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The Revolt of the Samoans

A Senseless Dictatorship and a Dangerous Situation

page 17

A Senseless Dictatorship and a Dangerous Situation

When Sir Maui Pomare spoke in the House of Representatives on July 26 last-on the Samoa Amendment Bill-his speech was an eloquent protest against his own Government's policy in Samoa. He recalled that some of the Maori wars, including the Te Kooti episode and the conflict at Taranaki, were the outcome of banishments without trial. His denunciation of our treatment of the Samoan chiefs and their banishment and the deprivation of their titles without trial was both dramatic and effective; and his declaration that no drop of Samoan blood must be shed left no doubt as to what is in the minds of the Maori people of New Zealand with respect to the position in Samoa. That position as I see it in this opening month of 1928 is extremely grave. However much the official eye may be closed to the fact, the Samoans are in open revolt against our rule in their country. Fortunately, this revolt has not expressed itself violently, and I for one devoutly hope that it will never do so. The Samoans will be wise if they continue to rely on the pressure of their own peaceful efforts in Samoa and the constitutional endeavours of the friends of Samoa in New Zealand and elsewhere; for the Natives themselves have far more to lose from a demonstration of violence than have their oppressors. Unfortunately, the terroristic deportations and banishments of Europeans and Samoans guilty of nothing beyond constitutional opposition to the policy of the Administration has intensified the spirit of revolt; and the volcanic rumblings on the eve of the forced departure of the Hon. O. F. Nelson and Mr, Smyth, followed by the Native demonstration at Apia and before the Administrator's building, reveals the intensity of the feeling which exists. That there has been no outbreak of violence we owe mainly to the counsels of Mr. Nelson and the Samoan chiefs and other opponents of the Government who are among the victims of its methods. In my opinion the situation calls for prompt action on the part of the League of Nations, as well as for an immediate recognition by the people of New Zealand of the heavy responsibility which they carry in the matter. Our government of Samoa constitutes an accumulation of intolerable administrative acts, outrageous injustices against individual Samoans, and the infliction of raw wounds upon Samoan dignity and self-respect which will take long in their healing. These things, added to the proclaimed determination of the New Zealand Government to force its undemocratic will on both the Samoan people and the European residents by means of a senseless dictatorship leaves the situation where—failing the intervention of the League of Nations—anything at all may happen in Western Samoa.