The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 6, Issue 2 (June 1, 1931)
In and About Western Samoa
In and About Western Samoa.
One could give a long catalogue of interesting sights in Samoa, but the finest attractions of the place are the clean well ordered villages and interesting native life. Perhaps the pace of organisation has been a little too fast for the native, but evidences of good health and improved education are points to the good.
From Apia the Tofua begins the homeward run, calling again at Suva to return its labour complement. On the way is passed Niuafou Island, better known as “Tin-can Island,” because of its unique mail delivery system. Only during a few months of the year is it possible to make a safe landing on its precipitous volcanic shores, consequently a monthly exchange of news with the outside world—apart from a small wireless station maintained by the Tongan Government—has to be effected by natives swimming out to the steamer more than a mile off shore. The outward mail is carried in a tin on a stick held above the water, and the inward, more bulky, is enclosed in large biscuit tins, soldered up and provided with a light tow-rope. The Tofua is seen many miles away, and on her arrival off the main settlement, the swimmers are waiting with a cheerful hail. A few “kicks” of the screw in reverse, overboard goes the tin mail and up come the exchanges. The interesting business is over in a few minutes, and the Tofua is many miles away on the Pacific before the Niuafou swimmers reach their rock-bound shore and the little group under the cocoanut trees, waiting for the monthly mail.