The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 11, Issue 4 (July 1, 1936)
His Defence of the Samoans
His Defence of the Samoans.
One of Mr. Holland's most powerful expositions was his “Samoa: A Story that teems with Tragedy.” This is a history in brief of the unfortunate group of islands whose lovable primitive people have been used like pawns in a game played by trading gamblers. He shows that the inhabitants of the islands had a high degree of culture and a well-established system of local self-government when the first white men landed there. “But no primitive people could possibly govern itself according to the standards and requirements of a Twentieth-Century Capitalism.” That was his reply to the statement that the Samoans were incapable of governing themselves.
He often quoted Robert Louis Stevenson, who was a man after his own heart. R.L.S. repeatedly denounced the mismanagement of Samoan affairs by the white officials. “What strikes the reader,” Mr. Holland commented, “is the way in which these territories and peoples were bartered with little or no consideration for their own wishes.” He enunciated this Labour principle:
“We maintain that no people whatever is good enough to hold any other people in subjection; that all peoples are capable of governing themselves according to their own genius and in the light of their own historical period.”
We may take it that the Labour Government will now put this principle of wisdom and justice into practice—indeed, the Prime Minister has spoken to that effect—and that at last the right of the Samoans to choose their own destiny and exercise the fullest self-government will be guaranteed by New Zealand. Then New Zealand may hope to regain the respect and confidence of Samoa after a long and page 19 bitter period of coercive administration.