19 Jun 2014

Legacy of NZ's WW1 invasion of Samoa on display

2:29 pm on 19 June 2014

New Zealand's taking of Samoa from the Germans in 1914, its first act of the First World War, and the legacy of this, is being commemorated at the Auckland War Memorial Museum.

The exhibition 'Entangled Islands' chronicles the relationship between New Zealand and Samoa, the bad and better times, and how it's changed both countries.

Government Building, Apia, 1914

Government Building, Apia, 1914 Photo: Wikipedia

The consultant historian for the exhibition, Auckland University's Damon Salesa, says when New Zealand invaded Samoa, and spent the next 50 years governing it, often not very well, it led to an enduring link between the two peoples.

He says as an example Auckland is the largest Samoan city in the world.

"It's hard to imagine what Auckland would be like, if we hadn't forged that relationship with Samoa. There are 120 thousand, over 120 thousand Samoans in Auckland, over 200 thousand Samoans in New Zealand, Samoan is probably the second most spoken language in New Zealand, so obviously a very profound effect on the way we live."

Damon Salesa says this is a meaningful part of New Zealands history, and not just an exhibition for Samoans.