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The Revolt of the Samoans

Illegal Threats of Deportation

Illegal Threats of Deportation

The unconstitutional Order-in-Council of 1927 was no sooner made than both the Minister and the Administrator hastened to threaten the Government's principal opponents with deportation. Mr. Nosworthy wrote: "I am to warn Mr. Nelson, Mr. Williams, Mr. Westbrook, Mr. Smyth, Mr. Gurr and Mr. Meredith that the New Zealand Government must, pursuant to the mandate for Western Samoa, exercise its power to deport any or all of you from this territory, unless you and your associates abstain from your present course of action." There are several points which should be noted here. In the first place, at the time Mr. Nosworthy's letter was written, the Government of New Zealand had no legal power to deport permanently resident Europeans from Samoa; and, in the second place, nothing specific had been either charged or proved against any of the gentlemen illegally threatened by the Minister. Nor has anything been definitely charged or proved against any of them since.

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The amending Order-in-Council, referred to above, was dated June 20, and appeared in the "New Zealand Gazette" on June 23. On the next day, June 24, the Administrator addressed the following letter to the Hon. O. F. Nelson, M.L.C.: "I understand you have applied for a passport from Samoa and intend sailing by the 'Tofua' on July 1. Before your departure let me remind you that your activities as chairman of the Citizens' Committee have caused grave unrest among the Natives of Samoa, signs of which still exist. Take notice, therefore, that on your return circumstances may cause you to suffer immediate deportation under Clause 6 of the Samoa Immigration Consolidation Order as recently amended." A similar threat was sent to Mr. Smyth. Like the Minister's threat, these from the Administrator were illegally made. According to the Administrator himself, at this time he had no power whatever to punish Europeans by deportation; for when making his report (dated July 23) of his Upolu tour, he complains that "there is no power to punish Europeans." He reports that disrespect has been shown to him by the Samoans-in some cases by whole villages, in others by individual Samoans. Like the Minister, the Administrator makes no specifiic charge, but vaguely says the disrespect to himself "is due to the influence of Nelson's Committee." He suggests that if the Europeans could be punished the trouble would be ended. "Lack of power to punish the Europeans is prolonging the trouble," he says. It is quite clear that what the Administrator meant was that he had no power to deport Europeans without trial; there was certainly almost unlimited power to punish any European proved to be guilty of any breach of the many extremely stringent laws relating to the preservation of order in Western Samoa.