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The Issue of the Mandate

The Issue of the Mandate.

By Article 119 of the Treaty of Peace with Germany, signed at Versailles on June 28th, 1919, Germany renounced in favour of the Principal Allied and Associated Powers all her rights over Western Samoa. By a solemn Covenant of the League of Nations, at Geneva on December 17th, 1920, the Allied Powers agreed that a Mandate should be conferred upon His Britannic Majesty, to be exercised on his behalf by the Government of New Zealand, to administer German Samoa. The degree of authority exercised by New Zealand as Mandatory is explicitly defined by the Council of the League of Nations, whose consent is required for any modifications of the terms of the mandate, and New Zealand solemnly agreed that any dispute between the Mandatory and another member of the League of Nations shall be submitted to the Permanent Court of International Justice provided for by Article 14 of the Covenant. All this is set out in the schedule to the Samoa Act, 1921. The Covenant also provided that:—

To those colonies and territories which, as a consequence of the late war, have ceased to be under the sovereignty of the States which formerly governed them, and which are inhabited by peoples not yet able to stand by themselves under the strenuous conditions of the modern world, there should be applied the principle that the well-being and development of such peoples form a sacred trust of civilisation, and chat securities for the performance of this trust should be embodied in this Covenant. The best method of giving practical effect to this principle is that the tutelage of such peoples should be entrusted to advanced nations who, by reason of their resources, their experience, or their geographical position, can best undertake this responsibility, and who are willing to accept it, and that this tutelage should be exercised by them as Mandatories on behalf of the League.

(The words of the Mandate were translated from the English language into the Samoan language and distributed amongst the Chiefs.)

The impression conveyed by the terms of the Mandate was that New Zealand was placed in the position of a Trustee, with Western Samoa as its ward. That idea gained strength through the fact that each year since the issue of the Mandate a detailed account of its administrative activities, and replies to a very lengthy questionnaire, have been furnished by the New Zealand Government to the League of Nations, and also to the Permanent Mandates Commission which peruses the reports and the replies to questions, and submits its comments on them to the League.