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The Pa Maori

Stockaded Villages of Samoa

Stockaded Villages of Samoa

In describing Samoan methods of conducting war, Missionary G. Turner remarks—"Around the village where the war party assembled, they threw a rough stockade, formed by any kind of sticks or trees cut into 8 ft. lengths, and put close to each other, upright, with their ends buried 2 ft. in the ground. The hostile parties might be each fortified in this way not more than a mile from each other, and now and then venture out to fight in the intervening space, or to take each other by surprise at weak or unguarded points."

In his work entitled My Consulate in Samoa, W. B. Churchward makes a brief mention of several fortified places he saw on hills, and remarks that they were made by Tongans. In describing a trip made to Falelatai, he says:—"On arriving at the top [of a steep hill we found evident traces of a parapet and ditch, no doubt the work is days of old of the Tongans, who at one time held entire possession of Samoa, and portions of whose handiwork in fortifications and roads may be met with all over the island of Upolu."

Also, in his account of a trip made to Fale o le Fe'e, this writer says—"We came to what, in very old times, had been a fort, doubtless one of the many that the Tongan invaders erected during their invasion of Upolu in days gone by. It was situated as is usual on a narrow commanding ridge, running down steeply on both sides, the direct path being blocked by both parapet and ditch."

A communication received from Mr. J. B. Fleck, serving with the New Zealand Expeditionary Force at Samoa, gives some particulars of an old Tongan fortified post on the island of Upolu, at no great distance from Le Fale o le Fe'e. This place is situated on a ridge top at a place where its width does not exceed fifty yards and its two sides are unscaleable. Across this part of the ridge top has been page 424excavated a fosse that is even now 10 ft. deep in some parts and is about 30 ft. wide from brow to brow; it probably contains a considerable deposit of humus and debris; the place is overgrown with bush. On the upper side of the fosse is a wall or rampart that is still some 8 ft. or 10 ft. in height. A short distance in front of the fosse is a raised structure of ovoid form, a platform built up with local boulders and having a ditch round it. Presumably this was an outwork, a sort of covering work. Past these defences the ridge widens out into a plateau like area, flat land over a mile wide, with a deep gully on either side. It seems probably that this place is the one mentioned by Mr. Churchward.

Of a modern Samoan fortified position seen in 1849 Captain Erskine remarked:—"It resembled somewhat a New Zealand pa, being of upright posts of cocoanut wood, with an external ditch, but of little strength. The entrance was tolerably well constructed, as a kind of circular bastion or redan, with flank defences and a few loopholes for musketry made of hollow wooden pipes, which they say are copied from the Tongans." Evidently in the purely Samoan defensive works there is little of interest.