum of Samoa Sept
Paradigm: Sa’anapu Village in Museum of Samoa
When the tsunami of 2009 hit Samoa
by surprise and before the shock that put her into a state of utter
disbelief, many people fell apart from the loss of their loved ones.
But many more survivors regained their strength with the help of the
community that came together, much like the spirit of SIDS in holding
Samoa and of course Samoans up high.
exhibition held at the Museum of Samoa, curated by architect, Cecile
Bonnifait of the Atelier workshop brings to light and sound many voices
of the people of Sa’anapu regarding the relocation, or the need thereof
of the preschool, the graves of families, the fale tele, and well, the
community, in case of future environmental disasters.
change discussions world-wide came in good time for the exhibition to
be hoisted a flag, as it was made a Parallel event thanks to the SIDS
organizers. More importantly, it turned a light on for the villagers
and their candle lit story of the tsunami wave that changed their lives
in one day. Preschoolers were saved by the mangroves which held off,
like a protective coat, the wrath of the breaking waves. The exhibition
proposes the need for the preschool to move to highlands as the current
preschool is not well attended due to fear for life, and understandably
so. The mangroves and their caretaking is also highlighted in this
exhibition, as it is a source of life to the villagers of Sa’anapu if
we think of the water catchments and water itself, of food eaten and
sold at markets by the villagers. The good news for the village and for
the curators involved is that many donors were/are attracted to the
theme of the exhibition, “Managing Risk for Adapted and Considerate
Architecture in Samoa, “ fancy words for rethinking home due to climate
change and natural disaster impacts to Samoan villages.
reverend from EFKS Sa’anapu Tai, Iakina Alefaio spoke of his experience
in the tsunami and blessed the exhibition with words of praise for the
curatorial team and the Ministry of Education Sports and Culture. The
chief executive officer of the Ministry of Education Sports and
Culture, Matafeo Falana’ipupu Tanielu Aiafi, gave the key note address
in which he supported the partnership with the said team and emphasized
the importance of engaging of the village community in such an
important time for Samoa’s hosting of the SIDS conference. High chief
Anapu Aiali’i, spoke for the village of Sa’anapu and its support of the
exhibition and what it represents for the survivors of the tsunami and
the meanings it carries for their loved ones. He also congratulated the
Museum and the curators from France and New Zealand for the endeavor to
assist the village. The ambassador of France to New Zealand, Mr
Montini, was inspired by the exhibition and spoke of his full support
and enthusiasm towards the project. He also stated that he will do as
much as he can and wherever he can to seek funding to help with the
project’s full realization of helping the Sa’anapu villagers recovery
from the tsunami of 2009. Vaimasenu’u Zita Martel, honorary consul of
the embassy of France to Samoa was the elegant master of ceremony.
the exhibition will be showcased till October 2014, the museum is
working towards bringing the preschool and primary level students from
Sa’anapu to visit the exhibition and to gain insight of the museum
|The museum reflects on Samoa’s
you look out into the seas of Samoa today, the random canoe makes a
small journey to the reef and back for fish or maybe the delivery of a
tourist to snorkel. In our not so long ago years, when canoes were more
abundant as fruits on trees, the carrying of goods such as food and
trading tools were commonly done on canoes and between islands near and
far, rather than motor vehicles or airplanes.
The image we see here
is touched by the modern influence of nothing more than an umbrella and
the clothes on the gentleman’s back. When I look at it, I sense the
arrival of missionaries, the loud noise of airplanes in the World Wars,
the crack of the sky in the cyclone of 1889 and the turning over of the
Adler warship on our shorefronts. All those things and much more I
think of, in one picture from our simple days in the past. And as we
also look onto the upcoming SIDS conference, such a difference makes a
humble person like me want to sit down to reflect.
1938: Alexander Turnbull
Library photo, unknown photographer
wooden and creaky steps on the museum are old as much as I am twice as
young towards them. But they feel like they have been waiting for us,
our children, our families, our overseas friends and strangers to
befriend the age from which they were made. They seem to beckon the
heart of a bystander to walk into the realms of a different sphere of
existence from the same genealogy that made an intelligent race, a
modest kind of people and a happy one too. If you have not guessed, I
am talking about ours. When you step back from our time and look at us
like an eagle from the sky, you may see through our hearts the
beautiful things we were made from. But the museum has such a view in
If we consider the journey from which we came, and the
road on which we tread, the people we lost along the way, and those we
made heroes as they made us brave all the same, we have to pat each
other’s shoulder blades and make a silent prayer to our heavens. We are
made to remember the foundation of our nation, being that God is the
utmost achievement we rise to.
The Museum of Samoa will host
with local and overseas partners, exhibitions and workshops during the
SIDS period to reflect on the importance of our ‘harmonious’ existence
with the environment.
May you have a peaceful and enriching week. God bless.
Turnbull Library –
View of Apia and Apia Harbour, Western Samoa, Photographed
John Tattersall in about 1905.
Two four masted schooners are in the
wars, struggle, strength, lush forests and beauty are some of the
moments of our growth through our history and what the museum takes
note of with respect to our traditions, moral values and way of life.
and its story,” is the title of a book published by New Zealand to
extend the story of Samoa from German rule to New Zealand captivity and
occupation. It gives a detailed account of the lush environment of
Samoa among other things. Interestingly it mentioned abundance as
the bush and the fruit-plantation; the coconut palm groves along the
coast and inland furring the ranges, the wild timber, large and small.
All twisted and twined with shrubs and lianes, in a true tropical
profusion of jungly intricacy. Every kind of fruit grows here, -
coconut, bananas, breadfruit, granadillas, “ mummy apples”, oranges,
mangoes, custard apples, limes, pineapples, the sweet potato, the taro
and the yam are raised in great quantities, and vegetable from
temperate climes are successfully cultivated…”
|And of heroism and wealth, it
said, “Manono was known for its warriors and was rich in food supplies.
fame it stated, “Savaii was famous for its great volcano at the time.”
courage it read, “ It was on that beach ( Apia) in the height of gale (
1889 cyclone) that the brave Samoans, friends and foes alike, burying
the hatchet, rushed into the surf to rescue the perishing Germans and
Americans, and it was the chief of Apia, Seumanutafa, who especially
distinguished himself by his chivalrous humanity and courage.”
of the population it reported that, “The Samoans then numbered about
author was correct if we look at Samoa now, “ …the Samoans were not
picture above is one taken in 1905 and is our current face-book image
of the week.
the museum continues to prepare for exhibitions during the SIDS
conference. Meanwhile, there are plenty memories to reflect on as we
make our way towards highlighting the importance of our environment,
our cultural heritage and partnerships with our friends near and far.
that we leave you with humble blessings for this week. God speed.
Samoa : Pearls and Passion in Samoans
week of research is passing us by. The museum reminds of our past and
its precious lessons and gifts for our modern journey.
you are wondering, the museum is on a quest to showcase our history,
culture and share dialogue on important issues such as climate change,
voyaging and the fading arts of Samoa, through exhibitions and
workshops, during the upcoming SIDS conference.
museum is working diligently to make connections through its collection
and research with individuals, artists, artisans, academics, tourists,
students, children, and anyone who has walked into its rooms at Malifa
with little expectation of a giant presence of our own amazing history.
note: This week, Marie Quinn, a total stranger to the museum, came for
two days from New Zealand to just look at Ewald Kopp’s last visit here.
Ewald if you can recall is the German descendant of one Graf family who
were deported from Samoa after New Zealand took over the reigns, but
never forgot Samoa as a loving place.
feeling of a home away from home is one that Samoa has sustained
through its existence in the wide Pacific ocean, unique and memorable.
This to say that while we have a small collection compared to our
museum partners overseas, the fact that the museum of Samoa is in the
heart of Samoa, makes our museum a pearl in the ocean of Museums all
Alfred Tattersall, photographer. Ref: Alexander Turnbull Library NZ
|But the museum of Samoa this
reflects on the romantic description by Robert Louise Stevenson, our
renowned Tusitala of some of Samoa’s way of life in the 1890s.
dress is a passion, and makes
a Samoan festival a thing of beauty. Song is almost ceaseless. The
boatman sings at the oar, the family at evening worship, the girls at
night in the guest-house, sometimes the workman at his toil. No
occasion is too small for the poets and musicians; a death, a visit,
the day’s news, the day’s pleasantry, will be set to rhyme and harmony.
Even half-grown girls, the occasion arising, fashion words and train
choruses of children for its celebration. Song, as with all Pacific
islanders, goes hand in hand with the dance, and both shade into the
drama. Some of the performances are indecent and ugly, some only dull;
others are pretty, funny, and attractive. Games are popular.
Cricket-matches, where a hundred played upon a side, endured at times
for weeks, and ate up the country like the presence of an army.
Fishing, the daily bath, flirtation; courtship, which is gone upon by
proxy; conversation, which is largely political; and the delights of
public oratory, fill in the long hours." Robert Louis Stevenson.
image shown is our current face-book picture of the week. Many visitors
of the page continue dialogue with us as they too bring up some of
their historical photos. The beauty of our culture is inherent in whom
The love of learning and getting to know our roots is what the museum
May you have a splendid week,
Niggemann Collection of Otto Tetens photos – for the Museum of Samoa
|An open letter: The Museum builds
reader, I understand the need
for a stick to your mind if not bedside note to put by the side of your
mattress, if not a mat as you lay down to end the subject of a daily
life worth living. So here is but a short reflection of your past and
mine made glorious. Images from our past are rare, so riveting. Each
one comes alive as pictures do say a thousand words. For the museum it
says a million pearls since our generation and one before us have
scattered across the globe in many countries and yes with many voices,
Samoan in all of them too.
Did you know that we have a
special collection of Otto Tetens photos in the museum? Well, we do and
Mr Neggemann and his good wife had contributed to its eventuation. An
exhibition was held in 2004 in Germany and then 2005 in our museum to
commemorate the phenomenal collection. Yes I agree, a milestone indeed
for the museum of our people.
staring at a photograph can be a life changing experience, I must say.
The museum has these photos that chase our dreams to the clouds and
look upon us with a sense of humor at times. It seems we were
designated to be here all along. Mata’afa and Lauaki standing alongside
some of our prominent chiefs are shown in this world premiere image.
The museum is the first to showcase it on our very own face-book page
this week. I realize it is indeed a great thing, this technology
upgrade of communication we now enjoy between a heart-beat and a flick
of a mouse to like an image or something someone says on facebook. It
connects so many of us, through our heritage too.
a word on Otto Tetens and his own boat or shall I say va’aalo journey
on our shores. He stayed in Samoa from 1902 to 1905 where he founded
the Apia Observatory in June 1902. A scientist he was and an advocate
of the fa’a Samoa too. He built samoan fales to house himself and his
staff, not the wooden German buildings like the one the museum is
housed in now. Something about Otto Tetens is amazing too. But more of
him and his collection coming soon for all of you.
For now, a profound and heart-felt tribute to our past and to the
people who made us who we are today. God speed.
published in the Samoa Observer on 19th June 2014)
Dr Newell with some of the
participants of the workshop in the Museum of Samoa
New York on Staten Island, affected badly by cyclone Sandy, many people
lost their homes. Said one affected member, “I’m done,” declared a
heartbroken Joe Monte, a city worker who has lived for 22 years on Fox
Beach Ave. “I can’t handle it no more. I can’t go near this home. I
can’t see this home. It’s affected my family. Just get us out of there.
I want to feel normal again.”
in Samoa one of our NUS students said, “The worst thing that scares me
about climate change is losing my loved ones, being helpless, not
knowing how to cope.”
Ministry of Education Sports and Culture is hosting the American Museum
of Natural History team for the second time in the Museum of Samoa. A
year-long project called – “Rethinking Home: Cultural impacts of
Climate Change, Linking Samoa and New York” is a joint museum
initiative that connects the two communities in sharing experiences of
climate change. This week they are holding workshops where dialogue
amongst participants is based on the notion of home, and the impacts of
climate change to our cultures.
AMNH team is made up of Pacific Ethnology assistant curator Dr Jennifer
Newell, curatorial associate Jacklyn Lacey, Global Kids ambassador Maya
Faison and Staten Island activist Leila Rassi. The first workshop began
Tuesday and was attended by more than one dozen students of the
National University of Samoa, most of whom are majoring in the
Environmental Sciences. The Head of Science Department, Faainu Latu was
one of the participants who attended a workshop in New York City at the
invitations of American Museum of Natural History. He was accompanied
by a museum volunteer and lecturer of NUS, Ms Dionne Fonoti. The first
two Samoan participants to attend a conference on “Collecting the
Future; Museums Connect communities” and workshops for the said project
in New York were Mata’afa Autagavaia (Culture specialist) and
Lumepa Apelu of the Museum of Samoa.
by a grant of 150,000USD awarded by the US State Department’s
Bureau of Education and Culture in association with the American
Alliance of Museums, the project has enabled the production of a samoan
fale teaching model for the Museum of Samoa, travel of participants to
the focus communities and conducting of workshops where local
professionals and community members have been invited to present or
participate. A publication will be tribute to all the participants of
the workshop, in Samoa and New York. A video tape of the workshop will
be available in the Museum and added to its large collection of
audiovisual materials for the visitors and students at the museum.
Support from the US Embassy of Samoa, was seminal. Including in the
arrangement of a video conference between the project groups in New
York and Samoa conducted on the Embassy premises and received with
Newell and Lacey the coordinators of the project agree that the
workshop had enlightened not only the museum professionals but the
community participants as well. Many thoughts had been shared across
cultures. It is thus in their plan to continue dialogue for more
potential projects ahead. The exhibition for the fale Samoa
be advertised once the photos from a donor from Paris, Phillipe Lair,
arrive in a couple of weeks. For now, the two museums are celebrating
the conclusion of workshops and the success of the project on Thursday
at the Museum of Samoa at 5:30pm, where all are welcome to attend.
Alexander Turnbull Library,
6 Mau supporters coming out of the bush for a meeting of members
|Their tears touched the sea
it rains in Samoa, I think the sky is crying. But I have seen other
skies in this world, and I have come to realize that I love the sky of
Samoa just as I do poetry and music. Something in it whispers of sweet
things, of faith and the rewards it brings for hanging onto hope all
the while. White lights, fresh air, calm seas and pure hearts emanate
the same thing as does the sky suspended above our heads. If the sky
should somehow fall, I quietly believe, we will be fine. For if you
think we do not hold up this sky, then may I dare ask, who does?
the celebration of our independence is a climb worth jumping for, isn’t
it? The birds we wake up to, the shining sun at times and the rain, I
have felt them rejoicing lately. I saw some of our children dancing in
the rain as I passed by Solosolo village this morning. When I think
back to those children and our freedom, I wish I was kissing the lips
of rain as I write this.
photo of a fale Samoa, with his Samoan staff in it, by Otto Tetens in
1870, is my front seat picture in the museum. It whispers of a long ago
time when we were not here. It reminds of simple things that meant more
than we hardly have time to think. When you look at the physique of
Samoans in those days, they looked like movie stars. Move a century
forward, and we know Hollywood spends a lot of money to build muscles
for their super idols.
our own stars before us, were real people trying to unite a country and
to protect it too. The wealth they made are living or trying to, in all
of us. They gained us a flag that we celebrate along with other gifts
we enjoy today. The journey, as you know, was a long winded walk in the
storms. Some of them, including children, died along the wretched way.
But like the entwining of hands in the fire, the baton was lovingly
passed along, not doubting that freedom is made of love only.
I remember the times of independence celebrations as I was growing up a
child in our country, not too many years ago. I recall the nerve
breaking thought of reaching the front of the Cabinet members, the
thrill of seeing the wave from a starry eyed Head of State, and the
long walk that always seemed like we were treading lightly as sunrays
on clouds. If there was noise, they may have turned to giggles and
music in my mind. But when we marched, I thought the trees were bowing
to every Samoan, and when we passed them, the flowers stood tall, fixed
their disposition, and one by one, bloomed. Such a glory, I quietly
believe, is endowed upon all of us during our independence day.
take a stroll to the 1900s with me. There lie the marches during the
Mau movement. Ponder the hopes in our forefathers’ hearts and how they
did not hide them from the sun nor the rain. Think of their private
meetings in Mulinu’u and what food was served them, if any. Do you
wonder as I, if they were given a walk fare back to the bush where they
had to hide, or was pride and love for them reward enough? But look at
us now, and wonder if in this life we sometimes carelessly live, that
we march for ourselves and then for whom? Do we stand tall as our
flowers do or do we wither like the shame of the worm in the ground?
a delightful gift like a bird message was delivered to the museum on a
CD containing photos of the old Cathedral in Apia. Robert Louis
Stevenson once wrote that mankind was never so happily inspired as when
it made a cathedral. A cathedral in my own modest view, is like art
made from angels. When I look at one, I sense the touch of God through
the clouds. Cathedrals, churches and temples are like our country’s
independence to the soul, uplifting. But I admit, when all the noise is
done, I prefer to sit in a church alone.
we celebrate the independence of our beloved country this week, and we
hail the skies for the rise of a new cathedral in our times, may the
rain remind you that behind those clouds, the sun sits and smiles at
us. It is as sure as a blue sky smiling upon our glorious past. While
we hold up the sky these days, I hope that we spare a moment to whisper
a thank you to the heroes of our past, for the tears they shed did
reach the sea, where we now celebrate with delight in our hearts the
colour of the rainbows in our free and peaceful skies.
Alexander Turnbull Library, taken in 1900, James Tattersall
Galo School festival
quality holistic education system that recognizes and realizes the
spiritual, cultural, Intellectual and physical potential of
all participants, enabling them to make fulfilling life
light of the endowed vision for
the Ministry of Education Sports and Culture, our children are rising
to the challenge of creating their own stories and thematic
performances in the coming month in a competition that will ignite the
fire of national pride in each Samoan.
Ministry of Education Sports and Culture, on a mission to promote
culture through education, takes on the exciting venture of a cultural
festival for secondary schools this year. Entitled, “Sama ne’i galo
festival”, ( Lest we forget Samoa) the name leaps to the occasion of
cultural pride and festivities. Dance, oratory speeches, and drama will
be the main attractions for the competition among fired up secondary
So far eleven schools have been confirmed to participate while we await
further schools to register.
The primary objectives for the festival are to:
Provide a platform for young people to engage in traditional and
contemporary cultural expressions,
Enhance culture awareness, respect and understanding of Samoan culture,
and practices among Samoan youth
Mainstream cultural heritage as part of national development initiatives
open festival is the start of an annual event of similar activities for
the Ministry of Education Sports and Culture. The Chief Executive
Officer for the Ministry of Education Sports and Culture, Matafeo
Falana’ipupu Tanielu Aiafi, has said that the festival is an inspiring
event for students to enjoy and remember for years to come. The
development of art and culture is in line with this festival.
on board the assistance from businesses in the community as well as its
stakeholder development partners, the Ministry hopes to produce a
successful and memorable festival to kick off a dynamic run of the
special event this year.
||“MUSEUM COLLECTIONS MAKE
[Nynette Sass – 19 May 2014]
Talofa lava Ladies and Gentlemen
you have noted from my age, I am quite ancient and I could also refer
to myself as a museum… well preserved and housing my history! Lol!
off, faafetai tele Lumepa for the invitation to present today on what
some of the museum collections mean to me. I note the theme of this
year’s international museum day is “Museum collections make
connections”. The recollections I will share are very much a personal
Here is the first connection that I wish to share with you, as
it has great significance to me. This very building, housing the
museum, was where our Standard two class, taught by the late Mrs. Annie
Meredith, was housed and outside in the open verandah was my first
experience of moving images in the form of “ Tarzan and Jane”.
downstairs was the staff room. I use to spend a lot of time there as
one of the trusted students preparing elegi and cucumber sandwiches for
the teachers morning tea. I must have been damn good because I was
constantly asked back. The funpart of doing the morning teas, was that
I got to skip some of the classes!! That was usually, Samoan! I was
also allowed out of the gate to go to the shop to buy the elegi or
sugar, bread and tea which made me feel very special!
I was a
lucky student, as I was one of the few favourite students of the
teachers, not only for my academic achievements, but was prominent due
to my acting prowessThe acting abilities would come in quite handy
later on in life as an adult student.
Needless to say, the closest I
came to that was acting at the Wellington Repertory society and a lead
role at Wellington East Girls College annual musical production. I also
won the producer and director for the winning production at my college
How is that for a first connection to the museum!
forward to today, the age of the internet, the fast & furious
connectivity of communication and information access … at your
fingertips if u may.
Just stepping back for a quick reflection
on the way things were, the very simple act of connectivity then, that
is fast becoming obsolete - a few weeks ago, since several
I went to the post office to post a document to my son in Australia and
I came away, with a sense of melancholy. I started to feel teary
eyed–thinking about the joy of that simple act of posting or receiving
a letter or a parcel. It reminded me so deeply of my late granny, in
her late years, when she would religiously check her mail,
daily, in the hope of receiving a letter, a connection to her
children who resided overseas. Simple as it may be, it was a very
important event for a lot of people I knew .It is part of my
And to think, that now, at the click of a mouse, we can connect to
anyone, anywhere at any time!
don’t know how many of you have facebook and twitter accounts to name
the most popular social media platforms at the moment.. but I would
hazard a guess and say that probably the majority in here today do have
facebook accounts. Social media has brought about increased glocal
connectivity. The connections enable us to keep up with families and
friends as well as learn about what other exciting and interesting
things are happening around us.
We are all creating and sharing
our respective histories online and the internet cookie trails of our
lives are left behind for others to follow and reminisce over, when we
are well and truly gone!
So, whilst browsing through FB one day,
I came across the Museum’s collection of black and white images of
Apia! Here is another connection to the museum and I interacted
merrily, reflecting on the images and sharing them on my page so others
could also see these historical images. Naturally, this brought a flood
of wonderful childhood memories and a yearning for a time that now
seems so ancient and yet so beautiful, in its simplicity and peaceful
pace of life.
One of the images that really hit me was the old
Tivoli Theatre! So many funny and naughty memories came flashing back…
needless to say, I will not be sharing all of those memories with you
as I was a good girl then, according to my grandmother
Tivoli theatre reminded me of my coming of age as a teenager and the
start of epic productions I used to produce for my half chinese
grandmother, who was adamant that movies were evil and will corrupt
good, young girls. Heavens forbid! As I said earlier, I
quite the accomplished actress at a very young age… ok, so with a few
white lies thrown in there for dramatic effect lol. Seriously, to get
permission to go to the movies, was quite an undertaking then. It also
required or was that coercing older cousins who unknowingly, agreed to
support my pleas to the gatekeeper to allow me to go to the movies.
the end, good old Shakespeare won out and I was permitted to go to the
theatre to see Romeo and Juliette, (because we were studying it, and
the teacher insisted that we must see it, and write a report about our
observations of it, because our marks depended on it …. you see how
important it is to go see this movie granny!! My English grade depended
Needless to say, I couldn’t get the theme song out of
my head – Jame’s Bond’s “live and let die” when I came home! Awesome
Ahhh education was good for something else!
The flood of memories came back thanks to the museums collection of
am currently a member of an NGO called “Samoa for Real”. SFR
believe in the sharing of genuine Samoan experiences with the
“conscience travellers” as well as our own diaspora who are yearning
for an authentic experience. The conscience traveller is usually
educated, feels a great sense responsibility and care of nature, of
people and their culture, humanity in general, the physical environment
and they have, the disposable income.
These visitors want to
interact directly with a people and their culture, learn about their
heritage and contribute in some form to the preservation of all. So
whilst the public can travel and experience the living culture in real
time, history, can only be found in a museum or some other private
collections which may not be readily accessible to the public.
me, museums encapsulate our lives as a people and culture at any given
moment in time. Museums host those visible connections to our past and
bears witness to our evolvement as a people and race.
carer of the old, mixes well with the internet to promote the cultures
and invite visitors alike to experience a living culture in situ as
well as learn of the history that has been.
Museums play a vital role in the visitor economy by show-casing and
sharing the tangible connections to our past!
believe we can all contribute to promoting our museum, through actively
sharing the information online and encouraging others to visit and
appreciate our journey as a people. Encourage your families to bring
your children to visit for in learning about the past, we can improve
on the future.
Lastly, my sincere congratulations to Lumepa, the
MoS, Mr. CEO and MESC for passionately, reconnecting us to our past,
providing opportunities to reflect and appreciate our history.
also wish to applaud your efforts in adopting modern technology to
raise awareness of our history and encouraging a journey of
re-discovery and reflection, with ease, for all of us, from anywhere in
Talks - May 19,2014 , 3pm - see invitation and
Tattersall, Alfred James,
1866-1951. Apia waterfront, Samoa. Ref: 1/2-022291-F.
Alexander Turnbull Library,
Wellington, New Zealand.
the hold of sand in the palm of our hands, many things pass through our
fingers but some are not easy to let go of, in this life. Unlike the
old shoes and worn out clothes we wear, the creaky cars we
decorate and the broken homes we ornate, we have to accept despite our
seeming bravery that to some bigger things we are attached as hours do
cling to days. And sometimes without our knowing, we are made to look
back and appreciate the things we lost.
The Museum of Samoa tries its
best to remind us that there in our past, lie many things we can treasure
and adore to the point of pure bliss. So when I look at the single-tyre
cyclist with an umbrella in this image, (it’s on our FB as well) I too wish I was
there paddling alongside the un-cemented sidewalk, watching the fautasi vessels
lying majestically on the pristine and quiet waters, with only shadows of
clouds not the noise of airplanes covering some parts of the island.
| I would
have shaken the shrubs’ branches like a child does to a puppy, because when I
came into this world, those shrubs were large trees with loud birds living inside
their leaves. The birds’ playful chirping still echoes in my head.
I don’t hear the drop of a pin when I giggle because this divine thing
an imagination has no button for reality checks. I cannot ride a
alone a mono-cycle. I would also be complaining under my breath about
of the sun while I may with all my weight run into the poor guy wearing
as I zig-zag along in my selfish looking transport. And despite the presence of airplanes and
big trucks, I only heard the sound of rain clouds this morning when I passed by
Ulutogia where the brutal murder of two men occurred just down the road
from where I live. “Oh bear upon me the sadness of the forests so I can carry
their deep burden over the things they quietly see.” These words I write in my mind
when I reflect on the horror of such sad stories.
I realize now that it is not easy or useful to separate the museum,
from daily life
because the museum is just about that but in a collective kind of way.
the slight turn of my head I look straight into the hearts of people
here many years ago – and the wonder of their own daily lives moves me.
is reason to believe that some of the museum possessions can ignite the
in our hearts to take flight and make brighter the dark skies of our time.
While pre-history partially means to the museum that we are preserving
and patterned rocks, I wonder if our own lives mean that we leave
plastic and broken bottles in the sand. Yes, the question of our
is persistent in the works of the museum. From prehistory to colonial years to our modern scare of
climate change, social changes and development, the museum paces its own life
alongside the human proofs of being a Samoan. The color of our history is as you
know remarkable. It makes the current problems
part of a journey that we can optimistically predict will make a better
become their best. Such are the effects of the pearls we find in our past.
the coming week for the museum looks into the power of poetry through
of our own established poet Reverend Ruperake Petaia, and upon our cultural heritage, our own
historian Dr Malama Meleisea will spare some of his riches to share with our
guests. Meanwhile a brief gaze into the science of climate change will be taken
to the screen by Dr Faainu Latu of NUS’s Science Department. With the oncoming
challenges of our modern lives, the museum tries to look at all disciplines for
answers that will leave an audience uplifted and inspired. So I end this
article with the humble thought that as a Samoan, I believe that precious
knowledge because of God, is inherent everywhere.
now, may you have a pleasant day Samoa - God speed.
joins Environment perils dialogue
Museum of Samoa
In a time where the lack of water
or food are not the ONLY signs for drought, the Museum of Samoa keeps
itself in the loop of knowledge through networks and partnerships to
enhance further its purposes of attaining to what is relevant to our
The sunset of the Anthropocene looks like the
world has ended and the last sun is about to leave the edge of the sky.
There is also worry that the world is gaining momentum towards its own
depletion. Last week the University of Sydney hosted geologists,
physicists, mathematicians, museum professionals, social scientists,
anthropologists gathered in the Darling Harbour of Sydney, to talk
about how each discipline could work together to encounter the
challenges which the planet earth faces.
Environment Institute photo
title of the conference is Encountering the Anthropocene. A memorable
image is placed above the title and indicates a man’s head in the sand
under water. The picture signifies many things of our current planetary
situation and what the future may hold. For the first time, human
beings are influencing the physical processes of the Earth; we have now
moved from being serial depleters of local environments to become a
planetary geophysical force. While geologists make their case to
formalize and adopt this epoch, the role of environmental humanities
and social sciences has become crucially linked with our allies in the
natural and technological sciences in seeking to understand and meet
the challenges and changes thrown up by the new epoch. Our role is to
help interpret the impacts, understand the implications, and engage the
public in developing alternative ways forward. How to do all this was
explored and debated in the conference and its related events and
Issues which were interrogated in the conference included:
The relationship between the natural and technological sciences and the
humanities as we engage from different perspectives in the new
geological era of the Anthropocene.
2. The social and cultural meaning and significance of the planet's
entry into an Anthropocene epoch.
The roles that artists and writers play in the interpretation and
popularization of scientific ideas and themes in the broader cultural
The Museum of Samoa presented on the cultural
impacts of climate change and its various activities which highlight
the importance of the museum’s task of safeguarding our cultural
heritage. Ms Apelu participated on behalf of the Museum of Samoa and
reflected on how important such conferences are for the sake of the
environment. Ms Apelu draws a lot of her personal experience and from
the experience of many Samoans in such trying times of climatic changes
for the South Pacific. Her contribution was appreciated and applauded
by the participants of the conference who felt that first-hand
knowledge to the issues being discussed was very crucial to inspire
people to think beyond science and to connect to the human side of the
Ms Apelu commends the Ministry of Education Sports and
Culture for allowing the museum to extend its premises to issues that
are not obvious to the museum’s goals. According to Ms Apelu, the need
to inform Samoans of the importance of their own contribution to
discussions and implementations of environmental rescues by the larger
community should not be taken lightly. ‘Samoans know very well the
meaning of human suffering when it comes to cyclones and tsunamis for
instance. It is our duty to share our experiences with others in the
region and of course the world. For pain should not stop at the hurt
phase. It should continue to show how we rebuild and the spirit that it
takes to move on is a wonderful lesson that many people with different
disciplines can learn from. God knows we all need to work together to
make this world a better place to live in. Samoa is in a good place to
offer some help to nations that have lost their soul to development and
perhaps in turn, it can remind itself of its own unique and somewhat
fading beauty in the scheme of things.’
The Museum of Samoa
takes away enhanced partnerships from the conference and inspiration to
continue with its challenging task of preserving Samoa’s heritage.
Another year for the museum lies ahead with many activities in line to
showcase the reason memories and past are intriguing and important
reminders to Samoans of their own innate strengths and abilities.
old Tivoli Theatre as it
appeared in the 1930s.
The film on show is "The Eagle and the Hawk", a
1933 film starring Fredric March and Cary Grant. Sadly the Tivoli burnt
down in the 1980s.
The photo was published in the Pacific Islands
Monthly, January 1936.
Connect and Bind Us in Love
a lofty degree of intelligence nor imagination nor both together go to
the making of genius. Love, love, love, that is the soul of genius.”
Museum of Samoa created a face-book page last year to join the fast
pace traffic of online networking - much like jumping from a bus into a
train. The page magically attracted many Samoans locally and overseas,
also friends of the islands, and partners of the Museum, to comment on
the images we have put on to highlight our history and yes our culture.
We get an average of over 1000 hits a day. This article focuses on the
one image that has drawn very interesting comments from the social
networkers, in my view at least. I found a lot of it hilarious (in a
good way) and well, sharing of the good is of course caring for the
Tivoli Theater in Samoa burnt down in the 1980s. Some people who made
time to share their experiences on our FB page had remembered being
there and all of them have nothing but love to show for the memories of
the special place. Upon reading the comments, I found that a lot of
their memories very richly decorated with the spirit of child like love
for simple, happy, inexpensive days.
networker said that the entire building was seen burning when the fire
truck came from, are you ready? - just next door. The brave
heroes of the day pulled out their hoses, and lo behold, there was no
water. The phrase “Only in Samoa” was probably invented that day. But
the scene itself could have gathered millions of international awards
of fame as one of “Samoa’s funniest home videos.”
I touch hearts with one networker who softly said that while watching
the Tivoli burn into flames and turn to ashes slowly, “we could sense
that we were watching the end of something very special.”
such as Grease, Ivanhoe, Warriors, Star Wars ( all three originals),
Funny Girl, Tom Sawyer, They call me Chop Suey, King Kong, Annie, Jaws,
The Godfather, and the all time favorite Sound of Music were the
highlights of their amusement times. They used to stand in long queues.
Buses would wait till the movies were done to take the movie watchers
home. Apian youth used to muscle the other youth from outer villages
coming into watch the movies. One no nonsense networker used to get in
for free by fighting another boy as called by the usher. Other
networkers went to play “spacies” in the shop next door before the
movies while others still used to send their younger family members to
purchase tickets to save them from standing in the long queues. Such
memories continue the dialogue of the networkers recalling their
younger days. In all their words, their stories, their recollections, I
sense a happiness that even traveling clouds could hold. And the Tivoli
Theater is what connects and binds them.
nowadays it costs us 12tala per head and more for snacks for the kids,
in the 1960s, it was a mere 20 sene. I wonder how much the peanuts
cost. Interestingly, another woman plainly said, “..there were no cell
phones” as if to remind that cell phones are an intrusion to our quiet
and serene days.
essence, watching the movies in those years was not at all like today.
Peanuts in their roasted skins were the snack of the moment, no pop
corn, no chocolate, no twisties and coke in cans? I ponder for a moment
- How could our kids today survive without? And the audiences were not
quiet, no siree, they made some noise. They would cheer for the good
guys in the movies, boo at the bad guys, make jokes about uncomfortable
scenes and the entire theater would break into giggles of laughter.
Reminds me now of my late daughter who used to pretend she was the
instructor of the classical music they often play in the beginning
before the ads. Her comic gestures made me laugh out loud. From her own
contagious happiness and the reminders from the networkers of the old
Tivoli atmosphere, I think that there is freedom in being fearless of
the opinion of crowds. Simplicity is beautiful, isn’t it? It makes us
remember our life in a different and kinder light.
social networker could even remember the smell of the place, like old
leather he said. Another one commented (I am sure he giggled privately)
on how uncomfortable his father was when watching a movie where a woman
had shown her bare upper body. Interestingly enough, a young active
Samoan member of the Samoa Voyaging Society wrote in to say that she
wishes that place was still here. She would have loved to hold events
there. But the Tivoli was also used for events. I received many
articles from the Alexander Turnbull Library regarding news on these
the end of Tivoli may have meant to happen that way. Maybe we were
meant to look back, each of us who had a moment with the Tivoli
Theater, and say to it and to ourselves, that those times were golden
as the sky is blue, and it is something we can take to our death beds
with us, smile in our old age and tell our grand kids about. Not
everything lasts but some things stay beautiful all the way through. I
guess I can say here that that is what the “end of something very
special“ could mean. It ends with those who were part of it. From a
museum’s perspective, we are thus fortunate. Memory takes us further
than our death beds. And if you believe in God, the Tivoli Theater is
true Samoa. You are living in moments of your own time now. May God
bless you and all our journeys.
|Museums Connect: Museum of
week, I was blessed to represent our Museum in a colloquium hosted
by the Museums Connect project made possible by the US State
Department, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and administered
by the American Alliance Museums, held in Washington DC. If you can
recall, the American Museum of Natural History NY and the Museum of
Samoa, proposed and won a grant together. The proposed project t is
called: Rethinking Home, Rethinking Climate: Linking Samoa and New York.
listening to the other winners and their projects ( 10 winners out of
50 applicants – go Samoa by the way and tribute to the Ministry of
Education Sports and Culture for your courage to move on with the tidal
changes of developing our museum) my simple mind kept wondering back to
my own reasons for being here, not the technical things I have learnt
through my formal education but the essence of what it means to be a
Samoan, my upbringing, the memories that our generation looks back to
with colorful reminiscence, the golden days, longed for and often
missed and the loss of our dearest ones.
heard on the Magic FM one morning on my way to work, the laughter
between Corey (host) and Dora (SSAB guest) about the vaipe, and the
glory days of growing up there. Albert Wendt wrote about it as a
descendant of the vaipe district and I too lived there under the rich
cultural umbrella of my grandfather, Tuiletufuga Nanai Saaga and my
very ‘oke but loving grandmother Patupatu, so I laughed too.
recalled that the candy was a sip of the hibiscus flower, the pretence
of smoking was from the bark of an ‘olioli plant and the race of
floating wood in the vaipe was mimicking the fautasi races out at sea.
We did the musa with a stone or a sandal and the mapu playing was also
a big sport amongst us kids. Then we did the lape and the throwing of
stones at someone we did not like, then hid behind the pa aute. Oh and
not to forget our afa kasi neighbour coming out with a gun when my
sister fell into his pa aute because she could not stop the bicycle
that she grabbed off another neighbor as she rolled down the Moto’otua
hill, looking for a smack from our mother…which she did get a nice
sweet deal of. These thoughts barked at me through the meeting of
brilliant minds on the subject of culture and climate change, and other
issues highlighted by different projects.
such a midst of brilliant minds and project proposals, I remained
faithful to my ancestry but spoke with my adopted English formal
language, thank you school books, debate society, Universities, Malifa,
Samoa College and God for the gift of intellect and oxygen. Such a
presentation for a Samoan is not very difficult in my view because, I
like all of you, have had first hand experience with the pain of losing
not just homes but loved ones in the effects of disasters and climate
change. But in saying this, when we look at our brothers and sisters in
the Pacific, the Kiribati islands and Tuvalu, for example, their
drinking water is salty and surely makes one’s taste of life difficult
to swallow because despite our loss, other islands are actually worse
off in our struggle to survive a paradise that is affected by climate
non US museums and project proposals which won the highly competitive
grant included themes such as:
Ancient shores, Ancient Tides – Developing local archaelogical heritage
Design Diaries International ( Jerusalem)
Empower parents: Fostering Cross Cultural Networks between families and
Autism ( Spain)
Flag Stories: Citizenship Unbound ( Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur)
Forest Guardians ( Peru, Hawaii)
Journey through African Diaspora ( Brazil)
Scaling the Walls: Creating Urban Green Spaces ( Ecuador)
Turning the Table: Understanding Cross-cultural movements ( Mexico)
I had the grand opportunity to make friends with each of these
international museum colleagues in Washington DC, especially our newly
found family in New York, the anthropologist Dr Jennifer Newell, and
her team. She is by the way, in the same place as Margaret Mead career
wise for the American Museum of Natural History. Dr Newell
agree that the Samoan collection here needs to be relabeled and a
breath of life is much required in the small corner that it is housed
by. Yes, another article but I will definitely share now with you the
sentiments I felt when I saw the Samoan collection…”I wept for the
loneliness of the artifacts”, as Shigeyuki Kihara plainly put it. I
guess sharing our culture is not just about being cookie smart but also
about being honest. We are not a big museum but we have big dreams and
we plan to spread them world wide.
the Museums Connect project has enriched me with the touch of an
international understanding of similar issues affecting all of mankind,
my heart still ponders on the Pacific and Samoa, our future, and our
children. The va’a exhibition and the fale exhibition planned by the
Museum of Samoa signify our ancestors’ ingenuity and abilities to
adjust to the threats of the shaky environment. What is most
fascinating to me, is that our ancestors loved the environment much
more than we do. I think they gave back to it more than we do. I also
think that there was balance then, and our imbalance now needs to be
reshuffled. Perhaps I speak big words for a small and young Samoan but
like the Museum of Samoa, its minute collection represents giant ideas
and dreams that we cannot afford to turn our backs to. The indirect
inspirational tools we need therefore are to make/rebuild our homes and
to be proactive in times of fear and unpredictable circumstances.
all the glories of your past enrich you still Samoa. God bless.
Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, N.Z. Ref No. PAColl-6075-44
|The Museum of Samoa Ignites the
word canoe is translated to mean, “brown man’s boat.” It was coined
when the Indians of America were seen by the first discoverers. But the
best thing in my view is that when the said discoverer’s found the
Pacific Islanders, the canoes were bigger and faster, so better.
Captain Cook had said that they ( Pacific island canoes) were the best
things he had laid his eyes on and they were better than the
Westerner’s old ships, his own ship.
In its usual but gladly
shouldered endeavor the Museum of Samoa looks at the art of voyaging in
this article. The art is said to be one of the most endangered of
traditional skills in Samoa. Well, it does not take a genius to figure
that out, nor the bother of statistical analysts. We only need to look
out to sea and recognize the emptiness of the seashore. I say emptiness
because history has a different image of our shores and the existence
of the va’a.
an indirect but relevant note, my most favorite scenery of Samoa’s sea
is a lonely paopao sitting out in the lagoon on a calm day with only
the moving clouds to signal that it is not a dream, but rather real.
When I was at Lalomanu looking after many tourists in my ordinary job
of managing a beach fale, the kayaks dominated the lagoon most days.
The paopao was a rare sight and it was seen because one of the local
fisher-man would be fishing and would be brining fish over to the beach
fale for sale, some for his family. The scenery stopped me from
whatever I was doing, whether it be emailing guests to come stay on the
best beach in Samoa, chatting with guests, my aging father, or making
do with staff; I always stopped. The reason for stopping to gaze was
blurry but I think it was because the scenery is old just as one’s soul
is aged in time through things we read and observe. It is an image that
is captured in a romance that cannot be replaced. It also reminds of a
moment in childhood that I cannot put my finger on, but special none
the less. The lasting image of a canoe at sea never leaves you, even
when you have grown past the spectacular discoveries of the modern age
and the airplane is a vessel that you have to take to get to NZ, not
the alia. Imagine sailing through a cyclone in an alia to get to Tonga
or Fiji. Wild but true. It actually used to be the way of our
ancestors. They sailed in the winds and they had built many large
vessels to do this.
promoting our cultural heritage, intangible and tangible, I would like
to now take the reader to a setting of one hundred years ago. Imagine
that the clouds are down and the sky is up. Imagine the old man
standing on the shore and pointing at the clouds. Before him, the alia
sits majestically on the lagoon, and women and children are playing in
the paopao or as some would like, collecting frangipanis by the pua
tree. “The winds are right for sea faring,” says the old man. The
village packs bananas, taro, fish and gets on the alia, all 250 of
them. They are sailing to Fiji, where they are wanted to make/build
more alias. In Fiji, the wood is abundant but the skill is not as good
as in Samoa. Our people used to travel the seas so easily and trade
with other islands. Adzes were also traded but that is another article.
The alia by the way is a two hulled vessel, with large sails, and looks
very much like the Gaualofa vessel which is a more modern copy of the
old alia version I write of. It exists in Tonga as the kalia or Fiji as
the ndrua. Either name means the same thing. The magnificence of this
imagery is that it was true that the seas of Oceania were covered with
brave seafarers of the Pacific islands who traded with others and who
also went to war in the same vessels. The amatasi were often used as
protectors of the big alia. The amatasi is another type of vessel that
is bigger than the paopao. Our many va’a are part of whom and where we
museum has been lucky this year and of course with the blessings of
God. Its inspirations have been felt by others besides the staff, and
so exhibitions are building on the shelf as we try to organize time and
budget to showcase them. One such exhibition is the “voyaging
exhibition” which we will highlight in November. The Alexander Turnbull
Library of Wellington NZ was the first to respond to our plea for high
resolution images. The chief librarian will grace our shores to join us
in the exhibition of the art of voyaging. The Samoa Voyaging Society
(whose patron is his Highness the Head of State) are also working
alongside the Museum to bring to light the exhibition. Another
wonderful find for the exhibition is an old va’a builder –
practitioner, Va’elua Alai Sa, an 88 year old man, with kind eyes for
the sea. He will build two models of the alia for the Museum and for
our future generations. Volunteers of the museum and its staff continue
to build on the exhibition with research that will make anyone weep for
the love and honor of our past, I recall that these are the traits that
Albert Wendt has said will help “develop our own unique eyes, voices,
muscles and imagination. “
look forward to more inspiring moments with you as our audience Samoa.
we have a duty to our cherished ancestors who have given us the
traditions and customs on which our present way of life is based. They
have laid the foundation upon which we have built the house of Samoa.
We owe it to their memory to succeed in the great task before us, so
that their work and their sacrifices shall not have been in vain.”
Mata’afa Fiame Faumuina II
Peter Higginson and Matafeo Falana'ipupu Tanielu Aiafi,
Chief Executive Officer, Ministry of Education, Sports & Culture
|The touch of a blue sky after
long grey storm, is much like a spontaneous act of generosity by a
donor to the Museum of Samoa’s collection. Donations are the
irrefutable evidence that, at long last, we are earning the
trust of potential future donators in the Museum’s goals and methods of
work that are the inescapable pre-conditions for the return of
material cultural heritage. The challenge before the staff today is to
reverse decades of neglect and indifference to the sadly too small
collection that it already has. Care, restoration where necessary, and
especially secure storage are the overarching concerns of the Museum’s
staff today. Much can be done in the present premises to ensure these
outcomes but there are limits: the fact is that without modern
facilities that include reliable temperature control, appropriate
lighting (too much is just as bad as too little), and premises that are
secure, the staff can only accomplish so much. This is a subject that
is worthy of further reflection and thus another article so let us
concentrate on what we have. And what we have is a greatly improved
building – you have surely noticed our new paint job... The promise of
things to come? We certainly hope so.
of blue skies, we were
blessed last week with one generous donor who is no stranger to Samoa
since he was the first Director of the UNESCO Office in Matautu. In a
meeting with the Chief Executive officer of the Ministry of Education
Sports and Culture, Matafeo Falana’ipupu Tanielu Aiafi, La’auli Doctor
Peter Higginson donated three 19th century tapas to the Museum and
promised that, in the expectation that the requisite security would
also be guaranteed, he promised to ship additional Samoan artefacts
that he had acquired in the US over the years. They include a number of
antique (over 100 years old), a fine old nifo-oti, a tanoa and various
canoe models. Provided the Museum cares for these items appropriately,
he will be sending a substantial collection of cultural artefacts from
elsewhere in the Pacific as well as large quantity of Pacific Islands
reference books. The ball is thus now in the court of the Ministry of
Education Sports and Culture to carry forward with the donation plan as
The Museum is overjoyed at the
prospect of receiving these treasures since, through them, our people
will, at long last, have the opportunity of touching the
hands of our
ancestors who made them. To receive them would be like receiving the
“home from the sea” poet, the long awaited journey that settles at the
top of the mountain to look below with pride at the coast covered with
Samoans rejoicing in their own material culture and its magnificence.
La’auli is married to Rosalina Tea Higginson from Vaipuna and has two
daughters, Puaaganoa and Roxanna. He visits Samoa regularly for family
visits, make repairs to the family house and of course to deal with the
inescapable fa’alavelaves. This year, he made a special visit to the
Museum of Samoa to bring his glad-tidings to our Museum team. Through
the past year, we have informed La’auli that the Museum would be
honoured to have a signed copy of his book, “The Fale Samoa”. The book
was received by the Museum last month with his signature to acknowledge
that the book is for the Museum, and is now part of the Museum’s
library collection. The limited edition was published by UNESCO in 1987
and is believed to be the only book ever written that details the
complex methods used in the construction of the fale Samoa. By
documenting the precise joining and lashing methods of the tufuga who
erected these fabulous structures, it is a tribute to the brilliance
and genius of these fast-disappearing master craftsmen. According to
La’auli, while some of the tufugas who were involved in the making of
the book may have passed on, he is now keen to move beyond
of the construction of the fale in order to get a more fundamental
question: the “why”: why is the fale, unique in the Pacific, built as
it is? Why is it so central to the fa’a Samoa? The Museum, hopefully in
collaboration with the NUS Centre for Samoan Studies, plans to pursue
these important questions.
an indirect but related note, while we have just launched our joint
venture with our new friends from the American Museum of Natural
History, we also await the arrival of the Alexander Turnbull Library’s
chief librarian who will be gracing our shores in a couple of weeks to
share with us some of Samoa’s old photos from times when Samoans did
not have cameras. We consider the venture important. “Important, how
so?” My strongly felt response is simple: because the desire
to do so
is part of the Samoan DNA. Honouring the memories of those
gone before us, and those who have sacrificed their blood for our
independence, our freedom are obligations that the Museum staff, for
their part, gladly shoulder. As our first prime minister wrote in a
message published in the Samoana in 1962, “We owe it to their (our
ancestors) memory to succeed in the great task before us, so that their
work and their sacrifices shall not have been in vain.”
|"If civilization is to
survive, we must cultivate the science of human
relationships - the ability of all peoples, of all kinds, to live
together, in the same world at peace."
as culture, though not a person, slowly dies in our memories
and our daily lives because we forget the importance of where we came
from and how we got here. That is the dilemma of busy lives.
Forgetting, taking for granted, missing the point altogether if we are
Photo of American
Musuem of Natural History, NY: Margaret Mead Pacific Collection
Museum of Samoa whispers and sometimes sings the moments of Samoa's
history through its significant artefacts, research and collaborations
with locals and overseas guests, universities, museums and cultural
organizations. Fortunately through its humble messages on the print and
social media, more people are coming to the Museum of Samoa to bring
their memories, trusting the Museum with their photos and engaging with
us like family arriving from afar in their long journeys through the
seas that separate though also unite us.
Last week, a trivial
but funny moment with my daughter evolved into the point of this
article. We were watching an interesting television show in the
comforts of our home where the American Museum of Natural History
situated in New York was the chosen location of the show. The
camera took us into a room showcasing gigantic skeletons of dinosaurs.
My nine year old, without hesitating, excitedly said in her innocent
joy, “Mum, that is a real museum a ea?” I laughed at her quick betrayal
of the Museum of Samoa which she also says she loves to visit.
the child's mind is a jewellery box of positive motives so I did not
feel judged by her excitement. Instead, I dwelled on the innocent
remark and wondered, "Where are our dinosaurs?" The answers came to me
as I suppose the dew is received by dried up soil. The Museum of Samoa
may not hold the remains of giants that roamed earth over 65 million
years ago, but archaeological findings and remnants left behind by our
ancestors are now housed under the protection of our humble Museum.
These remnants are in fact treasures of our existence and should be a
proud moment for our people.
And the fact of the matter is,
most of our treasures are held in larger museums overseas. That is
where the tides of time took them, where millions of visitors marvel at
the beauty of our Samoan culture, our way of life. While the mind of a
child marvels at the skeleton of a dinosaur, my inspiration is enlarged
with the reminder of the expert navigators of Samoa, the art of
tattooing, the elegant weaving of mats and the texture of Samoan
fabric, the siapo, weapons and tools to name but just a few things
worth exhibiting and bragging about.
But there is good news
for my nine year old who I am sure will dance to express her conviction
in great things when I tell her the news. The American Museum of
Natural History (New York) is, as I write, preparing to grace our
shores next week (Thursday). Dr Jennifer Newell, curator for AMNH
Pacific Collection is a guest speaker for the Museum of Samoa’s launch
of a project entitled - Rethinking
Climate, Rethinking Home: Linking Samoa and New York.
The project is focused around the traditional fale Samoa and the New
York homes. It is hoped that through the collaboration, both museums
will extend knowledge of their cultures. The Museum of Samoa, hopes
also that this is a window of opportunity to see the Samoan collection
in the American Museum of Natural History. Dr Newell, will present a
power point viewing of some of Samoa’s collection
From thereon, more workshops will be held in both countries to share
information and enhance collaborations.
The American Museum of
Natural History is one of the world’s largest natural history museums,
with collections of 32 million specimens and cultural artefacts,
comprising an invaluable scientific and educational resource, 45
permanent exhibition galleries, and extensive supporting
infrastructure. The Museum welcomes almost 5 million visitors each year
including almost 500,000 school children. That is why my nine year old
thinks it is a real museum and her innocence is forgiven. The giants in
the Museum of Samoa are waking slowly and live inside our homes,
carried on our tongues, sailing on our canoes, riding on the fingers of
our siapo makers and mat weavers and laughing alongside our children,
who have to see some of our treasures on the modern tools of web-mail
and facebook. While scattered everywhere, I go home reassured that they
may not all be inside the Museum here but they definitely exist.
Photo by Mr. Ewald Kopp
Memories that bind us
Museum of Samoa is one of the units of the Culture division in the
Ministry of Education Sports and Culture. It is tasked to promote and
preserve Samoan culture and history. While the opportunities of doing
so can vary as do wrinkles on an old woman’s face, a genuine smile
colored the Museum last week in the delight of uniting a man and his
family in Samoa.
Kopp, German, middle-aged, bald with kind eyes, came to Samoa for the
first time last week, determined to find Samoan descendants of his
great grandfather, the first Graf to set foot on our shores during the
time of the German empire. In the Museum of Samoa, a family tree of
German families is showcased. Ewald found on the tree, the name, “Graf”
and came to me hopeful for an answer, as darkness is for light.
an hour or two of listening to him, I drowned in Samoan history as a
poet drowns in words; marveling at the simplicity and kindnesses of
Samoans, the beauty of the islands we continue to live in, and the
charming thought of a stream passing through Safata village while the
European and German guests of his great grandfather’s hotel, situated
in Malolo-lelei, stopped the time with their words engraved in a guest
book describing Samoa and its people.
|A moment lived through another
one’s kind eyes is indescribable. If you listened to Ewald Kopp, and
then browsed his family’s history with him, you too would fall in love
with Samoa once again.
called Tu Speriana Graf who is the only Graf mentioned in the local
phone book. A conversation with Tu led to the fact that she did not
change her last name to her husband’s because she wanted to maintain
her own great grandfather’s last name. Tu and I, strangers, but
together in one breath, said her great grandfather’s name like we knew
him, “Julius” - we burst with excitement as if the sky blinked and it
turned to its bluest all of a sudden. Tu Sepriana Graf is the proud
owner of one of our very successful tyre-repair businesses in Apia.
you are related to Ewald.”
Ewald could not contain his tears as he turned to the window. He has
finally fulfilled his grandmother’s wish. Hulda Alwine was the 8th
child of Gustuv Julius Graf, who is Ewald’s grandmother. Ewald spoke
with tears of his grandmother and her love for Samoa when she lived
here with her parents, and 8 other siblings. The number of children
Julius had did not leave Ewald and I short of laughter and awe. Gustav
Julius took those kids on the ships across the countries, as there were
no planes, and the amount of travel time is of course fascinating. But
the Graf’s were forced to move back to Germany when New Zealand took
over Samoa. Gustav Julius Graf could not live in Germany after being in
Samoa. Instead, he moved his entire family to live in Brazil where
Ewald believes reminded his great grandfather of the Samoa he dearly
asked why he thought his
grandmother was more Samoan than German, Ewald said, “She was very
peaceful. She could live on nothing. She was very content with life and
she was very much homesick for Samoa.” While Ewald’s English was not
fluent but much better than my zero knowledge of German language, I
understood in our all universal human language the essence of his
story. With that, I was humbled and proud at the thoughts/beliefs he
held of Samoans. When we take a look across the table, between our
villages and our islands and across the sea to other nations, we
appreciate moments like these where we can reflect and appreciate what
we have, from the people we live or work with to the country we live
and maybe die in.
the Museum has been privileged to join Ewald’s search for his Samoan
clan, it will also take further steps towards enriching Ewald’s story
with evidence gifted to the Museum by Ewald himself. Ewald has left
copies of birth certificates/photos to his lineage and names of German
people his family was associated with from the late 1800s to the early
1900s. He will also be sending us the guest sign book which his great
grandfather had from Samoa. The guest book is a gem of details about
the visitor’s thoughts of our islands and of course a memoir of their
names and extensions to them therof.
Mr. Kopp had me thinking of the aura of the museum building in which we
sat and talked like old friends, yet we’ve only just met. Ewald’s
grandmother attended the first German school in Malifa, and had walked
2 hours from Malolo-lelei to attend the school. The magic was/is in the
wonder of such a soft memory, presented to the Museum. The magic is
also in the continuity of our humanity and the peaceful sounds of
footsteps of children who’ve passed these roads before us, the echo of
their laughter which remains in our minds, years from when they were
here. Mr Kopp will join his Samoan family for to’ona’i on Sunday.
stories have enriched the Museum in the past and we hope that as the
museum’s collection grows, more will appreciate Samoa’s culture which
these stories permeate. The Museum of Samoa has also recently started a
face-book page showcasing our memories as a nation built on strength,
humility, truthfulness, pride, compassion and honor – the human virtues
we need to embrace in times of adversity. May you thus enjoy!
|The Road of Loving Hearts
|“…I love Samoa
and her people. I love the land, I have chosen it to be
my home while I live, and my grave after I am dead; and I love the
people, and have chosen them to be my people to live and die with. And
I see that the day is come now of the great battle; of the great and
the last opportunity by which it shall be decided, whether you are to
pass away like these other races of which I have been speaking, or to
stand fast and have your children living on and honoring your memory in
the land you received of your forefathers. “ Robert Louis Stevenson, in
a moment where things can easily go wrong, there is always a reminder
in our history, where we can draw inspiration as we look onto the
future and its many challenges. Robert Louis Stevenson presented a
thank you speech to the Chiefs who paved the Road of Gratitude, also
called by him as the Road of Loving Hearts. The road mentioned is the
steep path which leads to where he is buried now and the view is
majestic but that is besides the point we discuss though much a memory
can be drawn from it. It is a popular site for townsmen and townswomen
who like to climb for an exercise.
The significance of this
article is minute compared to the lasting message showcased in the
speech that was said in 1894 in the month of October. Further in his
address the Tusitala said to the Chiefs, “It is the man who makes
roads, who plants food trees, who gathers harvests, and is a profitable
servant before the Lord using and improving that great talent that has
been given him in trust. That is the brave soldier; that is the true
champion; because all things in a country hang together like the links
of the anchor cable, one by another; but the anchor itself is
industry.” It takes no more than that to remind us that industry is God
given and should be utilized regardless of what form it comes in
The speech ends with a strong hopeful tone as
the Tusitala states, “Chiefs! Our road is not built to last a thousand
years, yet in a sense it is. When a road is built, it is a strange
thing how it collects traffic, how every year as it goes on, more and
more people are found to walk thereon, and others are raised up to
repair and perpetuate it, and keep it alive; so that perhaps even this
road of ours may, from reparation to reparation, continue to exist and
be useful hundreds and hundreds of years after we are mingled into
dust. And it is my hope that our far away descendants may remember and
bless those who labored for them today.” Robert Louis Stevenson passed
away about two months after the speech was made and was carried by the
chiefs to the top of the road of loving hears where he now rests.
road of loving hearts still exists today, a 119 years later, not only
in its physical structure as you see when you visit the grave of Robert
Louis Stevenson, but also in our minds, our blood, our heritage. It is
the roads of the past and their makers, our ancestors which and whom
make us who we are. The Museum of Samoa shares such an
speech as it is here to record and share Samoa’s rich and enriching
history and culture.
Students from all around Samoa often
visit the Museum of Samoa to get resources for their history subjects.
Robert Louis Stevenson is one of the “Written Resources” handed out. In
expanding/promoting interest towards that resource, we took the time to
read some of Robert Louis Stevenson’s writings.
of Samoa Inspired
students revisited the Museum of Samoa last week led by tutor Cheryl
Payne. A questionnaire was handed out to the students to help the
Museum evaluate its tour concepts and content. It was great to see the
students whom were actually teachers being trained to look at
inspirations on how to use the Samoan culture as activities in class.
Great because the Museum staff know that one only has to have interest
in our history to escalate with inspirations on what our ancestors
busied themselves with and how their ingenuity led to where we are now.
Senior Museum Officer Mainifo Viliamu and Museum Officer Ailini Eteuati
were delighted to take the students through a tour of the Museum.
|Museum of Samoa Marvels at Past
by Lumepa Apelu
|In 1962, the
National Geographic of USA published an article written by
a New Zealander, Maurice Shadbolt, who came to Samoa during our then
first year of Independence celebrations. The Museum of Samoa was lucky
enough to receive a copy of the limited edition through a kind donor
and advocate of Samoa’s cultural heritage.
soup, according to the article writer was the reason for the name
pisupo. The first can food to Samoa was pea soup. The second was corn
beef but the Samoans were in the habit of referring to the pea soup as
canned food so the term “pisupo” stuck to corn beef. The corn
beef is definitely part of our culture in my view as it has been and
still continues to define our to’onai menus from time to time. Even our
families in New Zealand and Australia are helping in the profits of the
The article in the national geographic was
entitled, “Western Samoa, the Pacific’s newest nation.” Pictures in
full color show the fautasi race, the village of Saleimoa in its simple
Samoan model arrangement, the beautiful face of Samoan girls, the
wooden bus, the matai taking an outside shower displaying his tattoo,
the children riding horses in the rain, the festive cricket game, the
elegant dancer - taualuga, the clown song leader - taimi pese, the
grave of our beloved tusitala Robert Louis Stevenson and so many more
untouched paradise memories. Our paradise.
Today we are still
looking at these similarly themed events in real life and in colors
ever so vibrant. We are indeed lucky as a nation that was once
colonized and now independent as far as culture is concerned. Things
have been touched and changed of course, by our colonizers and our
governments but there still stir in the midst of our children’s lives
the underlying currents of where they came from and the reminder of our
ancestors, our Samoan heritage.
These are the things we are made
of: the sinnet, the fale Samoa, the dances and singing, the navigation,
the tattoos, the tanoa paluava, the radio, the television, the
revolution of our schools made more important through the scholars we
now have, the sky scraping buildings funded by developed countries, the
relations with our pacific neighbors and the entire world, and so much
more. Nothing stays the same but we have somehow moved and stayed at
the same time. Is it magic? The religious ones in our midst say it is
God’s will. Well, the article I write is left to the imagination in you
to have faith – for mankind and yes for our culture.
Shadbolt’s host was a chief of Apia, our Albert Wendt’s father who
owned a plumbing business. His name mentioned was Henry Wendt. He spoke
of his people’s belief in God and the family. He also spoke of his and
every Samoan’s pride in the education of his/their children. Albert
Wendt (his youthful son then) took Maurice on a bus ride in the
villages as Albert believed that the bus is the best place to see
Samoa. I couldn’t agree more. The bus may be un-cushioned leaving one’s
buttocks flattened but the local people inside, the memorable loud
music and the slow passing of the bus along the villages allows one to
see all the small but marvelous things that one rarely notices while in
a speedy car. In Henry Wendt’s simple understanding of his
heritage, and in the tour taken on the bus by his son Albert Wendt and
the author of the article we reflect on, the moral of the story arrives
at - Samoa’s simple living is the way life should be.
Tamasese Meaole was also interviewed for the article. At the time, he
was very proud of Samoa’s achievements. And so should he have been. But
his language seems conflicting now with the modern world catching onto
our simplicity. He favored the notion that Samoa is in the middle of a
slow and sure progressing island, hardly influenced by the fast pacing
outside world. Today, as you know, it is not so. Issues arising,
whether financial, spiritual, environmental, educational, etc unite us
with the rest of the world. We cannot help but latch onto the bigger
developed nations. We cannot float on our own either. The currents and
chaos of social, climatic and cultural change are inevitable. We do
know, from the past few natural disasters in our country for example,
that we have to keep our eyes open all the while. I learnt the hard way
that fear distracts you in the arms of danger. I suppose that the point
of the article is simple: Have faith and focus.
While the museum
reflects on our history and culture, it seems that the more appropriate
phrase to start this year with is that “Everything falls into place
when we accept who we are to begin with.” More will come from the
Museum of Samoa in a month or so. We are hosting a renowned Samoan
artist whose applaud is heard louder in New Zealand and elsewhere. But
we are lucky to have her donate her time to us this year. Shigeyuki
Kihara ( Yuki) is an established award winning artist of our own. She
brings to us the Galu afi soon. Others of her caliber and expertise
will soon follow.
of Samoa Photo: Students celebrate workshops
|Museum and Children Celebrate
Museum of Samoa (Lumepa Apelu)
faithful children from Leifiifi Primary school enjoyed a fun loving
celebration at the Museum of Samoa on the afternoon of Thursday 23rd
November. The celebration was to earmark the end of the year for school
and the end of the educational workshops held weekly at the museum to
increase awareness on cultural arts and themes. The children had been
consistently attending the workshops held at the museum throughout the
aim of the workshops is to promote and preserve our cultural
heritage through innovative ways of learning that children can respond
to favorably. Each week, after school they learn how to draw/trace
Samoa’s artifacts showcased in the museum. They also learn the Samoan
language and its legends through story-telling, painting, weaving etc
under the guidance and expertise of the museum educational senior
officer, Mainifo Viliamu who is often assisted by her colleague Ailini
the first time since the workshops started at the museum, the children
were given a room filled with party goodies for their enjoyment. The
party was made possible with the help of esteemed humanitarian business
woman Fiti Leung Wai, Managing Director of Samoa Stationery &
Books. Fiti was delighted to assist the museum’s cultural workshops as
an advocate of culture and education herself. Along with Mrs Leug Wai’s
support, the Archo-Chemical company was also a supporter of the
the museum staff congratulate the children for making the kids’
workshops program a successful one this year, they also look forward to
enhancing the program given the children’s feedback. It is also hoped
that the museum staff and volunteers will be able to travel to the
villages soon to reach the children who cannot afford to visit the
museum. Other plans include local and international Samoan artists who
are willing to contribute to their community here by utilizing their
talents to lead classes for children and adults.
this year, schools such as Lefaga College, Wesley College, St Joseph’s
College, Vaiala Beach School, Samoa Primary School, Pesega College,
Maluafou College, Leifiifi College, Sauniatu Primary, NUS Tourism
Class, APTC, and many others took advantage of the tours at the museum.
The museum also hopes to enhance these with the inclusion of its
volunteers who consist of local experts who offer their voluntary time
to contribute to educational and cultural initiatives.
Museum of Samoa is an entity of the Ministry of Education Sports and
Culture. You may view more on our website:
http//www.museumofsamoa.ws/ If you wish to be a friend of the
museum please send us an e-mail or call us at 26036.
|For more News and Updates open Archive
most recent exhibition in the Museum of Samoa is the German Samoa
Exhibition that was brought in by the Federal Pacific German Embassy.
||This exhibition has been closed and the
exhibits are kept in storage now.
exhibition depicts the successful relationship between the two
countries as it displays a historical photo exhibit of the Germans from
1900 till now.
The exhibition can be viewed in the Museum of Samoa
till December 2012. Meanwhile the Environment Room for the Museum had
temporarily kept in storage.
The launch of this website is made achievable through the financial
support from the UNESCO office of Apia.
website serves as a promotional and an awareness tool for students and
visitors of the Museum. It will continue to showcase updates of the
Museum’s educational and Cultural Programs throughout the year.
PLEASE WATCH THIS SPACE FOR THE NEXT EDUCATIONAL PROGRAMME/EXHIBITION
BY THE MUSEUM OF SAMOA