‘Guardians and Wards’ : (A study of the origins, causes, and the first two years of the Mau in Western Samoa.)
CHAPTER II — ‘THE MAU’ — (1926 - 1927)
(1926 - 1927)
Richardson's arrival in the territory had been preceded by a favourable publicity campaign in the New Zealand press and the ‘Samoa Times’. This, plus the hope that a new man might prove sympathetic to their demands, resulted in a marked decrease in the anti-Administration activities of the Apia citizens. They waited, observed. Hoped. Richardson, at first, did not disappoint them. He immediately tried to win the confidence of the Samoans and Europeans. A New Zealand Parliamentary Act (15 August, 1923) gave the Fono of Faipule, legal status; this alone helped immensely in winning the support of the Faipule. When Richardson established the Legislative Council and nominated three members from the Apia citizenry, the citizens saw this Council as an effective constitutional avenue for airing their grievances. Richardson's interpretation of the Council was to dash all their hopes, however.
The Samoan Amendment Act, August 1923, replaced the nominated members with no more than six elected members. And in the elections of January, 1924, Nelson, Williams and Westbrook were elected. From the first meeting of the newly constituted Council on March 15, 1924, to 1925, these men fought to gain greater powers for the Council. Greater powers for the council would facilitate the task of redressing local grievances. But by the end of 1925, Richardson had stifled all hope of greater autonomy. No open break of hostility occurred publicly between the three elected members and Richardson, but it is evident from the minutes of the Council meetings, page 77 that such an occurrence would have erupted sooner or later. Outvoted on every issue by the official majority the three elected members pleaded for more elected members. But to no avail. Nevertheless up to the end of 1925 at least, the citizens continued to voice their grievances within the Council; refrained from employing extra-constitutional means of agitation.
Perhaps the final issue between the Administration and the citizens, which turned the citizens away from the Council, was the question of a Municipality for Apia. Richardson was sincere in his efforts to get the New Zealand Government to grant this. Lengthy negotiations took place between Richardson and leading citizens. But these negotiations failed in 1925. It was at this point that the three elected Members of the Legislative Council turned from the Council and again started using extra-constitutional means of agitation.
Early in 1926, Nelson went to Australia for health reasons. On his way back, he had an interview in New Zealand, on 1 September, 1926, with Prime Minister J. G. Coates and Mr W. Nosworthy, Minister of External Affairs. (Ironically enough, Richardson had provided Nelson with letters of introduction to these high officials). At this meeting, Nelson outlined the local grievances against the Administration, and asked Mr Nosworthy to investigate these grievances.
Nelson returned to Western Samoa, on 24 September, 1926, and made preparations for Nosworthy's visit expected in October. The Citizen's Committee was to be given a new lease of life. The preparations, which included the calling of a public meeting to draft a list of complaints and requests to be put before Nosworthy, were in keeping with what the Apia citizens had done in previous years. They were not the beginning of a ‘plot’ to destroy the page 78 Administration. None of the citizens anticipated the radical consequences of these preparations. Right at the start, two factors would emerge which would unleash an unexpected course of events: Samoans would attend the public meeting, and, just prior to the meeting, it would be known that Nosworthy had postponed his visit for six months. The first would alarm the Administration, (an alliance between Europeans and Samoans had no precedent in Samoan history); the second, would force the Citizens' Committee to change its plans of presenting its complaints. But then not all mortals are fortune-tellers. And few men will admit being victims of circumstance.
Culture-contact had produced a group of full-blooded Samoans who were highly Europeanised. These men were fluent in English and familiar with the commercial life of Apia. Some led semi-European ways of life, feeling just at home in the drawing rooms of ‘Europe’ as in open fale. A few were very influential both in Apia affairs and in the districts where they were matai. Alienated, one way or another, by the Administration, these men became anti-Administration agitators easily drawn into the European-part-European camp. These were the men who were instrumental in forging the first concrete links between Apia and Samoa. Finding no place in Richardson's ‘malo’, they turned to another patron, Nelson. Two of them, Afamasaga Lagolago and Faumuina Mulinu'u were the first links between the Samoans and the Citizens' Committee. They suggested that the Samoans should be invited to the first public meeting. Nelson and the others welcomed the suggestion, hoping that if the weight of Samoan support was added to the ‘cause’, the ‘cause’ would have more effect on the Administration. (The Citizens' Committee had always been dismissed by New Zealand, as a minority movement unrepresentative of the population). Nelson, however, did not forsee the ultimate consequences of this Samoan support.page 79
On 28 September, a public reception - at which Richardson was the main speaker - was held, in Apia, to welcome Nelson from Australia. Richardson praised Nelson as ‘a colleague’ who had his ‘wholehearted sympathy and support’. Nelson replied in the same ornate manner.64 However, even before this reception, Nelson had started on the road which would lead to the ruination of Richardson's work in Western Samoa.
Nelson had not informed Richardson of his meeting with Coates and Nosworthy. Or the private meeting at Sam Meredith's house (evening 27 September) in which it was agreed that a public meeting would be called in October and that the Samoans would attend the meeting. Present at the private meeting were Nelson, Williams, Westbrook, Meredith, Faumuina, Afamasaga Lagolago, Tuimaleali'ifano, Tofaeono and Malietoa.65 All this, especially the private meeting, would be interpreted later as the start of a secret and deliberate plot to overthrow the Administration. Viewed in the light of later events, this meeting certainly looked like the sinister beginning of treason. But the meeting was in keeping with local precedent. During the early nineteen-twenties, meetings of this kind had been called at the homes of leading citizens, sometimes for the purpose of organising public meetings. Because their consequences had not been harmful to the Administration, they had not been citied as ‘secret plotting’. However, the September meeting at Meredith's home later assumed a sinister-like character, in the eyes of the Authorities, because of what happened after the first public meeting of October, 1926. The Mau was not planned; and Nelson was certainly not an evil genius.page 80
The public meeting was advertised in the ‘Samoa Times’; and was held on 15 October, at 8p.m. Unlike the public meetings of the early nineteen-twenties this meeting attracted a bigger audience - between 250 and 300 - of both Europeans and Samoans.66
Nelson, as chairman, informed those present that the meeting had been convened to consider representations to be made to Nosworthy, but word had been received that the Minister had postponed his visit. After this, the deficiencies of the Administration's policy and practice were amply discussed; suggestions for reforms similarly voiced. The ‘reformers’ were in full stride, so to speak. The grievances were those of the early nineteen-twenties. But the ways they were presented, supported, and argued were far more cogent and business-like. The speakers, mostly business-men and planters, put their ‘knowledge’ to skilful use in innumerating government expenses, particularly ‘unnecessary' expenses.
Afamasaga outlined the complaints of the Samoans; these were focused on the taking away of matai titles.67 The Samoans, when asked by Nelson about prohibition, replied that because the Europeans had brought liquor into Western Samoa, the Europeans should have a say in it as the Samoans should have a say in Samoan customs.68page 81
The meeting then elected a committee, made up of Europeans and Samoans, to report on the deficiencies of the Administration. If the reports were approved by the public, in a later meeting, these reports would be sent to the Minister of External Affairs. (By postponing his visit, the Minister prolonged the existence of the Citizens' Committee, and forced the Committee to present their case another way.) As was to be expected, the meeting elected their most influential and wealthiest cohorts, namely: Nelson, Williams, Westbrook, Smyth, Baxter, Gurr, Cobcroft, Meredith, Meyer, Carruthers, Faumuina, Afamasaga, Tuisila, Tofaeono, Ainu'u, and Alipia. The Samoans elected were the highest ranking matai present at the meeting.
12.30p.m. The meeting dispersed. The alliance between Apia and Samoa, at least at the Apia level, had been sealed. It would prove a fateful and powerful alliance. Treason was not their intention. At least, not at the first meeting. When their ranks swelled beyond all their expectations, the thing got out of hand. Perhaps.
After the October meeting, rumours - that an opposition movement had begun in Apia - spread throughout the outlying districts. As a result, the meeting held on 26 November attracted a larger number of people, especially Samoans. The number lay between 400 and 600. This meeting marked the beginning of a greater, more powerful Samoan participation. Later on, they would assume ‘control’ of the movement.
Before the meeting got under way properly, a letter from Richardson was read to the meeting. Richardson warned the Europeans not to interfere in Samoan affairs; instructed the Samoans that they had to present their grievances through the properly constituted channels, namely the Fono of page 82 Faipule and the district councils. The meeting decided not to heed the Administrator's warning.
Because Minister Nosworthy had refused to alter his plans, the meeting agreed to send a delegation to New Zealand; expenses for this would be met by voluntary contributions. This resolution necessitated the collection of funds on the national level; it also called for a publicity campaign. An informal Samoan committee,69 representative of most of the districts, gathered in Apia to aid the work, while the Samoan members of the Citizens' Committee toured and distributed a report on the public meetings, called ‘Ole Fono Tele’, to try and harness wider support for the ‘cause’. Richardson was extremely alarmed at these developments; and he immediately countered these moves. He confined the Samoan committee members to specified areas, and prevented the circulation of reports on the public meetings. The clash between the Administration and the ‘opposition’ was gathering momentum. Soon it would be too late to avoid the inevitable.
The Samoans, who were picked for the delegation, were refused passports. And, in 1927 at the first meeting of the Legislative Council, Richardson succeeded in putting through a bill making it an offence to preach and spread civil disobedience.
By effectively stifling the sending of a delegation to New Zealand, Richardson forced the Citizens' Committee and the now larger Samoan Committee page 83 to use other methods of putting their case before the New Zealand Government and public. The Citizens' Committee chose S.H. Meredith to go to New Zealand and try persuading the Minister to reverse Richardson's decision and also publicise local grievances. Meredith left on the 14 January, 1927. In New Zealand he published a pamphlet, ‘Western Samoa … How New Zealand administers its Mandate from the League of Nations’. This pamphlet outlined Samoan grievances in highly exaggerated and emotional terms, projecting the image of the citizens and Samoans as innocent victims and the Administrator and Administration as oppressors, and ended with a plea to the New Zealand public and their ‘elected representatives, for a rudimentary measure of justice ….’70
Reports, which had been drawn up by various Committee members between the two public meetings and not presented during the second public meeting because of the lack of time, were completed and sent to Richardson for transference to Nosworthy. At the same time, a petition to the New Zealand Government was drafted, and completed on 11 March, 1927. Because of the Administration's adamant claim that the dissatisfied part of the population was only an insignificant minority, and the fact that the petition needed signatures representative of all the districts, the Citizens' Committee decided to establish a mass organisation. Nelson and the other traders in the movement used their traders and trading stations to collect funds and distribute propaganda.71 The members of the informal Samoan committee spread the movement throughout the villages; the traditional methods of intrigue and page 84 verbal persuasion were revived, enthusiastically. Enhance the support of the chiefly elite in the districts and you automatically gain the support of the untitled majority under their control. Mata'utia Karuna, formerly a government interpreter,72 was appointed full-time secretary with an office in the Apia headquarters of O.F. Nelson & Co. Ltd. To counteract government propaganda in the pro-government newspaper, the ‘Samoa Times’, Nelson and others founded the ‘Samoa Guardian’. An experienced editor was found in E. Gurr. According to Nelson, because of the Ordinance passed 18 March, 1927, aimed at suppressing the movement and Richardson's misinterpretation of the objectives of the movement, the movement's aims were written down on March, 1927.73 The movement was given the title, ‘The Samoan League’; it's main objective was the advancement of Samoa, and to present to the Administration and Government of New Zealand, from time to time, subjects concerning the Government of Western Samoa which might be considered by members of the League essential for the promotion of the place, order and good government, and the general welfare of the territory.74 The tone and language of this and the accompanying ‘Declaration of Members’ were highly reminiscent of the American Constitution. Equality, Fraternity, Liberty were the basic principles embodied in this ornate, verbose declaration: an attempt to add the aura of ‘respectability’ to the League. Accused of sedition, the League tried to convey, to the world, a respectable, peace-loving image. The title, ‘The Mau’, quickly replaced the name, ‘Samoan League’ because of the predominantly Samoan support. Mau meaning a firmly held opinion or belief, something strong, solid.page 85
While waiting for Nosworthy's visit, there was a mounting desire, among the Samoan Mau adherents, to directly oppose Richardson's malo. Samoans, in some areas, started resisting orders of the Administration; neglecting even the compulsory weekly search for the rhinoceros beetle. All this, Richardson blamed on the Europeans, especially Nelson, and their Samoan colleagues, such as Afamasaga. Richardson failed to understand that order could not be restored through official avenues; he continued to put all his trust and faith in the Fono of Faipule, demanding from the districts that all grievances and complaints had to come before him through the Fono. The Fono, - its members in positions of prestige and power because of official appointment, - echoed its patron's interpretation of the Mau, dismissing the Mau leaders as exploiters using the Samoans for personal gain.
By the beginning of June, 1927, ‘the adherents of the Mau … formed an important proportion of the Samoan inhabitants.’75 Enough supporters to paralyse the functions of government if the Mau chose to do so. Yet the Administrator and the Fono of Faipule continued to treat the Mau as a movement which ‘could be handled’.76
Into this highly explosive situation came Minister Nosworthy on 2 June, 1927. (By postponing his visit he had indirectly inflamed the situation). His visit was disastrous. Nosworthy, the ambassador sent to calm the mounting storm, lacked the essential qualities of an effective peacemaker. He was tactless, unimaginative, and an heir to the myth that the European residents were unscrupulous intriguers leading astray a nation of helpless page 86 ‘natives’. The disastrous results of his visit were also produced by the tragic fact that there was no contact between Richardson and the Mau leaders. With Richardson as his guide, Nosworthy spent the first ten days of his visit attending official functions and viewing schools and plantations. He looked at Samoa through Richardson's eyes, so to speak.
While Nosworthy toured, the Mau amassed its followers in Apia. Mau badges were worn; and, on 3 June (the King's birthday), the Mau held a sports meeting to rival that of the Administration's. That same evening, a ball took place at Nelson's Tuaefu residence. These Mau displays of numerical strength were interpreted, by Richardson (and Nosworthy), as deliberate attempts to belittle the Administration in the eyes of the population. Political tension mounted.
The meeting between Nosworthy and the Citizens' Committee took place at Central Office on 11 June. Outside the building, hundreds of Mau supporters waited for the outcome of the meeting. From the very start of the meeting, the Minister made it clear that this was not to be a discussion between equals. He accused the Committee of politically plotting to undermine Samoan confidence in their own legal and rightful institutions such as the Fono of Faipule; such action was criminal and should be dealt with accordingly. As the room hummed with heat, Nosworthy became increasingly personal in his attack. Nelson accused him of accepting, without question, Richardson's analysis of the Samoan situation. Nosworthy countered such allegations with extremely personal interjections. Nelson, so Nosworthy insinuated, was ‘aping the Governor’, living the way he did in such luxury and offering such large-scale hospitality. Even before the humiliating meeting was over, the Citizens' Committee concluded that as long as Nosworthy page 87 was Minister they would be wasting their time pleading for reform. This was made frustratingly clear when Nosworthy, just before leaving for New Zealand, informed the Comittee that the law was to be amended, giving the Administrator power to deport Europeans.77
Still believing that he could destroy the Mau through official channels, Richardson issued a proclamation calling for a stop to the Mau. At the same time, he ordered the large group of Mau leaders, who had gathered for Nosworthy's visit, to disband. These actions, plus the threat of deportation, again forced the Mau leaders to explore other ways of presenting their case. These factors also produced a change in the structure of the Mau. Apart from Nelson and Smyth, who agreed to present the Samoan petition to the New Zealand Parliament, most of the other Europeans no longer participated publicly in the Mau. On the other hand, the Samoan Mau leaders refused to disperse. In retaliation, Richardson banished Faumuina and Afamasaga Lagolago to Apolima, hoping that without these men, the Mau supporters would obey him. This move had no effect. So, in the following weeks, Richardson banished more Mau adherents as well as depriving others of their matai titles. This only incensed the Mau, increased its anti-Administration activities. Control of the Mau, by this time, had passed into the hands of the Samoans. This had important consequences: Mau methods and aims changed. The Mau's main objective was now self-government - ‘Samoa mo Samoa’ Samoa without New Zealand. Throughout the whole territory there was now widespread non- page 88 co-operation with the Administration. Plantations were neglected; numerous births and deaths went unregistered; many taxes went unpaid; in many areas village committees, women's committees, and district councils refused to meet; school attendance dropped significantly; and many villages ignored officials on tour. Whatever measure of success Richardson might have achieved in the earlier part of his rule, was now threatened with total ruination.
While a joint select committee, appointed by New Zealand Parliament, was hearing the evidence of O.F. Nelson on the Samoan petition, Richardson sent a request to the government, asking for an inquiry into Samoan affairs. The government agreed; a royal commission was appointed on 12 September, 1927 and charged with the duty of inquiring into:
‘Whether, having regard to the duties undertaken by the Government of New Zealand under the said Mandate, there [was[ just cause for such complaints and objections. [Those contained in the Samoan Petition].
Whether the Administrator or the officials … [had] in any manner exceeded their duty in the exercise of the authority … or [had] failed to exercise their respective functions honestly or justly.
Whether, having regard to the Samoan Native Customs and to the due maintenance of government and order …, it would be prudent and safe to wholly repeal and abrogate all power to require a Samoan to remove for a definite period from one place … to another'78
The Chief Justice of New Zealand, Sir Charles Skerret, was made chairman, and a judge of the New Zealand Native Land Court, Mr C.E. McCormick, was appointed the second member.
The Commission began its sittings in Western Samoa on 24 September, and sat for 23 days altogether. The commissioners moved from Apia to Fagamalo page 89 (Savaii) for two days; then to Falealili (eastern Upolu) for two days, and back to Apia. They heard, altogether, the evidence of 155 witnesses: 90 called by the complainants, and 65 on behalf of the Administration. Some of these witnesses spoke on behalf of large groups. And, according to the Commissioners, they obtained the views of 300 people. A Mr Baxter and, with him, a Mr Slipper appeared as counsel for the Mau. A Mr Meredith, and, with him, Messrs McCarthy and Klinkmueller, appeared on behalf of the Administration.
Nelson and others considered the commission's terms of reference to be too narrowly defined; however, the terms of reference did not severely restrict the evidence brought before the Commission.
In the past, as it has been shown already, the grievances of the European residents had not been those of the Samoans. The two ‘nations’, however, had merged during the earlier part of Richardson's rule. This merger had been due largely to certain events and circumstances, Richardson's unpopular actions and policies, and the influence of men like Nelson and Afamasaga. This unified stand was made obvious during the cross-examination of witnesses. Both the Samoan and European witnesses were adamant about certain things: the system of government in Western Samoa was not a representative one; that the formulation of policy and their implementation were completely in the hands of the officials, and expatriate officials at that; that Richardson's policy of reform was conceived in western terms, terms foreign to Samoan conditions; that the methods used to implement this policy ignored local feeling and wishes; and that the cost of the Administration was far too high. These grave flaws, so the witnesses argued, had led the Administrator to become dictatorial. Samoa's future, so Richard- page 90 son's critics claimed, was to be one of dark oppression and ultimate bankruptcy. And, to forestall such a fate, major changes had to be made. These general criticisms permeated all the Mau evidence brought before the Commission.
By the nineteen-twenties, state interference in all major spheres of national life had become firmly rooted in New Zealand. In Western Samoa, however, welfare-state thinking was far from acceptable; the European residents still believed in the principles of laisser-faire. The functions of government, so they claimed, should be limited: the Administration should not interfere in or compete with private business, or place restrictions on the individual. Prohibition was viewed, therefore, not only as a practical inconvenience but as an infringement on individual liberties. Education should be left as much as possible to private organisations such as the missions; the only function of government was to give financial aid to these organisations. Government expenditure should also be limited, severely. The imposition of new taxes and the reliance on loans were unnecessary burdens on the individual; eventual bankruptcy was the inevitable result of this fiscal policy.
The civil service was an evil in itself and a drain on finances. (An unnecessary drain because the expatriate officials were incompetent).
Richardson's decision to handle high-grade Samoan copra frightened the European community partly because of the principle involved but mainly because of the drastic effects it might have on private business.79
According to Richardson, the scheme was an attempt to improve the quality of Samoan copra, and give the producer higher returns for his produce, which page 91 previously had been sold to the merchants at a fixed-price. The Minister agreed, in 1926, to let New Zealand Reparation Estates handle Samoan copra. The merchants argued that they had not been given the chance to offer a higher price for high-grade copra, that advances, made by N.Z.R.E. on copra received, were far too high in relation to world prices; that the Administration, on principle, should not compete with private business.
In general, the Samoans supported these European complaints. The Samoans resented the government officials because of the preferential treatment accorded to them, financially and socially. If the Administration could not repay the loans, the Samoans believed that they would lose more of their freedom. They saw the medical tax as a drain on personal finance; some considered the medical dispensaries as being of no use because they lived so far away from them. A century of Christianity had turned them into religious conformists, believing that the missions should be encouraged (and left) to develop education.
When it came to political matters and those connected to custom, there were no significant differences between the views of the Europeans and Samoans. Richardson was a ‘dictator’, who had absorbed into himself certain powers, which rightfully belonged to the chiefly elite; and, by using these powers he had and was humiliating the Samoans. Richardson had created a political and administrative pyramid in which all the personel were his subordinates. He had also used the power of banishment, embodied in the Samoan offenders Ordinance, 1922, to subjugate the chiefly elite. (At least those who did not obey his personel dictates). The power of banishment had been used by Dr Solf, but the liberal manner with which Richardson had (and was) weilding it aroused widespread antagonism. To banish a Tama-a-aiga was a complete perversion of custom. But Richardson had done this in 1924: he page 92 had banished and deprived Tamasese Lealofi III of his title, over the matter of a hedge which belonged to Tamasese but, according to the Administration, was growing on someone else's land. Richardson, while on an official tour of Savaii, had ignored a ifoga80 made to him by Tamasese and the matai of his village.81 Insulted, enraged, Tamasese had left the village, to which he had been confined, and had immediately organised Samoan support against Richardson. Richardson, in turn had imprisoned him. After the Mau got under way, Richardson used the Ordinance almost with abandonment. He still believed that he could stem the tide by using the legal spades of repression. Fifty Samoans, many of whom were matai of powerful standing, suffered under the Ordinance between June and September, 1927. These banishments and deprivations of titles were often carried out on the advice of a committee of Faipule.82
Samoan antagonism was focused primarily on the Fono of Faipule. The Fono, according to its critics, was not representative of the people. Most of its members still held office for an indefinite period; appointments could only be terminated by the Administrator even though Richardson, after consulting the district, filled any vacancy with a new three-year appointment. page 93 The Administrator had also made the recent appointments and had simply asked the district matai to give their approval of them. Consequently, the Faipule were seen not as district representatives but government officials who owed their status and position to the Administrator, officials who had supported policies of reform recommended by expatriate officials because their appointments were dependent on the Administration's continuing patronage. Because of this, extremely unsuitable policies had been imposed on the population. Some of these policies had clashed headlong with tradition, had challenged the authority of the traditional chiefly elite. Policies regarding land tenure, banishment, and district councils were considered in direct opposition to the traditional power structure. The composition of district councils had often perverted the traditional political structure of the districts. In these district councils, some Faipule were accorded authority not theirs according to ancient traditions and customs. Schemes for the individualisation of land threatened to weaken the authority of the matai over the untitled groups. Banishment made a mockery of the authority of the traditional elite: even the highest ranking matai could be deprived of their titles at the will of the Administrator and the Fono of Faipule. The bewildering mass of ordinances passed, by the Fono, for the implementation of other policies, such as village cleanliness and the gathering of rhinoceros beetles, had place an onerous burden of duties on the people.83 Such a load, so it was felt, could only be lightened by the appointment of Faipule whose appointments were fully in the hands of the districts; men who did not owe their positions to the Administrator, and would, therefore, page 94 voice the opinions of their districts, honestly.
Not only did the Mau went the Fono of Faipule to be trully representative, but they also wanted the Samoans to have a voice in the Legislative Council. The Samoans refuted and resented the long-lasting and humiliating claim, by the Administration, that the official members of the Council were adequately representing Samoan interests. The Mau argued that official and unofficial members should be equal in number, with the Administrator acting as chairman and exercising a casting vote. The Mau also wanted the creation of an elected and independent board of finance.
These then were the specific complaints and demands made by the Mau. An inconsistency becomes evident. While demanding self-government, the Mau also made proposals for reform within the old colonial system. Certain factors, very hard to define, can partly explain this inconsistency. The answer lies in the history of culture-contact.84 For over a century, Samoan culture had been exposed to the full impact of European influences. The position of Tumua and Pule, and with them the authority of the chiefly elite, had been threatened repeatedly, but they had survived and were still the real power beyond Apia. Richardson, however, posed a more deadly threat to these power-houses. The chiefly elite could not conceive of a Samoa without Tumua and Pule, and would resist any major attempts to reform the Samoan political system. Individual matai believed that their authority over their families had been weakened, and that Richardson's reforms would only undermine this authority further. Christianity, even though successfully absorbed into the fa'a-Samoa, had brought with it new values, new notions of social and political equality. Similarly, the money economy based on individuality, page 95 had changed the value judgements of some of the people. The increasing expansion of secular education was drawing the younger generations away from traditional ways of thought and behaviour. All these were viewed as a gain as well as a loss; and this feeling of loss bred a yearning for an idealised past. Richardson's reforms, - attempts to quicken the pace of change and bring Samoa into the light of the twentieth century, - only resulted in an increased resistance to change. When Richardson persisted, in the face of mounting opposition, he aroused Samoan hostility against the Administration. A whole century, firstly of European interference and then colonial domination had produced a feeling of bitter humiliation. Richardson aggravated this. He persisted in proclaiming that he knew what was good for the Samoans, that the Samoans had to be led towards self-government (something desirable but not contained in the foreseeable future), that the official members of the Legislative Council were representing and safe-guarding Samoan interests, that the Faipule were the true ‘voice’ of the people. His insulting treatment of men, such as Tamasese, revealed, so the Mau believed, a contempt for Samoan custom and Samoan leaders, another insulting blow against the Samoans who had already suffered a long history of European contempt. Richardson's expatriate subordinates worsened the situation. They lived within their own expatriate world, remaining ignorant of Samoa and Samoans, treating local Europeans as inferiors and Samoans as backward race to be led toward the ‘light’, as it were.
All these deficiencies, in Richardson's Administration, served to minimise the rivalry inherent in the Tumua-Pule political system, driving the factions together to form a common opposition. Colonial nationalism was born under the shadow of a well-meaning but self-righteous and naive Administrator.page 96
The Commissioners submitted their report to the Governor-General on 29 November, 1927. Even before the Report was made public, - when the conclusions of the Commission became known, - all the hopes, which the Mau had placed in the Commission, were shattered. Civil disobedience had to be continued.
Even though the Commission was extremely critical of the Mau and the Citizens' Committee, it remained silent on matters which, it maintained, did not come into its terms of reference. These included Richardson's copra buying schme and the Administration's supposed extravagance. Concerning other grievances and complaints, the Commission concluded that these were without foundation. It vindicated Richardson's policy and the Fono of Faipule, and commended the Administrator on his work in the territory.
These conclusions were utterly contrary to those held by the Mau, which clearly represented the majority of the people. Why? The Commissioners, were legal men who viewed the situation in a strictly legal manner. They were also part of an age when no ‘coloured’ colony, within the empire, had achieved self-government. Theories on colonial administration, at least those pursued by the British, were dominated by the views of Administrators such as Lord Lugard of Nigeria. The ultimate objective of colonial rule was self-government, but it was an objective that could hardly be realised within the foreseeable future. The Administration must concern itself with the pre-requisites of self-government, on improvements in health, education and the economy. Not on political development at the national level. Administration, during the Mandate period, was based on the assumption that New Zealand authority over Western Samoa, in some form or other, would continue for an indefinite period. Undoubtedly influenced by such considerations, page 97 the Commissioners did not approach their task, with a political frame of mind. They were also ignorant of Samoan society; they appreciated Richardson's aims but failed to comprehend the objections to Richardson's methods of attaining these objectives. They failed completely to see behind what they concluded were ‘minor complaints’. In the final instance, they accepted Richardson's interpretation of the Mau: that the Mau was a seditious organisation started and dominated by a group of self-seeking men led by O. F. Nelson.
The Commission, by failing to come to grips with the real grievances expressed by the Mau, encouraged indirectly the harsh policy of physical repression which the New Zealand Government unleashed in Western Samoa after 1927. Perhaps it is true to say, that the 1927 Report marked the end of political repression and the beginning of the period of armed repression, exile and eventually, martyrdom. The Commission provided the New Zealand government with a ‘white paper’ to condone its later policies in Western Samoa: New Zealand had to rescue a ‘native’ people from the unscrupulous claws of a few exploiters and seditious intriguers, and enhance its worldwide reputation as a benevolent and just ruler of ‘native’ peoples.