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The War Effort of New Zealand

3—The Future of Samoa

3—The Future of Samoa.

As regards the fate of German Samoa, it was admitted by the principal members of the Council that Mr. Massey presented New Zealand's case "powerfully, skilfully and with fairness." The Prime Minister pointed out that Samoa was of great strategic importance, and the key to the South Pacific. It had been so used by Germany, and New Zealand was opposed to any revival of the former menacing conditions. The Islands had been seized and occupied by the Dominion's troops, and successfully administered on behalf of the Imperial government. He acknowledged the naval assistance given on behalf of the Imperial government by the battle-cruiser Australia, and the French ship of war, the Montcalm. He recounted the unhappy history of the natives of German Samoa, and their repeated efforts and appeals to secure British protection, and referred in detail to New Zealand's treatment of the Maoris, whose response to the call for volunteers was proof of their satisfaction with British rule, and proof of their fine loyalty to the British Empire. Many Maoris had been accepted as first-class fighting men. Besides these there were the Natives of Rarotonga, Niue, and Fiji, who had rendered good work in the great war. He had received many pathetic letters from people of the native races begging that never again should they be placed under German rule. After the Germans had appeared in the South Pacific and settled in Samoa, the result was an unhappy period for the natives of Samoa, who had suffered civil war due largely, it had been alleged, to German interference. In 1889 the Great Powers took an interest in the affairs of the unhappy island. Germany sent a fleet of warships, the United States of America also sent a fleet to meet them and the British Government sent one smart second-class cruiser. A hurricane, "within the duration of a single day, broke the sword-arm of each of two angry Powers, reduced their page 204formidable ships to junk, and changed their disciplined hundreds to hordes of castaways." The British ship rode into the gale and was saved. The natives had looked upon the historic hurricane as providential. Later, a sort of protectorate was established of the three powers—Germany, United States of America, and Great Britain. The result, to say the least, had not been satisfactory. Joint control of natives had almost always, and everywhere, been a failure. There was not in his opinion any prospect of success in any form of joint control. On behalf of the people of New Zealand, on behalf of the people of the South Sea Islands, and for the sake of humanity Mr. Massey most strongly urged that German Samoa should be allowed to remain under British control.

After all the claims had been heard by the Council, there was a protracted discussion on the details of the proposed mandatory system of control. The representatives of the Dominions urged the adoption of a direct form of government and security of tenure in order to encourage development. Mr. Massey emphasised the New Zealand point of view as regards the desire for dependable protection from the possibilities of having in the future some turbulent and ambitious power in that part of the world. Keen opposition was offered to the principle of an "open door" and the oversea delegates presented their argument so effectively that the Council eventually agreed to accept the British proposals, establishing a form of direct administration of the former enemy territories in the South Pacific by each mandatory State as integral portions of that State subject to certain safeguards dealing with the prohibition of former abuses such as the slave trade, forced labour, the liquor traffic, and the prevention of the establishment of fortifications or military or naval bases. This agreement was accepted as being only provisional, but it became the basis of final settlement. The Council's resolution was subsequently incorporated in the Covenant of the League of Nations.

The draft mandate given to New Zealand for the control of Samoa on behalf of the League of Nations is here given as a document of historic interest:—

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1.Germany renounces all rights and title over the islands constituting German Samoa.
2.The Allied and Associated Powers entrust the government of the islands to his Britannic Majesty to be exercised by His Majesty's Government of the Dominion of New Zealand. The said Government shall have full legislative, administrative and judicial power over the islands as an integral portion of the territory of New Zealand and may apply the laws of New Zealand thereto, subject to such local modifications as circumstances may require.
3.His Britannic Majesty in and for His Government of the Dominion of New Zealand accepts the mandate for the administration of the islands upon the footing that the trust is imposed and accepted for the well-being and development of the peoples of the islands, and to that end undertakes that the slave trade and forced labour shall be prohibited, the traffic in arms and ammunition shall be controlled in accordance with any general Convention which may be entered into by the High Contracting Parties in this behalf, the sale of spirituous liquors to the natives shall be prohibited, and the military training of the natives otherwise than for purposes of internal police and the local defence of the islands shall be prohibited. Furthermore, no military or naval bases shall be established and no fortifications shall be erected in the islands either by the Government of New Zealand or by any other Power or person.
4.The value of the property in the islands belonging to the German Government shall be assessed and shall be reckoned in the Inter-Allied Reparation Fund and regarded as allocated to the share of the Government of New Zealand.
5.The expenses of the administration of the islands, if the revenues obtained from local sources are insufficient, will be defrayed by the Government of New Zealand.
6.If at any time the native inhabitants of the islands express a desire to be united with New Zealand, and if the Council of the League of Nations consider this desire on their part to be conscious and well-founded and calculated to promote their interests, the Allied and Associated Governments agree that effect shall be given to it by the Council page 206of the League and the islands shall thereupon be incorporated in New Zealand for all purposes, and the administration under this Convention shall be regarded as at an end, provided that all the undertakings set out in Article 3, including the prohibition against the establishment of military or naval bases or fortifications shall be maintained, and shall continue to operate in the islands after such incorporation.
7.The inhabitants of the islands shall be entitled to British diplomatic protection when in foreign countries.
8.The Government of the Dominion of New Zealand will make an annual report containing full information with regard to the islands and indicating the measures taken to carry out the obligations assumed under Article 3, and the extent to which the well-being and development of the inhabitants is progressing.

Copies of this report will be presented to the Council of the League of Nations.

The decision of the Council of the Allied and Associated Powers in regard to the disposal of all the former German colonies was as follows:—

  • Togoland and Cameroons:—France and Great Britain to make a joint recommendation to the League of Nations.
  • German East Africa:—The mandate shall be held by Great Britain. German South-West Africa:—The mandate shall be held by the Union of South Africa.
  • The German Samoan Islands:—The mandate shall be held by New Zealand.
  • The other German Pacific Possessions South of the Equator (excluding the German Samoan Islands and Nauru):—The mandate shall be held by Australia.
  • Nauru:—The mandate shall be given to the British Empire.
  • The German Pacific Islands north of the Equator (Marshall and Caroline Islands):—The mandate shall be held by Japan.