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A Petition to Britain

A Petition to Britain

Following the acceptance of the Mandate from the League of Nations by New Zealand came the visit of the Parliamentary Party in the "Mokoia" in March, 1920, when the proposed Constitution for Samoa under New Zealand administration was discussed by the inhabitants with the head of the party, Sir James Allen, Minister for External Affairs, and the members of the Legislature who accompanied him.

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The first reception was given by the Faipules, and in the address presented by them the first paragraph stated:—

"The people of Western Samoa have obediently accepted the order issued by His Majesty King George V. in placing Western Samoa under the care of New Zealand. Should dissatisfaction of the Samoan become greater with the Administration it will then be possible for the Samoans to appeal that Samoa shall be ruled from England by the Colonial Office."

In reply, Sir James Allen said: "With regard to the wishes of the members of the Samoan Parliament, I am glad to know that the people have obediently accepted the order issued by King George's Government placing Samoa under New Zealand. New Zealand accepts that care as a sacred trust."

The assurances of the Minister were not fully satisfactory to the Samoan representatives, as in 1921 a petition to King George was signed by 26 Faipules in which they prayed that: "Because of our increasing dissatisfaction with the Administration of the Government of New Zealand, which is a branch of your Empire, appointed by Your Majesty to control Western Samoa, the homeland of your humble servants, we herein petition with the greatest respect that, may it please Your Majesty to release us from the control of the New Zealand Government, but that you may be pleased to place Western Samoa under the direct control of the Colonial Office in England."

The petition also urged that only a Governor be appointed by the King, as the Faipules, with the assistance of Europeans of long standing among them, could carry out the making of laws.

The same signatories of the Samoan "Parliament" also sent a lengthy petition to H.R.H. the Prince of Wales, who had visited the Territory in the "Renown" and had been warmly welcomed. They asked His Highness to intercede for them with his Royal father. They remarked: "We honour Great Britain and rejoice because we are under the protection of the same great flag as Your Royal Highness. We do not rejoice in the Government of New Zealand. This Government ignored us. We pay taxes, but haw no voice in the legislation or the expenditure. We desire to preserve our nation for Samoa, to be able to govern our people wisely, justly and without great expense."

These extracts prove conclusively that at the very outset of New Zealand's attempt to administer the Mandate, and from the Constitution Order of 1919 onwards, the Samoans were dissatisfied and claiming a greater share in the government of their country. That demand is more insistent than ever to-day, when Samoa is seething under a military dictatorship which admits being unable to function.

In 1921 the New Zealand Parliament passed the Samoa Act. 1921. "to make provision for the Government of Western Samoa," but the Act made no provision for any right of the people of Samoa to have a voice in the government of the country. The machinery of government was by Ordinances of the Administrator, acting with the advice and consent of a Legislative Council which was wholly nominative, and more than half of which was to be officers of the Public Service. Neither European nor Native taxpayers had any vote in the appointment of the "unofficial" members.