1 Jun 2012

Samoan flag raised in front of thousands

7:06 am on 1 June 2012

The Samoan flag is about to be raised in front of thousands at Samoa's parliament grounds to mark 50 years of independence.

In bright sunshine, police have been standing near the guard of honour as speeches and prayers are delivered

Philippa Tolley is at parliament grounds.

"The last remaining member of the original constitution committee has been given the honour of raising the flag. Thousands of people have been here since early morning to take part in festivities. A US hercules aircraft has already made a flyby and New Zealand helicopters will do the same. Groups including bands, military, church, work and social will then march past before cultural activities this afternoon."

Samoa's Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, says he will be very proud as the flag is raised to mark 50 years of independence.

He says at the time independence was gained, he was at college and enthusiastically took part in celebratory marches himself.

But the Prime Minister says this year's event will be considerably larger:

There were not so many people at the time, but this time it is big and much has changed, even the buildings, now much more modern and much better than what we had in those days.

Tuilaepa says the five days of festivities are costing a little over four million dollars

But he says the event had been budgeted for and also supported by donations.